Thursday, November 21, 2013

Quality Of Official Tourist Websites: Or not

There are times when I come across some article or other and my eyes light up. Oh please, let it be. Unfortunately, it wasn't. The article was about research undertaken at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra into the quality of websites run by tourist destinations. The headline promised me everything I needed to confirm my suspicions: "Tourist destinations' official portals lacking in interactivity". Going to a
PDF of a resumé of a further article published in Spanish by the journal "Tourism Management Perspectives", I was disappointed to not find the Balearics to be one of the destinations that had been researched. Never mind, though. The good professors at the university are planning to do some further research into the webs of all the seventeen autonomous communities. Can't wait. So much so that I had to go and remind myself of the official portal for the Balearics is. More on that in a bit.

To sum up the research, it found that the websites were ok (though the professors are not effusive) when it came to basic usability but they weren't ok when it came to allowing interactivity with users or with offering persuasion, which can include reservation systems but also lots of nice photos, text and what have you. The destinations, and there were ten of them, included websites for Andalusia and Catalonia and for cities in Spain - Barcelona, Madrid and Santiago de Compostela - as well as overseas, e.g. Wales.

A quick look on the Spanish sites was all that was needed for me to know just how poor the website for the Balearics is. The researchers were moderately impressed with some of what they found but when they come to doing their study into the websites of all the autonomous communities, they are going to be very unimpressed by The Andalusia portal, for example, is not too bad. Its home page is fairly engaging (helped by Andalusia having a funky, multi-coloured logo) but that's about as far as it goes. A facility to "Book your trip"? Sorry, but you can't.

But doesn't even have the saving grace of having an engaging home page, unless you count the rolling images for "much more than meetings", "much more than sailing", "much more than cycle tourism" etc. (I hadn't thought they were still banging on with this slogan, but clearly they are). It's when you get into the nitty-gritty of what's on this website that you really understand just how embarrassing it is. On the right-hand menu, for instance, is a banner to click for World Tourism Day. Which is when? Not is, was. 27 September. A further banner for "Estaciones Náuticas" gets you to ... "your request cannot be processed". I know the Estaciones Náuticas concept is useless but I do also know it's not so useless that there isn't a website. 

What about "Activities November"? This looks rather more promising. Up comes a calendar for the month full of different things to do. Except when you look closely, it isn't full of different things to do. For example, the Pollensa fair was mentioned but the Muro fair (same weekend) wasn't. Sa Pobla's fair (this weekend) is also not mentioned. And indeed several other fairs on the island are not mentioned. Hey ho. But at least somebody has been going on and updating the site. Or have they?

Under "Don't Miss It ..." with the current date on the same line, there's a little picture for the Oktoberfest in Santa Ponsa. October, November; I think you can figure out the problem. But had you not missed it back in October, what sort of "further information" would you have got? Where was it being held? Well, not in Santa Ponsa apparently. It was in Peguera, which is where it used to be held.

Then there is the main menu on the left-hand side. "Accommodations" (sic)? There's no direct booking, just links to other websites. "Activities"? What have we got here? It asks what you are looking for. I opt for "sports" in the whole of Mallorca between 30 November and 13 December. Result? There are none. Things do improve, it must be said. Information such as that for "tourism and culture" isn't so bad. But the overall impact of the website is anything but good. It's outdated, which might partly be explained by the fact that it is still down as being copyright of IBATUR, the tourism agency which was done away with three years ago.

There certainly is no interactivity, but then you wouldn't expect this from a Balearics Tourism Agency that can't even get its act together to create a Facebook page. And accordingly, there are no icons for Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or any other social media. I can only believe and hope that the website is being re-done: completely and totally overhauled.

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