Although travel businesses can survive without a website, we live in a digitally-led world – and any channel that can deliver new business opportunities and represent your business 24/7/365 must not be ignored.
Research into why some travel agencies don’t have a website reveals answers like these:
- “We don’t need one, maybe it’s our location but we’ve been here for 20 years and we’ve got enough business without one.”
- “We’re just a small local retail agent and sell every tour operator’s product”
- “We used to have one but it’s not working and is in development”.
Reading between the lines, would I suggest that some folk deem websites to be more trouble than they are worth.
Keep it simple
Websites that are rich in content, clear to navigate and deliver a great customer experience are more likely to keep the visitor engaged long enough to convert to a sale, either online or over the phone.
Ultimately, the secret to creating a sticky website – a site that keeps a visitor for as long as possible – is to keep it simple. Simple to find the information they are looking for and simple to contact you or book online.
There are plenty of websites that will give you guidance on how to make the most of your website and plenty of marketing companies who can do it for you.
Case study: 14 islands film challenge
Challenged with making bahamas.co.uk a much content-richer site, Fox Kalomaski developed the 14 Islands Film Challenge to find 14 up-and-coming filmmakers to create engaging short films on and about the Islands of the Bahamas.
The 14 five-minute feature films can be seen at bahamas.co.uk or 14islandsfilmchallenge.co.uk.
The marketing initiative encouraged consumers to follow the exploits of the 14 filmmakers by signing up to become ‘armchair critics’ and be in with the chance of winning a holiday in the Bahamas as well as many other prizes. The results show a huge uplift in website visits since the films went live.
15 minute web review
Take 15 minutes to find out if you are following these suggestions. Where there are gaps, form a plan of action.
Site performance: Are you using tools such as Google Analytics to measure how your visitors interact with your site, how long they spend on particular pages and what they are looking for? Importantly, look at the bounce rate – the percentage of visitors who leave your site from the home page without further browsing.
Test and learn: Are you trying different approaches with your content – such as holiday reviews by customers and staff or competitions? Online research reveals that eight out of 10 people who spend time online engage with video content through business and or social media sites. Measure what works most effectively using your analytics tools.
Research: Ask your customers what they want when they visit your site and ensure you give them what they’re looking for. Simple questionnaires can be hosted on your website or ask them over the phone or in person how your site could be improved.
Data collection: Building a relationship with your visitors and potential customers provides a valuable database. If you have a holding page that says your site is under construction, turn it into a data-gathering opportunity by offering to send information on the latest offers and special deals based on what the customer wants, in return for their email or address details.
Keep your site fresh, clean and simple: A refresh of your existing site is simple and cost effective and remember that your web visitors are generally impatient to find the information they’re looking for, so make it very easy for them to find.
Content, content, content: Use the above suggestions to analyse whether you are creating engaging content that will give you a greater return on your investment.
Gary Jacobs is chief executive of travel marketing company Fox Kalomaski