When I began guiding all of 20 years ago I decided there and then that as someone who was based on the side of a hill in remote rural Ireland the Internet was the future. I engaged a web designer to set up my website and had as much personal input as possible given it was unexplored territory, the initial website then had just 3 or 4 pages, it now has 8 or 9.
The biggest drawback with early websites was one didn’t have personal control to tweak and add to it as you wished, this because one needed expertise in a computer language such as HTML for example. Nowadays I maintain my own site as updating and adding stuff is as easy as composing a Word document, this is a great advantage, not alone because one can be up to date and alter details such as rates etc, but also because keeping your website current partly influences how Google rate your site and subsequently your position in the pecking order. Having a comprehensive website also means intending clients have all the info they need and if they eventually get in touch it’s usually to check availability, this negates the need for countless long replies to queries, a fraction of which will only convert to bookings.
All this means your website is your shop window to the World 24/7/52, and all for a cost of 50eu or so annually to cover hosting and maintenance software, you wouldn’t get a one line ad in a local rag for one edition nowadays for that, not that it would be much use as most of my clients hail from the other side of the Atlantic. Even if clients didn’t happen on your website in the first instance and came to you by way of a phone call, you can still direct them to the site where they can investigate further, again sparing you a whole lot of trouble repetitively explaining what you’re about.
As time and technology advances I have noticed that folk are leaving their bookings much later and closer to their vacation, before, people tended to get excited by just planning their days and so would have done so well in advance, now with the advent of mobile technology in the form of Iphones, Ipads, Laptops etc, people are leaving a lot to chance, this is okay if it’s something as casual as booking a restaurant or taxi but as my service is a one-man and personal operation leaving it too late can mean disappointment. Mine is an all-inclusive guiding service where everything is supplied, plans have to be made and decisions taken based on client preferences/experience etc, I’m a great believer in the maxim ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’, the more I interact with clients in the form of multiple emails prior to their visit, the less things can go wrong and the more enjoyable their day can be…..many who fish with me are on a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Ireland, very often their fishing day is flagged to be the highlight of their trip…so a lot of pressure to deliver falls on me. As for really short notice bookings, I have had well-inebriated folk rouse me from sleep when phoning at 1 or 2am from a restaurant or bar demanding to go fishing next morning. A genuine fly-fisherman will never do that to a guide…he’ll know there’s a bit more to this guiding lark than calling a cab. Goodnight all!