Beth Hancock

Inntravel, 03 February, 2020
2019 was a very busy year for our website editor, Beth Hancock. Now that the new website has been live for a few months and things are less frantic, we took the opportunity to ask her a few questions.

How many years have you been website editor for?
A long time! Basically for as long as Inntravel has had an online presence. At the start, when was still in its infancy, I was heavily involved in writing and producing the brochures as well, but for the last twelve years I’ve focused solely on the website.

What do you like about the job?
The variety. Some aspects of the role require creativity, others problem-solving or analysing statistics. This week I’ve been writing new content for the Inspiration section. Last week I invited some volunteers in and observed them as they browsed the site to see if there is anything that we need to improve on. Next week will be spent planning a few enhancements. And that’s another thing that I like about the job – nothing’s set in stone. There’s a certain finality to signing off a brochure to go to print, knowing that that’s it for another twelve months. But with a website you can add to it, improve it and adapt it on an ongoing basis.

So what was the reasoning behind the website relaunch last summer?
We know that a lot of regular customers really liked our old website. They were familiar with it and knew their way around. It worked well on desktop computers and tablets but, crucially, not so well on mobiles. We wanted a site that was enjoyable to browse on any device, and that was the main reason for the revamp but, of course, we took the opportunity to give the whole site a new look and improve some of the functions.

What are you most pleased with?
The search facility – it’s so much more powerful than on the old site. You can search for multiple countries and/or grades at the same time, and also stipulate the type of scenery, how and from where you travel, and much, much more.

We also worked really hard to create a template for holiday pages that looks good and contains all the necessary information in one place in an easy-to-read layout. We’ve added altitude charts to the pages of walking and cycling holidays, a flight picker so that you can see what options are available from your preferred airport, more information about our recommendations for extending your holiday, holiday-specific FAQs, and more.

What did you change on other parts of the site?
We added Google maps to pages such as cycling in France and walking in Germany, so that you can browse by location. If you click on the pins, a brief synopsis of the holiday, together with a link to it, appears.

We also improved our shortlist facility, so that you can see more readily what is included in different holidays. Shortlisting a holiday is simple – just click on the heart symbol. There’s no need to sign in or anything.

There were several significant changes behind the scenes that I won’t bore you with, except to say that they will pave the way for improvements for customers living in the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. We’ll reveal more at the end of the year!

What was the biggest challenge?
Making sure that the site works equally as well for someone at home viewing it on a wide-screen TV as for someone sitting on the train browsing on their phone. Some people have commented that the new site has a lot of white space and too many sections that you have to click to expand, but when I look at the new site and compare it the old one, I am convinced the changes are positive – not everyone looking at the website wants the same level of detail, and the old design was very cluttered, with huge chunks of text. The new layouts contain the same amount of information – sometimes more – in a more easily digestible format.

If someone is looking for a holiday and doesn’t know where to start, what would you recommend?
If you have an idea about what country and level you’re looking for, I’d recommend the search facility. If you really don’t have any idea whatsoever, take a look at the Inspiration section, where you’ll find ideas by month and by theme.
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