How to market your tour company |Digital marketing consultant
Having carried out several researches, I have come to a conclusion that I should write a free educational post to tour operators on how they should market their business online. I am a digital marketing consultant that will offer free consultation here; all I need is your patience of reading every paragraph.
It’s unknown why some people start business without seeking the advice from the successful business owners in the same field, here weather you are starting your business right now or you have business up and running already and are struggle please on.
Tourism/ Hospitality business is different from other fields in the marketing concepts, remember when you have a tour company, you are selling the idea of travelling to a person that has not traveled with you, you are showing the potential client the services they must expect from you, and after all you need them to trust you enough and book with your company, which some travelers believe to be a risk and a risk it is as they do not know you. However you need to reduce the risk in their eyes by doing certain things and strategies which I shall discuss further on.
In previous posts, we have highlighted how internet searches work, how the website get crawled and indexed and how a website is considered relevant and trustworthy to be ranked high in the result pages of search engine, the question remain’s, before a potential traveler searches for your services, where does he get the information concerning such services…
The show starts now. I will use Tanzania as a destination and Tanzania tour operators as a reference
How to market your tour company | Where do travelers get primary information about a destination/service, simply put, Zero Moment of Truth
Kim and Jose are in US, watching National Geographic channel documentaries, then they see wildlife and they are told the animals are in one of African national parks, that the animals are great tourism attraction of the place and some other stories concerning wildlife
Colm is in Ireland searching for African business opportunity, and then he sees an ad popping up about African safari, how great it is to visit one of the world’s great wildlife concentrations
Now Jose and Kim from US, and Colm from Ireland all on their own time, not interested much in travel at the time, they get information about African wildlife, they see mount Kilimanjaro and Serengeti, they start thinking that it would be a great idea to read more, to do a bit research and to plan visiting the places in later or future, this is known as Zero Moment of Truth, they had no idea, now they are getting idea of researching more and see if its worthy visiting.
Then, they run an internet research, as you know 65% of leisure travellers begin researching online before they have decided where or how to travel (Source: Ipsos MediaCT). This is a real time when a travel company should show up as a real source where the potential travelers can get great information about a destination, experience and preliminary needs to plan a tour. As these potential travelers are now interested, they will run a research until they get the right information.
How to market your tour company | stepping in potential travelers shoes
I have stepped into their shoes; now I am starting a research to see if I can get more information to convince me do a tour of my life.
- African safari….no Tanzania Company in top rank, so what I read here is from other reputable sources, they might answer my question or not, so I run another research
- African safari tours…. no Tanzania company, as I said I am writing this in reference to Tanzania, now back to a potential traveler in USA and Ireland researching about Safari and see if they can get any information , they find no Tanzania company so I run another research
- African safari tour companies…one Tanzania Company. In this research I have found one Tanzania Company answering my query so I decide to go and read.
- Serengeti migration….two Tanzania companies
- Kilimanjaro…three tour Tanzania companies
- Ngorongoro crater…two Tanzania company
Destination marketing | How to market a tour company
Guys now I am taking off the travelers shoes, coming from the perspective of a destination manager. If the above searches brings 8 Tanzania company websites out of 60 spots, and brings 7 Tanzania companies out of 30 companies while the potential clients searched for specific Tanzania parks, Is my destination going to defeat anyone who is doing serious marketing??
The important and first goal of being online is to dominate the searches around your name and brand, out of 30 talking about Tanzania, only 7 Tanzania safari companies appeared on the search.
Let’s keep going
How to market a tour company | Travel business operators
Now stepping in the tour operators shoes, I should be available at the point the potential clients looking at services learn more and when they want to make a decision. If someone’s seen the ad about Tanzania or specifically Kilimanjaro, Serengeti Migration or Zanzibar beach holidays, will obvious run a research to learn more and see if they can plan a vacation
- Is my website showing answers to travelers looking for information about a destination?
- Is my website talking about what the travelers are thinking at the point they start researching on future vacation destination?
- Now they have landed on my webpage, I am having relevant information they needed, can they bookmark my webpage or share to their friends?
- Can they sign up on the mail list to get more information concerning what they need and what the future may force them in?
