Another one bites the

It’s spring and people in the travel sector are all buzzing about revamping their websites. In many cases this will happen with little regard to quality information or navigation and will wind up with the site losing traffic thanks to deep sixing pages that have been indexed for years. Even with 301 redirection it’s not clear you can recapture old page ranks easily after revamping sites. The best advice for travel sites? CHANGE little with your old indexed pages unless you are having problems within search indexes. Add NEW PAGES to the existing site with information in mind rather than “improving the look”.

For reasons I simply can’t understand people in travel cannot get beyond “image” and therefore almost completely misperceive the value of designing websites not for “looks”, but for info richness. Although nice looks are not totally incompatible with nice info, one sees few sites that blend them in ways that will optimize the intended result (more travel related business in the area).

Errors like flash introductions and splash pages are simply too dang common in the travel sector which ironically still has simply staggering potential for sites that are built to help users find usable information.

PPC campaigns are far more common at the mom and pop business level than at the higher level destination management level where they’d have ROIs of ten to ONE HUNDRED times that of TV and print campaigns where the travel ad spend is largely wasted. There is still a very common notion that you can drive people to a URL using print advertising as effectively as with online ads. In fact the cost to drive people online with print is about 10-100x the online cost (I know this from extensive experiments I did in my past life as webmaster for Southern Oregon Visitors Association).

I’m finally coming to understand that as human primates we have a tendency to be stubborn and hold old ideas dear until the consequences become so severe and negataive or the evidence so overwhelming we simply MUST change course. Combine this with most people’s mathematical illiteracy and you’ve got what we’ve got – a LOT of wasted advertising buys in the travel sector, not to mention waste, waste, and more waste in all areas where human stubborness prevails over reason.