After they upgraded their office here in Kota Kinabalu, I noticed that they have also redesigned their website. Apparently, they scrapped their SSL office header logo to make way to Sutera Harbour Resort. If you go to Wisma Sabah nowadays, you will not find Sutera Sanctuary Lodges anymore.
They centralized their operating office under Sutera Harbour Resort, which is one of the main player in Sabah’s tourism industry. I am not going to blog about their “new” office, as I have never been there myself. But I used to walked pass by their office, almost everyday on the way to my office. I really hope that their services improves in accordance to their upgrading process.
Back to their website issue. The question that I asked myself before I write this:
- Is their website new design and set up more user friendly compared to the previous one?
- Have they change to the better?
Website redesign issue
From the first glance, they still stuck with web1.0. A static website. As more and more website visitors comes to see the emerging of web2.0 (more interactive websites), SSL still left way behind. I am not surprised with that development, however, as it is known that big companies like SSL do not bother to use the power of internet to expand their business.
By the look of the pages, most probably SSL paid some novice webmaster to create a 15-pages website which they think is enough to get the message out to the netizen that they are running an accommodation booking website. But they did not able to specifically state that they provides packages for Mt. Kinabalu climbing.
I just feel that having a static website for SSL is inappropriate, as most of the website visitors nowadays are clever. They need updated information, news, up to date stories, feedback and interaction between them and the site that they are dealing with. They should have created a more interactive platform, like blogs or news feed on the home page, to inform their visitors of what happened in real time. For example, the news about the offices upgrade and renovation was only seen in local newspaper. It should also be announce in the website.
For SSL, don’t just cut cost by having one-off payment to your webmaster. Get a good webmaster who could regularly update the site with more updated information. Create a blog. Create a forum. Get your clients to easily contact you, and be more transparent with the information that you have. It will boost your credibility among netizens.
First time visitor experiences
Most of the netizens who arrived on SSL website will surely be lost. And the worst part, almost all the traffic to the website were directed from here (sorry friends… I don’t have much choice).
As most of us know, a big numbers of netizen who came here have only one thing in their mind: to climb Mount Kinabalu. But their intention met a stumbling block when they arrived on SSL website. They did not see any “Mt. Kinabalu Climbing Package Booking” anywhere. They just do not know which button to click to get their intentions going. They will also be confused on where will they be staying if they decided to go.
If they have enough information from my website and blog that they will be staying in Laban Rata on their way up to the peak, it will be easy for them. Just by clicking “Laban Rata”, much of the problems are resolved, but they will then faces new challenges:
Choosing the accommodation for the climb
Arriving on “Laban Rata” page, you will then be showed 3 options for the accommodations:
- Laban Rata Room 1, which sleeps 2 – a high class accommodation
- Laban Rata Room 2, which also sleeps 2, same as Laban Rata Room 1
- Laban Rata Room 3, which is a dormitory, sleeps 6
For those who never been up there, the information above may or may not confuses you. According to the numbers above, do you notice that the total number of beds at Laban Rata is only 10? The truth is, at any one time, a total number of 140 climbers will be able to get their beds with SSL, plus another 30 beds that is run by Mountaintorq. Did they mention it anywhere on their website?
SSL did not declare that they actually have different kind of accommodations with different numbers of climbers per room. For old timers like me, seeing the accommodations page without Gunting Lagadan Hut, Waras Hut and Panar Laban Hut really disappoints me. Why did SSL hide the information?
Yes, the other huts that I mentioned are not heated and not the same “standard” as Laban Rata Resthouse (I suppose where the Rooms they mentioned are situated). But who cares? Some of the climbers did not even care about comfort and convenience, as long as they are able to climb. And most of them are actually ready to camp at Laban Rata if they are allowed by Sabah Parks. Why not just tell the truth about the accommodations and let climbers decide?
The climbing package
Yes, the prices has gone up 3-4 folds. I used to climb Kinabalu with less than RM250 – complete with transportation from Kota Kinabalu to Kinabalu Park HQ. I just need to fork out my own money to buy foods up there, but most of my foods were self-prepared. It was a couple of years ago.
Now, the price that are stated on their website are RM546 (Room 1 & 2) and RM1688 (Room 3). Bare in mind that the price does not includes your transportation, your park fee, mountain guides and certificate. Care to calculate how much it will cost you yourself by following the rate in their “Climbing Mt Kinabalu” page?
Okay… Okay… I complained too much. But I think it is for the company’s good image. I have nothing to loose here, my friend. I am hoping that SSL can improve their services up to our client’s expectation.
Oh, should I go to their customer relation issues?
In conclusion, I think:
- SSL still sucks big time on explaining how to go about (the straightforward way) on booking the Mt. Kinabalu climbing package, despite the new website redesign.
- They failed to inform us the whole truth about the accommodations at Laban Rata – Gunting Lagadan, Waras and Panar Laban.
- They failed to tell us that at any one time, SSL could accommodate up to 140 climbers at Laban Rata area.
- They still left behind with static web1.0 on their website. SSL, you may need to fire your webmaster and get a new one with web2.0 or even web3.0 oriented.
I am not for hire as a webmaster – unless I am paid RM500k (hint) per year… HAHAHAHA…. (with evil laugh!)