Thursday, November 30, 2006

Never mind the technicalities - Are you winning?

So we made big changes, did it make a big difference to bookings? After all the website is paid for by bookings. The answer is not dramatically so, the bookings were up by 35% or so, but that could be just a rise in the overall online travel market, with a modest additional amount.

The key to bigger bookings will surely come from 1) more advertisers 2) more customers. Its the second group I need first. We have reached virtual distribution saturation locally, we have the accommodation we need. We need more traffic - the same as most websityes out there !

Updates and check list of new actions

We have continued to work with Joomla and created some other great stuff with it since cutting our teeth on The Irish Riviera (see for example).

What we have now learned in that there are some great add ons for Joomla - over 1,000 of them - and some of the latter ones are imperative for a revised version of the site. Artio SEF for example is great for renaming the pages to more SEF and human friendly ones - and unbelievably its free.

So a major revamp is needed again - its been a year after all. But there is another reason to change. Joomla is being constantly upgraded, we have not leapt to follow each .point upgrade as each one throws up more work to get the site working properly. BUt Joomla 1.5 is now in beta and about to be the new standard. We will move to 1.5 as its the future - but its a major upgrade and will require some serious work. We'll wait until 1.5 has been out and live for a month or two to see wha problems arise.

Inspired to action

Wow its been a busy year since the last post. The website was completely redesigned and rewritten, using Joomla CMS, in December 2005 and launched in early January 2006. Its now been running fro nearly a year with some success.

So what has worked ? Well we've more features on the site, its more interactive and much easier to add content. We now have a great system for managing the properties that advertise called 'Hot Property' and fully integrated photo galleries and some interactive maps. It even looks a little like the .Net design suggestion.

What has been harder is retaining the PR ranking for the new site. For all its faults the HTML was quite lean and I guess its inevitable that the Joomla code is not. More importantly the dynamic page name allocation does not create user friendly (or SEO friendly) page names. The net effect is that we have got PR for the new pages (phew) but the old html page remain in the Google index too and usually with higher PR than the replacement pages.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

RSS Feeds

Spreading the word and keeping up to date, RSS feeds are the way ahead. We'll be adding RSS feeds to the new re-design to stay abreast of latest travel advisories and local news.

A Content Management System ?

We are about to take a break, but have to consider how we approach the redesign. We have a long list of features to retain and new ones to add.

We could go and get it created, but only if that still leaves us a completed flexible system that we can develop further.

We could use a CMS system and just have the template redesigned. I am currently testing Mambo as a CMS environment, as there are some great modules that I like the features of. But just as with most CMS systems its quite restrictive (1 page layout for all pages - unless you invoke a hack). Hardly ideal.

Monday, July 04, 2005

.Net magazine article

The Irish Riviera website has always had a very simple design (because I am not a graphic designer and couldn't afford one at the outset). So I wrote to .Net magazine and submitted our site to them as a target for their makeover team.

We were chosen, and they came up with a very attractive front page.
They also commented that the site was full of great information but that information is buried.

I agree, and a redesign is now on the cards.

I like the look that they created, but I have concerns if we used it. There is less copy here for Google to devour, and less chance to SEO it. It would also need to be regularly updated (via a CMS system?) .

And exactly how does one make the text flow around a picture in HTML without handcoding?

Richard Joins

Richard Knight has come over for an extended stay and brings his considerable writing and design talent to bear on the content to be added. Richard has the great job of visiting and writing a guide to all of the towns, villages, sites and sights that are worthy of mention on The Irish Riviera website.

Our aim is to compeletly rewrite The free giveaway 'Irish Riviera Guide', and add up to 20,000 words and hundred extra photos. We have a mailing list of over 4,500 peopel now to send the updated guide on to, and will also offer the updated guide on he website to broadband users (it will now be too big for modem users).

The extra copy will also find its way onto the website too, but a redesign and re layout will be neede to accommodate it all. At last we will have full guides to Kinsale, Lismore, Midleton, Dungarvan, Cobh, Ardmore etc.... and many more.

