Of all the things the internet has done for the public as a whole, good or bad, the one thing I’ve always appreciated is that the internet made a backpacker out of everyone. The likes of Airbnb, Agoda, Skyscanner and Momondo made it easy for travelers to look for cheap flights and accommodations without having to rely on backpacking guidebooks that may or may not be updated. What used to require meticulous planning and research can now be done more or less with a wing and a prayer.
Tourism have actually grown to such unimaginable levels that various places across Europe, the Greek island of Santorini and the leisure capital of the world Amsterdam just to name a few have actually started to think up various ways to limit the influx of tourism. As of now though, the growth still isn’t likely to slow down and that with the proper web development skills, it’s not that hard for businesses to tap into this tourism boom.
Taking advantage of the tourism boom
Last year, during one of my most impulsive period, I took a trip to Singapore on a whim to see the British soul singer Sampha and to catch up with some of my college friends living on the island-city-country. I quite literally bought the plane tickets and book the hotel just three days before the trip. I was never an organized person but the fact that it was actually the first time I’m going abroad on my own and that I did it with such little preparation was surprising even to me.
Thankfully though, the internet was a very helpful resource and it didn’t took me long to catch up with some of Singapore’s more strict and byzantine laws and suggestions on what to do. It took me merely one evening to come up with a flexible itinerary and apps I’d need to make my one week stay there easier. The experience taught me that it’s really quite simple to plan a trip by yourself and unsurprisingly, I’ve embarked on several trips since. That is to say, I’ve scoured the internet plentiful enough to know what a travel website should be like.
Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Woody Allen, celebrated American filmmaker and alleged sexual abuser, once had this gem to say about life, ‘if you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans’. The quote itself was an expansion of an old Yiddish proverb that simply says ‘we plan, God laughs’. When it comes to traveling, truer words have never been spoken. My trip to Singapore too was affected with instances like that, not because the city itself was problematic, but because I’ve always had a hard time of sticking to decisions I’ve made for myself.
As such, it wasn’t uncommon for me to make last minute changes on where I should be going next and consult the internet for suggestions on my phone. This is why you need to make sure that your travel website is as lovely to read on a mobile phone screen as it is on the desktop. Travel websites aren’t limited to booking sites and the like, Lonely Planet, Trip Advisor and other resources providing travel guides also fall under this umbrella. Just before bedtime on my trips for example, I tend to scour websites such as those for ideas on where to go on the next day provided my original plans fell through and I assume that quite a number of travelers do that as well.
Use restrained colors and fonts
Travel is quite frankly synonymous with photography. If you’re claiming that such-and-such walking trail offers travelers the kind of natural beauty not commonly found within a bustling metropolis, you better have the picture to back that up. As the photography is always going to be focus with travel websites, making sure that the rest of your website isn’t taking any attention from those photos can be crucial, which is why it’s advisable to make sure that the colors and fonts you’re using is as restrained as possible.
Use full screen images and an image gallery
If a picture speaks a thousand words, then it’s quite natural to assume that full screen images would be worth more than that. But you know what would be even bigger? A gallery of full screen images. Tourism and travel is about partaking in experiences that you wouldn’t normally have access to in your daily life and I’ve come to understand that the best way to entice people is to try and virtually immerse them in those experiences by using full screen images.
Right now, we’re on the cusp of a breakthrough with virtual reality (VR) and 360 degree contents but not quite. Relatively affordable standalone VR headsets like Facebook’s Oculus Go have entered the market but availability is still limited. As of now, simple images and videos still reigns supreme but expect that to change if our tech overlords at Silicon Valley have their way.
Use transparent overlay with text
I have been so far focused on images, which are indeed the lifeblood of travel websites but what if you need to include text for, *ahem*, context? Here’s where the magic of transparent text overlay could help you. Instead of forcing visitors to divide their attention between the images and the text, combine them into one by using transparent text overlay whenever it’s necessary for you to include text.
For example, let’s assume that you want to use an image as the background for your website, or that you want to include some historical context or anything noteworthy about the image you’re showcasing. Try to pick an image that has a section of ’empty’ space, that is a part of the image that isn’t filled with any element, such as the open sky for example and fill that space with text. This method makes a very effective use of space while still not taking any attention away from whatever it is you’re trying to highlight.
Tourism and travel in the world of social media
Together with food industry, the tourism industry is perhaps one that is most affected by the rise of social media. It’s no longer enough for a food to be delicious or for a tourist attraction to provide an exquisite experience; they also have to be Instagram-worthy. While it might seem incredibly reductive to reduce the historical and philosophical significance of places such as the Holocaust Memorial into an Instagram spot, that’s just the way it goes at the moment and this is why images are integral to travel websites.