Things are going well for businesses in the tourism industry. Businesses are reporting record revenue numbers as people are traveling more. Why? One big reason is due to many of the travel sites, such as Booking.com, TripAdvisor, and Expedia, are making it easy for people to find and book what they want. You can find a place to stay or various activities and tours in the destination you are traveling to. On one hand, these sites are beneficial for both the customer and the business to ‘find’ each other, but on the other hand, it doesn’t come cheap to the business as it has to pay commission to these big travel sites for any bookings received through their portal. This is why, smart businesses in the lodging or tour industry will always be looking for way to get more traffic and bookings on their own through their website.
It is not an easy thing to compete with those billion dollars companies, and ignoring them may not be the best strategy either. These travel sites can certainly help your sales, but it is also essential for your businesses to maintain a certain independence in order to reduce risks, be in control, and make more money with each reservation. You may have a very professional website, but if it is lying dormant out there on the web you will not make it on your own. Spread your voice, reach out to the world, and take back control with the following tips.
1. Create a stunning blog
As said earlier, your business must reach out to the world if you want to attract new customers. A great way to achieve this is to have an informative and creative blog that will deliver amazing content to travelers and potential customers. Ask yourself the question, “As a traveler, what kind of information do I want to know about travelling in general and more specifically about the area that I am visiting?” It can be details about attractions or events close to your business, unique items or foods specific to your area, historical facts about your region, or any other tidbits that will peak the curiosity of travelers. Create original content and be generous with the information you give. If you do it well you may become THE tourism expert in your area, and have thousands of people following your blog.
For more information about how to get more traffic on your blog we recommend this wonderful article of the Moz Blog.
2. Be active on Forums
The Internet is THE place for information and communication. If a traveler wants know about a place, he can easily find many online forums with details about that location as well as receive advice from other travelers. Be active on those forums, answer traveler’s questions, and share your expertise. If people know that you live in the area they want to visit, then they will trust that your comments and suggestions are credible. Being present on these forums and establishing your trustworthiness will open it up for you to promote your business. Do this by adding helpful comments with, at the end, a link to your website. Perhaps you say, “By the way, if you are looking for a place to stay / a city tour to see the sights, we will be glad to help you. Visit our webpage to learn more.” If you’re lucky, this post on the forum may reach hundreds of people. Remember, the key to the success of your comment is how great is the information you provide it MUST be helpful and unique. If not, people will just consider it as a SPAM.
In order to carry out this forum strategy it is vital to be informed when someone is looking for a specific keyword. Use Google Alerts to be know what is happening on the web. For example, if you have a Bed & Breakfast near Windsor Castle set an alert on “Windsor Castle”, and Google will let you know every time someone talks about it on the web.
3. Connect with key players in your industry
It is a great idea to develop partnerships with related businesses or attractions in your area. Forming these types of relationships will get the right people talking about you and your business. When another credible source in your niche publishes something about you, it will definitely attract people to your website. Also, writing guest posts for well-known blogs in the industry will allow you to reach a completely new audience, and to get others to refer to your webpage. This is quite possibly one of the most effective, and at the same time least utilized strategy. If you want to know more about guest blogging, see this guide.
4. Use Social Media to get your content in moving
Most people check Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ at least once per day. This is why social media is the best way to put your content in front of potential customers. Also, social media is the place to share, comment and interact. If your content is good enough, people will share it, and your business may reach thousands of people in a short amount of time.
You should also use social media to share other people’s information. Let them know you’re sharing their content, they will appreciate that, and likely return the favor.
5. Offer a website that can do it all
Once you get people to your website, make sure they will stay. This means that you design a webpage that is easy to navigate, can be accessed from any device, and allows your customers to book online. For more information about how to make a killer webpage, check this article by WebReserv.
6. Always give the best service
Yes, it sounds a bit cliché, but this is essential. Delivering an amazing service or having an excellent product will always produce good results. It is the key to a successful business and does wonders for a word-of-mouth marketing strategy. People will seek you out knowing that others have had such a great experience with your business.
7. Ask your customers to talk about you
This is a simple thing to do, but often goes undone. Satisfied customers are willing to help you, but you need to ask. Ask them to ‘like’ your business Facebook page, write a comment on your blog, write a review on your site, or simply ask them to tell their friends and family about their experience. Be sure that they know your website address, so they can share that as well.
