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Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  13 May 2011

INFOTECH: Realmdigital Introduces DIY Website Builder Tool at Indaba


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Leading online, social and mobile development partner Realmdigital will use this year’s Indaba to publicly introduce withPlatform, a cutting-edge Web development platform in beta that gives even the greenest and most cash-strapped B and B its own website for free.

Taking place on 7 to 10 May in Durban, Indaba is a top-three global tourism marketing event, says Wesley Lynch, CEO of Realmdigital. “With such a high profile, it is the perfect place to introduce withPlatform’s benefits to a wide audience.”

Lynch says a pre-launch version of the free and easy-to-use website building tool has been available to B and Bs during a private beta testing period lasting nine months, allowing Realmdigital to fine-tune the tool for maximum usability and benefit.

“We originally built it in response to the generally poor quality of B and B websites. Without Web skills or budget, very few guesthouses are able to build a decent Web showcase. withPlatform changes all that by levelling the online booking playing field.”

He says the tool has had significant success with B and Bs, and it is now ready for broader adoption by Indaba’s travel audience. “We’re seeing an opportunity to refine our value proposition to our travel clientele with this final-phase beta,” says Lynch. “The tool’s ongoing success in this vertical will see it debut in other industries, for example small retail stores.”

1, 2, 3!
How did withPlatform overcome the Web’s still-high barriers to entry? Lynch says first of all, withPlatform doesn’t require B and B owners to know anything about technology. “It’s as easy as signing up, choosing a template, customising it, and putting it out there for all to see.”

Furthermore, withPlatform sites are hosted by Realmdigital, so guesthouses don’t have to shell out for hosting costs. “In fact, we have African clients that built their sites at an Internet café, so withPlatform need not even attract ADSL charges,” says Lynch.

Finally, withPlatform does not attract a developer fee, as it is based on Platform, Realmdigital’s 10 year-old e-business CMS (content management system). “It is a pared-down version of the state-of-the-art functionality of Platform and the outcome of all the knowledge capital we’ve built up over a decade,” says Lynch.

Essential starter kit
Basically, then, withPlatform gives users an essential starter kit for taking online bookings – for free. For now, it offers users a basic online presence and content management tool, while in future it will offer:
• Online reservation
• Advanced content management system
• Image galleries
• More advanced features such as newsletters, news rooms, feedback and comments and real-time multi-currency booking will likely attract a fee, and client sites will scale as needed, with a hosting fee past a certain point of popularity.

Ignite the potential of tourism

“Tourism is one of the biggest and fastest-growing contributors to South Africa’s GDP. With thousands of small and medium-sized B and Bs driving growth, it has momentum. Tools like withPlatform will help ignite the potential of the sector,” says Lynch.

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