Switzerland tourist board to launch revamped Web site


NEW YORK -- A revamped Switzerland Tourism Web site, planned to launch early this year, should add more muscle to the tourist board's agent specialist program by providing retailers with additional sales leads, an official with Switzerland Tourism said.

The Web site, MySwitzerland.com, receives some 3,500 visitors each day, according to Urs Eberhard, director, North America, Switzerland Tourism.

The New York office of the tourist board receives about 4,000 inquiries per month by phone, which produce 30,000 leads to Switzerland Network specialists each year.

Calls to the tourist board are qualified as A-, B- or C-level leads after determining if the caller already booked or plans to book and if the caller is interested in having an agent's assistance, Eberhard said.

Through the revamped Web site, consumers will not only be able to search for an agent by city, state, ZIP code or area code -- as is now the case -- but also for agents who claim knowledge about their special interests, such as skiing or hiking, and who have visited the destination of choice.

Eberhard's philosophy behind the Web referral system is that consumers should be able to make an informed decision when searching for an agent.

For example, "[to know that] these agents have been in Zermatt and know a little about skiing," he said, should help consumers make an educated choice when selecting an agent.

When a consumer agrees to send details to a selected agent, Eberhard said, that consumer can reveal if and when he or she plans to travel.

"The agent [can say] more precisely: 'This is a lead; this is an information request.' And [agents will] know if it pays to invest time in the lead, or if it's a valuable contact for future business," Eberhard said.

He added that the new version of the MySwitzerland.com Web site will be faster and more visually pleasing than the current site and will feature a list of the 100 most-frequently requested events, grouped by season.

Switzerland Tourism began making its agent specialist program more Web-savvy this November through the introduction of the Network Corner, a password-protected section of the Web site for program members.

The Network Corner provides Switzerland specialists with destination and supplier news, commission specials, information about study tours and workshops, downloadable art for flyers and a means to efficiently order brochures and promotional material and to report room nights booked.

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