By Blake Ng — 1 Jun 2017
Access this recorded webinar for a limited time.
There’s no point in having a beautiful website if it doesn’t speak to your audience. But, do you know them inside and out? Who are those people who book tours online? And how can you craft your website so it sells to them effectively?
In this webinar, Mat will share with you – for the first time ever – TourismTiger’s framework for building websites that sell more tours.
You will learn:
This is an exclusive first-time opportunity to gain valuable insights from one of Rezdy’s trusted partners and, undoubtedly, one of the best in the business.
For many tour and activity operators, the common question is “How do I get more bookings?” and there are so many tactics to retrieve more online bookings.
Nowadays, there is no shortage of blog posts out there in 2017 from the Tourism Industry and the question is always, “Where should I start?” As a general rule, there are many different ways you can optimize your website. So for new operators: start out at the top and for the establish operators: start at the bottom, and what does this translate to?
Fundamentally, if you have a completely new business, it is unheard of. Most likely, no one is visiting your website and thus, if you play with your pricing, for example, it will not help your business. So, starting at the top means publicity and once, you get visitors coming onto your website, a lot of operators stay in this trap.
One of the biggest traps that tour operators fall into is that they continuously focus on traffic, whereas if you are an established operator, you will get a lot of gains just by starting at the bottom. This means focusing your energy not just on the traffic, but also turning your attention to other parts of your business to get real results.
This concept is known as “The Funnel”, as shown in the image above. Here, you have the ability to double your profits without necessarily increasing website traffic. If you double your website traffic and whilst also gaining the same quality of traffic, you may also double your sales. However, it is also possible to massively increase your revenue without getting more website visitors because businesses are a function of these four numbers:
1. How many hear about you2. How many decide to buy.3. How much they spend.4. How much profit you make from each sale.
These are interesting numbers to play with because a typical operator may have a thousand visits to a website and get 15 bookings. So that leaves the tour operator with 985 people who did not book and this begs the question to how much opportunity is there and that is how many will decide to buy. This will lead to pricing on how much will they be willing to spend, and lastly, how much profit you will make from your sales, as a tour operator.
The primary focus is changing the amount of people who do decide to purchase. With the focus of convincing more people to book your tours or activities, we must firstly recognize 4 important factors:
1. Understand who you are selling to.2. Understand why they book.3. Understand why they don’t book.4. Understand that you and your needs NOT a reflection of your guests. Don’t super-impose the way you think on to your booking process.
Many tour operators tend to super-impose their own way of thinking onto their booking process. They forget that they have a lot of noise that is accumulated that other guest do not have.
As a tour operator, your website is crucial as it must visually encapsulate your website viewers’ interest and engagement while simulating a paralleled experience. For example, you have an amazing experience that could be a walking tour of Sydney or it could be a rafting tour of the American river in California. On the other side, you have potential guests and in the middle, you have your website. Ultimately the purpose of your website is to communicate your amazing experience virtually, in other words, be the perfect lens of your experiences that you offer.
It must be noted, however, that websites will never be able to communicate the full range of emotions and the full experience. Thus, the lens is more to allow people to access that full impression that allows people to feel the emotions and live their fantasies through the website. This insight has therefore fueled the need to understand the different types of personalities that do exist online when booking tours and activities.
These personality types are not mutually exclusive as nearly everyone is a mix of at least one of these attributes. The model was formed through using a tool called Heat Maps – they are a kind of infrared camera for a website, which allows one to observe where website visitors are hovering or where they are focusing, what they are ignoring, what they are scrolling pass and view what people are asking in the contact forms and live chats. There were noticeable findings of the different types of profiles of people in terms of their booking patterns.
This first type of personality is one that does not want to read massive tour descriptions. Rose is one that does not have time to read hundreds of reviews on TripAdvisor. She has four tabs open and in this case, flicking between the websites, quickly trying to make a decision.
As a tour operator, if you have a website that is difficult to navigate, where it may be loading slowly or where it is difficult for a visitor to answer their basic questions, then the visitor will most likely switch to your competitors. Understanding this mentality will enable you to don the ‘Rush-Hurry Rose’ glasses on and look at your website and ask questions such as, “Is it extremely clear what I offer from the very first second?” or “What would happen if I were to show the website to my mother and ask her to navigate?”
Regardless how internet tech-savvy your website visitors are, there are fundamental features that are essential to create a user-friendly experience for the viewers: a clear headline, a salient navigation box with multiple choices and search function of tour dates. Ask yourself: would my mother find it easy to find the exact information she needs? Will she be comforted by your information? Will she be able to make the booking quickly?
For example, Vinetrekker, the number one wine tour operator within Australasia according to TripAdvisor, is an example eliciting this – made “stupidly-simple”. The menus are made very clear, and their upcoming date search function.
The second personality, Eddie Experience and Rush-Hurry Rose are the two most common visitor types. Simply, Eddie Experience is a bit more challenging to design for as Eddie is not worried about safety. Eddie prioritizes more on the emotions, the experiences, the memories, the thrills and the photos that they are going to take. Overall, they are generally drawn towards your galleries.
