Last week, I posted about the first two of Google’s 5 stages of travel, and how essential it is to optimize your inbound marketing for travellers at each stage of the process. Let’s look at the other three stages and see how you can target customers in those groups to ensure that your site gets the traffic—not your competitors!
Group 3 – Be “Booking-Friendly” for Users
I often wonder how many travellers are lost as customers because travel companies don’t have online booking facilities? How easy is it currently for someone wanting to book to get hold of you? Do they have to phone you? Do they email you and wait several days for a response? Do they (heaven forbid!) have to physically come to your offices to get that special deal they want? You’d be surprised. While online travel bookings reached an all-time high in summer of 2013 with around $54 billion in sales, some tourism organizations report that 20% of tour operators don’t even have websites—let alone online booking systems! And of those who did book online, a majority preferred smartphones and tablets to desktop computers. So this begs the question: Are you ready for online bookings to capture clients in this stage of their cycle? And if you have an online booking system, is it responsive to mobile devices? Is it easy to navigate and does it work reliably? Do you have a secure payments system? If not, you could be losing sales here.
Group 4 – Stay in Touch During Travel
Have you ever been on a trip and lost your printed itinerary? Or the schedule of activities included in your trip, or the map of your location? Optimizing your website for travellers while they are on your tours is crucial if you want to leave a lasting impression of a smooth, well-oiled machine. And let’s face it, who doesn’t? Research shows that 53% of travellers use mobile devices while on the go to find information related to current travel, so having a responsive site that adapts well for mobile is a must. You can also provide your travellers with added reassurance through:
- a private customer login
- comprehensive sections of info for each tour/product, updated in real-time
- a strong social media page containing current information
And above all, to keep your travellers happy make sure they know how to contact you if there’s a problem. After all, it can be difficult to find a contact number or even browse extensively from somewhere in the Amazon jungle!
Group 5 – Make Sharing the Good News Easy Afterwards
With more than half of leisure travellers sharing pictures of their vacations online, you want to ensure your customers are doing the same. This helps to boost awareness of your products as well as providing you with a stronger online presence, which ultimately benefits lead generation.
- Add social sharing widgets to everything you publish, from your web pages through to blog posts and image galleries, so it’s easy for users to share with their networks.
- Set up Yelp and Google+ accounts and ask customers to write reviews about their experiences with your company.
- Create events and albums on your Facebook company page for each tour, where customers can add their own stories and photos to round out the narrative for future visitors.
- Run a contest for user-generated stories for your website or blog, describing in the traveller’s own words what his experience was like. Sponsor a prize or a discount for all stories published.
By targeting people at each of these stages, you reach them regardless of the point they’re at in the booking process. You also lay the foundation for the next travellers who come through your site, because they’ll have real, customer-generated content to enthrall them. And we all know there’s no better marketing than word of mouth—even if it’s done digitally!