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Please review www.visitsouthwestscotland.com

  • Thread starter Rickwood Portpatrick
  • Start date
Rickwood Portpatrick

Rickwood Portpatrick

New Member
As an accommodation provider I advertise on a number of websites
I am also a member of ADGAP (Assn of Dumfries & Galloway Accommodation Providers) and part of the deal , we get to advertise on their website - South west scotland, Self catering,Bed & Breakfast,hotel holiday accommodation in Dumfries and Galloway

I am not that impressed (to say the least) with the number of referrals we are getting and I think that the website could be improved upon especially in terms of search engine optimisation.

One suggestion I intend making to them at their next meeting is that all members place a link to visitsouthwestscotland from their own website with a standard text e.g. accommodation in south west scotland instead of the ad hoc aproach at present.

Can any of you experts out there please take a look at their website and let me have any suggestion for improvement

regards
 

stuarty

Banned
It's a very poor example of a tourism site mate and I agree with you. It's a "partnership site" and not part of the tourist board. No disrespect to the developers but this is not a real tourism site and they're not an internet marketing company if their portfolio is anything to go by. Tourism sites spends 10s of thousands a month on their websites. This site doesn't even come close - looks like they only spent £1500 on it.

I would not advise them at all to link using this standard text. You HAVE to do keyword research. I'll repeat - you HAVE to do keyword research. You can't simply guess what people will besearching on.

I've worked on these type of sites at corporate level and the research and marketing that goes into them is intensive because they are extremely complex beasts. They have a very complex structure (which this hasn't) to cope with the diversity and number of clients. More or less every page undergoes thorough optimisation, split testing, surveys, eye tracking user testing - very very deep stuff. This site is nowehere near the same league as any toursim site I've seen.

No disrespect to the folk that built it but they don't appear to have any clients or experience of this level of site.

If I were you mate I would be concentrating on your own site and getting it to pull in more business. Unless your partnership are prepared to spend some money doing some real marketing then this site will just be a bit part player.
 
Rickwood Portpatrick

Rickwood Portpatrick

New Member
Hi Stuarty
Thanks for your feedback.
The problem is that this website is only for a local association with a relatively small membership ( about 200 - 250) and the website is just a side "benefit??" for the members.
As regards the spend per annum, as you say it will be very low. The guy that does most of the work does it for free and participation in the website is "free" with the annual sub to the association so your guestimate of £1500 is probably more than the actual figure!!

Dumfries & Galloway are hoping to set up a Destination Development Organisation in conjunction with the Stevens View Partnership and, if it gets off the ground it should have the kind of budget you are talking about but
a) it is not yet certain if it will go ahead.
b) if it does it will take time to kick in

Meantime, we have to make the best of what resources we have which brings us back to the ADGAP website you looked at and, of course, our own.

I am going to suggest to them that they consider asking mebers for an additional amount to improve the existing website as a stopgap until the DDO kicks in

As regards our website - any constructive criticism/suggestions welcome

Thanks again
Fred
 

Boxby

New Member
Stuarty is right about the keyword research, Fred. It is key.

You also have to bear in mind that visitors to the vistsouthwestscotland website will have probably seen your website first because it sits higher in the rankings, and therefore aren't likely to make enquiries through the vistsouthwestscotland website but are more likely to come to you direct.

Tourist sites such as these are only any good if they site high and/or are supported with an offline marketing campaign.

Personally, I severly dislike using any tourist accomodation website, and although I may find accomodation that I like on such a site, I will always google it, and go direct via the hotels own website, rather than put enquiry forms through a third party. (Don't know how normal that behaviour is though :))
 

Boxby

New Member
As regards your own site, might I suggest a diary page about events and things on in the town and say within a 30 mile area. This will help keep your website looking current and up to date, partic if you update it regularly to take the past events off.
 
Mike Lewis

Mike Lewis

New Member
Fred,

I can't add much to the comments already made about the site. I'd just say that, if I was looking for accommodation in Dumfries and Galloway, the last place I would think to look is a site specific to Dumfries and Galloway.

In general, when looking for a hotel, I go to two or three worldwide hotel sites that I use regularly -- I'm thinking of things like TripAdvisor.Com. I've got those sites bookmarked in my "Travel and Accommodation" folder, and I have no reason to search for anything more specific.

In fact, If I am looking for a hotel for a business trip to a large town or city, I simply go to Travelodge or Holiday Inn and don't bother to research anything further.

If I was planning to walk the Southern Uplands Way, I'd search for "Hotel Portpatrick" -- and find Rickwood House long before I found Visit Southwest Scotland. (Actually, that's wrong. I wouldn't bother to search. I already have your site bookmarked. But that's a special case.)

I think what I'm trying to say is: Why would anyone bother to go to Visit Southwest Scotland? Unless it had a lot of practical information about the area (it hasn't),it offers nothing you can't easily find elsewhere.

Mike
 

Boxby

New Member
Hi Fred

Are you on laterooms? I know it may not seem that obvious because people don't unexpectedly end up deciding to go to Portpatrick, but you don't have to offer a huge discount, and you can gross up prices for a "laterooms discount" (I think).

