The responses previous article, Developing a Tourist Community Site with WordPress here on Lorelle on WordPress about Baripedia showed me that we’re not alone. It’s great to see that others are using WordPress to build tourist community websites. Thanks to everyone who commented, and special thanks to those who came over to the Baripedia site and shared their own thoughts and expertise.
As you know, I’m trying to develop a new community tourist site for the small vacation town of Bariloche, Argentina, my home. This isn’t an ordinary tourist site, nor tourist community. Positioned in the foothills of the Andes Mountains and surrounded with numerous lakes, tourists come year around for the beauty, peace, water sports, hiking, climbing, and skiing. My goal is to help the various tourist businesses and activities work together to promote themselves on this blog. This means making some serious administrative and design decisions to keep all of these businesses happy.
You’ve been so helpful with your comments and input with this series, I’m eager to hear more.
Here’s a quick reminder of the main points I wanted to discuss as part of this series, and some of the things you commented about, helping me figure out how to build our tourist community blog:
- Who will write and manage the contents?
- How to drive visitors to the site.
- What design issues to consider for navigation, menus, etc.
- What features and services to offer via the blog to help visitors learn more and want to visit my tourist community.
Content is King, Even on Tourist Blogs
After much internal debate and input from you, I’ve totally revised our original plans, starting with the content.
I’ve decided that all contents for Baripedia will be written by a professional journalist and the process is underway right now. It turns out that the slowing economic environment had created a great opportunity for hiring affordable talented people who were out of reach a couple of months ago.
Melissa, our new content manager will be responsible for writing all new content and edit contributed articles as they come in. In so doing, Baripedia will be a single WordPress site, not a collection of multiple independent mini-sites using WordPressMU. This was one of our hardest decisions to make, and one that I caution you to really investigate thoroughly before deciding.
For local businesses, they didn’t have time nor expertise to write blog content nor support a blog. They also don’t have the technical expertise to develop one of their own, the reason I wanted to create this community tourist blog in the first place. These aren’t writing or editorial experts. They work long hours on their tourist businesses, giving their customers the best experience possible during their stay in Bariloche. Adding another task, especially one they are unfamiliar with, just isn’t appropriate. They will learn the benefits of blogging and social media in time, but they need the proof. Part of building this tourist community website is to help them learn.
This decision addressed the most critical issue we had to deal with: attracting visitors. Our plan is to use the next few months to build the content on our blog, using search terms and keywords as well as worthwhile information and content that people want to know when planning their vacations to our area.
We’ll be writing about tourist attractions, activities and provide useful tourist information. I want Baripedia to be our own online “tourist information” center for the city of Bariloche.
Currently, we have scheduled ourselves to publish an article a day so we’ll have most tourist attractions covered by the summer in January 2009. That’s a huge undertaking, but we’re up to the challenge.
Technical Issues That Still Confront Us
Now that we have a handle on the execution of the site, running under a single WordPress full version, and how and what content needs to be developed on the site, it’s time to look at the rest of the technical issues that still confront us in our challenge to setup our community tourist site.
This means we still need your help and input.
The tourist community sites I’ve look at seem great, however, since they were all built using the same platform, they share some common limitations.
For instance, I searched Google for “The west coast of Rhodes” to see what came up as an example of my competition in that part of the world’s tourist business. The first result I got is Discover Rhodes – The West Coast of Rhodes. Yes, I did search for that specific keyword phrase, and it’s the top of the list, so it’s the right result – or is it? Is it a really good example of a tourist website that my site should follow? Maybe, maybe not.
As I explore our competition, I’m learning a lot about how tourist sites work, and don’t work. In my next article, I’ll dig deeper into some of the lessons I’m learning about tourist sites, and how we are working, with your help and input, to make Baripedia even better for our community.
By Amir Helzer of ICanLocalize and Baripedia
Helzer is the founder of ICanLocalize, a human translation service for websites and publishers, developer of Baripedia, a community tourist website and WordPress blog for Bariloche, Argentina, and a web developer.