Tourism Industry Empowered by Wetu.com
The internet has had a huge influence on the tourism industry, changing the way travelers research, select and purchase their holidays. Creating both threats and opportunities, new online techniques alter the game and traditional industries battles to adapt.
Wetu.com offers tour operators the ability to load day by day tour itineraries, with linked destinations and accommodations to their profile on wetu.com. Wetu builds systems and tools to improve the buying experience of the traditional Online Tour Operator.
Wetu’s cutting edge technology has been designed and built for the tourism industry and can be easily integrated into various aspects of travel businesses, allowing them to compete more effectively online.
The Wetu Importer removes the hassle of having to duplicate this content on your website, by importing the content, with associated images and metadata.
Wetu helps the travel industry sell better. They have two products:
- Wetu for Operators – This product helps Tour Operators, Travel Agents & Destination Marketing Companies sell better by creating high quality, visual itineraries with up-to-date content.
- Wetu for Suppliers – This product Accommodation, Restaurant, Activity & Day Tour companies increase their exposure to the global trade through better management and more effective distribution of your best quality content.
Please contact Wetu to enquire about creating your Wetu account and profile if you are not already signed up with them.
Content is King
Content plays a critical role in travel decisions – modern shoppers want to research and verify prior to purchasing. Traditional industry channels do not provide sufficient, contemporary content to enable decision-making and so the purchasers are forced onto competing platforms.
The Wetu tools enable product content to flow through the tourism industry channels into the sale, empowering the purchaser and the industry.
Wetu’s interactive tools and content provide the necessary depth and engagement to hold a potential client’s attention, improving the chance of an enquiry or bookings.
Changing the Content Model
DMCs, Tour Operators and Travel Agents have been responsible for managing the content for each and every lodge they sell. This is an impossible task when making use of 100s or 1000s Suppliers. The result is that they manage limited content and are unable to take advantage of the inspiring visual content when selling.
Wetu has developed a system that makes the Supplier to manage their content and allows the Trade to access this content quickly and simply. It is no longer required to manage content as it can be accessed from Wetu at no cost.
Wetu has an amazing itinerary builder, a leaf we’ve taken out of their book when creating our LSX Tour Operator plugin. It allows wetu users to build an itinerary and define the day-by-day flow of the trip and enables users to define connections between destinations and accommodation listings.
Why we Built the importer
LightSpeed introduced to Wetu in since 2011 by Neil Ratcliffe, the business owner of Southern Destinations (SD), our first Tour Operator client. Neil is an early adopter who believes in investing in the technology that powers his business.
Neil briefed LightSpeed to develop the new SD website in 2011. In 2012 we launched LightSpeed’s first version of the Southern Destinations website. This website used WooCommerce to store the tour and accommodation content as products. This website gave us the opportunity to build the very first version of the Wetu Importer.
Neil Ratcliffe also owns African Safari Consultants, another one of LightSpeed’s long-standing Tour Operator clients. He tasked LightSpeed with redeveloping the African Safari Consultants website in 2014. This project allowed us to build the first version of our open Tour Operator plugin to store the Destination, Accommodation and Tour Itinerary content. The Wetu Importer we built for Southern Destinations was not compatible with the new Tour Operator plugin, so we built a new version of the Wetu Importer designed to work with the new data structure.
With Wetu, your tourism business, or accommodation is given an “iBrochure” that displays all the information provided to Wetu . That data can be easily imported to WP for a quick and slick site build, making it an extremely cost and time efficient solution.
We built the solution for Southern Destinations to allow them to import accommodation listings. We didn’t do any tour imports for them. Our Wetu importer takes this a step further and helps you to easily move over content from the Wetu system into a fully functioning WordPress website.
For the first iteration we used WooCommerce and created a version of the product importer (CSV product importer) which we connected to Wetu, from where we downloaded the accommodation data as a CSV, then used product importer to import the “products” which were used as the accommodation listings. We realised then that the client needed an interface to first see what accommodation was available on Wetu. They needed to then go through those many thousands of listings and choose only the ones relevant to their business.
LightSpeed & Wetu Partnership
Ashley Shaw (owner of LightSpeed) connected Paul de Waal (owner of Wetu) to setup a partnership between LightSpeed and Wetu. For many years Ashley joined the Wetu stand at the Indaba Trade Show in Durban, South Africa. This partnership helped LightSpeed to meet Tour Operator clients face to face.
Ashley met Chris Ronneseth the owner of The Safari Partners at the Indaba Trade Show. The Safari Partners is still one of LightSpeed’s long-standing Tour Operator clients that uses the Wetu Importer extensively to manage his company’s Tour Operator website content. Watch this Wetu video testimonial by Chris Ronneseth to see how Wetu helped his business.
Giltedge Africa is another great example of how the Wetu Importer can help a large tour operator site to improve their content management. Their brief to LightSpeed was that they wanted to manage as much of their Tourism content within Wetu, then synchronise updates from Wetu.com to GiltedgeAfrica.com.
Open Source Plugin Releases
In 2016 we released our open source Tour Operator plugin on WordPress.org after completely redesigning it from the ground up. This plugin is required to be able to use the Wetu Importer plugin.
The plugin has been in active development for several years and is used on several websites that we’ve created for tour operators, mainly in the Southern African region, but also for several international clients.
Although the plugin has been in development for several years, this is the first time it is available on WordPress.org. In order for us to deem it suitable for release, we made the following recent enhancements.
We continued to develop and maintain the Wetu Importer plugin for our existing Tour Operator clients. The open-source Wetu Importer plugin was officially released on WordPress.org in January 2019. This free plugin can import extensive Tour Itinerary, Destination and Accommodation content from the Wetu Content API.
Since the release of the plugin, LightSpeed has consistently maintained the plugin to ensure it stays up to date with changes in the WordPress core, the LSX Tour Operator plugin and the Wetu API. Keeping a plugin like this updated is essential for the security and stability of the plugin.
Enhancements for WP.org release
The Wetu API was recently upgraded which added new fields, including a field for Tags, which are mapped to Travel Styles in our Tour Operators Plugin. Additionally the updated request is to wp_remote_get, for added security.
Since the plugin is several years old we took advantage of the overhaul to audit coding standards and bring them inline with current industry best practice.
Another very important change was the admin dashboard for the Importer. The welcome screen was updated with a cleaner user interface with better instructions on how to import your tours, destinations and accommodations.
The settings tab has been moved to the Importer dashboard for a more intuitive user experience. Furthermore we updated the styling in the Importer dashboard to match default WordPress admin dashboard styles. Again this was to enhance the user experience.
LSX Importer Dashboard Layout
Tour Content Import Options
Destination Content Import Options
Accommodation Content Import Options
Whether you are an existing or new user of this plugin, detailed setup documentation can be found here. LightSpeed would like to thank all those who have supported the development of the plugin in the past, we hope you continue to enjoy this useful plugin. Thank you to our new users as well, we hope it benefits your business, helping you become more productive. If you run into problems and need support, please send a detailed query to firstname.lastname@example.org.