Last Updated Jun 14, 2011 12:28 PM EDT
There are few areas on the Web more competitive than travel. Thousands of sites for virtually every destination compete for our clicks. So what can a travel website do to stand out from the crowd?
To answer that question, the good people at WildChina.com have volunteered to have their website critiqued by you, the readers of this column. This week, I'd like you to go to their site, look around, kick the tires a bit, and then come back with your views on what works, what doesn't, and how they could improve. Then next week I'll report back with some of your suggestions and a few of my own as well.
So let's talk about WildChina...
The business: As they put it on their website, WildChina offers "bespoke trips highlighted by rich personal interactions and superior access to experts and venues. We cater to an exclusive and sophisticated clientele interested in exploring the real China behind the world-beating factories." WildChina offers luxury tours (as a group or private), educational tours, and corporate tours.
The target customer: The company has carved out a niche targeting wealthy, sophisticated travelers who don't want to feel like they are being herded around on a crowded, uncomfortable tour.
The website: According to Nancy Tan of WildChina's marketing team, the company is pleased with the look and content of the site, but is disappointed in the number of visitors -- the site gets about 1650 page views a week. While only 10% of WildChina's marketing budget goes to the website, the site produces 70% of the inquiries from potential clients.
The site recently underwent a significant re-design. The centerpiece of the new homepage is a rolling slideshow that highlights featured trips. Tan says the company redesigned the site to more clearly explain the company's services. "We hope that by linking and interconnecting various parts of the website together, we will be able to provide a more interactive experience between the travel planner and the WildChina website."
As you can see, the site provides detailed information on every trip including, itineraries, dates and pricing, FAQs, and traveler reviews. The site also offers a blog, destination information, photographs, videos, and iPhone apps. To promote the site, WildChina sends out email newsletters to interested travelers, mails hard copy newsletters to travel agents, and uses a number of social media outlets including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.
As the website is currently designed, the goal is to get site visitors interested enough in WildChina's trips so that they'll take the next step and click the "inquire about this trip" buttons or call for more information. Visitors cannot directly book a trip through the website.
OK, now it's time for you to weigh in. Visit and analyze the site. Post your comments below or send them to me using the contact form under my photo. You can comment on the design, the user experience, and whether or not the site accomplishes what it sets out to do: get you sufficiently interested in WildChina to take the next steps. I'll include as many reader comments as I can in my critique of WildChina.com next week.
Jon Gelberg is the Chief Content Officer for Blue Fountain Media.