By Blake Ng — 2 Nov 2020
Websites are essential for tour and activity operators. Often they’re the first point of contact for potential customers. But with so many websites it’s crucial to stand out from the rest and differentiate yourself from the competition. If you both have great websites with informative content and attractive photos, these seemingly small adjustments can help you gain that edge. Having a great site doesn’t mean there’s never ways to improve the user’s experience and the site’s content. A few tweaks and updates can end up making the biggest impact.
You know your brand better than anyone else, so don’t change in order to try and please everyone. Your brand should be reflected in all aspects of your website in both the design as well as visual and written content. When it comes to your photos, while diversity in terms of types of photos is great, the photos again should be a reflection of your tour experience. In that sense, a photo of guests in silly costumes would likely not be the best choice for the luxury cruise, whereas it would be a fun addition to a gallery for a wine or beer tour—choose your photos wisely.
While aesthetically a luxury boat company and outdoor adventure company clearly require different visual stylings, don’t count out the written aspect. The tone is a crucial element in terms of how you communicate information with your specific target audience. The tone should emphasize your unique selling points but be in line with your fun and energetic or classy and relaxed tour offerings. Show off the personality of the tours, but in the right way that ties in with the brand.
As passionate as you are about your website it’s crucial to not overwhelm site visitors. It can seem like white space (or another background color) indicates a lack of content. But, in reality, it allows the most important content to shine and provides the necessary visual breathing room. Have you ever noticed that blogs don’t take up the full width of the screen with text? It’s because it gives the reader a break from not having to horizontally scan the entire space, keeping things pleasantly compact. Visually, look to feature your best photos rather than overwhelm prospective customers with a hundred photos just for the sake of having more photos. Textually, have the essential details visible from the start, with more information available for those who want to keep reading. Look to intrigue prospective customers, but be sure to keep some of those great tips or secret spots for the day of the tour!
Reviews aren’t the only way your guests can help promote your business (although it’s still a great way!). Featuring photos of your guests having a great time on your tours is always a good idea as it gives prospective customers the chance to visualize themselves on the tour taking the same photo! In addition to showcasing photos with your guests, another way to include guests after the tour is done is by featuring their content by asking them to contribute photos they took during the tour. This gives you additional material for your site, social media, and shows prospective customers that previous guests loved their experience with you. It also means you can increase interaction on social media by crediting the guest or asking them to mention or tag you if they post a photo on their own social media. Additionally, while guides regularly visit the tour stops, a fresh set of eyes may result in a stunning photo from an entirely different perspective.
An effective way to keep people on your site or viewing your content is to create “bridges” or connections between the different content. This can be either across platforms or across pages within your site. Internally if you mention a piece of information from your FAQs, for example, link to that page in order to create an easy pathway for them to continue reading. Consider making links available for guests to explore your other tour options on either the side or at the bottom of the page, rather than forcing them to go back to the home page or menu to click their way through. Once you’re on your way to promoting your content, a simple but valuable tip is to make sure your hyperlinks are obvious. Show your guests exactly where they need to click by opting for a contrasting color from your regular text, intuitively indicating that they’re headed to another page.
If you have a blog, look to include relevant links to your tours or offerings that tie into the material you’re discussing. Alternately, end the piece with general contact information for those looking for further info. Accordingly, include social media share buttons on your blog for readers to share the post, but also promote your own blog content through both your social media and newsletter. Don’t be afraid to post content or make announcements across various platforms. There’s nothing wrong with promoting the same material through multiple channels. While some people may follow you on one platform, it doesn’t necessarily mean they follow you on another, and it also doesn’t mean they receive your newsletters.
On your social media profiles, be sure to include a link to your website. And on Instagram where it’s not possible to include links in the posts (and if you’d like to include more than just the link to your website) you can create a landing page link where you can then direct guests to multiple places such as blogs, contact us, tours, etc. The idea here is to use multiple types of information to keep people interested and engaged. Because the longer you can keep someone active and scrolling on your website, the more likely they are to gain interest in booking one of your tours.
Although it’s your website, tours, and company, in many ways the website experience is not actually about you. Why? Because you’re not the one buying your tours! For example, you may have a certain aesthetic in mind. And that’s great! But if this aesthetic is not functional for your site visitors, your site is then working against you rather than for you. A prime example is a site that is all photos and minimal text. Although visually stunning, it won’t tell prospective customers any of the necessary information to learn more about your tours. Or on the other extreme, while you may have a lot you would like to say to your potential customers, overwhelming blocks of texts and pages that feel like you have to keep scrolling forever are not the answer either. Not only is it unlikely to be fully read, but it may result in frustrated visitors clicking off your site when they were just looking for those essential pieces of information.
Your website should absolutely reflect you as a tour operator as well as your brand, but you also need to cater to your customers’ needs. When in doubt, seek out professional web design help, ask your friends and family (or even your customers!) for feedback in order to get an outside opinion on what’s working well and where there’s potentially room for improvement. Collectively small changes take a great site and make it that much better, helping to convince your guests it would be a mistake to book anywhere else. Good luck!
This blog was written by Tourism Tiger.