Andalucia.com, the most highly visited and longest established website about southern Spain, is celebrating its 10th anniversary on 17th April 2006. The anniversary will be marked by a series of special events and promotions both on and off-line.
Ten years ago, the Internet barely existed in people’s lives. Businesses showed little interest and it was only the field of a few academics and techies could forsee the future world with universal Internet access. Even Yahoo! could only return 30 pages on Spain, and the category Andalucía didn’t even exist.
Working in the media, Chris Chaplow, founder of Andalucia.com , saw the need for an online reference guide to Andalucía. A decade ago, on 17 th April 1996, Andalucia.com was registered.
The project started on a shoestring budget from Chris’ home office. Help came from a handful of FFFs, those indispensable family, fools and friends, and included access to the images from his partner’s business, Michelle Chaplow’s photographic archive, with a resource of over 100,000 images on Spain.
On this occasion, the fools could never be labelled as foolish. The Internet has surpassed all expectations. The key to early website success was to provide useful information in a clear and structured manner; no secret recipe, just hard work, long hours and a frantic determination to keep adding more and more information, and returning to improve and enhance the existing content.
By 1998, with 5,000 visitors a week, Andalucia.com was well ahead of the competition, even though clients were still at the stage where you had to explain the benefits of e-mail compared to faxes. “Competitors lost interest because advertising revenue wasn’t forthcoming. Knowing that you can’t have advertising without circulation, it was a question of just keeping going. Collecting information by exploring Andalucía at weekends was not exactly a hardship, anyway!” smiles Chris.
Andalucia.com ’s first employee, Mike Cartwright, was a graduate in Business Computing with Spanish and joined the company in 1998. He left to work for ZDnet in London, returning again in 2005 as general manager with a staff of 12 full time employees.
The Internet has a magical ability to connect instantly the remotest Andalucian village to the most dynamic cities worldwide, and all at an affordable price. Andalucia.com began to change peoples’ lives; rural hotels with limited advertising budgets could now have their own page on the web, viewable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Mothers in isolated villages came together on message boards, business networking commenced, Andalucia.com travellers arrived, the occasional romance blossomed, and Andalucia.com has even been responsible for at least one wedding that we know of and a number of relocations south!
Andalucia.com now has 6,000 plus pages of information and receives half a million visitors each month with one and a half million pages read. It is the most visited and longest established website providing information on Spain, an indispensable guide not only for the tourist but the foreign resident alike. Thousands of people have been inspired to visit Andalucía after visiting the site.
With all the technical expertise gained from Andalucia.com they established a sister company ‘Andalucia Web Solutions’ www.andaluciaws.com in 2004, which specialises in search engine friendly web design, search engine optimisation, domain registration, hosting, blogs, data bases and programming.
The future of Andalucia.com as they take their first steps into their purpose built, high tech, contemporary office premises, in the Marina of Estepona, is bright!
It begins with the relaunch of the Spanish version of the website, thanks to the help of Fuerte Hotels in a joint venture partnership.
Chris Chaplow says “None of this would have been possible without the loyalty of our visitors, customers and staff, to whom we are extremely grateful. We’re very proud of our success and in ten years we’ve seen many other sites come and go. We’re here to stay and very much looking forward to the next 10 years.”