Not Sure What to do With Your Website This Year?
TourismTechnology.com is now offering support to operators who are interested in investing in their website.
We will discuss with operators how to offer their accommodation's online, evaluate their current website, and council them on how they can improve their online presence to their potential customers.
We can also discuss the use of social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor, YouTube for your tourism business.
If you are interested in this one-on-one mentoring program, or just have some questions that you need help with, please contact Jamie Vander Kooi at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 902-566-5008.
You can also find some great informaiton on our website at www.tourismtechnology.com
How to Really Sell Yourself on the Web
These days people are looking not only for accommodations or a place to stay when searching online – they are looking for a vacation, or better yet, an experience! And not just a run of the mill experience, a remarkable experience!
A lot of accommodation operator websites often tell the consumer some information about their property, their rates, contact information, and location. Some go a little further and feature a photo gallery, a golf or romance package, some testimonials from past guests, but very few use their website to really "sell" the consumer on why they should book at their location.
In order to “sell” someone on coming to your B&B or cottage, tours, or even just a location, you have to make them think about what the experience could be if they were there. There are a few simple ways of doing this with your website and the internet.
- Photos. Take photos of your operation every chance you get. Even if you aren’t a great photographer – and most people aren’t – hopefully you will be able to get a few nice photos every so often. With digital cameras, you can take as many photos as you please and then select the best ones for your website. You can crop them to get the sections of the photos that you want, and the best part is that photos only need to be 25% of the size that a newer digital camera produces. If you have a digital camcorder, you can select frames right out of the video. Remember to make sure someone is in that picture of the beach. If all we saw were photos of a property with no one there, we would wonder if anyone even visits that place! Take photos of people and families enjoying themselves and involved in the activities that you have to offer. These will sell them on you and your operation! If you feel that you still cannot acquire any quality photos, ask a friend or a professional to come and take some photos during the season. Either way, get some great photos and post them on your website.
- Inviting Text. Write the text for your website so that it invites or describes what your cottage is like when they are there. Use the text to spur on their imagination. You want them to picture themselves sitting there on the deck of that cottage, overlooking the view of the beach and their children playing horseshoes in the yard in front of them. If you have a B&B, talk to them about the evenings that you and your guests sat down to a dinner, shared a bottle of local wine, and talked about your past experiences as if they were the neighbor that lives down the road. If you run a tour or experiential tourism product, sell them on the must see or must experience details of the tour or experience.
- Talk about your property. Start a Blog, or a Facebook page. Send out emails or e-newsletters to past guests describing the new improvements to the property or if you have a local event or special that you think they might be interested in. Send out Christmas e-cards thanking them for their business that past year and that you hope to see them next year. Stay in contact with them (within reason and respect their privacy, of course) and they might consider you when they travel again, or better yet, refer you to their friends or families.
- Get others to talk about you. Blogs, Facebook, Tripadvisor, Travbuddy, and other social media avenues create great exposure for you and your business. Encourage people to share their experiences of their stay with you. Word-of-mouth and recommendations from friends and family are one of the most influential factors in someone determining where to visit or stay when planning a vacation. Be remarkable! That not only goes back to you and your operation, but it also has to carry through to your website because even if your operation is remarkable, and your website isn’t, then you will never get the chance to show them.
Your website needs to be remarkable, and it has to sell that fact to the consumer the first time that they see your website. If not, the opposite is, well, forgettable, and that is not what you want to be!
Why Integrate Online Booking Into Your Website?
For tourism operators, the urgency to enable online booking on your websites has never been greater. Travelers’ expectations are high and will continue to rise as they move online in greater numbers. As an industry, tourism operators have lagged behind in our Atlantic region.
It is no longer enough to simply have a website. The ability to close the sale online has reached the equivalent status of the telephone – you wouldn’t think of opening your doors for business without it. Your website is the single most important asset for your business to succeed and you must shift your thinking to this reality in order to maximize revenues.
Why is this so urgent? The statistics and trends are very compelling:
- 1/3 of Internet users now research and book travel online (eMarketer July 07) and this number will continue to shift as more travelers move to making reservations on the web instead of by phone.
- Online travel purchases are set to grow between 20 – 30% in the next 3 years (In Road to Online Travel 2005). This is on top of 20% annual growth in the last 2 years.
- By 2010, 62% of travelers will book online directly with the supplier (eMarket.com).
- By 2011, 38% of all travel revenue for that year will be generated by online bookings – a total of $128 million (US Travel Forecast: 2006-2011).
- Travel agents and “middlemen”, including intermediary websites such as Travelocity.ca, are used with decreasing frequency as travelers want to deal directly with the operator. Not only is the propensity to book online, but it is shifting directly to the operator, increasing the need even more.
While these statistics are primarily US-based, Canadians are actually more active online than Americans and are among the most active online participants in the world. Over 24 Million Canadians are online - a world leading 72% of the population (IAB May 2007). They spend 38.4 hours online per week for everyday tasks such as banking, email, research and news. This is 10 hours per week more than Americans (comScore 2006). Canadians also enjoy a higher rate of broadband penetration, at 77%, so large applications and high quality images and video are less of a concern.
The bottom line is that travel is a very competitive market and online is how your customers are going to find you and how they want to complete the transaction. If your website does not allow them to do so, travelers will look and book elsewhere.
TourismTechnology.com is a strategic partnership between the Tourism Atlantic branch of ACOA, the Atlantic Provincial tourism industry associations, and the Atlantic Provincial tourism departments to enhance the competitiveness of the region's tourism industry through improved technology adoption.