8. Never surrender
Establishing an online presence will not happen overnight. Be patient, persistent, and don’t give up! Prepare yourself to put in a lot of time and effort. Understand that it can take months, and possibly hundreds of posts before you begin to see results. Focus on your goals – more business, more revenue. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and soon your business will become a trustworthy reference that provides an excellent service to travelers. In time, your success will also become an inspiration for other businesses. A positive effect all around.
You have a well designed website, but you are not getting the bookings that you expect. You realize that there is something that needs to be done to change that, but aren’t sure what to do. There are many things you can do to increase your conversion rate. We will discuss 13 tips below.
1. Measure your results
How can you make the right decision if you don’t know where you’re failing?
The very first step is to track your conversions. To do so, you can use Google Analytics. It is a free service, and will give you important data about people who view your website. Where are they coming from? When are they leaving the page? How many convert? How many bounce? To get started with it, see the Google Analytics training here.
2. Call to action
One of the common missing elements in websites with a low conversion rate is the “Call to Action”. You may showcase an excellent product or service on your site, but if you don’t clearly highlight the “Next step”, you are likely to lose your customer along the way. Your call to action can be “Submit”, “Buy now”, “Book right away”, or “Click here”. Whatever the text you choose, make sure your visitors will see it. To learn how to make a great call to action, check out the most successful sites of the web (see MailChimp example below).
3. Simplicity + Focus = Sales
Would you book a room in a bed and breakfast if you haven’t seen the pictures? Would you book a tour if prices aren’t specified? Just ask yourself the question, “What are the 3 most important things visitors want to see on my website?” In most cases, the answer to that question is: prices, pictures and descriptions. Don’t underestimate the importance of these elements. You may believe that online visitors will call you to get the missing information, but most won’t do that. If they don’t find the key information on the website, they will move on. Simple as that.
Once you’ve identified the key elements, organize it in an easy structure, such as a main menu. Make sure the vital information is available from the main page and that it is not necessary to scroll down to access it. Also, do not overload the page with unrelated information that could prevent visitors from buying (flash, advertisements, etc.)
4. Get an online booking system or a shopping cart
Most customers want to have the ability to book online. If you don’t give potential customers this option, they will book with a business who does, so don’t be left behind! If you run tours, recreational activities, rentals or if you are in the lodging industry, feel free to test our online booking system, WebReserv for free (click here for Europe or here for the rest of the world).
5. Have a competitive and fair pricing structure
A potential customer will usually have an idea of how much he is willing to pay for a certain product or service. If you offer the same service as the business down the street, but your price is twice as much, don’t be surprised if he sells more than you do. Check other businesses in the same industry with similar offerings to make sure your prices are in the same range. If you want to raise your prices, you will need to justify it by giving more to your customer (extras, quality, commodity, etc.).
6. Create an informative voice mail message
Every missed call is a missed sales opportunity. Since you cannot answer every single phone call, you need to make sure to give your customers an alternative to book your products. Set a voice mail message that properly directs a potential customer to your website.
Example: “Hi, thanks for calling us, we cannot take your call at the moment but we will call you back as soon as we are available. If you would like to book/buy you can easily do it on our website using our online booking calendar.”
7. Unearth your customer database
Don’t underestimate the power of your customer’s database as previous customers can be your best ambassador to their friends and family. Send them a newsletter to remind them about your business. Include new details about your products or services, special deals or happenings, or other interesting news. This will refresh their memory of the experience with your business, and they may book again with you or tell a friend!
8. Offer Discounts to your customers
Create a discount code, and then advertise the code in a newsletter or directly on your website. Sometimes a good offer is the incentive to help people make the decision to book with you. Any reason is valid, summer, christmas, last minute, etc.
9. Have a responsive website
In 2013, more than 25% of the Internet visits were done using a mobile device or a tablet. The percentage for 2014 will most likely increase, too. Even if you are a small business, you must have the expectation that most of your customers will use these types of devices. Ensure that your site is mobile friendly which will likely mean more visits.
10. Speed is the key
Did you know that 40% of people will leave your site if it takes more than 3 seconds to open?
If your site is slow the experience can be frustrating, and that is not how you want potential customers feeling. Here is some data on how your website speed directly affects your revenue. To resolve it, here are some easy steps you can take to increase your website speed.
11. Target your traffic
It is important to ensure that your ads and keywords on your site are relevant to your business. This will attract the most interested customers to your site. For example: you offer an evening Segway tour in Rome, and you publish ads using the keyword “Tours”. The cost for this ad will be high, and the visitors to your site that want your type of tour will be low. As a consequence, your conversion rate will also be low. To optimize your traffic be precise and use keywords with 4 or 5 words, i.e. “Evening Segway tours Rome”. Using these specific keywords will lower your cost and increase your conversion rate.
