What customers want from a Caribbean tourism website is a great package deal. Alternatively, they want to get a hotel at a good price, and get a 'best of' for the destination.According to a Customer Carewords poll of 130 attendees at User Interface 11
, held in Boston in October 2006, the top 10 most important things for people thinking of visiting the Caribbean on vacation are:
# Caribbean Vacation Packages
# Things to Do & See
# Best of Caribbean
# About the Caribbean
# The Best Beaches
# The Best Moderately-Priced Hotels
# Special Offers
Participants were given a list of 91 Caribbean tourism carewords to choose from. They were asked to choose their top 5 from this list. They were then asked to give a score of 5 to their most important careword, 4 to the next most important careword, and so on.
The top five carewords (Caribbean Vacation Packages, Things to Do & See, Best of Caribbean, About the Caribbean, and Accommodation) represented 5 percent of the carewords total. They received 31 percent of the vote. This is what we call the Long Neck principle.
The Long Neck principle holds that from a list of choices people will select a very small set as the most important. At 31 percent of the vote, the top 5 Caribbean carewords got more votes than the bottom 69 phrases. In practical terms, what this means is that these five careword phrases get to the essence of what people want most from a Caribbean tourism website.
We have carried out Customer Carewords surveys over a five-year period for both intranets and public websites of governments, universities, associations and commercial websites. On every single occasion, there has been a Long Neck of high-priority carewords and tasks.
The Long Neck principle is a variation on the Pareto 80:20 principle. This principle predicts that, for example, 80 percent of income is earned by 20 percent of the population, or that 80 percent of sales is from 20 percent of customers.
When we analyze the Customer Carewords results we find that while the top 5 percent gets on average 25 percent of the vote, the top 20 percent only gets 60 percent of the vote. In our Caribbean poll, the top 20 percent of carewords got 62 percent of the vote.
What this means, in essence, is that there is huge consensus among a group about what is really important. But that consensus dissipates very quickly, with people then thinking that there are quite a few things that are fairly important, and that there are a lot of things that are of minor importance.
What are the implications of the Long Neck for the management of a website -- and the delivery of the maximum return on investment for that website?
* Your customers are highly impatient.
* They have a small set of Long Neck tasks that they will quickly scan your webpages for.
If they see these Long Neck tasks addressed prominently and with clarity, you will pass that vital test of relevance.
If you present the important Long Neck carewords on your homepage and other key pages, then you will keep the attention of your impatient customers. Instead of reaching for the Back button, your customers will be clicking on one of your links to complete the task they came to your website to complete.
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.