Redesign for Cape Lodge

Cape Lodge, Margaret River

Cape Lodge, Margaret River

We’ve recently implemented a new design for Cape Lodge.

The new layout was designed by Tracy Graffin.

Tracy has developed some beautiful custom maps – for Cape Lodge’s location, as well as for the grounds – that communicate clearly and succinctly and help visitors get their bearings.

The hotel photographs have been given a new lease of life by the design, with use of white space and complementary colours to create fresh and appealing pages.

The blog makes use of bold feature images and text snippets to draw visitors into reading more.

Finally, the wider / deeper format of this website presents the hotel in a luxurious format that responds to the increasing number of high resolution displays in use. Check it out with your iPad or your large format computer screen and you’ll get a feel for the difference to websites designed for a smaller format. There are choices involved in this, but all marketing involves choices.

For the curious, here is a snapshopt of the Cape Lodge home page before the redesign:

Cape Lodge - Old Home Page

Cape Lodge - Old Home Page

iPad important for Tourism Websites

If you operate a tourism business, this article in All Things Digital reports some important information about iPads.

Full Article: Why Travel Related Mobile Ads Are Taking Off On The iPad

Some of the key points are:

“the overwhelming majority of iPad owners, or 91 percent, used their device for a travel-related activity. …Specifically, it found that 47 percent of iPad users booked hotel rooms … following closely after hotels, … 37 percent of iPad owners used the tablet to book a flight; 28 percent have used it to make a restaurant reservation; and 24 percent have used it to rent a car.”

The data was sourced from a network with 971 users with a range of mobile devices in June 2011.

If your tourism website isn’t already iPad friendly, perhaps it is time to get that happening.

Traffic to Australian Online Travel Websites Up 30% in 2010

Interesting statistic from latest PhoCusWright Australian Online Travel Traffic Report:

“traffic to travel websites increased more than 30% year over year in 2010, compared to just 3% for all Internet traffic.”

Clearly the big travel sites are growing strongly. But the growth is there for small operators too.

Google Maps Gotcha for Tourism Websites

Google Maps is a very useful tool for a lot of tourism websites.

Used well, it can pinpoint a location for your visitors, and let them zoom out to get their bearings.

But there is a gotcha to do with map points – if you aren’t careful with map points, it can go horribly wrong.

Why? Well, Google Maps doesn’t always show the locations and features you might want it to. It might not show the locations you describe on your website (which is what your customers will probably look for). It might well show locations and markers that highlight other locations and businesses – possibly your competitors.

If the map you show doesn’t show your location, it can be downright misleading to your visitors.

For this reason, if you want to use Google Maps on your website, you should always check exactly what your customers will be seeing.

I’ll give you an example. Rottnest Express are one of the Rottnest ferry operators. There are various ferry departure points around Perth, and multiple departure points in Fremantle.

The Rottnest Express website tells you they depart from B Shed, ’5 mins walk from Fremantle train station’.

The website doesn’t make it easy to find a map showing where B Shed is. Once you give up trying to find the map and decide to call them and ask, you’ll go to the Contact page … and find the map there.

Rottnest Express Map on their Website

Rottnest Express Map on their Website (click to enlarge)

Now, the map is an embedded Google Map, with a clear marker showing the (alleged) location of B Shed.

Trouble is, it isn’t where B Shed is located. If you bothered to print off this map and follow the instructions (an easy 5 min walk from the train), you’d wind up walking the wrong way and if lucky meeting the friendly security guards from Customs.

If you bothered to look at the map in detail, you might notice Google show a marker for the Perth-Rottnest ferry, and show a clearly marked ferry departure point a bit further up the river – just past the bridge.

If you walked further that way, you’d then be at totally the wrong place – again. That is the departure point for one of the other ferry operators.

If you finally gave up and tried searching Google Maps for B Shed Fremantle, you wouldn’t find it, as it isn’t on their map at all.

Decoding the Rottnest Express Map

Decoding the Rottnest Express Map (click to enlarge)

Moral of the story: if you want to use Google Maps for your tourism website, check out how your map will appear to your customers. If your location isn’t listed, you can still set a marker using an exact latitude/longitude measure, which will at least ensure the visible marker is in the right place.

I hope Rottnest Express are successful in updating their map marker. I did call them to let them know their map needed updating – I worry about all the backpackers who’ve done the walk up river on a hot day!

