7 DMO Websites That Deliver Beautiful Visual Experiences

May 1, 2019 Elizabeth Ching

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The travel and tourism industry is all about inspiring people to experience new places, people and pursuits.

As a destination marketing organization (DMO), you want to be able to show people who your destination is, and give them a taste of the one-of-a-kind experience that your destination offers.

A well-designed website can do that.

But what makes a destination website stand out? How can DMOs make their websites better, and leave a lasting impression on their users?

We think these 7 websites are creating some of the best user experiences out there. One thing they all have in common? Visuals are at their core. We’ve rounded up everything they’re doing right, so you can start planning ways to apply this to your own destination.

1 | Visit Faroe Islands

The Faroe Islands are a collection of 18 small islands (an archipelago) between Norway and Iceland. Its mountainous landscape, amidst the rolling northern seas, is idyllic and still.

It’s a small destination with a population of 50,000, that’s doing big things with their website.

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

Why we love this DMO website

The homepage design is clean and minimalistic, but visually stunning. It features video banners that show off beautiful landscapes, with appropriate (yet not distracting) CTAs.

Of course, we couldn't talk about Visit Faroe Islands without talking about Sheep View 360.

The Faroe Islands don’t have Google Streetview yet — so the DMO took matters into their own hands and created their versionSheep View — where users can wander the streets of the Faroe Islands on the back of a (you guessed it) sheep. Not only did Sheep View make their website standout, it also garnered them attention from media all around the world.

Their site also uses photo grids that double as navigation elements, which is a fantastic use of visuals. You can click a photo of an overhead shot of one island, for example, to find travel info. They also feature a variety of video content, with videos instead of photos in their header image slider, and a series on their blog.

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

This is one innovative site that truly inspires you to dream of visiting a destination you’ve likely never heard of before.

2 | Visit Stockton

Stockton is the 13th largest city in California, USA, with a population of just over 300,000. We give Stockton a lot of love here at CrowdRiff, and for a good reason — their lively website is one of our favorites.

Why we love this DMO website

Their website uses visuals to show off each and every special part of the destination. It features interactive galleries of user-generated content at the top of almost every page, showing windows into the world of Stockton locals and other travelers.

visit stockton DMO website visuals

Using CrowdRiff, they also embed links to local businesses to their photos, so that users can click-through to relevant websites for more info. This creates a great user experience for potential visitors who are keen to plan their trip or explore everything the destination has to offer before they visit.

3 | Destination Cleveland

Cleveland, Ohio sits on the shores of Lake Erie, and has a population of 309,000 people. Clevelanders are known for their love of sports, music, and art — and their site captures all of that.

Why we love this DMO website

From its bold font, to the striking black and white theme color, this website is bursting with Cleveland personality.

destination cleveland DMO website

Destination Cleveland makes it easy for anybody to plan their trip right then and there. Their planning tools aren’t hidden in a menu somewhere — they can be found right in the main navigation bar.

They have guides for casual vacationers, businesses/conventions, and LGBT travel too. If that weren’t easy enough, they also have an app.

4 | Travel Belize

Belize is a tropical country in the Caribbean, where leisure travelers go to surround themselves with jungle life, and explore the mysteries of the Mayan civilization. Their site makes great use of cutting-edge technology to inspire its visitors:

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

Why we love this DMO website

Right from the get-go, the homepage reveals a stunning visual experience. Once you land on the page, you’re shown a fast-paced video with toucans, cheetahs, and sandy beaches. In just a few seconds, this website gives you a pretty good idea of what you might find in Belize — and at the very least piques your interest.

Scrolling down, new sections materialize and animate with videos, making every moment feel fresh and exciting.

The site is engaging and dynamic, different and surprising. All in all, Travel Belize gives a terrific visual experience designed to inspire and attract visitors to their destination.

5 | Visit Saint Paul

Saint Paul is the capital city of Minnesota, the lesser known “twin city” of Minneapolis. They’re ranked as one of the most liveable cities in America.

Why we love this DMO website

Visit Saint Paul’s website really looks like it was designed for mobile first, and this gives it a unique visual experience.

For example, you find its main navigation bar as a column of icons on the side. Also, the site is visually immersive — there’s no unused white space. Images and web elements stretch to cover the entire screen, so there’s always something to look at.

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

Their “Things to Do” and “Where to Stay” pages combine a variety of interactive elements, so that they not only look interesting, but users can more easily plan their trips.

Here, they’ve not only listed out hotels, but also helpfully placed each on a map. That means users can explore and discover hotels based on the location that suits them best. Along the sidebar, they’ve also added an expandable photo gallery of user-generated photos (which you can click into).

7 Innovative DMO Websites with Stunning User Experiences

 

6 | Cape Town Tourism

Cape Town is a gorgeous port city off the coast of South Africa. With sandy beaches, mountain ranges, and lively city life, it’s home to active locals and a wealth of South African culture.

Why we love this DMO website

Its homepage is bright, colorful, and packed full of immediate value.

Even if you only visit the homepage, you are pretty much guaranteed to see a picture or headline that appeals to your travel interests. Foodies, adventurers, and those looking for a local's point of view can find an article on what they're looking for. 

capetown DMO website

If you can't, the search bar that greets site visitors on the top banner is extremely robust as well, suggesting specific categories and options to help point visitors in the right direction.

7 | Destination Canada

Recently crowned one of the best destinations to visit by Lonely Planet, Canada is a treasure trove of travel possibilities. So Destination Canada’s outstanding website is there to help both leisure and business travelers narrow down their trip options. This is no easy feat considering it’s the second largest country in the world by landmass!

7 DMO Websites with Innovative Visual Experiences

Why we love this DMO website

The entire website is a visual experience, powered and supported by user-generated content.

Their homepage features multiple videos, and each highlight different regions of Canada. And what really makes these videos heartwarming is that they’re actually compilations of real photos locals and travelers have taken. They feel personal, authentic, and non-promotional.

And it doesn’t stop there — their photo gallery is also powered by user-generated content. They’ve built an immersive wall of photos people have taken all over Canada. And because you can click into each photo, you can see where each photo was taken.

dmo website innovating visual experience

They also have a ton of travel guides, which are written like blog posts (see Toronto’s Top Summer Food Festivals and Markets). They’re easy to read and also embed Instagram photos.

We’re inspired by how creative this Canadian DMO is getting with user-generated content. With visual stories like these, no wonder Canada is a must-see destination!

Key Trends and Takeaways for Your DMO Website

  1. Captivate with video. With the web becoming more crowded every day, video is one of the few things that can immediately dazzle a user. DMOs are putting videos right at the top of their homepage, to capture that interest right away.
  2. Create immersive visual experiences. Visuals are the strongest way to pull in website visitors and give them a reason to explore. Use your visuals to encompass the entire screen, and surround the field of vision with the story you want to tell.
  3. Leverage virtual reality. Leading DMOs are embracing innovative tech, offering virtual reality tours to really draw people into the experience their destination can offer. It’s so new that it’s super impressive and, again, immersive.
  4. Dynamic page elements. Say goodbye to the old static website — the newest websites are incorporating moving parts. You don't need a website designer to add buttons or CTAs that can change and respond to your mouse, and photo galleries people can click into and interact with.  
  5. Integrate social media. 52% of summer vacationers start their travel search on social media. But rather than sending people to social sites, why not bring that content to your own sire? Create a section dedicated to user-generated content, and let your visitors inspire new travelers to visit your destination.

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