Engaging your audience
Throughout your online presence (and especially your website), you should differentiate between new and returning visitors.
A new visitor has landed on your site either through a query in a search engine, another website or online space linked to your site, or a post or link on social media. First-time visitors are those that you most probably would wish to impress.
Here are 3 ways to help you keeping them engaged while visiting you online:
1. Keep your website simple, attractive, easy to navigate and consistent to your visual identity at the same time!
2. Welcome new visitors!
You just have to say “hello” to somebody visiting your website for the first time, just as you do when somebody new visits you at home! This is a gesture of recognition for all the first-timers.
3. Show them where to start!
Don’t assume that your website visitors will spend a lot of time and effort to find the content they need. Average page visit is less than one minute. A good idea is to develop a ‘Start here’ option or even a ‘Best of’ section.
Regarding returning visitors, don’t fall into the trap of taking them for granted.
Remember, loyalty is what brands generate and are fed from! Here are some tactics to boost engagement of returning visitors.
1. Keep your website fresh and up to date – content is the king
Make sure that returning visitors will be always greeted with new content.
2. Resurface content
Across your content and posts hosted in your website, there are certain timeless or really important items that you should highlight again and again. They are not getting obsolete or yesterday’s news, because you believe that they are relevant at any time. You can use certain website marketing tools like the Addthis Related posts function which does this.
3. Reuse your content
Same goal as above, but this time in a different way. You can keep up interest and engagement by ‘recycling’ important or popular content or posts. Older content, and especially parts of it, can become relevant if you keep a basic record of themes addressed by this content. This technique works extremely well in collaboration with your social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram, where you can create new associations of your content with relevant posts that justify the reuse of the content.
For more read 5 Online Marketing Trends in Travel For 2016
Managing your website
Your website should be mobile-friendly – you should use responsive web design (RWD) in order to scale the content you are providing to the size of any screen your customers might be using (mobile, tablet, laptop, PC etc.)
Managing your website is linked with the interaction design of your website (e.g. navigation, layout, templates, search options etc.) and the content, the actual text and other media. Users care about content and usability. Thus, website management is primarily aimed at maintaining how your content is structured and integrated.
Main points to consider:
• Be clear on what you want to achieve with your website
• Keep and maintain a content management system (CMS) with all relevant files and folders clearly organized and labelled
• Review content on a regular basis to secure that it is up to date
• Follow training initiatives or seminars on web management and new trends
• Use texts/narratives which are appropriate for web – short paragraphs, bulleted text, text for easy reading/scanning
• Navigation of your website should be easy, simple and intuitive
• Website design should be aesthetically appealing, clearly correspond with the visual identity of your business and also be functional
• Install analytics features on your website (e.g. Google Analytics – it’s free and very useful)
• Check how your website performs in search engine rankings - test with relevant keywords, hire a SEO professional for improving your web site ranking/visibility
Free survey on-line tools:
Here is a template for website feedback survey to help you
Managing social media
Social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram are among the most cost-effective tools to connect with your guests (past, present, or potential) - locally and globally! They are especially valuable for small- and mid-sized tourism businesses because of the low cost. However, being visible through social media needs certain skills and time.
Here are some DO’s and DON’Ts in the social media marketing world for the tourism sector:
• Consider your profile page as the first and most important impression for the visitor.
• Include attractive pictures that are close to reality and your visual identity, and never use stock photos.
• Exploit the ‘ripple effect’. Track groups or pages that fit or correspond to your business profile, and start building a network through shares or posts.
• Keep a good posting balance - not inactive for ages, but also no bombarding with posts.
• Encourage your customers to post in your social media, including text and pics e.g. selfies.
• Mark your social media pages in all relevant documentation, e-mail signatures, cards, guides, welcome kits etc.
• Respond to comments and feedback!
• Explore the use of multimedia, like a virtual tour, videos of your facility or local attractions and activities.
• Post info on events, festivals etc. in your area or beyond, to get higher visibility in search engines.
• Don’t use your social media pages as a discussion forum for your guests or customers.
• Don’t overuse hashtags, it is annoying!
• Just as in the case of websites, don’t create social media accounts just because everybody has one! Choose what’s best and ‘how many’ and work with them wisely without abandoning them after some time!
─ Watch a video “How are communication channels with the clients changing?“, a summary of “Social Media Marketing: The new channels of communication, their classification and a description of the most suitable channels for tourism businesses”, presented by Tourism Business portal of the European Commission.
─ Watch this short animated video review of the book "Social Media Explained: Untangling the World's Most Misunderstood Business Trend" by Mark Schaefer.
Using online platforms, channels and intermediaries in the tourism market
Who’s the best for your business and your visibility in the online world?
Tourism market, like any other market, has its demand side (tourists), supply side (tourism service providers) and in between there are market intermediaries, connecting demand and supply.
Traditional tourism intermediaries are mostly big tour operators (wholesale) and smaller tourism/travel agencies (retail). Recently, tourism market is characterized by the emergence of new, digital tourism intermediaries but also by the disappearance of traditional intermediaries – a process which is called disintermediation.
Technological advancements and consequent disintermediation have made a direct link between supply and demand side of tourism market, making the traditional intermediaries in some cases redundant. This is known as the “peer-to-peer” economy (and sometimes as “sharing economy”) and best known representatives of “peer-to-peer” business model are companies such as Uber, Booking.com, Airbnb, Blabla cars, etc.
The rise of the information and communication technologies (ICT) has produced completely new distribution channels. Those channels are heavily dependent on technology and they are called electronic distribution channels. Those include: global distribution systems (GDS), central reservation systems (CRS), online travel agencies (OTAs), meta search engines but also websites of every property.
The latest trend in electronic distribution of tourism products and services is aggregation of different information on a single web place. This way, website visitors can find all information on one place, their search for information on web is simpler and more effective. On the other side, tourism businesses can use aggregation to make their website content more interesting and relevant, to increase time visitors spend on their web, to engage with visitors more frequently etc.
Finally, different social media (such as Facebook, Instagram etc.) is increasingly being used for tourism product distribution.
Watch carefully this video by the Tourism Business Portal of the European Commission and learn about the intermediaries that exist in the online tourism market (in English)
So what? Measuring impact
In order to measure the impact of your online activities, you should: 1) establish your key performance indicators (KPIs) and 2) Measure your KPIs.
Establishing your KPIs
There are three major categories to follow and for each category you should define at least two basic KPIs:
• Volume of traffic – possible KPIs are: number of follower, number of twits, number of fans, trending topics etc. – almost anything that reflects reach and frequency can be a good KPI for volume.
• Engagement – relates to the level of engagement of your tourists with your accommodation. Possible KPIs are: number of re-tweets, number of subscribers, sentiment (positive, neutral, negative), time spent on social media page, likes, comments etc. Sentiment is a description of the online population affinity to your brand/business etc.
• Conversion – relates to desirable action you want visitors of your social media to undertake. Possible KPIs are: number of bookings, number of brochure downloads, number of clicks on particular link, number of newsletter subscribers etc.
Measuring your KPIs
After establishing your KPIs you should start measuring them.
One of the best tools for measuring the KPIs is Google Analytics. It is free of charge (the basic version), relatively easy to implement and to use. Through Google Analytics it is possible to measure different KPIs, to do reporting very easily and to stay ahead of game by getting insights in the different characteristics (including socio-demographics) of your customers.
─ See a video about the role of social media in tourism marketing
─ Watch this video which explains in simple words how the outreach and the impact of your social media can be measured
─ Watch this video by Google Small Business called ‘Getting started with Google analytics’ to find out more about monitoring and measuring the performance and impact of your website