Remote but Connected - Our Digital Story

07th March 2014

Significant Numbers:

160 islanders, 15 miles out to sea, 5 suites.


There comes a time in life when you step back and say, ok, what are we doing here, what’s the longterm plan, where are we going to live and what are we going to do. We decided we wanted to live on Inis Meáin, the small island of which Ruairí is a native. We decided to make a living for ourselves there by creating Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites. 160 islanders, 15 miles out to sea, 5 suites, and few annual visitors. Were we crazy? Just a little.

Build it and they will come we thought. But how do you let “them” know that you’ve built “it”. We host the same amount of suite guests in a WHOLE YEAR as a decent sized chain hotel would do in ONE NIGHT so waiting for word of mouth to kick in was never an option.

As a tiny business owned just by ourselves, we have been slowly honing our vision for a unique hospitality offering since first opening in 2007. Perfecting an entirely new concept in travel is something that takes time and what we offer now has developed significantly from since we first opened.

What we do has always taken its inspiration from our unique location, but the island over time has moulded the experience we offer into something that is even more connected with the island and what it offers. An example is our included HotPot Lunches introduced in 2011, based on guest’s comments as to how lovely it would be to enjoy a warm pick-me-up from one of the breathtaking vantage points on the remote south coast trek.

So we decided in 2013 that it was time to create a new website that better reflected the travel experience that we offered, and that would make better use of all the tools now available to help spread the word.

This is a brief insight into our process of getting a little bit more connected from our remote outpost. It includes a look behind the development of the website for those that may be interested. If that’s not your thing, we hope you enjoy just being in front of it.

Concept
We felt we needed to find some neat little words to better explain what we are offering out here. We are not a chain hotel on a roundabout in a city, with a spa, conference centre etc. We don’t fit into any box that we know of, so we tried to create a box to help people get their heads around what we do.

Inis Meáin is a rural, remote location. A small slab of limestone lying in the Atlantic Ocean. Natural elements not only continue to mould the island, but also dictate daily life here. So “An Elemental Travel Experience” was born to illustrate the integration with nature and the simplicity of style which have formed the Inis Meáin Restaurant & Suites experience.

Film
To show the wild nature that influences an Inis Meáin stay so much we thought that really, only moving pictures could achieve this satisfactorily. So we worked with Ruán Magan, an award-winning documentary maker, to capture this natural beauty for a film that would feature on the homepage of our new website. Friends, I Draw Slow, gave us beautiful music to compliment the imagery and the sun shone. Job done.

Website
For the website we worked with our friends in Detail Design Studio in Dublin. Headed by Brian Nolan, Detail have created all of our design materials since the beginning, and have worked above and beyond to help us punch above our weight.

In May 2013, we started brainstorming for the new website around the four key areas of Restaurant, Suites, Island and People.

We made out a wish list for our new website that went something like this...overall that the website would:
a) be an extremely visually striking representation of our unique elemental island location
b) therefore open viewer's minds to a different curation of a travel experience inspired by its location
c) be so clear about our offering so as to enable viewers to easily decide whether it is for them or not.

These are some of the website elements that inspired us along the way:
- the clearness of concept on http://www.hoteldaniel.com
- the integration with nature on http://favikenmagasinet.se
- the clarity and imagery on http://www.urlaubsarchitektur.de/en
- the prominence of film on http://www.restaurantfrantzen.com
- the simplicity of navigation on http://www.ippon-matsu.com

Then came the design, a main feature being our "floating" navigational menu, thanks to Detail and tech whiz Billy Brady. A long process of more technical whizzardry, content creation, photography selection, proof-reading, device optimizing, went on for several months until soft launch the day before our annual week's holidays on the 31st of October, phew!

The website includes many new features like Elements, our depositary for sharing relevant island content, a Shop which will be developed over time, a Travel Toolkit to make it easier to find your way here, and a handy place to find the times of sunrise, sunset, and tides on Inis Meáin to help us to plan our day, and yours, when you visit!

Websites are now living creatures so the journey is not over. We are enjoying this journey into the outside world, and hope to inspire you along the way. — Back to Elements