Statistics from TourismTiger have revealed that majority of website visitors give more attention on imagery and videos, and will generally not read much text. Hence, this means that Eddie will miss seemingly obvious things on your website because he is using your website as what was previously mentioned – the lens to your amazing experiences.
The biggest mistake for a tour company is when it comes to photos, they are showing their guests having fun but they forget to show what the guests are seeing from their own eyes. The context of the experience, for example, rafting companies, always seem to make the mistake of only showing zoomed in photos of people travelling down the rapids and forgetting to showcase the nature and scenery of the river. It is vital to show the balance of showing that your guests are having fun, the context of the experience, and your company delivering the experience.
For example. VantigoSF.com (as seen below), is a famous operator in San Francisco where they use photos to show their VW vans as a part of their tour because it is not just about the Golden Gate Bridge – it is also about the experience of being in the van as a part of their tour.
Another example, SurfToursNicaragua.com (as seen below), here the photo is taken by a professional showing a person learning how to surf. There is a visible instructor over on the right-hand side. The woman was deliberately chosen to speak to the website viewers. These kinds of photos can allow website viewers to envision the exact experience that they will be having.
The third personality type is quite distinct from the previous two – Hesitant Henrietta. She is the one who needs to be comforted. She is worried about the “What If’s” – What could happen to her? What could happen to her family? What if it rains? Is the equipment safe? Is the equipment out of date? Is the tour guide going to be extremely boring? Are we going to be packed in like a sardine into a little minivan? Am I going to be comfortable enough in the vehicle? All these questions need to be addressed before she clicks the “Book” button and we, as tour operators, can fulfil this need by using text, photos and videos.
Henrietta is the kind of person who would send you emails and make phone calls with you to ask you questions that already exist on the website because she wants to talk to a human being to be comforted and reassured. As a tour operators, it is essential for you to have a comprehensive and easy to find FAQ to allow your website visitors to feel confident that your company is detailed and transparent.
In addition, you must directly address Henrietta’s fears early and often throughout your tour descriptions, photos and videos. For example, you can use photos to answer their questions by showing children on the tour if they pose a question to whether it is appropriate and suitable to bring children or not. Thus, this is why it is important to have photos that resonate with your website viewers and not using professional models.
For example, Cascadeoutdoors.com (as seen below), a rafting operator in Tennessee where they answer the question to children’s suitability to the tours. With the photos, they showcase a range of age groups having a great experience and on the right-hand side, website viewers are comforted by the 5-star Facebook Rating as well as it is locally owned and operated business.
The next persona is Questioning Quentin – he is the Sherlock Holmes where he is inclined to do thorough investigation. He is the one who asks too many questions and essentially, he enjoys having Post-it notes and boxes of files.
Questioning Quentin will punish you for not knowing the details so, as a tour operator, it is necessary to include thorough tour descriptions that can be easily digested and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Ensure that you have a trip name, basic answers to frequently asked questions, summary and pricing details. It has been founded that 50 to 70 per cent of website visitors will not scroll any further than this as they have gained the basic details to make their own informed decision.
The personas Questioning Quentin and Hesitant Henrietta will be more likely to keep scrolling and read the fine details. However, it is vital to keep you tour descriptions concise and thorough without intimidating the guests. As previously mentioned, the FAQ is crucial to the website page and the About Page. For affordable tours with the price range between $30 to $80, about 10 to 15 per cent will visit the About Page. On the other side of the continuum, more expensive tours like Surf Tours Nicaragua, which has a 7-day experience that costs around $1500, around 30 to 40 per cent of guests will visit the About Page. This will provide an opportunity for you to sell to people who are sitting on the fence.
Last but not least, Representative Ryan is the one who is not booking for themselves, but they are booking for a partner, booking for a family, or booking for a school group, university group and the like.
Ryan desires to be praised by the group after the experience, whilst enhancing their credibility and they are held accountable when something goes wrong.
Essentially, Ryan is values credibility and proof. As a tour operator, we need to visually implement tools and features to reinforce Ryan’s attitudes. Your website should be up-to-date, available, user-friendly and professional. Photos and videos should amplify your brand experience as a ‘Picture is worth a thousand words’. Investing in having professional photos and videos can holistically enhance the overall design of the website.
Ask yourself – what kind of awards have you won? Any media awards and mentions worth boasting to increase your credibility and trust on your website? It may be also worthwhile to add your expertise and experience to solidify your position in the tourism industry. Some questions to ponder are: how many years have you been in business? What is the combined experience of your guides?
Next, embedding testimonials and review widgets on your website. You must bear in mind however,these reviews can be positive or negative on Facebook and TripAdvisor, for example. TripAdvisor is now trying to keep bookings so it is important for you to monitor this. The more professional and credible your website is, the more receptive your website visitors will be. It is recommended to put your credibility message above or lower on the top left-hand side of your page as this will be the first thing that your visitors will see.