“I can’t find information about Laos.” That’s what you often hear from tourists returning to the Mekong Region, who have never crossed into the country.
We Are Lao Media recognized this void, and decided to fill it with WeAreLao.com, where Laos is billed as The Last Frontier. The aim is to create the most informative, promotional, and up-to-date Lao tourism website, while providing a multimedia marketing platform that benefits all Lao tourism stakeholders.
“We Are Lao’s site launch today represents the culmination of 18 months of development leading to some 500 pages across seven categories,” said We Are Lao Co-founder John Morris Williams. “We plan to add 300-plus pages this year as well as open two more main menu categories.”
Through the WeAreLao.com portal, potential visitors and foreign travel agents can directly link to We Are Lao Members. These include accommodation of all types, tour operators, travel agents, airlines, drinking and dining establishments, and tourist attractions and related activities.
“There are no commissions, pop-ups, or banner clutter,” stated Mr Williams, who is also the general manager of the Luang Prabang View Hotel. “Descriptive direct-link advertisements with graphics underpin We Are Lao’s membership packages. Members select specific pages, on the bottom of which we place their linked adverts. Our finely tuned search engines for finding tour operators, accommodation, travel agents, restaurants, and airlines yield similar looking and linked results.”
Mr Williams stressed that the site’s main appeal is its breadth of informative content. “Content is king,” he said, “We’ve thoroughly covered the 18 provinces under ‘Destinations’, each of which has eight sub-topics. These pages can be accessed by a dropdown mega-menu or interactive map. Information under our ‘Getting to Laos’ menu item is also quite extensive.”
He said “Things to Do” with its “Dining Out” search engine and “The Mekong” have firm foundations of information, which We Are Lao will fill out in 2018 after “Facts” goes up. “Find a Tour” and “Where to Stay” lead to search engines that match provinces with tour categories and accommodation types.
“The site’s ‘look’ is very crisp, with plenty of professionally taken photographs provided by We Are Lao Contributors, and we will continue to add photos throughout the year,” Mr Williams said. “The site employs a Logical Linking System for fast and easy navigation to the information visitors want.”
As a for-profit social enterprise, We Are Lao views the country’s tourism and hospitality industry as a community of shareholders with a common interest: promote Laos and their own businesses. It considers clients as “Members” of a marketing cooperative, and structures a reasonable rate schedule to benefit businesses of all sizes and in all provinces.
Other membership benefits include reaching We Are Lao’s database of travel trade decision makers from more than 40 countries and subscribed tourists via trade media publications, directly distributed press releases, blog posts, and newsletters. We Are Lao has established a growing social media presence on which Members can reach their markets.
Travel agents and potential visitors benefit by having a solid information source backed by social media and direct email connectivity to Lao businesses, who are seeking to avoid revenue-draining OTA and booking engine deals.
The site also offers enquiry forms, all of which receive personal responses and follow ups. “We Are Lao is dedicated to providing you with the best possible information you’ll need to experience The Last Frontier,” Mr Williams said.
“WeAreLao.com presents an informative platform to foster B2B relationships, while directly linking potential tourists to Lao tour operator, hotels, airlines, eateries, and shops,” he said. “Foreign travel agents are also encouraged to become We Are Lao Members and enjoy the benefits at reasonable rates.”