Online Direct Bookings for Tour Operators :
How to tap into the digital marketplace to boost total sales.
A recent study revealed that the majority of US consumers believe that to get the cheapest airfare, they should book directly from airline websites. The same holds true for similar business that typically work with booking agents. When it comes to booking a tour, many customers will check a tour operator’s website before finalizing their purchase. Chances are, they’ll also check social media outlets and sites that post ratings and reviews. This means not only are they searching for the lowest price, they’re also searching for the best value.
Booking tours in the real world, either through agents or storefronts, is an essential part of your business. The question is, is this the only way you should do business? We vote no. Tapping into the digital marketplace will boost your sales and capture lost revenue. Think of it this way: every person that visits your site but leaves without booking a tour represents a missed opportunity.
An effective website will build your brand, engage your customer base and close your sales.
“The best way to tap into the online market is with a stellar website.”
Let’s talk about exactly how you can get all three of those jobs done.
Accessibility: Get your customers where they need to go.
When potential customers search for your business online, they should be able to access information about your company, your online booking service, ratings and reviews from third party sites and social media outlets in three clicks or less. To make the search easier on them, it’s your job to make sure your company website links to your social sites, as well as review sites—and vice versa. Check out our next blog about how to harness the power of a Google search.
Branding: Tell a story your customers will remember.
The look and feel of your website should be consistent with your overall marketing strategy. For example, if your employees are known for having a little fun on the way to providing a great tour, your website should have a little fun as well. Much like a great salesperson, your website should have a great personality that makes booking a tour with you an easy choice.
Websites are where the creative and the functional collide. Not only should your site reinforce your brand, it should be intuitive for users to navigate, and should ultimately steer them toward the ideal outcome: a booking!
Content: Include everything customers need to know to book
Once you’ve given your brand the right digital voice, make sure it’s saying all the right things. Your website should include all of the information customers need to feel good about booking a tour. Give them a basic introduction to your company and tell them why people choose you over your competitors. Provide some FAQs to address their questions and make getting in touch with you easy.
Finally, make sure all types of content work well together. Choose images that make the message you send in your text stronger. Choose to include customer testimonials that highlight the best part of your business; when you let your customers do the selling for you, finding new customers is effortless.
Design: Engage customers and close sales
How information flows on your website matters. What well-designed sites do best is control where potential customers go when they arrive. These sites first engage visitors, then direct them towards a sale with a strong call to action.
For tour operators, the likely call to action is something along the lines of “Book Now.” Then, make sure you structure your site in a way that makes booking now easy to do. This usually means making your call to action into a button or link, then placing that strategically throughout your site. In short, make sure all roads—or all pages of your site—lead to finalizing a sale.
Finally, make sure your site looks great on all devices—from desktop computers to smartphones. Mobile is the future of e-commerce, and you should be future-ready.
Ease-of-Use: Make online booking hassle-free
Your booking service should provide your customers with all the tour information they need and should provide you with all customer information you need. It should be intelligent and flexible enough to manage any potential tour customizations. This means it should cover all available tour options and address any special requirements customers may have.
At the same time, a good booking service should make your job easier on the back end. The digital information gathered from your customers should make managing bookings flow seamlessly from start to finish. There are some products and services available but the best option is to sign up for a free trial with www.vacationlabs.com. It will give you a clear picture of all the benefits that you can get out of an affordable product designed particularly for tour and activity operators.
At-a-Glance Website Checklist
Is your website a powerful sales tool? Answer these questions to find out:
- Does the voice of my site match my brand?
- Does my homepage make customers want to read more?
- Does the site answer typical questions my customers have?
- Is there a clearly defined call to action?
- Is booking a tour direct online easy for my customers?
- Does my online booking service allow for customizations or special customer requirements?