Best practices for a municipal tourism website

Ready to turn your town or city into the next tourism destination? Are you excited to start realizing all the economic benefits an influx of tourists can have for your city and local businesses? Of course you are! But getting started often involves building a tourism website – and building the right website is not always a walk in the park.

And it’s not hard to see why! From working with a vendor that doesn’t have actual experience building a tourism website, to finding team members that can work on a project, tourism website projects can quickly become costly, bloated and unwieldy projects.

But they don’t have to! And to help, we’ve consulted our experts and their 25+ years of experience and over 200 awards building tourism websites that not only look great, but drive real results to come up with some best practices every municipality, city or town can follow when building their tourism website.

Dive into the four most approachable ways to elevate your tourism efforts for best engagement:

  1. Commit to conversions
  2. Reach the right audience
  3. Involve local businesses and BIAs
  4. Leverage your assets

1. Commit to conversions

While it’s fun and exciting to build a website that showcases the natural beauty and everything that your city has to offer, it may fall flat if potential visitors have a hard time making concrete plans. “Far too often, we’ve seen cities start to build a tourism website, but forget that at the end of the day, tourists need opportunities to actually commit to visiting your city! By integrating conversion points – whether they’re opportunities to book restaurants, or build an itinerary – you’ll be able to turn potential tourists into actual visitors,” says Kurt Rohmann, Head of Sales at eSolutionsGroup.

And while adding conversion points may not be the most exciting part of a tourism build, they are extremely valuable when it comes time to reporting to council on the results of your new site. “We’ve worked with cities who love being able to stand up to their CAO or council members and demonstrate the return on investment for their new site.”

2. Reach the right audience

While finding the right audience that will visit your town or city can come down to the ad campaigns that you run, it can also be influenced by the materials you have on your website. Take for example the City of Port Hope. By starting with a firm understanding of ‘who’ would actually be visiting their city, they were able to build itineraries, and even customize the types of videos and photography they were showcasing on their site to their target demographic. And reaching the right audience can mean more than just finding the right demographic. 

With incentives promised by various levels of government, finding the ‘right’ audience may mean promoting your city to visitors looking for a fun day-trip.

“We work with cities all the time that think ‘tourists’ need to be coming from out of province or country. But the reality is, domestic tourism is where the results actually happen,” says Rohmann.

And economic and tourism data from StatsCan supports these insights. In the fourth quarter of 2021 alone, tourism spending was $15.4 billion – of which $12.9 was from domestic tourists!

3. Involve local businesses and BIAs

While you and your team likely know the top destinations, your local BIA’s and businesses are also great options to approach when building your tourism website. Not only will they be eager to support (and potentially have their business showcased on your new site if you opt for a tourism directory!), they may also launch their own campaigns to support your efforts.

“The power of community can really drive results for cities and their tourism efforts. We’ve worked with cities that have built stunning websites – but when they worked with their communities, that’s where the results – and tourists – really started to happen,” say Rohmann.

Plus, with a tourism directory that can give potential visitors an easy access point to book reservations at hotels and restaurants, or find hip and trendy businesses, you’ll be able to drive further economic impact at your city.

4. Leverage your assets

Building a new tourism website doesn’t need to break the bank. And that can include leveraging assets you already have, or adding on pre-existing tools like Google Maps, Form Builder, iCreate modules or Calendars that you may already have integrated to your website.

“Many cities and towns we work with have a mountain of images and videos. And we encourage them to use what they have – there isn’t always a need to reinvent the wheel. Plus, municipalities can always adapt and edit their website once it’s live, provided their working with a content management system that’s easy to use,” says Rohmann.

While there are a lot of moving components that go into building an amazing tourism website, there are also a lot of best practices that can be followed to ensure your project stays on track – and on budget. By following these best practices, and partnering with a web development agency that has experience building websites for municipalities, you’ll be able to drive real results for your city, and local businesses.

Want to learn more?

Contact us and talk to one of our municipal tourism experts today to start building a tourism website for your municipality.