Saturday, June 04, 2005

First Year Completed

We've just completed our first year and we looked back on a website and internet marketing that had attracted over 70,000 individuals, who viisted the site 143,000 times and brought in well over €100,000 to the local area. Not bad!

But the season is now starting all of those hundreds of guests are arriving - what problems will that bring ?

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Onwards and Upwards - 2005

Xmas has come and gone, and now we are into the new year. We were so busy coming up to Xmas that we couldn't run the event we had planned for local accommodation owners. However that has not stopped over 25 signing up to join The Irish Riviera website as soon as they can.

Lastest news says that tourism in Ireland is on the decline, whilst that may be so, the signs for us this year are great. We need to get everything online, as soon as possible, and help the owners to set up their sites.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

No time to delay - Online Tourism MASSIVE

Forrester Research Predicts Online Holiday Sales In Europe To Hit €13 Billion
Will Surpass US Online Holiday Sales By €3 Billion

Amsterdam, November 10, 2004 . . . According to Forrester Research, Europe will outpace the US in online holiday sales this year. It estimates that eCommerce during the holiday season in Western Europe will increase by 44% over last year, bringing in €13 billion compared with €10 billion ($13 billion) in the US.

According to Forrester, this growth will be driven by more affluent online shoppers, an eCommerce push by traditional retailers, and the aggressive promotion of online stores.Commenting on the expected distribution of the predicted online holiday sales across countries and industries, Hellen Omwando, Consumer Markets Analyst at Forrester Research says: "The UK will continue to lead the charge in online holiday sales, but Germany and Southern European countries will steal some of its share.

Leisure travel will remain the largest money-spinner, followed closely by apparel

Invitation to Hotel, B&B, Guesthouse owners

At last the mailshot for the local Hotel, B&B and Guesthouse owners is ready. It'll be send next Tuesday and followed up the following week. Its says ...............

"IT’S OFFICIAL – You should be getting lots of online bookings”
You could get up to half your bookings on-line, without any set up costs!

According to official figures 11% of guest accommodation bookings are made over the internet. But that’s not the full story, it’s an average. The truth is that some properties get up to 50% of their business from the internet, while others get NONE.

You may be wondering why? You might think that only the most expensive websites succeed – but you’d be wrong. You might think that its only for the largest hotels – wrong again. Online booking is successful for all types of Hotel, B&B and Guesthouse - yours included. Indeed, at the Irish Hotels Federation conference in March, all delegates were told “Get online or lose out”.
The truth is that to get online business you need to have a website that is linked to a really effective online credit card booking system. And I mean a proper system that checks your latest availability and makes an instant reservation.

NB: Most Hotels and B&B’s fail to get bookings because their website only has a request form – with a promise to reply soon. That just won’t do. Customers will not wait. With thousands of other Hotels and B&B’s offering instant online booking your customers will simply go elsewhere.
Free Offer We’re offering you a Free booking system for your property because you are local to us and we’d like to promote your business. But don’t get me wrong. We’re not offering this for free just so that we can charge you to install it – its free.

We will create an online booking system with you that can take credit card bookings 24 hours day. Your bookings will be totally secure. If fact, your online system will be exactly the same as some of Ireland’s biggest hotel groups (many of whom have paid a lot of money for this same facility). Your booking system will work from our website, and if you already have your own website we can add credit card booking to that too – for free!

“It’s great. We’ve had a website for years. But with Martin’s help our online business way up.”Kate Fitzgibbon – of Ahernes Youghal

But that’s not the end of the story. You see your booking system won’t find new guests by itself - you need to have internet customers using it. And to find these - you need marketing.
That's where we will add even more. My name is Martin Finn and I've been an internet marketeer for the past 14 years. My company, based in Youghal, has set up the first and only holiday website that exclusively sells this area – the area of East Cork and West Waterford that we call The Irish Riviera.

Look at the success!
We have just completed our first summer season, and it was a great success. Since spring, we have had an amazing 63,000 visitors to our website. That’s over sixty thousand visitors wanting to know more about holidays in this area.

