It's that time again, we are all planning for the year ahead and making those positive changes both in our personal and in our business lives. It's no secret that 2020 was not the best of years for the travel industry, but the reality is, travel will bounce back and customers will be looking for travel agents to help them with their future bookings.
I've created a list of travel website resolutions for 2021, you may only choose one or decide that you really want to ramp up your online presence and move forward with all of them. Either way let us know how you get on or if you would like to see some of the tools we to help we 've created to kick start your online travel business.
1. Register a Domain Name
I’m surprised when I come across companies in the travel industry and in others who still don’t have a domain name registered and are using email addresses such as email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. When in reality in 2021, these should be email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Registering a domain is quick and a relatively low cost way (from as little as £10) of making your company look more reputable to potential customers. It’s also much easier for customers to remember a relevant email address for you. Having a domain name doesn’t mean you have to setup your website instantly (even though you really should) but it does mean when you are ready to setup your website you have already taken the first step.
2. Create or Upgrade Your Site
The second point leads on from the last. If you don’t have a website for your travel business, why? Would you stop 82% of customers from ringing you or walking into your shop?
82% of travel was booked online and don’t forget the remaining 18% most probably found an agent to call using Google. If you do not have a website, it really is time to set one up. If your website hasn’t been updated in years, lacks any relevant information or any way for your customers to interact with you, then it really is time to upgrade.
Your website helps you to engage with customers before they have even contacted you, they can learn about your business, see what you specialise in, chat with you and check any new specials you have to offer. If set up correctly, they can even make bookings with you 7 days a week / 24 hours a day. Letting you earn, even when you’re not at your desk.
It’s 2021 and your travel business needs to have a website that lets customers do all of the above from where ever they are and from what ever device they are using, whether it’s a laptop, iPad or smart phone.
3. Start Blogging
Ok, so you’ve got a website. It looks great and customers can do everything I described in point 2. Now it’s time for them to find you. Creating engaging content is key to bringing customers on to your site, whether it’s to have them ultimately book online or contact you through a form on your site.
There’s no point in creating content for the sake of creating content. I’d advise looking into what you want to promote in any given month or if possible plan out your marketing strategy for the next 3 months. For example you may want to promote Dubai as a destination, in that case plan to create engaging articles about Dubai.
Think about what potential travellers would want to know about this destination before booking or travelling. Research by reading other travel blogs or articles (but don’t copy!) and if possible draw from your own experience or others you know.
You need to plan whether you will be writing these articles yourself or want to outsource the task. Either way you should have a plan to publish articles regularly whether that’s weekly, fortnightly or monthly.
Last but not least make sure to supplement your article with photos, not just any photos but eye catching photos that are relevant to your article. You’ll want to make sure these pictures are royalty free so you don’t face any copyright claims in the future. Many companies offer royalty free images at either a per image charge or subscription fee, alternatively try use your own photos or ask customers to send you photos from their trips that you could feature, with their permission, on your blog.
4. Get Active on Social Media
So you’ve got your website in order, you’re created engaging content to attract future customers to your site now you need to promote both.
Social media can be one of the most powerful tools available to any business if used in the right way. We’ve all seen companies try promote their businesses by bombarding social media with special offers but unless you’re giving away free holidays or flights, chances are, social media users will just scroll past these.
The key to drawing in your future customers is to publish inspirational content that draws them to your business.
Link to the articles you’ve written with snippets of the text and some of those beautiful photos you’ve chosen.
Update your customers on what’s going on at your company, the people that work there, any special events or awards you have won.
Feature destination specific photos and add link to certain special offers you’ve published on your website.
Any social media guru will tell you, that video is by far one of the most engaging types of content you can create. Don’t be afraid to post your own short video updates with advice or information about travel related topics. I know this is not always easy and I’ll be the first to admit that putting yourself out there can be nerve racking, but it is a great way to engage with your customers.
5. Update Special Offers
Now that you’ve drawn customers to your site with all that engaging content, you need to have some exciting offers for them to browse through. Plan your strategy and make sure your creating offers that relate to the content you’ve created. There’s no point in having informative articles and beautiful photos of the Maldives, only to have customers visit your site and see special offers for city breaks to Paris.
It’s important to make sure your special offers are kept up to date and realistic. You may want to entice customers with “unbelievable” deals, but this is only going to lead to frustration when your customers find that they can’t book those same deals with you and push them else where. Making sure offers are also kept up to date is also important, you don’t want customers browsing out of date offers that expired months or even years ago.
It’s also important to make sure everyone within your business is aware of the offers you’re putting out on your website, so that when customers call your team are able to advise them on the details of the offer.
6. Setup Instant Messaging
It’s not just enough to be available on the phone and via email these days. Think about the the daily interactions you have with your friends and family. Chances are much of that is now done via instant messaging apps such as WhatsApp or iMessage. For better or worse, phone calls are less and less common, customers are now using messaging apps in daily life to talk to each other and businesses.
Setting up WhatsApp for Business is relatively easy (search WhatsApp Business in Apple App or Google Play Store) and one phone can have both a personal WhatsApp account along with a business one. You can even use WhatsApp Web on a PC or lap
top if you’re not keen on constantly using your phone to type out messages.
Adding a chat service to your website opens up a whole new channel of communication for you and your customers as well. Using a service like tawk.to, you’ll get a notification to let you know someone is online and will be able to chat to your customers as they browse your site. It’s allows your customers have instant access to you, the same way they would with their own friends and family.
Don't forget to let us know how you get or feel free to let us know what other goals or resolutions you've set for your online travel business!