What DMOs can learn from PuertoRicoDayTrips.com

I went on a trip recently to Puerto Rico in search of sun, surf, and relaxation. I got all those things, sure. But, I also got a lot more thanks to PuertoRicoDayTrips.com. Body sliding down white water rapids in a jungle, really excellent (and weird) gelatto in a small town, a bat filled cave that ended in a vast view of the landscape below. The website took me to places that I would have never found on my own. The destination marketing organization (DMO) website for Puerto Rico (SeePuertoRico.com)… it gave me some business listings, pretty pictures and marketing speak, but no story, no rich experiences to participate in. It’s prettier than PRDayTrips.com, but it doesn’t deliver enough useful information.

beautybeastBeauty (left) and the Content Beast (right)

After I left Puerto Rico I was thinking a bit more about what made PRDayTrips.com such a great visitor website, and wrote some things down that I wanted to make sure I shared with others in the destination marketing world.

Here’s a few lessons that DMO websites should take from PRDayTrips.com:

      1. Provide usable information about businesses in your destination, in a framework that excites the user into action.
        Sharing a bunch of business listings certainly has its benefits and they index well on search engines, but also providing these in an article or guide format adds a bit more relevance. It lets the traveler easily imagine themselves partaking in the experience.
      2. Make it easy for the user to access the destinations they are reading about.
        PRDayTrips.com gets the visitor to the destination with exact GPS coordinates. This is immensely helpful in destinations with less road signage or older road systems. Without these coordinates I wouldn’t have found most locations because many roads are really poorly marked or not marked at all. We live by our phone navigation and GPS coords help support our users.
      3. Great content with basic design features trumps great design features with basic content.
        PRDayTrips.com is not a modern HTML5 marvel, but it indexes very well with Google, has thorough articles, a simple usable interface, and unique content. Note the bold, italic, underlined word: unique. I kept coming back to PRDayTrips.com because they had information that I couldn’t find anywhere else. The importance of great content is further underscored if you Google “things to do in puerto rico.” You get PRDayTrips.com as the #2 result. SeePuertoRico.com… not even on the first page of results. Enough said about the benefits of awesome content.
      4. If you write destination guides, write them for the completely clueless foreign traveler, and then make them even more thorough for risky endeavors.
        A shopping guide for a popular street in a tourist destination is not risky and I’m probably willing to take a chance on the guide even if all that is provided is a list of cool shops. But, the risk level goes up if your are taking me to excellent food stands in less than pristine parts of town (see image below). Even more so if you are taking me on an outdoor adventure. Make sure your user has all of the information they need to say yes to the guide’s itinerary and that they will be safe. Parking, directions, what to bring, safety precautions, video clips, etc. A great guide is thorough.
        oystasFood stand oysters? 

Writing a guide or useful content often leans into the editorial world, which can pose all sorts of political challenges and pitfalls for CVBs/DMOs, but I think it’s essential in the long run that these organizations deliver their destinations to users in the richest format possible. This fulfills the user’s needs and drives more visitors to the businesses and destinations called out in the guides.

As a shameless plug, we recently launched a website with the Charleston CVB that dives into this editorial concept headfirst. While the website provides a great platform to share our editorial content, it’s the content creators at the CVB that are really doing the long term heavy lifting. I’m really excited about the content that’s already been generated and I look forward to the site serving our users and local businesses alike with well crafted guides and stories about Charleston.