- If they changed their mind and decided to travel after reading and researching, can they trust me and go with my company?
Now I have finished, taking off the shoes of travel agent, wearing my own shoes, the digital marketing consultant.
We have seen how the first information matters, of course the tour operators and destinations might have less control over what the channels like National Geographic may show, but have to know what sells best, what people who find anything concerning what you may be offering will start researching
- Understanding what might trigger potential travelers start researching is not enough, are you able to get the right answers and become one stop shopping solution?
- Are you able to do a research and present what potential clients are searching for?
- Do you think your website will make them buy from you rather than going on with the research from other sources?
You need to succeed in your business, right?? Go on reading here below
How to market a tour company | Digital marketing
Now we have seen that while the potential clients may get the first information about a destination or experience that can trigger their need to get one, they may get this information offline and online, but this does not mean if you are small you should spread yourself too thin now and market by using all mediums.
It’s correct that there will be no untouched destination in the world in 2020, so what you have to do now, is to know the best destinations and experiences that are in your service list, and get ready to present them when people start looking at them.
You have a website or starting a tour business, it’s very expensive printing magazine and distribute them all around the world, you can never attend all travel shows, you cannot force to get featured in top travel channels and websites, what you can do is set a funnel to grab those that will be directed by travel channels and major destination promoters.
You have national board of tourism promoting a destination but they do not sell the services, are you ready to provide extra information about the destination but more importantly show the potential travelers that you offer services as well
- If someone finds a destination in the magazine in his office New York City and then researches online, will you available to offer more detailed information and convert them at the real time and become your customers?
- Is your online presence good enough to dominate the search on particular services?
Marketing a tour company | Travel Planning is Dominated by Online Resources
Did you know?
- Travel review websites have the most influence (69%)
- Online travel agencies (56%)
- Friends and relatives (43%)
Also are you aware that:
- A typical travel shopper will visit 22 websites in multiple shopping sessions before booking a trip
- 44% of travelers use their smartphone to research travel while they’re traveling
- Tablet is the preferred device for booking future travel and smartphones are the preferred device for on-the-go
Now enough ranting about bringing a potential traveler to your website from initial destination research process until when they buy
Let’s agree that now you have understood and you are going to take action and make sure you are there to answer the potential travelers’ questions. Let’s also assume that the travelers are now on your website, do you know what are the travel websites that sell?
Marketing your tour company | Travel websites that sell
There is really no need of bringing your potential clients to your website if they end up clicking a back button and search for another company
There is no reason to spend all you have driving traffic to your website while they won’t buy your packages, not to mentioning that they won’t last for 10 seconds or read some other packages
Invest your time and other resources in making a website that sells, then drive traffic, you will succeed. This is the truth, no one tells you guys.
7 seconds Rule | Travel websites that sell
Guys maybe you have heard this before but without real explanations, others you might have not heard this, no problem I just knew it when I started digital marketing. Now you are getting this knowledge for free, just implement it
When someone is searching for a particular term, let say they are searching for “Serengeti Migration” and landed on your website home page, the easiest thing they may do is spend 7 seconds looking if they can get the target keywords or leave. So every website has two options, get the client or lose them forever within just few seconds.
Ask yourself these questions when looking at your website, if I were a potential client
- Do I see the right information I requested?
- Do I see anyone responsible for offering the requested services?
- Is there any metrics to see whether I can trust them, so how can I trust them?
- Do I see the fellow travelers testimonies and reviews about this company?
These are some of prior information a traveler will be looking at, and will only take 7 seconds to decide to stay on site or leave.
What are features of a selling travel website | How to market your tour company
Here below is the explanation of important features your travel website should have if you need to convert the website visitors to become the real service customers. There is no pride in having a thousand visitors a day on website and getting only one inquire
Has your website a defining or credibility statement| a selling website
Guys, I have gone through hundreds of website before writing this, what I found hilarious almost every website had a defining statement, the notable ones were “the company you can trust”, “where nature lives”, “your wildlife specialist”, “your safari companion”
Look Guys, we have 7 seconds to make a deal or break it, we have 7 seconds to sell our company, and the potential traveler is there looking whether he can trust us. When we say a defining credibility statement we don’t mean what you think you are, it means what you have done to clients. It means what your clients can feel from your past experience.
