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If you think your site could use some help, you might want to consider entering it into Chelle Honiker-Yarbrough’s Ugliest Travel Website Contest. Honiker-Yarbrough is a former travel agent who owns WordPress Travel Design, a Web site design and hosting company. She came up with her contest because she’s tired of all the awful sites out there.
“I think most ‘ugly’ sites break down into one of two categories — bad design and bad function,” Honiker-Yarbrough told TravelAge West. “Bad design includes obnoxious colors, dancing bananas, flashing cursors. In short, it’s unprofessional and not focused on the person visiting the site … Bad function is actually worse though, and includes sites that don’t showcase the agency well enough to the consumer.”
Agents can submit their sites for judging at WP-TravelDesign.com. The contest is free and it runs through October. The winner will receive a Web site makeover (valued at $1,500) and one year of free hosting from TravelWebServer.com. In addition, all finalists will receive a $250 gift certificate. Honiker-Yarbrough is hoping to get about 20 finalists.
Honiker-Yarbrough, who was a director of technology and training for a number of Carlson Wagonlit franchises, said that agents need to keep a couple of basics in mind when creating their sites.
“Start with pleasing colors, easy navigation and good content, with the primary focus on ‘selling’ the agent or agency,” she said. “That means showcasing credentials, certifications, knowledge and strengths … Testimonials are helpful, and photos that the agency has taken give consumers a comfort level that the agent has experience and knowledge. Web sites are extensions of the agents’ brand and the message should be, ‘I can help you sift through the overload of information you’ve seen and validate the choices you’ve made. Here’s why.’”
Remember: People begin vacation research online, and it’s crucial to get to these potential customers as early as possible with a good Web site that instills confidence in your ability, right from the get-go. — K.S.