Businesses these days must have a strong online presence if they are going to survive, grow and thrive – especially tour operators. A strategically built online presence will allow you to reach a larger audience of potential customers, both abroad and domestic, and provide them with the information they need in order to feel confident booking with you.
To build the strongest online presence possible for your business, you’ll want to design a great website, use social media platforms effectively, and leverage customer testimonials. Let’s have a look at each of these online marketing tips for tour operators in more detail, how they help to strengthen your online presence and, ultimately, help you get more customers:
Build a great website
A website is the foundation through which you can develop your online presence. Your website builds your credibility as a brand, giving people an address through which they can find out all about you and the tours/excursions that you offer. A good website should be:
It should have well-designed formatting and graphics. All graphics and images should be of professional quality. The site should have a fresh, tidy look. For inspiration, take a look at The East African Safari and Touring Company’s home page. It has a simple and modern design accompanied by striking photography.
2. Easy to navigate
Information about your services should be easily digestible. Visitors should be able to get around your site and find the information they need with ease. Include information about promotions and keep details such as prices up-to-date.
A ‘Contact Us’ page with clear contact information should be easy for site visitors to reach, so they can speak with you directly regarding any queries. A good example of this can be seen on the Twiga Tours website. Their ‘Contact Us’ page give visitors a choice of contact options, with a physical address, multiple phone numbers, and an email address for each branch. You should also include links to your social media accounts on your “Contact Us” page.
Use social media platforms
Social media has impacted the travel industry greatly, providing countless opportunities for you to share interesting content, promote your brand, and interact with potential customers. The main social media platforms that are effective for tour operators are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. With millions of users, these social media platforms allow you to reach a huge audience.
Follow these important rules when using social media to help build your online presence:
1. Be creative
Have creative ideas, a rough plan, and a goal in mind when setting up social media accounts.
2. Be relevant and consistent
Make sure to post relevant content consistently and regularly. If you have limited time, focus on providing quality content on just one or two platforms.
3. Be professional
Include professional images and videos in your social media posts. Africa Safari Discovery, a travel company in Nairobi, often post eye-catching images to their Twitter account and Facebook page. This is an effective way to attract attention.
4. Be promotional
Use social media advertising to promote your content. These advertisements are shown to relevant users, so your advertisements will be shown to people who already have an interest in touring Africa.
5. Be active
Promote your content on all of your social media platforms to reach as many people as possible. For example, use Twitter to tweet links to your latest Facebook post.
6. Be involved
Focus on interacting with users as opposed to just trying to sell your services. Engage people in conversation and comment on relevant posts to make your brand known.
7. Be responsive
Respond to comments and complaints quickly and kindly to showcase your reputation as a customer service star.
Leverage customer testimonials
The power of customer reviews is not to be underestimated. A genuine review is trusted much more than the copy on a company’s own website. According to BrightLocal’s 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey, 74% of consumers say that a positive review makes them trust a business more. Leveraging customer testimonials builds trust, develops a great reputation and makes your online presence even more impressive.
Glowing reviews from past customers who have toured with you are the ideal way to show potential customers that your tours are not to be missed. Follow these steps:
1. Keep reviews genuine
Don’t be tempted to make up fake reviews, as they often appear inauthentic. It will tarnish your brand if customers find out that they are not genuine.
2. Encourage customers to leave reviews
You’ll want past customers to write reviews on your website and social media platforms. You can persuade them to do this by including links to your website and social media pages on the materials you give to your customers during a tour. You can also offer incentives, such as a prize draw exclusively for people who have left reviews.
3. Share reviews
As well as sharing reviews through social media, you should quote happy customers in promotional emails. Also, make sure to feature reviews prominently on your website. Chalo Africa, for example, has a dedicated review page especially for this purpose.
4. Respond to reviews
If a review is positive, you’ll want to offer your thanks. If it is negative, you should respond quickly and address the complaint by offering some form of compensation or a potential solution.
A strong and positive online presence gives you multiple ways to market your services and reach a wide audience of potential customers. Use the above tips to develop your reputation as an excellent tour operator in East Africa, and increase your bookings.