12. Get professional pictures
It is often said, “a picture is worth 1000 thousand words”. Good quality images on your site can make a huge difference in the way potential customers perceive your products. In addition, people will associate what they see on your website with how good your service or product will be. Having professional pictures on your site will convey a professional service.
13. Positive reviews and testimonials is a must
Site reviews have become a standard in most industries. Most of the big Internet platforms use it now (booking.com, tripadvisor, google store, etc.). Online product reviews from customers is a major information source for other potential customers and marketers regarding product quality. Having reviews on your website will give confidence to visitors that you offer a quality product or service. Invite your customers to leave a review, then, try to fix anything they are complaining about and ,finally, thanks them and let them know you took their feedback in account. Inevitably, it will help your conversions. if you are not able add reviews directly to your website, then add them to other outlets such as Facebook or a blog page.
Summer has begun, and the sunny days always puts a smile on our faces. It may be a good idea to transfer that good feeling onto your customers by giving your booking calendar a new look. This week, we have created 10 new beautiful themes that will give your calendar a fresh look and feel. We hope you will like it.
Black & Gold theme:
Fresh Bars theme:
Brazil World Cup theme:
I like one of these themes, how can I use it for my own calendar?
In order to use one of the theme designs, follow the steps below:
1. Open the preferred design in your browser.
2. In the address bar, copy the URL that comes after &css= (See example below)
3. Paste it in your own calendar’s iFrame as in the example below:
How can I create my own design?
WebReserv allows you to create your own design. To do so, go to the “Website” tab and under “Color theme” select “Choose your own”. This option will allow you to specify the 3 main colors of the calendar: text, borders and background. For further customization needs, you can create or modify the CSS (stylesheet). For more information about our customization options, see the help section Defining styles and colors. The CSS modification requires a working knowledge of HTML and CSS. If you would like our team to do a professional customization for you, contact us.
Spanish version here
French version here
If you are new to WebReserv, and are working on setting up your account, you may be asking yourself a few key questions. How complicated is the calendar integration? How much can I customize the calendar to match my web design? Should I embed the calendar or make it show in a new tab? Should I add it to an existing page or should I create a new one? These are important questions, and very appropriate to consider. After all, your webpage is the pillar of your business, and you need to make sure the booking calendar meshes well with the design. First of all, if you are unsure on how to integrate the calendar into your website, we recommend you review our documentation, How to integrate the booking calendar to your webpage and Customizing the Booking Calendar for further customization needs. In addition to these helpful guides, we also believe that, as the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words”. So, we would like to share with you some of the best integrations of 2014. Have a look and get inspired!
CornerStone Cabins – Cabin rental in Pomona, IL (US)
With its warm color scheme and beautiful pictures, CornerStone Cabins have been able to reproduce the cabin atmosphere on their website. You can almost feel the sweet autumn air blowing through your hair! Visitors will be captivated by the look of the cabins from the first moment. Guests will easily find more information about each cabin in the “Our Cabins” tab where they can book as well. If they need more information about prices and availability, the “Rates, Reservations and Availability” tab will give them the rate details and another version of the calendar that perfectly fits with the overall color scheme.
Wahine Charters – Charter Tours in Kona, HI (US)
Wahine Charters offer a simple and beautiful website that speaks to summer, fun and the Hawaiian atmosphere. The “Reserve Now” button (top right) is easy to find, and will take the visitor directly to the booking calendar that has been customized with the corporate colors. The main menu allow you to surf along the main activities Wahine Charters offers. By clicking one of those tabs, the visitor will find pictures, videos, descriptions, schedules, rates and a “book it” button. Everything is there, no need to visit more pages.
Orchard House – Bed and Breakfast in Granville, OH (US)
Orchard house understood how to create the WOW effect. The home page takes the visitor right into the house with a beautiful picture. Below, the visitor will immediately see the 3 main tabs “Our Rooms”, “Orchard House antiques” and “Reserve Now” where he will be able to book . Simple and fascinating, the site is alive and it takes you naturally to book online.
Hire a Hymer – Classic Mercedes Motorhomes for rental in Milton Keynes (UK)
View Hire a Hymer website
With this very professional website, Hire a Hymer demonstrates it is possible to make things look simple while they manage more than 20 products. From the home page, visitors can check availability of all vehicles at a glance through the availability grid of the WebReserv booking calendar. If the visitor comes with more specific needs, he can select one of the motorhome models in the “Classic Motorhomes” tab to see pictures, prices, dimensions and features. In addition, he will be able to click the “Book Now” button to make his reservation in a new tab that shows the calendar of the selected motorhome (product filtered calendar).
