15 Jul Wisconsin Tourism Aided by Internet Technology
Not only does WisconsinGuide.com save time, it has also gotten on board with the “real-time economy.” Peterson said that the site is a great example of real-time technology.” “WisconsinGuide.com is helping to bring the ‘real time economy’ to the traditional Wisconsin tourism industry by allowing business owners the ability to quickly, easily and affordably maintain a web presence,” said Peterson.
WisconsinGuide.com was featured on the WMTV NBC 15 morning show in Madison last Friday. According to Sayler, the site had over 55,000 hits on Friday alone. She said the more WisconsinGuide.com promotes itself, the more it will continue to grow. “We need to get the word out that this website exists so more people use it because it’s an awesome one-stop resource for travel information,” she said.
Peterson and Sayler, sisters who grew up together in Wisconsin and love traveling the state, realized that Wisconsin was not adequately promoted online. “We were always looking for new places to visit and decided to create a resource to provide the kind of information that we ourselves look for,” said Peterson. “We also weren’t seeing Wisconsin promoted online in the way that we saw it – we wanted to convey the warmth, beauty and adventure this state has to offer.”
They also recognized that many smaller Wisconsin tourism businesses had little or no web presence. WisconsinGuide.com provides an easy and affordable venue for Wisconsin tourism businesses to reach out to their targeted audiences. In turn, Wisconsin tourists have a one-stop guide to over 30,000 listings across Wisconsin including recreation, lodging, dining, attractions, events, and shopping. The database is also searchable by region, county, city, keyword, date and category.
Businesses that wish to be listed on WisconsinGuide.com can build a spotlight ad or website using SiteBuilder Xpress software. They choose a template design, color and font, add their own photos or logos and text and answer a series of questions. Within 15 minutes they have a functional website. The cost is a one-time fee of $200 plus $30 a month for up to a five-page website.
Sayler, co-founder of WisconsinGuide.com, said many businesses that already have a website opt to create another one using the SiteBuilder Xpress technology through WisconsinGuide.com. “The low monthly cost makes it feasible, and it gives them an online ad in one of the fastest growing portals on the Internet,” she said. “They’ll also get higher ranking and placement in the search engine, making it easier for potential customers to find them.”
A business owner can also choose to have a basic listing of their company on WisconsinGuide.com for free. The free option allows a business to list their name, phone number, address, website link, email address and give a brief description of their business, although they miss out on the increased visibility of having a featured website or a spotlight ad.
According to Peterson, WisconsinGuide.com saves time and money for tourism businesses because the WisconsinGuide.com website is marketed through search engines, shared links, email, banners, targeted magazines, newspapers, TV, radio, billboards and trade shows.
Because almost 70% of travel planners use the Internet to plan trips as compared to only 20% five years ago, Peterson said that WisconsinGuide.com is an important resource for travel planners and tourism businesses in Wisconsin.
Peterson said the site is valuable for people planning a trip to Wisconsin because it gives specific search results geared toward tourism. “Using a niche site like WisconsinGuide.com prevents you from being lost among every other type of business out there,” she said. “Those planning their trips can easily find you because they don’t have to sift through search returns that don’t relate to what they’re looking for.”
Sayler said that time is too valuable to waste surfing the Internet to find tourism information. “People don’t like clicking all over the place,” she said. “They just want to go to one place and find it all.”
Alexis Johnson is a Madison, Wisconsin based writer and regular contributor to the Wisconsin Technology Network. Alexis can be reached at Alexis Johnson.