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Some people just don’t ‘get’ the internet!

Argh!I recently read a newspaper article about The New White Lion at Llandovery in Wales and thought I would check them out with a view to a short stay with my family later this month.   The first thing that strikes me is that there’s an air of quality about the site, a nice choice of colours and font… but then I find myself waiting… and waiting… I’m sitting in front of a Flash intro and there’s no means to skip it.   That’s more than half a minute of my time wasted every time I choose to visit the site – that’s not right,  I think to myself.   Anyway… moving on… I decide to click on the Rooms page.   It tells me that there’s a family room… great.   But hang on… which one of the six rooms is the family room – it doesn’t say! I click on the ‘door’ to each room, but all I get is a single picture (often a close-up of something like a lamp in the room) and no text.   That doesn’t help me.   OK, so how much does this place cost anyhow…?   Oh, no… there’s no tariff anywhere to be found.   I email them and say that the site looks beautiful but politely point out that it’s very poor from a usability point of view, and could they please tell me which room is the family room and what the rates are.   I get a fairly prompt reply saying that I can call them on the telephone to discuss if I wish.   I would have sooner just been told the information I was after, but I ‘phone anyway.   And guess what… I get an answering machine!   I left my details so they could call back but that was now over 4 hours ago…

Paul Johnson

Paul Johnson is Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog and has worked in the travel industry for more than 30 years. He is Winner of the Innovations in Travel ‘Best Travel Influencer’ Award from WIRED magazine. In addition to other awards, the blog has also been voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph.

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  1. I agree with you. Unfriendly-user websites are really annoying. When I book a room, I’d like to see a few photos of it before.

    Nonetheless, the website that you indicate does not seem too bad for me. There’s a flash intro, but you can skip it.

  2. I stand corrected about the ability to ‘skip’. The machine I was on earlier had two toolbar items so the ‘skip’ option was pushed off the bottom of the screen and I didn’t notice it.

    I would also say that this website looks very attractive indeed. But what it lacks – in my opinion – is an ability to be useful to a prospective guest.

    No real insight into the rooms… no tariff… there’s some beautiful photographs, don’t get me wrong. The site’s just not conducive to getting me to book, particularly when I email with a question, get a reply which gives a telephone number, and get an answering machine when I call!

    Oh, by the way… they still haven’t called back.

  3. To update, the General Manager did call back… but it was 24 hours later and by then I’d made alternative arrangments. She was very friendly and helpful. I have now learnt that ‘Physicians of Myddfai’ is the family room, and that the rate is £120 per night (I *think* that was per room, not per person) and includes afternoon tea and Welsh breakfast. Hopefully, I can give them a try on another occasion.

    Incidentally, back at my work machine, and I’m looking at the site once more. The option to ‘skip’ isn’t missing because of the toolbars – it’s just not there at all. I wonder if this is because I have an earlier version of Flash installed here…??? Whatever it is that’s causing it, it’s clearly not good practice on the part of the designers.

  4. It never ceases to amaze me how badly designed some sites are, especially when they could obviously afford to do a good job on it.

    I’ve seen some shockers. One restaurant’s website simply consisted of huge jpegs of the menu. Some hotels give you all the pretty pictures but no information and no easy means to book online. Sometimes it’s easier – and cheaper – to go via a third party to make your online booking.

    As you wrote – “Some people just don’t ‘get’ the Internet!” What a pity.

  5. What’s perhaps also alarming is that we’re now 18 months on and the site (for the most part, at least) still hasn’t changed.

  6. The internet is such a useful tool and particularly in travel and experiences like restaurants, it allows companies to market to their clients and potential clients worldwide. Unfortunately in my experience many do not take full advantage of the opportunties that a good clean and informative website can bring to their business. At the recent webby awards Tourism Montreal and Tourism Australia both won awards.

    Paul they also have categories for blogs – maybe you should enter next year?

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