Visit Rovaniemi wanted to update its websites in order to make them clearer, easier to use and serve both tourists and their own marketing organisation better. Digia helped build the new site, which took account of search engine optimisation, the user experience and content management.
Rovaniemi is an urban oasis in the middle of Arctic nature, where northern culture, the world of fairy tales and exhilaration of outdoor activities meet. Visit Rovaniemi is an organisation for promoting tourism in the area, making Rovaniemi known both as an internationally attractive destination and, in particular, the official home town of Santa Claus – a place where you can experience Christmas every day of the year.
Digia helped Visit Rovaniemi renew its website in order to better serve tourists seeking information about Lapland. The previous Visit Rovaniemi website was illogically constructed and never finished. In addition to attracting tourists, a clear website makes the work of the marketing organisation easier.
“Tourists enthralled by the exotic North want easy access to information on their future destination: the area’s nature, culture, the northern lights, the midnight sun and other experiences. And even though roughly half of visitors are still Finnish, the information needs to be available in several languages. The Rovaniemi region attracts tourists from all over the world, with up to half a million hotel stays per year. At present, the number of Chinese visitors in particular is growing at a tremendous rate”, says Project Manager and Visit Rovaniemi content creator Henri Anundi.
To the tourism organisation, it was evident that a globally interesting website could not be left unfinished. In early 2016, they asked Digia to perform a technical audit in order to determine what should be done with the website. Based on the audit, it was decided to build a completely new website. Visit Rovaniemi was convinced by Digia's expertise and the smoothness of cooperation, and chose the company for the technical implementation of the service.
The purpose of the project was to do a complete facelift for the site and modernise the service. The main objectives were to increase the website's search engine visibility, make the work of the organisation easier by improving content management and improve site usability by taking the actual needs of visitors into account.
“The most typical tourist groups visiting Rovaniemi are couples, groups of friends and, perhaps the largest group, families with small children. In Rovaniemi, they can experience the true Lapland, as nearly all activities are connected to nature. The Visit Rovaniemi provides them with all the information they need in one place, from the nature and culture of Lapland to the many activities available in the region: reindeer sleigh rides, northern lights safaris, motor sledding, snowshoe hikes and visits to reindeer or husky farms. For the children, the high point of the trip is naturally getting to meet Santa. Adults want to sample the diverse restaurant offering and shopping opportunities in Rovaniemi”, Anundi continues.
The site was implemented in cooperation with a local advertising agency, Puisto, which was responsible for the site’s look. The content was created by Henri Anundi of Visit Rovaniemi, together with four or five other content creators. Digia brought one WordPress developer to the project to see to the site’s technical implementation.
The online service was transferred from Drupal to a WordPress platform in order to make site updating and editing as easy as possible for Visit Rovaniemi. At the same time, we improved the site concept and made the site simpler and more search engine and user friendly. For example, the features of the language versions were improved so that users are automatically directed to the correct language site.
Full Finnish, English and Japanese versions of the Visit Rovaniemi website were online by December 2016. Content will soon be available also in German, French, Spanish, Italian and Chinese. The language versions have a crucial role, since more than 50 per cent of the half a million tourists staying in the area each year come from abroad.
Visit Rovaniemi’s Henri Anundi is extremely satisfied with the implementation of the site and also expects positive feedback from the 170 companies making up the organisation:
“I think that the tourism entrepreneurs are currently too busy to surf the net, but a few have dropped by to praise the new, fresher website. Everything simply works better than on the previous site.”
Christmas is only a few days away at the time of writing. For Rovaniemi, this is the most intense time of the busiest season of the year, and the bustle of visitors fills the streets, Santa Claus Village and the recently launched website. The front page hosts a video of Santa getting a hug.
As stated on the new site, everything revolves around the Christmas brand of Rovaniemi. The essence of the brand and central marketing figure is Santa Claus: the most valuable thing known around the world that sets Rovaniemi apart from other cities and destinations. Many still think that the bearded fellow lives on Korvatunturi. The brand aims to correct this common misconception, because, of course, the official hometown of Santa Claus is Rovaniemi. The universally loved character can also be met in Rovaniemi on every day of the year, in Santa Claus Village.
The cooperation of Digia and Visit Rovaniemi will continue with the second phase of the project in the spring of 2017. First, however, we need to monitor the new site for a bit to see how it will work out.
“The basic site is now in good shape. The spring will be a good time to start adding the finer touches”, Anundi hints but will not reveal more about his future plans.