The Santa Monica Convention & Visitors Bureau and advertising agency Rabuck Stranger have launched a redesigned Web site for information on dining, accommodations, shopping, things to do, meetings and convention spaces and community involvement in the city.

The redesigned Web site is at www.santamonica.com. After going through the request for proposals (RFP) process, the Convention & Visitors Bureau ultimately hired Rabuck Stranger to revamp the site because of its expertise in design and strategy and their understanding of what makes Santa Monica unique, according to the bureau.

The new santamonica.com has a new look, incorporating innovative design and updated content into the existing module.

The advertising agency’s first step was a competitive review in which bureau board members and staff, along with agency staff were given ten destination or travel-related Web sites to evaluate according to brand presence, ease of use and site content. The biggest finding from the analysis was that “captivating” photography was the most important feature on the Web sites that were favored, participants said.

The advertising agency then hired photographer Sondra Stocker to spend about three months photographing Santa Monica.

The concept of a local’s point of view set the tone for the photography, which includes local Santa Monicans in front of city backdrops, including the beach, Edgemar Center for the Arts, the beach bicycle path or Main Street.

“A fresh approach, and bold, colorful photography, set the site apart and the user-friendly interface makes Santa Monica information accessible to potential visitors everywhere,” said Rick Rabuck, creative director at Rabuck Stranger. “Now the world’s finest destination is only a click away.”

Through the new Web site, visitors can research where to stay in Santa Monica by filtering their search with various attributes such as “hip and trendy,” “beachfront” and “budget.”

Maps, weather, sample itineraries and other aspects of a trip are all available on the site. The site also includes a “What to do” link for travelers staying and playing in Santa Monica that features shopping, arts and culture, attractions, nightlife and insider tips. Local residents can use the site to find information about upcoming events in the city and apartment rental links.

“The new Web site is a strong reflection of the Santa Monica brand — the innovative culture, the relaxed attitude and the abundance of activities,” said Kim Baker, Convention & Visitors Bureau director of marketing. “We hope that everyone who visits the site leaves with a feeling that we live the good life in Santa Monica, and we welcome visitors to do the same.”

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