Food Lover Tour – Food and foodball tours in Barcelona (Spain)
FoodLover Tour creates an original business concept around food tours in the great city of Barcelona. Bright and colorful, this wonderful website is so well done. FoodLover Tour made it straightforward: 4 tours, 4 pages, 4 booking calendars. The site is easy to navigate and use, so there is no risk to lose the visitor along the way.
If you would like to to give your calendar a new look and feel, check the brand new themes we created for you.
The WebReserv system comes with a great feature for your business – Google Conversion Tracking. Conversion Tracking gives you the ability to know which of your AdWords campaigns are producing conversions. This is an important tool for your business. We will explain how it works with the WebReserv system below.
Understanding Google Conversion Tracking (AdWords)
Google Conversion Tracking (AdWords) is a free tool that allows you to track the effectiveness of your Google AdWords campaigns. By tracking these actions, known as “conversions,” you’ll know which ad, keyword and campaign brings you businesses. Consequently, if you use Google conversion tracking with WebReserv you will be able to determine how many of the bookings you received through WebReserv came through your AdWords campaign.
How to setup your tracking code?
For more information on how to setup your tracking code, check the Google help here: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1086338?hl=en&ref_topic=1726910
How to integrate it with WebReserv?
You will find the code for the conversion tracking in your Google AdWords page.
- Go to Tools & Analysis – Conversions
- Create a new conversion
- After you create a new conversion, you can find the Conversion Label and Conversion ID in the code.
- Copy the lines “Conversion ID” and “Conversion label”
Once you’ve identified the ID and the label, login to your WebReserv account and follow the steps:
- In WebReserv, go to Setup – Business Information – Advanced Options.
- In the Google Conversion Tracking section, add the Conversion Label and ID.
- Save your changes.
Congratulations! Google tracking code and WebReserv are now synchronized and you can start measuring the success of your AdWords campaign.
Today, you can find several great website builders that will allow you to create your website easily and without any specific knowledge or requirement. SquareSpace is one of those builders. If you are creating your website with SquareSpace, use this simple guide to quickly add the WebReserv booking calendar to your SquareSpace website. It’s very easy.
1. Copy HTML code from your WebReserv account
If you don’t have a WebReserv account, you can create a free one here. If you already have a WebReserv account, login and click Website from the top menu.
Select the version of the calendar, the calendar options and the appearance. Click here for more information about calendar options and colors.
Click the preview button. You will now see a preview of the booking calendar to the right. If everything looks good, highlight and copy the text in the HTML field.
2. Paste the code into your SquareSpace editor
Now switch to your SquareSpace editor. On any page, click the “Plus” sign to add a new element.
Select the option Code
A custom HTML field will show up in your editor. Paste the HTML text you copied from WebReserv.
Save it and your are done!
Congratulations, you can start receiving online reservations.
If you would like to know the best tips to increase your conversion rate and make a killer webapge, check this article by WebReserv.
As a tour or rental business, you likely have fixed times that you allow your customers to book. Since you want to allow flexibility to your customers, you will want to offer a choice of time slots. This is a great idea and your customers will appreciate the options, however, it may be challenging to manage your inventory if the time slots overlap.
The WebReserv Tour setup for Segway, kayak, or bike tour and rental companies offers many great features that are essential to your business. One of those is the ability to manage overlapping tour times and availability. This means that if you offer tours or rentals at different times, the system will automatically reduce availability over all the time slots that have an overlap. See the example below of how this feature works.
ABC Segway Company offers a 2 hour tour of the city. The start times available are at 10:00 AM, 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, and 1:00 PM. They want to be able to offer all these times for their customers to choose from, but they only have a total of 10 Segways in their inventory. In the WebReserv system, the company uses the Fixed Weekly Schedule reservation type to set up their time slots. The typical setup will look like this:
In order to manage their inventory of 10 Segways, this company has chosen “Yes” to the setting “Decrease availability across overlapping schedules”.
Now, let’s see how this works when a booking is made.
A customer books the 10:00 AM Tour for 4 people, see booking information below:
This booking will now reduce the inventory count by 4 for both the 10:00 AM tour and the 11:00 AM tour because the end time (12:00 PM) of the 10:00 AM tour overlaps with the start time of the 11:00 AM tour.
For more information about setting up your Schedules for tours or rentals, see link below: