How does the Internet impact your tour or activity business, and how can you leverage that impact to attract new customers? We’ve put together some tips on essential elements of online marketing to help you get started.
An effective presence on Social Media is important for many businesses, but especially so with tour operators. As a tour operator, you sell experiences, not tangible products, and many of those experiences are highly visual and as such are perfectly suited to social sharing, commentary and so on.
Focus on making your content shareable when generating new content on your website. This means not only making it easy to share the content (with easily understood sharing buttons), but also generating content that people would want to share with their peers.
Facebook is an awesome platform and is without a doubt the powerhouse of Social Media (with Twitter a not-too-distant second). Facebook has more users and more functionality. Especially important is Facebook’s review system, with each company’s rating (up to 5 stars) being prominently displayed on their page. You can encourage people to use your Facebook site for reviews, or even embed your TripAdvisor badge in your Facebook page for added authority and trust.
Be sure to engage with your users too – it’s not enough to just have a page and share images and posts. Reply to comments on posts, “like”, and even tag people who have liked your page in your posts to bring attention to them, although do this sparingly as spamming the tag function can frustrate users.
One good tip for tour operators on social media is to utilize Facebook’s “Causes” feature. “Social Justice Warriors” (or SJWs) are some of the most active people on Facebook, so if your business in involved in any causes (wildlife, community outreach, fund raising) then this can be a great way to get traction on the world’s largest social network.
Settling on a definitive set of keywords to target for a tour operator can be difficult due to the variety of tours offered. First of all, it’s important to find a niche, and with the travel industry this is usually actually quite easy – your tours are their own respective keyword niches. “Walking tours in the Himalayas”, “European battlefield tours” or “charity cycling tours” might be some of the tours you offer, and each one offers a distinct set of keywords to hone in on.
It is possible to accelerate this process by obtaining high quality links to your website. It’s important to emphasise ‘high quality’ here, and by these I mean links from Lonely Planet or the Telegraph’s travel section, for example.
Some SEO companies (or companies that provide SEO services) will sell link packages that purchase links on low quality, spammy sites that can actually damage your site’s rankings with search engines, and sometimes even have your domain blacklisted from their index, so be wary of how and from where you obtain your links.
Interlinking your content on your site is important, no matter the industry your business is in. Our LSX Tour Operator plugin makes this a breeze with its related content feature, which helps you to easily link your tour pages to accommodation pages, destination pages, reviews and more.
Newsletters can be great for Tour Operators to get their names in front of people’s’ faces even when they’re not on your website, but the first (and largest) hurdle is getting them to join your mailing list in the first place. Having forms throughout the site inviting people to join your mailing list is a no-brainer, but incentivising the sign up is another thing.
One technique many tour operator companies use to get people to join a mailing list is to offer them a travel guide or some other useful digital product in exchange for joining a mailing list.
Another method is to have an “exit intent” sign up form appear for users who have spent a certain amount of time on your site, or who have viewed a certain amount of pages – this has been proven to improve sign-up rates, as the sig-up form is shown only to users who have already shown sufficient interest in your offering. This kind of functionality is achieved easily with the OptinMonster plugin, which we’re big fans of.
Once you have a list of verified, interested travelers you can target them with well timed and well targeted messages: with Goal tracking in MailChimp you can tell which pages people have already visited on your site, and use that information to:
- Remind them of upcoming tours
- Alert travelers of limited availability
- Share your latest travel brochures and news on your destinations (visa information is crucial and will be appreciated by guests)
- Run contests to win a free tour / discount by subscribing and sharing
- Update them of changes to your site
PPC & Landing Pages
For a quick burst of traffic to your site, not much can beat the power of Paid Traffic. The most popular PPC platform out there is, of course, Google’s AdWords program. Leveraging solid keyword research to attract qualified traffic for your tour operator packages is important, but many forget the importance of having optimized landing pages for your paid traffic campaign. It’s not much use to send a visitor interested in “kenyan gorilla tours” to your homepage where you offer a wide range of tours – send them to the tour page itself!
Ask for support from experts
Running your tour operator business likely already takes up most of your time, so you might not have enough time to take care of all the marketing efforts needed on your own. Why not get in touch with us to help you on your way? We’re online marketers well-versed in the field of online marketing, especially for the tourism industry.