Forget about talking about yourself, explaining your credibility statement that cannot be tested or no proof at all. It remains to be seen where a company can be my safari companion, but when they have a defining credibility statement like this “Since 1999, and serves more than 10000 clients every year”, “Since 2012 with over 1000 satisfied customers”, “with over 600 mountain climbs since 2010”, “Retaining over 99% past repeat customers”
I can assure you there is much difference between these different credibility statements. I have seven seconds on your site; I just need that great line on top of your website, just below or along your company name or logo.
If I am travelling for mountain trekking which of course is always risky, I find you saying you have had more than 600 climbs, and the other website claiming that they know all the mountain routes, its obvious the least risky is going with the one with 600 climbs
This does not mean new and small companies can’t have a clear defining credibility statement, If I have to impress a potential client within seven seconds, I may do this “with 90% five star Trip Advisor reviews” “With experience of over 10 years working with trekking companies” If you don’t have any experience or a single review, invest in yourself before you start a business.
People are willing to book with the companies they can trust, as long as they don’t know you, the only way to trust you is seeing the credibility you have around your industry.
After a clear defining statement, other features that fall in the credibility category are:
- Images, forget about wildlife images, do the images you have showing the real customers experiencing what you offer
- Videos, is there any video showcasing what you are promising
- Personality, is there any staff, owner image or video on the home page
Funny enough is that, most Tanzania websites, you won’t even see the names of the owners or managers, not mentioning that there are no images or videos of them. So how is the person thousands miles from you going to do business with a stranger that doesn’t want to put their names/ photos on their website??
Social Proof and Third Party endorsement | Marketing your tour company
You have served customers even if are just two, are they have a say about the experience they had with you? If yes, what do they say? Is what they say about the experience they had on your website home page?
Look if someone is looking for a trekking company for Mount Kilimanjaro, they will be much interested in reading, listening from your past clients than reading about routes, as they know nothing about them.
So if someone was looking for a trekking company and has landed on your website, it’s clear that they are interested, so why don’t you show them the testimonials you have collected over years, if you have clients that submitted an audio or video reviews will be the biggest advantage that even if your website has no enough space to put description about the tour, if I visit and watch a live video of fellow travelers or listen to an audio testimony of your happy clients, I will book sharp.
Third part endorsement
- Trip Advisor
- Safari Booking
- Google Reviews
- Other Travel sites and blogs
- Facebook reviews
- Audio reviews
- Video testimonials
- Images and names of people that have submitted testimonials
Guys if I was to start a tour company now and have a great past experience and personal review; I would put them on my homepage not minding the space for texts.
External Social Proof (Social Media integration)| Marketing your tour company
We are on the social media era. The president of US is on Facebook, can the entire world make a mistake?
Embrace social media guys for your business, and of course brand yourself as well as you are the company if you are the business owner.
70% of travelers update their Facebook page while on vacation. Add in Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and other Social Media and it is clear to see travel is a highly ‘social’ activity.
So what you have to do with your website is to integrate all social media accounts your business have and bring them on your home page.
Do not just grab a URL or social media Icons; we want to see what people are doing, so grab the widget, enough to fit in your website as a condensed social media page.
People want to see the engagement, to prove this a post with over 1000 likes receiver more other likes than a post with less, because before even reading the bigger engagement you have the more people think you are relevant and your site credible.
So bringing the widget is bringing the social media life in your website, people can’t go away.
The top recommended Social Media pages a website should have are:
Then grow the followers and engagement.
Guys I must say this is enough learning for one day. I will update the post with Search Engine optimization and paid online advertisement like Google AdWords and Facebook marketing soon.
If you have any question or you have an event where you want our team to give a speech on this contact us.
Keep in mind, whatever you do online; ask yourself, “Why choose me” then get all unique selling points you have to a website visitor within 10 seconds.
Thank you for reading. All comments are welcome as they help us write digital marketing books for businesses. Please Click Digital marketing Consultant for more posts.
Dimmy Winston Kanyankole
Colm McGill Consulting