When it comes to attracting consumers to websites that offer tours & activities, there are seven notable sources for traffic that all service-based businesses should be aware of. If you own or help operate a company specializing in one-of-a-kind experiences, we highly recommend making use of the following seven sources.
Here is some of the groundwork for any tour or experience company looking to ramp up interest & drive sales online.
Travel Review Websites
Travel review websites have given the discerning traveler the ultimate forum to express their opinions and thanks to well-used review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, what matters most to today’s traveler is the view of their peers. So for the tour and experience provider —embrace it, and master it; because it’s not going anywhere.
Focus on the quality of your reviews rather than the quantity of reviews. A simple follow-up email to your customer with an embedded link to the review site of your choice is an easy way to get feedback. It’s important not to ‘seem needy’ in the email, but instead encourage them to share their experiences.
Respond to all of your TripAdvisor reviews. It takes time, but it is worth the effort. Responding to reviews demonstrates your willingness to engage and take feedback; as well as being accountable if someone does have a bad experience. When you respond to your reviews, make sure that it has a ‘personal touch’ —avoid corporate speak. In the hotel business TripAdvisor found that those who responded to 50% of their reviews, received an almost 7% growth in revenue. And the main benefit to keeping up-to-date with all your reviews? Identifying areas for improvement.
Social Media Channels
Social media is one of the easiest and most enterprising ways of generating traffic to your site. Twitter has in excess of 300 million followers, and Facebook is approaching 2 billion —who wouldn’t want to tap into that kind of potential? It’s the medium of choice for communicating directly with your audience, building your brand, and driving traffic to your site. Best of all —it’s cheap.
Post quality content that will be shared via Facebook, Twitter, and Google. Make sure you include photos, keep hashtags short and catchy, and use emoticons only when relevant. Keep things fresh: update, update, update! Your post from the summer of 2014 was great, but it’s the stale, day-old donut in the age of the internet.
Be active on industry-related social network groups and communities. These can be an important traffic resource for your website. Keep a track of social conversations. Listen for your customers’ questions, comments, likes, and dislikes, and reach out to them. And encourage reposts, likes and photo sharing at every opportunity.
Local DMOs (Destination Marketing Organizations)
It’s one of the first things travelers search to get a lay of the land. Destination Marketing Organizations, your tourist & visitor bureau websites, offer up-to-date information, event calendars, lodging tips and most importantly: a link to your excursions and tours. Sometimes this is a free service, other times it’s done as ‘pay-per-click’ advertising or as a straight listing fee. It can be an important part of any online marketing effort as it really is the gateway to your area, and a view window into your tour or excursion. Flashy brochures in the actual ‘bricks and mortar’ facility help to increase your presence and stay fresh in the minds of your target audience.
Coupon & Third-Party Booking Websites
Who doesn't like to get a deal? You don’t have to be an extreme couponer to appreciate saving money. Travelers will pay attention to what’s giving them the most bang for their buck. Your site should offer discounts for booking your tours & activities online. Be it a service, t-shirt, ball cap or commemorative video, you have the opportunity to not only give your traveler a memory of a lifetime, but the chance for margin-friendly ancillary sales.
You can submit coupons or discount codes to literally hundreds of different coupon websites to maximize your site’s exposure and internet presence. You can also submit your availability to third-party reservation websites to maximize occupancy, especially in the low season.
Some popular coupon directories include:
Some popular third-party booking channels include:
Photo & Video Sharing Platforms
A picture is worth a thousand words, and can sell your tour or experience better than even the slickest ad copy. Simple SEO (Search Engine Optimized) messaging contained with the photo can further drive traffic to your site. Making your images pop up in search results can be an effective strategy to generate traffic to your blogs, social media platforms —then of course to your site.
There’s an organic aspect in sharing photos on line, that can’t be underestimated. Great photos and videos are not only shared —they’re repeatedly shared. The impression and branding applications for your business are almost unquantifiable. And if you do get a big hit and it goes viral —hire more staff, you’re going to need it! Best of all, it’s free.
Popular photo & video–sharing platforms include: Instagram, Shutterfly & Flickr.
Paid & Sponsored Banner Ads
Once you’ve completed steps one through five, it’s time to ante up. That being said, Google Adwords’ campaigns are seldom huge successes —at first. It takes time & repetition to percolate into tangible sales. Furthermore, it takes continuous refinement to find out which search terms are the most effective to place your services in front of a target audience. So you have to be mindful of what search terms people are using to find your service. Make sure your site, Tweets, posts, and hashtags are Search Engine Optimized (SEO) to not only drive traffic to your site, but to also have your ad pop up on any relevant browser searches.
You visit a website, and it puts a cookie into your browser that tells the software running the ad that you’ve visited that particular website. It’s how if you search for mid-century modern furniture, those ads suddenly pop up on your Facebook feed very soon after. Take advantage of this, embrace the repetition, and get your message out there. The biggest difference between banner & retargeting ads is the service demographic. Retargeting is the most cost-effective form of pay-per-click advertising online because the target audience has been whittled down to a smaller size (only those who have already visited your website). Click here for more information on retargeting & pixels.