Official website of Greater Phoenix CVB adds custom itinerary planner, Google maps, user-generated reviews, social-media content and new mobile site

Phoenix, AZ (Feb 4, 2010) — Phoenix is not a travel destination known for its surfing. But that might change with the launch of the completely redesigned website visitphoenix.com.

The official website of the Greater Phoenix Convention & Visitors Bureau has long catered to the needs of visitors planning or considering a trip to America’s sunniest metropolis. But the new site is designed to satisfy the expectations of even the savviest Web surfers, allowing them to post ratings and reviews, create customized Google maps and itineraries, integrate trip planning into their social-media lifestyles and access it all on the new mobile site as well.

“It’s not enough for a website like visitphoenix.com to just be user friendly anymore,” said Kevin Kamenzind, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the Greater Phoenix CVB. “It has to provide an online experience that is intuitive and responsive at every turn. It should have all the tools users need to research and plan a trip, plus a few they maybe didn’t know they needed.”

Among the new tools available at visitphoenix.com is a trip planner function that allows users to create personalized itineraries. Users can share their itinerary with friends via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or other popular sharing sites. They also can view itinerary items on a customized Google map.

The new visitphoenix.com also empowers visitors to contribute opinions and content. All the business listings on the site — for hotels, resorts, restaurants, transportation providers, outdoor outfitters and more — allow users to post ratings and reviews.

The site redesign comes after two years of research by the CVB, which included focus groups around the country and a web site survey conducted by Destination Analysts. The survey showed that visitors are looking for attractions, a calendar of events, restaurants and area maps above other information. The Greater Phoenix CVB commissioned BarkleyREI to design and develop the site using the research results.

“We took the research and with user experience studies from BarkleyREI, developed a site that users were asking for,” explained Kelley Cooper, Internet Marketing Manager at the Greater Phoenix CVB. “We also wanted to let the users have a voice with social media and ratings and reviews, and the feedback has been extremely positive.”

Cooper, who spearheads the Greater Phoenix CVB’s social-media efforts, noted that the new website incorporates content and links from VisitPhoenix’s Facebook fan page, Twitter feed, Flickr photo catalogue, and The Hot Sheet blog.

“We are listening to our users. As further research and analytics show us what’s working and what’s not, we’re going to make changes and make it better all the time. There are already some phase two items under development that we’re very excited about,” Cooper said.

The new site also focuses on strong visuals by using vivid photography and videos, mostly from the CVB’s new Phoenix Dream Day series. In the series, local “celebrities” such as Chef Mark Tarbell, local fashion designer Angela Johnson and Mayor Phil Gordon, take the viewer through their favorite things to do in the Phoenix area.

The new website also features special pages for meeting planners, travel professionals, media and member businesses. 

Accompanying the debut of the redesigned visitphoenix.com is a new mobile website: m.visitphoenix.com. It puts easy-to-navigate information about Greater Phoenix into the hands of visitors who use BlackBerries, iPhones or other mobile devices. It also allows them to access their personalized itineraries on the go.

“All these improvements go back to the notion of exceeding visitors’ expectations and going beyond mere helpfulness,” Kamenzind said. “Our old website was helpful. We’ve tried to make this one indispensable.”

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