By Hank Schrader, USMA ’71, Europe Destination & Europe River Cruise Expert
We are constantly trying to improve our website to help you have better trips. With so much information about travel available online, it is no wonder that it is easy to get overwhelmed or confused. I think our website will help cut through the clutter and provide with useful information about our areas of expertise.
We have two goals for our website. We want to: 1) Educate our visitors about travel opportunities and 2) Quickly allow visitors to understand our abilities to assist them in their travel.
So, does our website deliver?
How to Evaluate our Website
Since we have challenged you to evaluate our website, it is only right that we provide some criteria to make your assessment. There are 2 areas that I believe one should use when evaluating a web site. They are: 1) the Quality of the information and 2) the Quality of the website.
Quality of information can be assessed by answering 5 questions. They are:
- Is the information accurate?
- Who are the authors and what are their credentials?
- How objective is the source?
- How current is the information?
- How extensive is the coverage of information?
Quality of a Website can be evaluated by answering these 5 questions. They are:
- How universally accessible is the site?
- Is the site well designed?
- Does the site contain high quality content?
- Are Internet technologies fully utilized?
- How original/creative is the site?
So based on these criteria, let’s examine our website together.
Our website is designed to help you have a better trip by providing great information (content) about cruises, European river cruises and European vacations and adventures. It answers your questions about what travel opportunities exist, the best way to get there and what to see after your arrival. It educates and inspires and you’ll find it is easy to use. We have 9 topic headings that make the site easy to navigate and find what you are looking for on our website. The topic headings are our Homepage, Our Services, Specials, Blog, Resources, River Cruises, Cruises, Europe and About. By my count, there are 115 PowerPoints on our website, hundreds of pictures, almost all taken by us, and 100 blogs.
We believe our website has high quality content that is accurate, objective and extensive.
Quality of Information
Our homepage tells you that we specialize in ocean cruises, Europe River cruises and European adventures. It also informs you that we can help you have a better trip by providing trips that 1) will exceed your expectations, 2) help you make wise choices, 3) eliminate hassles and 4) help you get the best value for your money. Lofty words, but how do we provide customers with the highest quality, expertly planned leisure travel trips?
How Are We Different than Our Competition?
We provide you 6 reasons to use us. They are: Experience, Certification, Knowledge of the Industry, First Hand Knowledge, Membership in Professional Organizations and Ability to Earn Your Trust. In each of these 6 areas, we spell out what sets apart from other travel consultants. After reading these 6 reasons, it clearly establishes us as travel experts who apply our knowledge and industry resources to help you get a better trip.
One thing you will never see on our website—a booking engine. The reason is simple to us—we need to match you to the right trip and we cannot do that without talking to you and learning exactly what you expect from your trip. We are not selling travel, we are helping you make memories. We will get you the best value for your money if you will spend some time us. The more we can learn about you, the better we can serve you.
How about this for original content—we create our own videos. This is a unique feature our website—our videos come from PowerPoint presentations that only use our pictures. There is a new show posted to our site every 2 weeks.
We are also members of the Better Business Bureau, with an A+ rating.
Our Services Page
We provide you expertly planned vacations. To help you quickly determine if we can help you, we list our 4 primary services. They are: Europe River Cruises, Europe Land Tours, Ocean Cruises, and Full Service Agency. Under each section, there are bullet points which quickly tell why you should consider using us as your travel agents.
Our Specials Page
This is where we have good travel values. It may tell you about a good value river cruise (our 2018 & 2019 Rhine Cruise) or inform you about our upcoming 2019 D Day trip we will escort. When we find a good value, we add it here.
Our Blog Pages
We try to write a blog every week or so. The most current posts are in the blog section. We have written 100 blogs and we have most blogs posted by subject in the blog/archives section so you can quickly find the information you need. Our blogs are well respected—some of our vendors regularly read them and pass them on to others in the travel industry.
The Resources Pages
Every traveler needs tips and information to make their trip easier and safer. In this section you can get travel tips, river cruise FAQs, learn about safety, learn how to use the trains in Europe learn ways to protect your money and about travel regulations. We also have a special video section—we post our pictures in short videos. When completed, you will be able to see over 900 pictures grouped by themes.
We cover ocean cruising in the Caribbean, Europe and North America. The Cruises section covers it all—port destinations, and cruises we have taken in the Caribbean, North America and Europe. It focuses on ocean cruises only.
River Cruises Section
Perhaps the highest quality information on this website, is the 2 pages on river cruising. In my opinion, this section is exceptional—you will not find anywhere on line as in-depth a description of Europe River Cruises. The Europe River Cruise Comparisons is even better—73 slides about the 8 major lines. We cite facts but when it is our opinion, we clearly state it is our opinion.
We cover 44 Europe Countries of the European Continent. It is divided into the 4 regions of Europe and also includes a Little Treasures of Europe section that is not commonly found on websites. Each of these 5 website pages list our 50 Europe City Destination Guides by region. These guides are designed to help enjoy your stay and get the most out of your visit. We will gladly send you any or all of these free guides after you contact us about a future trip. The drop down menu makes it a convenient, easy way to get these pocket-sized city highlight guide. There are hundreds of photos in these 5 sections, most taken by us during our travels.
There are 2 areas here. First is a list of our certifications and some more detail about us. The second area is pictures some of the great folks who travel with us—we call it the Dream Destination’ Traveler Hall of Fame.
Quality of the Website
This the technology area of our website. Using Hubspot’s Website Grader, we received a 91 out of 100 grade. They evaluated the performance of our site (our grade 21 of 30), if it was mobile friendly (30 of 30), our Search Engine Optimization (30 of 30) and the site security (10 of 10). We were cited for two errors in performance. They were page size—ours is 3.2 MB, the goal is 3 MB and page requests—ours is 54, the goal is under 30. In both cases, the reason we have larger values—our pages have a lot of information and none is fluff—you need the excess info to help you adequately learn about your trip.
Here is their overall evaluation “This site is great!”
My Final Thoughts
We have tried to convey information about our specialties and how they can benefit you. We have also tried to get you to consider, when deciding whether to use us or not, why you should use us. We feel that you will get the highest quality, expertly planned trip because of our excellent credentials combined with our passion to help you and our attention to detail—it is a true winning formula!
Did our new website convey this to you?—we certainly hope so!
Whatever your Dream Destinations are, we are here to help you get the best possible vacation based on what is important to you! We will provide you high quality, expertly planned travel. Please give me a call 713-397-0188 (Hank) or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to help you: Savor life…make memories…Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!
HANK is a certified Western European Destination Specialist (DS) who has been traveling to Europe for 45 years. He is also an Accredited Cruise Counselor (ACC), conferred by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). This recognized expert in cruise and leisure travel is a retired Army Officer, and taught World Geography for 8 years. He is a `71 graduate of West Point and has earned 2 master’s degrees. His other Certifications:
- AmaWaterways River Cruise Specialist
- Viking River Cruise Specialist
- Scenic River Cruise Specialist
- Emerald Waterways Specialist
- Avalon Waterways Specialist
- Brit Agent