Let’s recall how quickly things are changing these days. Remember the times when you had to actually go see your local travel agent to book a flight and when airlines had large offices in the capitals? Then came low-cost-carriers and ticket-free online-booking. A model that was quickly adopted by the traditional carriers in the aftermath.
Then hostels started adopting the low-cost-first-come-first-serve booking-model. Many even send confirmation SMS to make things easier for you. A free service! See the SMS AirBerlin sent me after I booked my flight to the ITB Bloggers Meeting. And I also got a free SMS plus a customised sightseeing and shopping brochure by the hotel booking platform I chose. All without ever coming near to Berlin’s official tourist website.
Official tourist board sites "failed" me again, when I was planning my summer hiking vacation a couple of weeks ago. I wanted to hike in the Attersee region, a breathtakingly beautiful Austrian lake and mountain region where I spent a week in summer 2006. I was unable to find information on the official site of the Austrian Tourist board.
So I checked out the website of the regional tourist board www.attersee.at for B&B and apartments in the village of Unterach. I know there are dozens of places that rent rooms and apartments. Nevertheless, the online-results were so meager, that we decided to go hiking in South Tyrol (Italy) instead.
We will be staying in the wonderful hotel Schönblick Belevedere in St. Genesio where I gave a speech last October. I called their reception desk – using Skype – and checked the best dates, while screening the booking engine of the LCC Skyeurope at the same time. I loved knowing who I was talking to and where I will be arriving to. Again their tourist board’s website is bad – but Flickr offers lovely views (here are my pictures).
Now don’t get me wrong. This is not about Web 2.0, it is about giving the potential visitor what they need to support the decision, planning, booking (and bonding) process.
I have not mentioned this before, but the website of the village of San Pedro de Atacama in the desert of Chile made me decide to travel to South America in March 2004 within seconds. The term Web 2.0 had not even been coined then. And no, the site has not really changed since then. Why? Because they had already done a wonderful job without any Web 2.0 hocus pocus in the first place. But, and this is the message, they already made use of old fashioned tools to integrate pictures and comments of happy travelers. Social Web 1.0 so to speak! And they already featured short easy to stream videos back then. In 2004!
I recently read that online travel sales are decreasing. Given my experience I do not find it hard to believe. What is your opinion? Do you know any good tourism sites?