I'd say, you are more likely to get a booking out of laterooms than you are out of the visitsouthwestscotland website. And you're not forking out to improve someone else's website.
About LateRooms - The hotel directory that helps hoteliers sell hotel rooms

As a pair of people that book 2-3 hotel/b&b most weeks all over the country, we use laterooms a lot, usually because Alistair only tells me on Sunday that he wants to stay in Birmingham on Monday. But it means that it's a habbit, so that if I want to go and stay with a friend in York in August for three or four days, I will still probably go to late rooms first just because laterooms is what I do first when looking for hotels.

ps this is NOT an advert for laterooms - despite it reading like one!! :)
 
Rickwood Portpatrick

Rickwood Portpatrick

New Member
Hi Mike & Sandra

Thanks for your advice.
We are quite relaxed about people who know they want to go to Portpatrick - if they key in portpatrick or hotel portpatrick or accommodation portpatrick or b&b portpatrick or guest house portpatrick, we come up on page one in all cases.

However there are a lot of people out there e.g. Yorkshire, Newcastle etc who may be thinking about going to Dumfires & Galloway or Southern Scotland or even just Scotland in general but may never have heard of Portpatrick. This is why we are on local and regional websites. If you google "guest house dumfries & galloway" , I am not sure, to be honest where we come up but the searcher will have encountered a whole pile of general tourism websites and many individual business ones before we come up

My gripe with visitsouthwestscotland is that we have had only 159 hits through them in the last 12 months. There is another D&G website which is more professional called Dumfries&Galloway.com and we had 553 hits from them in the same period.

The webmaster from visit s w s tells me that, while we had only 18 hits in the last months according to his statistics, other businesses on the same website have had up to 120 and he puts this down to the fact that we are the only business in Portpatrick on the website and , as such, we are not attracting attention. He has suggested I recruit some new members!!!

Sandra
We took your advice last year and set up a news page but I guess I keep forgetting to put stuff on. I am also working on a walks page- watch this space!!)

I would be intersted to find out more about keywords although would it not be true to say that it would be more importpant to find out the keywords people used but didn`t find your site rather than the ones they did use as they found us anyway!!

By the way Sandra - any chance we can trade links??

I will look into laterooms but, as you say, it probably isn`t that relevant to our setup

Thanks again both

By the way, if you thought that website was poor, you should see what the ever so professional visitscotland say about portpatrick on their website - inspirational ---NO
 

Boxby

New Member
Have a good play with this; google keywords tool;
https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal

Try out all the different combinations, holiday, b&b, weekends away, accomodation, cottages, at the local, county, regional and national level, to see all the different search volumes.

The second half of the google results page deserves attention, because this bit shows alternative suggestions for what you've asked for.

I wouldn't worry about the people that are looking for somewhere in South West scotland but haven't heard of portpatrick. I don't think is particularly a large group of potential customers likely to find you through this search.

It would be worth adding a page targeting walking holidays though. People searching on walking holidays appear to be more open to the location of their holiday, as its the walking rather than the specific location that's important - ie they'll be looking for new places to visit. Google has "walking holidays" at 49k searches per month locally, much better than "dumfries & galloway hotels".

"Luxury holidays" is also a high hitter.

I'd focus on types of holiday rather than locations. And its much easier to create specific landing pages for the specific targeted phrases.

Re exchanging links; yes, that's fine. But I need to incorporate it in a way that doesn't look like a random link for a hotel in a delivery website. So, any ideas?

Kind regards
Sandra
 

Boxby

New Member
However there are a lot of people out there e.g. Yorkshire, Newcastle etc who may be thinking about going to Dumfires & Galloway or Southern Scotland or even just Scotland in general but may never have heard of Portpatrick. This is why we are on local and regional websites. If you google "guest house dumfries & galloway" , I am not sure, to be honest where we come up but the searcher will have encountered a whole pile of general tourism websites and many individual business ones before we come up

Why would they google this?
Do people select a county to go on holiday to, or do they select a reason - the reason being either the activity, the place they want to visit, attractions, or other USP.

Thinking of keyphrases/terms that your product applies to, and then targeting them is back to front. You have to ditch your "suppliers" hat and become a customer. You have to think what customers would search for, and this is NOT the same as what you think the customers should search for.

If you were going on holiday to Invernesshire you wouldn't google "guest house Invernesshire" you would google either the type of holiday (self catering, hotel, walking, luxury, 5 star, camping, skiing, seaside) or/and you would google the place.

This is why you must use a keyword research tool that puts numbers onto your search terms.

The best example of the importance of keyword research is boxby - customers google "courier" when they want to send a parcel. To me it's obvious, parcels are things in a box, you google "parcel delivery" or some such other term. Couriers are things in white vans, you google "courier company" or some such other term. You don't google "courier" when you want to post a small box.

But Hundreds of my visitors every day do exactly that. Because to them a "courier" is DHL or Citylink etc, not an independent company in a white van.

