Online Resort Directory Business

Overview Of Business Model
If vacationers know where they want to go or what they want to do, the best way for them to get information to plan their trip is through a resort directory. As the entire travel vacation industry makes its rapid transition to online service, so too are resort directories. A resort directory is a collection of Web sites and information about various resorts in a given region or by type of vacation. For example, if you wanted to go to Florida you would look for a Florida resort directory. However, if you wanted to go hiking in the Rockies you would look for a Rocky Mountain or a hiking resort guide.

Your Web site will generate income through banner advertisements, through affiliate program revenue, by taking a small percentage of online reservations, or by making hotels pay to be members. An affiliate program pays you money whenever someone uses your Web site and then visits one of the resorts affiliated with you.

Skills Needed
A broad familiarity with the resort industry by region or by type would be of benefit. However, you could pick up this knowledge as your business progresses. Since your Web site will need to be updated fairly frequently, you will need someone who can take care of this function.

Cost To Start This Business
The cost to initially set up your resort directory will range from $10,000 to over $50,000. These costs include a high-end computer, appropriate software, a printer, a scanner, and a digital camera. You will need to have a Web site designed, developed, and hosted. You will also want a special searchable database researched, designed, and integrated into your Web site. However, you could use a much less sophisticated Web site to start if you wish.

Number Of Employees Needed To Start
Your business will require one or more part-time employees. These include one part-time computer programmer to write and maintain your Web site and the database. You will also need someone to contact all the resorts in the directory and plug your services. Then, depending on how your site will generate money, you must try to gain advertisements, affiliate with the resort, arrange an online reservation system, or get resorts to join your site.

International Potential
You can easily access the international market by contacting foreign resorts that fit your theme and integrating them into your Web site. Obviously, if you are advertising resorts in California, then you couldn’t really exploit this, but if your directory was a beach resort directory, then you could include resorts from all over the world. Your only restriction is the language barrier.

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Important Business Issues To Be Addressed
You must carefully select what type of resorts or which niche your directory will cover. Review your competition online before you start to ensure that there is an opportunity.

Online Marketing Techniques

  • Launching a strategic banner advertising campaign on Web sites frequented by your target market would be a great way to increase traffic to your site. Sites that you could place banner ads on include noncompeting travel and resort sites, and other Web sites that would be of interest to your target market.
  • You could hold a weekly or monthly contest on your site for a free weekend at a resort, which would be provided by your clients. You could ask people if they would like to be notified of the winner via e-mail. This would encourage them to return to your site and re-enter your contest, thus re-exposing them to your site.
  • Develop as many links as possible from appropriate Web sites, directories, meta-indexes, and Web rings frequented by your target market.
  • You could develop a Featured Resort page on your site. You could change this every week. People will continue to return to your site to see what the featured resort is. You could even ask people if they would like to be notified of updates to your Featured Resort section via e-mail. This would be a great way to encourage repeat traffic.
  • Develop a sponsored listings campaign to bid on appropriate keyword phrases with the popular search engines.
  • A mail list or newsletter can also be used to advertise your deals and keep consumers interested in your site.
  • Develop articles for travel-related e-zines. Perhaps be a contributing editor with a featured resort for e-zines and magazines related to travel and tourism. Make sure to provide your Web address in the resources box.

Additional Income
Additional income can be generated by using more than one of these methods for setting up your resort directory. You could also sell equipment related to the vacation type you represent. If your directory is for scuba resorts, for example, you could sell scuba gear.

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