Maybe it’s because I create websites, but I love myself a beautiful, well-made website. A lot of the websites related to travel in Spain have not been the most attractive and most of the time not even workable. Yet now, I’m seeing some exciting new changes. There are a few websites that have been redone in Spain. See how this step-up in design and functionality will have you even more excited to explore this amazing country.
RENFE LUXURY TOURIST TRAINS
One of the iconic things that people visiting Europe love, is traveling by train. The Renfe train system in Spain is a great way to see the country and effectively get around too. For some time their site hasn’t been very good, yet this year they’ve redone the main Renfe site http://www.renfe.com/ and what I’m most excited about is their new site for Luxury Tourist Trains. That’s what I want to focus on here.
From the main site, you can find and click on “Tourist Trains” to be taken to http://www.renfe.com/trenesturisticos/index.html. The site greets you with beautiful, high-quality images and further below a very professionally and beautifully created video. While I’m not a big fan of music automatically playing when you arrive at a site, I actually like how they did the sound that greets you at this one – you hear a train coming, its wheels clicking on the tracks, which then fades into a classical-style music score. After playing for about a minute or so, it stops. They had the sense to not have it loop over and over again! In similar fashion and good taste, the video further below doesn’t play automatically. You choose to have it play if and when you want and it’s embedded to play right there within the site. Definitely take a moment to watch the video – I think they did a great job and love how it really conveys the branding and message they’re going for: luxury, Spanish train style.
The site doesn’t extend too far down, loads quickly, is easy and clear on how to navigate, and provides great visualization with good content – short, sweet and simple. There’s plenty of information about each of the routes and trains offered, including nice maps of the route and its stops. English and Spanish are the languages being offered for translation of the site so far and contact information is visible everywhere you go on the site. While there are a few kinks that need to be worked out, like translation working on all pages and links working properly, I think it’s a great start and huge improvement regarding Renfe’s presence online.
Doesn’t it have you dreamily longing to go on one of the luxury train routes? I know that I am! Eric and I have our hearts set on El Expreso de la Robla. You can find it under “Other Trains” from the home page. It features shorter trips that are 4 days / 3 nights, and a nice variety of options for what portion of magical Northern Spain you can travel:since I love Oviedo so much, and my family history is from that area, we specifically want to do the Green Paradise Route of Bilbao to Oviedo. That will be fun to write about!
I’m not sure what the region of Extremadura had as its website before. But boy – what they have now is pretty fun to visit, along with visiting the region itself of course. I particularly love this region of Spain because it’s not as well-known among tourists, the lifestyle still maintains so many old ways of authentic Spanish culture, and my mother has been living there for the past four years, happily in love with an Extremeño.
This site really incorporates storytelling through video in a way that I haven’t seen a lot of sites do, especially not among tourism sites. Thing is, I think more quality videos among tourism sites, are a great thing, but few do them well. The site Turismo Extremadura, http://turismoextremadura.com/viajar/turismo/en/index.html, welcomes you with a simple, clean and modern layout. You immediately are greeted with a video that doesn’t automatically play, but you choose to play if you like – once again, a good practice for websites. The image of the video is a good shot that catches one’s interest so that you’re drawn to click play. What unfolds is an amazing, high-quality music video. I was so impressed!
Featuring amazing historic sites of the region, like the Roman ruins at Merida, you’re drawn into a story of a middle-aged man revisiting the area. Motorcycle and all, it takes you through a touching story with great music and lyrics. I mean, before it even got to the end, I was entranced and even tearing up a little bit from what a touching story it tells (that’s just me of course). It really conveys love and appreciation for the amazing beauty of this part of Spain and especially how it leaves a powerful impression on you; it certainly has for me. Having spent months at a time there, I feel like this video and the site are representing the region genuinely, so for people watching it who haven’t been there yet, know that it is as amazing as this video implies and even more so.
Okay, so aside from tugging on our heart-strings, the site is very functional and does a great job at marketing in what I think is a sincere manner. They have a coined phrase of their branding that is hash-tagged and presented well, #sencillamenteExtremadura. It’s placed consistently on the video and throughout the site, but not in a way that’s tacky or in your face. The site loads quickly, is easy to navigate, and leads with great-quality photography and images, enhanced with good copy that is short and to the point. They organize and categorize things in a way that makes it enjoyable and intuitive to get around the site while also getting your head around how and what to visit. This highlights gastronomy, nature, family, history and the seasons. Overall, the site provides great, tangible resources. I especially love the great interactive map that shows attractions according to check box filters. They also feature ready information for the weather and a great calendar of events. If you haven’t been to Extremadura yet, you really should go. And in the meantime, enjoy this site and utilize it as well. Let me know what you think of the music video too!
WHERE IS ASTURIAS
Ah…Asturias. This is the region that really ties me to Spain. It’s where my ancestors came from, one of them being the historical General Rafael del Riego. Having stayed in Oviedo for two months and visited several times before, I have always found the culture to be warm and welcoming, while the land is stunningly beautiful, regal and magical. Good thing there’s finally a website that is doing its best to share this.
Where is Asturias is the name of the site: http://whereisasturias.com/. Gorgeous images introduce you right away to the heart of the region – its nature and its history. The modern design features crisp, light colors on a white background and focuses on clean simplicity for an easy to understand navigation of the site. It also loads quickly and as soon as you arrive you have ready at your fingertips guiding topics and ways to contact for more information.
An image slider features main sites and scrolling further below takes you into even more topics, showing you that there’s something for everyone to enjoy by visiting. But it’s not overwhelming. Things are guided by posts or articles, and it is very video-driven. This site offers a lot of information via videos, more than most sites. If you don’t like videos, don’t be deterred. Each video is complimented with an article, so you can choose to read your information instead. And the videos don’t play automatically, leaving free to peruse the site without trying to figure out where music and voices are coming from.
The site focuses on several main topics, which seem to be the food of the region (which is delicious!), the nature and seasons, the history and the famous El Camino de Santiago. From these topics, one can really drill down and discover that there’s more that this region offers than what you may have expected. Did you know that you can enjoy skiing and snowboarding in Asturias?
Overall, I’m really amazed at how they’re keeping up so much video and fresh content on the site. It is more copy than the other sites we’ve discussed here, but they’re using it in the right form and place – as articles that you can choose to go deeper with, or glance over and still get facts and helpful information.
SPAIN’S ONLINE PRESENCE
A big “well done” and congratulations to the these regions of Spain and their marketing teams / companies that they chose to create these sites. I know about all the work that goes into sites like these and I think that each of these sites represent a high quality of creative work. Great job!
These are the sites that I’ve recently found, but I’m interested to learn about more. Are there ones that you’ve found and like? Share them with us here please. It’s good to see that an important industry like Tourism in Spain, is improving the quality of their online presence. So much of our world is online and it’s a great tool especially for traveling and for economies. In any kind of work, when we’re sharing about a place we love, let’s do it with functionality, yes, and with beauty.