You are well aware of the massive impact of the Internet on travel and tourism. It affects how everyone reaches their customers, including tour providers and travel agencies. Online marketing offers tremendous opportunities for small tour companies.
You know you should have a website, social media pages… Just not sure how to get the best out of them? This article will highlight the basics of what every small tour provider and travel agency need to know in the area of online marketing.
We first need to understand our target market to be able to find our customers and delight them with our offer. Let’s quickly remind ourselves of just a few of the new online traveler trend.
According to Google, consumers nowadays use multiple screens when browsing the Internet. The starting point is usually smartphones to then move to PC or tablet. For years now, travelers have been sharing their reviews and other content thanks to social media. They expect a more unique and tailored consumer experience, adapted to their individual preferences. Always connected, they expect to receive real-time services from travel companies. Hence, customer service needs to be available 24/7 with an easy to access via mobile devices.
Online is huge. You need to set up your online marketing because your target market is there. Based on the experience of some of the best marketers and tour and travel experts, here’s a list of basic tips to help you organize your online promotions in a snap:
1. Delight them with a Story
When it comes to the online marketing of tours or travels, digital storytelling goes hand in hand with social media campaigns. Quality content is inevitable. Use pictures, videos and real life stories in the description of your product to catch reader’s attention. Know your audience and be creative. The stories inspire and evoke emotions. The two powerful weapons in attracting new bookers. This is a secret behind the successful tour providers and travel agencies. Present your tourist and traveler offer through a story. Use video, photos, and blogs as a medium. Share them on social networks.
2. Engage Customers through Social Media
Image Source: Smart Insights, Global Social Media Research Summary 2016
Social media is a part of online marketing that is such a well of opportunities for tour operators! It’s important to understand that you use it to find your audience. When people want to find you, they turn to search engines. While the social media landscape changes every day, most experts still recommend Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and Linkedin for tour and travel businesses. You’d want to have a profile on all of them but adapt the usage intensity according to their special features.
Share and post daily. To become likable, don’t go all promotional, rather have fun. Publish beautiful pictures, create conversations, answer questions. Join the industry groups on LinkedIn and Facebook to find partnerships and share experiences. Once people notice your useful, beautiful and fun content on social media, they will go to Google and look you up for more memorable experiences you got to offer!
3. Show your Great Offering in Videos and Pictures
This will help your online customer reviews go up. Your website, your profile descriptions... Are often the very first impression of you and your business for many potential bookers. And you know how important first impressions are. If they see you sloppy with your pictures, they’re going to judge your entire service based on that. So, do get the most beautiful pictures you can get. Use them to evoke positive feelings a potential booker will have with your tour after they press that book now button. There are tons of beautiful free stock photos to start with.
4. Have Direct Booking on your Website
Many small tour businesses offer their products to a larger provider. Having a multi-function Book Now button on your website allows more control over your small tour business. A modern booking button can even button support custom made tours, you just have to allow yourself a little bit of time to try it out. It’s a huge time-saver that helps with responding to customer inquiries in a timely fashion. And you know how easy it is to lose a potential booker if they get their response late. We recently wrote about online booking benefits. Once you start managing content in one place, you’ll get to monitor all customer experiences in one place. This will be a beginning of great online sales and marketing for your small tour business.
5. Squeeze the Juice out of the Popular Travel Marketplaces
Travel marketplaces such as Tripadvisor, Viator, Trustpilot, and Touristlink, promote great tours through customer reviews. There’s no better promotion than the good old word-of-mouth. And this is what reviews are in the online world. People turn to other traveler experiences before booking their next travel. The number of likes and shares on social media falls into the same bucket. People trust them. And when people find you liked by others, they’re going to like you, too. The number of your online bookings will grow along the increase of your positive reviews.
6. Make Decisions based on your Business Data
Data mining is no longer a tool of the big players. Having a useful reporting system is your best friend when it comes to monitoring your business results. You can find it within your booking software. Let’s take a look at Orioly. It includes sets of features to standardize all tour business processes. This reduces costs and improves efficiency. All business reports are presented in simple graphs. Tracking your tour business in this way, helps you make the right decisions, increase customer base and personalize experiences demanded by modern travelers.
7. Optimize your Website for Mobile
Did you know that 87% of internet users have a smartphone? When was the last time you checked yours? This is how the majority of Internet users (read: your potential bookers) will read your posts, emails, and website content. When you publish online, check how it appears on your smartphone or tablet screen. Mind that the content might look different on different mobile brands. What you need is a fast load time, big pictures, easy navigation, search and selection, and clear call to actions. If you don’t have those, know it will impact your revenue.
Try Mobile Friendly test, which is a free Google's tool, to check if your website has a mobile-friendly design and get optimization recommendations. There are also some great free WordPress plugins to help optimize your website.
To Wrap Up... Online Marketing in the Age of the Customer
It all starts with knowing your customer and understanding their needs. Then you can cater to their requirements and create exceptional experiences.
Making a great customer experience requires planning and thoughtful consideration during the entire sales cycle - from the ad creation, promotion, customer engagement and communication, booking, payments, to memorable tour experiences.
In order to embrace the kind of online marketing thinking appropriate for this age of the customer, remember the buzz words: individuality, personalisation, social, video, mobile.