PS: If you bothered to walk up river to the map marker, this is what you’d see:

The Alleged Location of B Shed

The Alleged Location of B Shed (click to enlarge)

Tourism Australia Content Widget

Visit Tourism Australia and get your own copy of The Australia Content Widget.

Once you’ve signed up, you get to have a content widget like this on your website.

Sweet Success for Honey Ant Readers

Margaret James is someone who feels passionate about early literacy.  Her years working in indigenous education in Central Australia led Margaret to conclude that not all Australians have fair access to the opportunity to be literate.

Honey Ant Readers Home page

Honey Ant Readers

So it is that Margaret became an advocate for Aboriginal education and for Aboriginal English as a language in its own right.

She developed the Honey Ant Reader program for Australians who use Aboriginal English rather than Standard Australian English. The program helps teach reading skills to Aboriginal English speakers so they can learn to read using the language they speak.

Michelle Leslie of Studio Bomba brought together a design that echos the colours of Central Australia and reflects the fun approach to Aboriginal Education offered by the Honey Ant Readers.

We built the Honey Ant website including an integrated Online Store.  Orders are placed and paid for securely online, with shipping costs quoted automatically direct from Australia Post systems.

New look for Seashells website

Seashells Hospitality Group

Seashells Hospitality Group

Recently we’ve had the pleasure of working with the team at Seashells Hospitality Group to help launch their new website, which went live yesterday.

The site was designed by Steve Binnie and the team at First Nature Design. It features the new branding that has earned Seashells a nomination in the Tourism Marketing category for the 2010 WA Tourism Awards.

What I really like about the new design is the simplicity of navigation – it is easy for visitors to find their way through the 4 different resorts without getting lost. It is easy to say that a website should be easy to navigate, much harder to achieve in practice.

Using a blog to promote your tourism business

Goin' Off Safaris Blog

Goin' Off Safaris Blog

A blog is an incredible tool to help promote your tourism business and David Doudle (aka Lunch) over at Goin’ Off Safaris provides a great example of a tourism blog in action.

Lunch’s blog is a great read – his posts are personal and conversational, and create a vivid impression of the experiences on offer.

Recently Lunch has been talking about some shark cage diving tours with Rodney Fox, and also some tours up to Lake Eyre. Here are three of his most recent posts that give you a feel for how he goes about it:

Not only do blog posts let you tell the story of your own tours or accommodation, they help your profile with the search engines as well. Sites with active blogs are indexed more frequently by Google. And each new blog post is a new page in your website – websites with more pages have the chance to be found for more searches. And blog posts are a good way to help build links to your website as well.

So if you’ve been wondering about how to improve your search engine optimisation, get on to your blog and start getting your story out there.

Introducing In Season Fly Fishing

Daniel Hackett has possibly one of the best jobs in the world. He is a fly fishing guide in the north of Tasmania, meaning he spends his days fishing some of the best trout rivers in the world. Nice work if you can get it!

In Season Fly Fishing

Daniel is also the author of In Season Fly Fishing, and we are pleased to introduce his revamped website with a new online store: In Season Fly Fishing

Already experienced in how to edit and operate his own website (RiverFly), Daniel developed his own design and content.

Our job was to create the site with his new design (prepared in Photoshop) and help with some of the preliminary setup. It is nice clean layout, and it makes it very easy to find (and buy) his books and related products.

Amsara Luxury Retreat website redevelopment

Amsara Luxury Retreat (click to enlarge)

Amsara Luxury Retreat (click to enlarge)

We were fortunate enough to be approached by Don and Jan Hodgson of Amsara Luxury Retreat to help with the redevelopment of their website.

Amsara is a very special retreat. Don and Jan have a passion for food, wine and travel, and launched The Essential Ingredient in 1987. Consider that Amsara was launched when Don & Jan …

… wanted to create a secluded and exclusive retreat where people could come and enjoy an indulgent experience in a remote and relaxed setting, while still enjoying the personalized luxury of a five star resort.


To redevelop the website, we worked once more with the very talented team at Studio Bomba who did some work on refreshing the brand before producing a gorgeous design. We also got to work with some fantastic new photographs from Nick Melidonis, who Don & Jan brought up to Amsara for the project. I particularly love the image Nick produced of the camels at sunset, a very distinctive image that I am sure people will love.

This was a wonderful project to work on, and now whenever anyone mentions ‘Broome Time’ I am immediately poolside at Amsara, water gently lapping at my feet …