How to Start to establishing your Web Presence.
Part of the success of most
small tourism businesses is their web presence. After all, you want to
benefit from the global exposure, reduced marketing expenses, and low
entry costs. But to receive those benefits, you must first get your web
site off the ground which means you need to select an effective domain
name and find reliable web hosting.
The tips below can help you
accomplish both goals successfully and get started.
Picking a Domain Name
When it comes to choosing
your web site's domain name, you need to keep a few things in mind:
- Your domain name should
relate directly to the product or service you provide. Avoid picking a
name that is vague or misrepresents your company.
- Your domain name should be
easy to remember. Keep the name as short as possible, but do not use
unconventional spellings or add hyphens just to secure a version of
the name you want.
- Your domain name should be
simplistic. Do not pick words which may be difficult to spell or which
have multiple spellings. Also, select words and phrases that are
common and easy to pronounce, especially if you are aiming your
business toward the general public.
- Your domain name should be
a .com address whenever possible. Avoid selecting the less common
extensions which cost more to register and which will be largely
unfamiliar to your clients.
- Do not use your company
name as the domain name. Rather use the keywords that would best
describe your business or service.
Once you do select a domain
name, you should consider registering other variations of the name. That
way if someone uses the wrong extension or adds a hyphen, he or she still
end up right where you want them.
Here are some good places to
register your domain:
Choosing Web Hosting
You could literally go crazy
trying to compare all of the hundreds of hosting plans and providers on
the market. To narrow down your options, talk to friends and business
associates who have professional web sites. Ask them which providers they
use or recommend. Also ask them what problems they have and if the site is
Once you've found a
manageable number of potential providers, you can begin to compare plans.
Here are a few things you should focus on:
- Money Back
Many providers offer a 30-Day money back
guarantee so that you can try their service risk free. Always look for
this option so you don't get stuck with a service you're unhappy with.
- Storage Space
This is the amount of room you will have
for your site. Of course, you don't want to pay for room you don't
need, but you also want room to grow. If you've a small site in mind
10-15 MB should be sufficient to begin with.
- The Package
What else do you get included in your
package. Some providers get rich through the add-ons and use the web hosting
just to get your business. Other options include email
addresses, newsletter facilities, statistics on visitors, a easy to
create web pages front-end such that you don't need to learn about
complicated software, Updates of site without costs, Tools to submit pages to search engines
automatically, tools to optimize pages for search engines, E-commerce facilities, usage of your own CGI scripts, a
library of standard CGI
scripts, The use of a database and the list goes on.
Data transfer (bandwidth
usage) refers to how much data/information is sent to or received from
your hosting account on the server over a specified period of time.
Usually it is measured monthly. The
more visitors to your site, the more bandwidth you'll require. Small
sites can usually get by with 1 GB/month.
- Site Speed
This is a very
important factor when considering a hosting service and will determine
how fast your site loads when someone visits. Online surfers are
extremely busy, so you need a fast server to keep them from leaving
your site before it even gets loaded! Ask your hosting provider to
provide you with a list of their clients' sites (if they can) so you
can check their speed. Here's a good tool to check a site's speed:
- Customer Service
You strive to provide exceptional service and you should expect
nothing less from your web hosting company. Look for multiple methods
of receiving service, such as a toll-free phone number or live chat.
You may also want to consider testing their response time in advance.
- Uptime Guarantee
Your web site is like your
store. If your store is closed, you aren't making any money. The same
is true if your web site is down. You should only choose a plan that
provides at least a 99% uptime guarantee.
Price should also be a deciding factor. Cheaper is not always better,
but there are reasonable rates for quality hosting available if you do
Also, as far as possible, try
to choose a hosting company that allows easy upgrade/downgrade between
plans. This way you can trim down your costs to the maximum.
Using these tips and
suggestions, you should easily be on your way to establishing a successful
web presence and to reaping all the benefits the Internet has to offer.
My recommendations for Web
This costs about R3000 a year and is by far the best offer and
most complete service offered anywhere that I have seen. So much so
they are my provider and it powers this site. So far You get the
- A provider for your site.
- A domain name.
- A tool to build your web pages. All you have
to do is fill out a form and the page is finished. Of course you
can use FTP too if you are already internet savvy and want to
design the pages yourself.
- Very decent statistics about your visitors.
How many unique persons have visited rather than hits on the site. You
need to know how the people got there and which keywords were
used. Without this info you cannot measure if your site is
working. Who actually cares what the screen resolution of your
- Statistics to see your website position for a
particular keyword on the search engines.
- A method of optimizing pages of your site for
the search engines
- An automatic method of submitting you site to
the top search engines
- A facility to collect email
addresses and send newsletters to your site visitors.
- A link exchange Program which enables you to more
easily improve your link popularity
- A tool for researching keywords so that you
build relevant pages and not pages for the virtual trash can. I
personally find that this tool is worth more to me than any other
part of the package
- An upgrade facility to include E-Commerce
i.e. to accept payment pay by credit cards online and a method of
selling your service.
- A book on how to go about building and
marketing your site which is in my opinion a little to intense.
Its like 600 pages and there are few people out there that will
ever read the whole thing. Its also maybe a little too general as
folks that need web sites for their tourism services already have
a pretty exact path that needs to be followed.
- The integration and use of a database. I have
not yet found that I need to use this facility but maybe you will.
- As many email adresses as you like
More resources about building an internet marketing
strategy for tourism services using the internet
If you have any questions about any of this then drop
me a mail or give me a ring 036/3523143 and I will see if I can help
you. I am not an internet expert or an internet provider rather a tiny
guest house owner in the foothills of the Drakensberg. All I can give you
is a wealth of information on how to go about promoting your tourism
service by building a website yourself affordably.
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