And they are still arriving; every day another 150-250 new visitors come and discover that The Irish Riviera is a great place for their next holiday. Most importantly they also research and book their holiday accommodation.

You see, visitors don’t just read about the area, they make online enquiries and on-line bookings too. Over 6,000 of our visitors have either asked for further details such as pricing, availability or just booked there and then . Its all handled automatically 24 hours a day. You can take bookings day and night – effortlessly.

2004 was our first year and yet we’ve generated over €100,000 of extra business for local accommodation. In fact, we created far more demand that we could meet.

2nd Free Offer
That’s why we’re also offering you a FREE listing for your property for 2005. A free listing on The Irish Riviera will give you access to our website visitors, and with your online booking system you can convert them to paying guests.

So that’s a free booking system (that can often cost thousands of Euros) and a free listing on the premier website selling this area. I can hear you thinking “There must be a charge – and there has to be a catch”. Well yes, we do make a charge, its just 10% for credit card bookings that are taken using our system. And that’s all. As for the catch – well … this free offer is only available for the first 20 properties to sign up. This letter has been sent to 98 local owners and managers – you should make sure that you are in the first 20!

NB: I should add that the online booking system relies upon your daily access to the internet and email, and your maintenance of online availability. Its not hard and we will help you.
So what do you have to gain? A chance to get access to more bookings, throughout the year. What do you have to lose? Nothing. There’s no risk, and no cost to you. Join us today and you could be online and taking bookings within a few days.

Even More. We’re adding new sections to The Irish Riviera all the time. We concentrated in Youghal for 2004. Now we’re expanding to the full Riviera for 2005. Don’t miss your chance to be listed in our pages for Ardmore, Lismore, Dungarvan, Ballycotton and others.
That’s not all. We also produce The Irish Riviera Guide, a free book that is given away from our website. To date we’ve distributed over 1,000 copies, and have many hundreds on our mailing list waiting for the 2005 edition – which could have your free listing in it too.

You can be part of The Irish Riviera success story today. To get started, use the internet to go to and join up immediately.

If you’re still not totally convinced. We will be holding a demonstration and seminar in Youghal before Christmas. But please be aware that the 20 free places may already be filled by then. Of course I’d be delighted to answer your questions, so please call me, within 7 days, on 024 20634.
There really is no reason to wait. You have nothing to lose. Remember every day that goes by another 150-250 guests have visited our website, and could have booked online with you!

Friday, November 19, 2004

Questions - questions

One of the side effects of running the most popular website in the Youghal area, is that you get calls from all over world and questions about things that have nothing to do with The Irish Riviera (

Today I was asked for the phone number of the shipping department of the pottery in Shanagarry (Stephen Pearse I presume). Yesterday - "Did I have a list of all the old towns in Ireland". Last week could I trace some relatives of a man from Oregon and his family in Donegal - errrr... politely No!

I also get great questions - these are ones from owners and holidaymakers who want to deal with us and just want clarification of something. What's great about them is that we all win and ...... I can answer them.

Today it was the owner of a Guesthouse and self catering who has tried it all on the internet and can't get it to work for her. She heard about The Irsih Riviera and how we were different.

Can we get her more bookings - YES. How much does it cost to set up - NOTHING. What is the catch- THERE ISN'T ONE. Half an hour later and she was getting herself a new free website - and I am confident this one will work.

You may wonder why she had not succeeded before. Well its hard to be certain, but her internet site is invisible on the searches that count. She only comes top searches that no-one will ever make. It's OK being number one for "farm holidays near Dungarvan", but don't rely on it be bring you huge traffic.

Choosing the right phrases that are both popular and that the website can compete well against other websites (who are targetting the same phrases) is a lot of hard and concentrated work, with results that take months to happen.

I can offer this service- but too few are willing to make the neccessary long term investment. Those that do - like Ahernes in Youghal ( have seen their online business multiply by a factor of 15!