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Why Travelers Aren’t Using DMO Websites (and How to Fix That)

“Why aren’t more travelers using my website?”

It’s a question a lot of DMOs are asking — and for a good reason. Nowadays 52% of people start their vacation planning on social media.

But if you’re pouring energy and money into promoting your destination and its best local businesses and attractions on your website, you want people to use it!

Over the years we’ve noticed some common reasons why travelers are ignoring DMO sites. Keep reading to see what they are, and how you can fix them!

1 | People just don’t know about your website

How do people find your website?

With so many other places to start trip planning, like social media or travel sites like TripAdvisor, sometimes travelers just don’t think to look for it.

The Solution: 

Use social media to bring people to your website. Travelers are already on social media to discover destinations for upcoming vacations and events.


Create and share interesting content that drives back to your website, like Destination Cleveland in this tweet above. If you have a visitor guide on your website or interesting blog posts, share them on social! The occasional social contest that requires people to go to your website can also give a needed boost of traffic around key times of the year.

Don’t underestimate the value of being the authority on your destination by being the best source of both content and visuals on the things visitors are searching for.

2 | Your website isn’t visually striking

Marketers behind the most innovative DMO sites know that from the moment a web visitor lands on their destination site, it’s their job to keep them there.

Especially now that people are accustomed to our new age of visual media — if your website doesn’t give a great first impression with a visual impact, visitors will be more likely to click away and never come back.

The Solution:

Make sure all your landing pages — from your homepage to your blog posts — wow your visitors with stunning visuals.

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

A lot of DMO websites are embedding auto-playing videos onto their homepages. With video, you can tell a high-level story of your destination within 5 seconds — which is enough to inspire attention.

3 | Your website’s visuals are stale

When you feature commissioned photos on your website, it’s easy to leave them up for months, even years. Partly because it’s expensive and time-consuming to regularly commission photos, and partly because updating photos on a website often requires web development resources.  

But a lack of up-to-date images can make site visitors feel like no one’s home.

The Solution:

Your visitors are taking, tagging, and sharing thousands of photos of your destination — and that number is growing. One thing that’s been popular with DMOs we work with is displaying user-generated photos on galleries on their websites. Featuring these images will keep your visuals fresh, current, and highlight your best attractions.

4 | Your photos look too perfect

The reason why sites like Instagram have become popular with travelers is because they can show an authentic, unfiltered view of the sights, sounds, and activities of a destination.

For example, if your website features a photo of a pristine beach, it will get people’s attention, yes — but they might be skeptical that the beach looks like that during peak season.

The Solution:


Embed Instagram photos (both yours and those taken by visitors and locals) so that people can see photos of your destination in real time as they’re being shared. So while you can say that your destination has temperatures in the 60’s in November, website visitors will appreciate seeing recent photos so they can see firsthand what people are actually wearing.

5 | Your site only shares well-known tourist spots

Does your site cater to niche tourist interests? If so, foodies, art hounds, hikers, and craft beer enthusiasts, for example, will all be looking for more than the most popular sights.

Imagine a New York travel site that only talked about Times Square — there’s nothing unique this site offers!

If you keep points of interest too general on your website, you may risk getting passed over in favor of more “best kept secret” websites and blogs about your destination.

The Solution:


Give people a reason to use your site by creating pages and blog posts around niche travel interests. Invite local influencers with particular specialties (like cocktails, artisan burgers, music, etc.) to do guest posts. Offer neighborhood guides, like Airbnb, and give a more “insider’s” take on showing the lesser-known spots!

6 | Your site doesn’t let users act on their inspiration

Imagine you’re on a website that raves about a local restaurant. It’s got fantastic pictures and glowing descriptions… but no link to the restaurant’s website, or any information about how you can make a reservation.

Chances are you’re not going to jump through hoops tracking down the official restaurant website, right? Or if you do, it’s more work for you. Either way, it’s not a great experience.

The Solution:

Don’t leave people hanging — give actionable inspiration!


Keep your beautiful images but make sure you add direct links to the restaurants, museums, and attractions shown in those visuals. Offering this seamless online experience will make your local businesses happy and give your website visitors a reason to return.

7 | Your website isn’t mobile-friendly

In this day and age, if your website isn’t mobile-friendly, you might be losing as much as half your traffic. After all, mobile now drives up to 56% of traffic to top sites every day.

What’s more, responsive sites rank better on Google — meaning unresponsive sites rank lower.

The Solution:

You guessed it — optimize your site for mobile. For sure — it might be costly and might take a long time, but believe us when we say that transforming your site to cater to mobile is going to give your users a significantly better experience (and keep them coming back!).

8 | Your site feels more like a directory

It’s not enough for your website to list out your best restaurants, local attractions, and landmarks. You don’t want to just be a directory — you want to tell a story, to capture people’s imaginations and inspire them to visit.

While visitors may be looking for something specific (like charming local hotspots), the way you present the information and your connection to it will make it enticing.

The Solution:

Start with your brand DNAFor example, are you a nature lover’s oasis? A family getaway spot? Focusing on that angle of your brand’s “personality” will allow you to create a visual story that will magnetize new tourists and customers to you.

St. Petersburg-Clearwater, for example, is a beach vacation spot in Florida — but they don’t just list beaches on their website.

They curate the best traveler photos that showcase their unique vacation experience — places you can visit. You don’t just see one or two photos of someone on a beach. You see such a variety and volume of imagery that you feel compelled to be a part of it too. 


It’s time to stand out as the authority for your destination.

If your resources and budgets are limited, perhaps start with one or two changes that can deliver a measurable impact. And consider the other problem areas as you build out a plan to undergo a larger website refresh.

Want this content (plus more!) in a downloadable form? We put it in an eBook just for you!

Further reading:

Header image creds: @thejorelle