After obtaining a B.A. in Communication, I worked as a web designer at a large corporation, first in Anchorage and then in Honolulu. I designed websites using a Content Management System (CMS), for businesses as varied as photographers, lawyers, handymen and landscape designers. Working with such a diverse group of customers made me further realize the importance of communication and asking the right questions.
I also honed my design skills during this phase of my career. I broadened and deepened my expertise with various design software, such as Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Illustrator and design languages such as HTML and CSS. The company was a sales organization, of which my department was just a small division, and working in a sales environment taught me the importance of marketing, and some valuable strategies for reaching people and organizations.
I later worked for a high end real estate company in Honolulu as the marketing coordinator. It was my responsibility to create and manage all advertising, print marketing materials—which included brochures and direct mail items—online marketing and copy, which I wrote both for the company as well as individual property listings. At that company, I learned about the importance of consistency in a marketing campaign, and the importance of quality over quantity. I also deepened my knowledge and understanding of target markets and audiences. The company had very specific buyers in mind when they marketed their properties, and I learned to find out who those buyers were, and how to reach them.
I have also served as the innkeeper for my family’s bed and breakfast, and while I don’t consider innkeeping my ideal job, I did learn a few valuable lessons while I did it. As an innkeeper, I worked hard and had little time to myself. Anything that made my job easier was something I jumped on, and the website and online reservation system did exactly that—provided information that guests previously had to call me to find out, allowed them to see what was available, and gave them the opportunity to book a room themselves. I also learned the importance of referrals and testimonials. One guest’s great experience led to a great experience for others (you’ll find this is a key concept I explore in other places on the site as well).
I am also a traveler. I love discovering new places, learning new languages, and exploring the unknown (to me, at least). And, throughout my years of travel, I’ve noticed some significant changes. My first trip abroad was when I was 18, and I went to a travel agent to book my ticket. I spent a lot of time at pay phones trying to book hostels whose phone numbers I found in my guidebook, and called my family collect because I couldn’t figure out the different calling card systems in each country. Now, several years later, I book my plane tickets online, first looking at an aggregating site like Kayak.com to find the best price. I spend time at internet cafes rather than pay phones to find places to stay, and prefer to book my rooms online, either through a hotel’s website, or a booking engine like Lonely Planet’s. And, I’ve found that experience to be typical of my fellow travelers. Being a traveler and knowing what travelers are looking for means that I am well-acquainted with your target audience and can easily design especially for them.
Of all of the places I’ve been to, however, I’m not sure I’d call any of them home. That honor belongs to Alaska—I haven’t found another place like it yet, and I’m not sure I will. All of my summer jobs were in the tourism sector, and working in my family’s B&B gave me further insights into the industry. My love for Alaska and my love of travel, combined with my expertise in design and knowledge of the travel industry, makes me the perfect person to be designing your B&B’s website.