Online travel marketing is tough. Competition is fierce and return on invested time and money can be low. Yet you can be losing revenue every minute of every day if your website is not in shape.
Before reading any further, hit pause for a moment and take a look at your travel website. Is your website sending the right message, to the right people? Is your site up-to-date? Does it play well on mobile devices? Is it clutter-free and easy to digest?
Here are 10 tips on how to make your customers love your website:
1. Understand your customers
Your website is likely to play a big role in your sales and marketing activities. However, having a website without understanding the customer’s wants and needs can be worse than not having a website. Often it is the first place customers will turn to learn more about you. If your site does not accurately speak to your customers, you may confuse and lose them.
To properly represent your business on the web requires understanding your customers. Their demographic information is valuable, but beyond that, ask yourself what drives them when researching, planning and booking travel. What motivates them to travel? What frustrates them when researching and booking? Where do they find their information?
Then ask yourself: why would they choose you?
Next define your customer personas. Then build your website (and other sales and marketing activities) around them. Regularly check in on your ‘why’ and use it to appeal to those customers on a deeper level.
2. Put emphasis on the visuals
A travel business can’t cut corners on website design and imagery. We often buy with our eyes and your website is your shop window leaving a lasting impression.
High-quality photography and professional short videos are perfect helpers when it comes to engagement. However, keep in mind that heavy photography and videos impact the overall loading time of your site. Optimise and compress wisely to balance between quality and speed.
AR/VR elements will make your travel website more interactive and encourage visitors to stay longer. And the longer they stay, the higher are the odds to convert them into customers.
3. Keep it simple
Your website design can work for you, or it can work against you. Less is usually more so it’s a good idea to keep things simple. The world is so full of distractions that your customers will appreciate it if you save them from the unnecessary fluff.
If you want users to stay on your site you need to provide them with obvious and easy-to-use navigation. Do your navigation and structure address the logical flow of information, and how a visitor browses your site? In addition to providing a great navigational experience, the site structure and layout are key to making sure a visitor remains focused on the action you want them to take, aka the call-to-action (CTA).
Use action verbs. Belong. Rent. List. Explore. Discover. See. Share. Action verbs engage website visitors browsing through the web.
Most of your visitors are likely to view your site from their mobile devices. Many sites today are even designed mobile-first. Mobile-first design naturally compresses and simplifies your information down into a much more manageable chunk. Most websites are responsive and mobile-friendly these days, but if yours is not, please prioritize that!
4. Create compelling up-to-date content
Clear and concise content is more important than ever. It sets the tone for your business and demonstrates your values and knowledge. It gives you an authentic edge. Good content and copy will walk customers through your site and prompt them to book, buy or contact you.
Keeping your site updated and relevant builds trust. Yet it’s important to be realistic with how much effort you can put into content creation. A blog with no recent posts or news with news dating way back will do more harm than good.
As a bonus, search engines love fresh content. Regularly updating your site can drive your organic search engine ranking up.
5. Embed social proof signals
Reputation is revenue. When we visit a website, we pick up cues from the design, structure and copy on how established and trustworthy the business is. Social proof is the fastest and most convincing way to establish trust. Get it right and you can win visitors over easily.
For a small travel business our recommendation is to use a well-regarded and trusted review site like Trustpilot or Tripadvisor to build a review profile, and embed it to your site.
Don’t forget to make it easy for customers to leave a review. Most importantly, don’t forget to ask for and nurture reviews, and respond accordingly if the need arises.
Reviews can not only increase consumer confidence in your business, but such user-generated content can help to boost your search engine ranking up.
6. Pay attention to site speed
How long do you wait for a website to load? Well, according to statistics, half of us don’t even wait two seconds for website content to show.
Your visitors make an instant judgement about you and your business. If your travel website loads fast, you’ve instantly made a strong first impression. This is pure psychology. We consider fast websites to be professional and reliable. We relate speed to efficiency, trust, and confidence. A slow website makes us think it’s unsafe, insecure, and untrustworthy. And it’s really difficult to turn around a negative first impression.
Site speed is also an important search engine ranking factor. Test the speed and performance of your site using Google’s Test My Site tool.
7. Track your visitors
Well, customers will not love you because you track them. Yet tracking your travel website visitors is vital for making decisions about the content on your site. The data you collect will tell you so much about your site visitors’ behaviour and enable you to create content that your customers love.
In practice tracking usually means, or at least starts with, Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a web analytics service that provides statistics and basic analytical tools for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing purposes. The service is part of the Google Marketing Platform and is available for free to anyone with a Google account.
8. Implement good SEO on your travel website
When your travel website is optimized for search, you’ll have a better chance of driving potential customers there. Do some keyword research to find out which keywords people use when searching online for what you sell, and include those keywords in your tags, titles, and content.
When you optimize your website with the latest SEO techniques, search engines will rank your website higher in search results and potential customers are more likely to find your business during their search.
9. Tie it all together
Use your newsletter and your social media channels to provide a taste of what content can be found on your website, and link back to it. That way you never miss an opportunity to track your site visitors, and continually work to improve leads and conversions.
Your site, your social media, your staff and you should all share the same language. Involve your employees (and customers) in your website development. Ask their insights on customer and employee advocacy.
In a nutshell: choose a path, follow it and ask for help if you get lost.
10. Know your strengths and weaknesses
How much time you can devote to your website? How much money you can invest in your website? Be realistic, make a plan, stick to the plan and adjust when necessary. A good idea is at least to do a regular check-up. Mark it in your calendar.
If you don’t feel confident creating content on your own, seek out a professional copywriter or content creator. If you’re not comfortable in this somewhat technical space, find someone who is.
The whole digital travel world is quite a lot to learn and master. On top of that, it keeps changing. Therefore it could be a good idea to join forces with your fellow travel business owners. If you are a good photographer or video editor, maybe she is fluent in SEO and Google Analytics.