New Online Tools Make Travel to South Dakota Easier
PIERRE, S.D. –An estimated 75% of travel consumers are doing their travel research online, according to the Travel Industry Association.
With online travel planning dominating the tourism market, the South Dakota Office of Tourism has upgraded its Web site to improve the planning process. South Dakota first implemented an interactive trip planner in 2006. Since then, the planner has continued to add features and tools to stay ahead of online travel technology.
One of the most recent additions to the trip planner is the interactive tour guide. The tour guide appears on screen and walks visitors step-by-step through the trip planner. The tour guide is designed to make the site even more user-friendly while bringing an interactive and personal feel to the experience.
The trip planner itself presents an engaging, visual and user-friendly tool that allows visitors to view all tourism attractions, events and activities registered with the state. After selecting their favorite destinations and activities, visitors can flag the attractions on a map to see proximity to other destinations. View the tool at http://www.travelsd.com/tripplanner/itp/
An itinerary also allows visitors to view all of their selections, sort out activities and place them into a calendar, which they can save, print or e-mail to themselves.
“As online planning becomes more sophisticated and common, it’s important that we engage tourists with helpful and convenient tools to give them what they’re looking for,” said Billie Jo Waara, director of the South Dakota Office of Tourism. “The trip planner is like a concierge service; it answers all of tourists’ questions from what the best restaurants in the area are to where the nearest golf course is.”
Users can search not just by keyword, but also by experience, such as family fun, history or national parks. This feature allows tourists who might not know much about the state to discover and explore fun attractions.
The search also produces details about the destination, links to websites, travel specials and contact information.
“Planning a vacation is half of the fun and the trip planner contains everything tourists will need to plan and get the most out of a vacation to South Dakota,” said Waara. “Few states have implemented a trip planner that is so exhaustive, offers so many planning features and is available without first going through a drawn out registration process.”
The enhancements to www.TravelSD.com
are part of Goal 1 of the 2010 initiative to double visitor spending in South Dakota. The Office of Tourism serves under the direction of Richard Benda, Secretary of the Department of Tourism and State Development.