When I speak with new clients at my web design and marketing agency, I’ll often provide feedback on how to improve their website. But most sites aren’t as eye-popping as VisionAirlines.com.
Background on Vision Airlines
Starting in November 2011, you can fly directly from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) to Freeport, Bahamas for under $200, including taxes. But you’ll have to start by using the eye-popping, poorly-designed VisionAirlines.com website.
Vision Airlines is a long-time charter operator that’s now offering regularly-scheduled flights. Since shifting from targeting just travel agents and trip organizers, I think they could use some help on their direct-to-consumer strategy.
VisionAirlines.com Review — The Good:
To be fair, the website has some positive qualities, based on my review in late October 2011:
- Real People. The phone number (877-FLY-A-JET) is listed right at the top of the website. Not even customer-friendly Southwest or JetBlue publish their phone number on their home page.
- Extensive FAQs. Although it’s buried at the bottom of the navigation, Vision Airlines has an in-depth Frequently Asked Questions page.
- Route Map. It’s easy to find the route map (via Destinations), to see where I can fly non-stop (answer: one place). Unfortunately, I’m not sure why the flight search engine shows my airport code in question marks — as “???RDU???”
VisionAirlines.com Review — The Bad:
Unfortunately, the positives are counterbalanced by some distracting negatives:
- Clutter. The homepage is very cluttered — there’s no obvious call to action. If you apply the “squint test,” you might head toward the massive red reservations box in the middle of the screen if you aren’t distracted by the animated banner ads first.
- Irrelevant Promos. Because I don’t live in their focus cities (Louisville and Freeport), almost none of the call-to-action destinations are relevant to me. No matter how tempting the promo, I can’t fly Vision Air to Louisville, Atlanta, or Destin.
- Transparency Problems. They bury the About page. That’s OK for Delta or Continental, but I hadn’t heard of Vision Airlines until today. And they have nothing to be hide — they’ve been operating flights since 1994, flying to 38 destinations using Boeing 767’s, Boeing 737’s, and some smaller turboprops.
- Inactive Functionality. The home page has tabs for “Book Travel,” “My Reservation,” “Flight Check In,” and “Flight Status.” Unfortunately, the Check-in and Status options don’t work — you get a disclaimer saying they’re coming soon. All that’s missing is an old-school “Under Construction” icon.
- Poor SEO. The landing pages for the $1 Bahamas promo and Grand Bahamas info are made up of images, instead of real text. Easy to upload, but not good for search engine optimization (SEO), since Google can’t index the text on the images. But the pricing disclaimer is text — I assume that means they change fees more often than the promos.
- Social Media Disconnects. They link to their Facebook page and their YouTube channel. The Facebook page has nearly 6,000 fans and frequent Wall updates (nice work!)… but the landing page defaults to a bare “More deals coming soon!” tab.
- Uninspired Logo. The Vision Airlines logo doesn’t say much — it doesn’t evoke being a low-fare operator, or having direct flights to the Bahamas, or being a large-jet operator to small markets. And it certainly doesn’t echo the tagline on its abandoned Twitter profile, of “We fly people and make them happy.”
My Recommendations: Top Priorities
If I were advising the Vision Airlines marketing manager, I’d recommend three priorities:
- De-clutter the home page. I know you know white space is a good thing — please try to convince the sales department to pick just 1-2 promos.
- Activate (or remove) “Online Check-In” and “Flight Status.” If they won’t be ready for months, take them off the home page.
- Rearrange the main nav. The top should probably have Book Travel, Destinations, Flight Information, FAQ, and About Vision. Those would likely be a prospective passenger’s top priorities.
What Do You Think?
To be fair, I’m sure Vision Airlines has a very small marketing department. And they’re relatively new to communicating directly with consumers — apart from its Grand Canyon sightseeing business, Vision Air didn’t have to do direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising until their 17th year of operations. And I’m sure several different departments are jockeying for space on the home page.
I’ll cut Vision Airlines some slack for their lack of resources. But prospective customers need to trust the people behind the website — the real risk is tiny, but any airline is ultimately selling a life-or-death service.
How would you improve the Vision Airlines website? Please share below.