The Web has helped open up the incredible variety of options for tourists. Today, most people prefer to search the Web for hotel, flight, and tours, and by-pass the travel agent altogether. This, in turn, has great benefits for the hospitality industry, especially the boutique hotels and tour operators. The Web offers these travel businesses a level playing field with the big hotel and resort chains. The only factors effecting the scales to go in favor of one or the other is knowledge and time. Knowledge in terms of what marketing efforts work and time, in terms of actual hours spent on what actually works. Here, we present top 10 travel marketing tips to help you succeed in your travel and tourism business online.
1. Plan Your Search Marketing Strategy Well
Don’t assume that if you have a website then people will come. Without a well planned search marketing strategy, your website will get traffic equivalent to a hotel off the beaten track without any signs leading to it. People will only stumble upon it by accident.
A well-thoughtout search marketing strategy includes natural or organic search optimization (SEO), as well as paid search optimization (PPC). Keyword research is critical for the same keywords may not be ideal targets for both SEO and PPC. This will depend much on budget. Higher competition and search volume keywords will translate into higher cost. Low competition keywords with search volume should be taken advantage of as they are generally easier to rank for well.
2. Build Relationships
Your goals should go beyond just the quick sale. You want to build lasting relationships where the guests feel like home so that they will want to return. Show that each guest is special. Even if they stay for one night at the cheapest room. This may be a way for them to test your accommodations or services. Invite their feedback, and stay in touch with them after they leave by asking them for their email address before they leave. Make sure that your website speaks like to a close friend or, better yet, a loved family member. Make sure your emails have warmth and show that you care. Keep the same spirit when you greet and take care of your guests.
3. Take Full Advantage of Reviews
Encourage reviews, especially when you receive positive comments. There are two very different reasons for someone to take the time to write a review: either they loved the experience or hated it. You definitely want to the first reason to be the key motivator. You can also encourage reviews by offering a discount for future stays or entry into a contest to win a free night or a tour, etc.
4. Use Social Media to Spread the Word
Social media is a daily part of life for many. It allows people to connect across long distances and not-so-long distances. However, if you don’t have a Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or LinkedIn accounts for your business then you are missing on a lot of opportunities to reach new and repeat customers, as well as build relationships. Today email is not the only way to stay in touch. Social media is a great way to keep your members up-to-date. You can post short comments, photos, videos, testimonials, and more. As your list of followers, likes, and friends grows, so does the level of trust in your offerings. By the way, don’t forget to follow us @tckmedia. 😉
5. Write a Travel Blog
There are many benefits to having a travel blog that is regularly updated. It can act as an inspiration to travelers. It can provide a better picture in what to expect which in turn builds confidence and removes fears of the unknown. Probably the most important benefit is that it will aid greatly in the natural search ranking of your website. There is no doubt that spending an evening here and there to add a few posts during the week is a small price to pay. Even if you don’t have the time to do it yourself, surely someone on staff or even an outside agency can do this for you at a reasonable price.
6. Build an Affiliate Network
There are many high quality websites that rely, at least in part, on affiliate sales. If you can tap into these sites then this can lead into potentially a lot of bookings. Websites that are ideal for affiliate sales include travel blogs, comparison sites, online travel guides and other niche travel sites. You can contact them directly to build your own network, or join an existing affiliate network such as Commission Junction or LinkShare or similar.
7. Have Consistent Online & Offline Marketing
Ensure that your marketing is harmonious across all media, be it print, video, radio, Web, and otherwise. This means have your website and social media url’s on all collateral and clearly visible. Most people use multiple media devices at the same time such as TV and tablet or computer. Encourage them to get more info online.
8. Build an Email List
In the course of a day, week, and month, you may run into a lot of people. Some may book with you, most probably won’t. Some of those that won’t may be shopping around, or you may meet for other reasons. Whatever the case, make sure you collect business cards, ask for email addresses and have an email subscription form on your website.
If you personalize your emails to the interests of the recipients, the more likely you will get positive responses and less likely your email will be marked as spam. For example, a couple without children will not be interested in family vacation packages, and a family with kids will not be interested in adults only resorts.
10. Make it Easy to Book
One of the biggest mistakes would be to get the visitor to your website and then make it difficult to book a reservation for him or her. It is, of course, important to have a phone number clearly visible on all the pages but also it is important to have an easy to use online booking form.