I had the chance to catch up with David Bratton of Destination Analysts prior to his session today, here is a recap of our conversation:
DS: How has web 2.0 changed research?
DB: We’ve put a lot of work into our online web usability testing product. It is all done online and the advantage for customers is it is about half the price of standard lab research. It takes less time and users are more comfortable in their own environment which leads to better data. We record all the testing segments and then break them into clips for presentations for the DMO and their stakeholders.
We just did one in Juno, Alaska. It was an interesting project. Their target market was an older segment and we needed to find older individuals and see how they accesses the web for travel information. It was very enlightening.
DS: What sort of changes have you seen in the market?
DB: Research is very valuable and people haven’t had access to all of this data in the past. Many have not even used online surveys before. But now, people are realizing that the web site is their most important marketing tool and consumer feedback is very important to make it more marketable. Today, you can’t just throw something up there and hope it will work.
Through all this work, we have found commonalities that consumers want in all DMO web sites. We will share some of those with the group today.
DS: How about one example?
DB: A lot of DMO’s have many audiences to serve with multi points of information on the site. Destinations use their own terminology, for example, "expert opinions". To the DMO, that means people who are familiar with the destination providing feedback and information to the visitor. But the consumer may not really understand what that means and they don’t engage. We make too many assumptions that consumers are tech savvy and know our world, but many don’t. When we make things too cute, we lose some potential visitors.
DS: How about one recommendation on building a better consumer friendly web site?
DB: You need to understand what your consumer wants. Consistently survey your consumer through online surveys and usability testing to find out what works and what doesn’t.
More to come throughout the day....