You need to get inside the customers head, even when they're thinking back to front and upside down. And you need to step out of your "suppliers" head to do this.

Also, look at the results that google throws out. There is no point sitting top of page 2 for a what I call "muddied" term. Again, with boxby, its very easy to see. If you google "courier" you get the results with 50% couriers and 50% newspapers, so then you have to ask what the searcher will do, will they plough through 3 or 4 pages of muddied results, or simply refine their search and add a second word onto the search string.

Large search numbers on their own are not the golden goose for visitor numbers. They need to be targeted.
 
Adventurelife

Adventurelife

New Member
I am on many , many similar sites and they all have exactly the same issue. I have yet to come across one that will drive significant revenue. Even the ones which huge budgets have huge amount of suppliers so it is all diluted down.

I only use them to gain more presence on the web but from a budgeting and planning perspective I discount them totally.

I used to have around 40 beds to fill and we ran at 95-100% fill rate on weekends and 75% midweek year round.

As Boxby has highlighted the route is to go niche and hunt down those that are doing things ie walking, golf etc. I travel all year round and the last thing I every search for is accommodation. I always search for things related to what I am travelling for.

9 times out of 10 I always end up staying at accommodation associated with whatever niche attracted me to the area.

I am currently working in one of the most saturated cities on earth with accommdation providers offering every possible combination from basic to luxury. I am spending much of my time meeting and networking with them. Some are having a hard time and when you see their offerings it is not because of the quality! Others are running at 95% year round!

The only difference I can see between the two are the first one is hoping that the quality of the accommodation will bring the punters in the others are targeting completly different niche markets and adding the accommodation.

The niche's are many and varied golf, mountain activities, desert acivities , tours of every description etc etc

I know th eabove does not really help your issue with the website , but I would really ignore it and focus on other routes to fill beds

Peter
 
Rickwood Portpatrick

Rickwood Portpatrick

New Member
Hi Sandra, sorry, but if I was going on holiday I would decide first of all where I was going then google " guest house oban" or wherever but I do take your point.

I guess there is little really exciting going on down here to target- tha5t`s what people like about it to a degree anyway. Our main market just now is elderly couples who go round the gardens. Trouble is, they keep dying!!
There is good golf but we aren`t big enough for large parties and we aren`t really looking for that type of group.
As regards walking there are some decent, if tame walks around here but nothing for the serious walker.
I am doing a section about walks on our website but I don`t see this pulling in the punters!
The trouble is that with more people finding it difficult to make ends meet the extra holiday is the first thing to go. We have to come up with something which is going to make the reduced number of potential guests want to stay with us but I really don`t know what
So, no further on really.!
 
Rickwood Portpatrick

Rickwood Portpatrick

New Member
Hi Peter

Thanks for your suggestions
Sadly, there are no deserts here!
As I was saying to Sandra/Boxby peace and quiet is the main attraction down here but it is not a very marketable commodity!
thanks again
regards
 

Boxby

New Member
I
guess there is little really exciting going on down here to target- tha5t`s what people like about it to a degree anyway. Our main market just now is elderly couples who go round the gardens. Trouble is, they keep dying!!

The good news is that this is a growing market, and because they die off, forever self refreshing.



The trouble is that with more people finding it difficult to make ends meet the extra holiday is the first thing to go. We have to come up with something which is going to make the reduced number of potential guests want to stay with us but I really don`t know what
So, no further on really.!

I think it also works the other way too. The british holidays seem to be very popular this year because people aren't going abroad, or if they are then its out of season.

Bit of market research data for you - out of my immediate dozen neighbours (most with young kids) only 1 has a holiday booked for the summer holidays (UK or abroad). And Portpatrick is always up their with Loudon for a day out when the sun shines. And most of these are folk that have let their houses for the open too.

Is there anything that you can do with the day-out market? Or do you want to stay away from that side of things (I know that it can be very tieing).

And don't underestimate the peace & quiet aspect. For some, it's the golden jewel that they've gone away for.

Have you thought about talking to mcleans about an airport pick up service? (They've got some nice cars that they used to use for the filming) Ryanair & Easyjet are flogging the London - Glasgow flights for pennies at the moment, if you could show on your website an airport collect service then you are providing something that people looking for a bit of peace & quiet are looking for - stressfree, hastle free.

I must say, that if I was in London, looking for a long weekend away then Portpatrick may appeal, but then i'd think about the airport-portpatrick journey and then probably give up and look for somewhere easier to get to. 2 hours on the train doesn't appeal after a ryanair flight. But if there was a "concierge (sp?) type service then that would definitely make me think further.

Maybe put a Romantic getaway type thing together, airport collection & drop off, luxury bedroom, some extras in the room, picnic for the day out, evening meal etc. So that customer has flights + your package price. Use the visit scotland angle of ruin castles, walks along the cliffs hand in hand, fresh caught seafood, cosy pubs, etc. Then i'd pop it all on laterooms where people that are looking for romantic ideas etc go. And if you make it an "all in" price with everything all organised for them, it doesn't necessarily have to be a bargain price.
 
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