You’ve just launched your tour business and want to grow your online presence fast. Or maybe you’ve been running your business for awhile but could use some help on the digital side.
Today travelers turn to the internet for trip inspiration, planning, purchasing, and then to #humblebrag by posting pictures post-trip. So, no matter what stage your business is in, you need to establish yourself online.
But with so many how-to blogs and tips and tricks, it can be hard to cut through the noise and know what to focus on.
In this post, I’m going to show you 5 of the best strategies and tools to increase your online presence fast so you can get more online bookings.
Let’s dive in.
The 5 best tools to grow your online presence fast
If you’ve just started your business you’ll need to create a logo, and some graphics for your website, oh— and don’t forget images to share on social media.
If you’re like me and have little skill when it comes to photoshop, you can hire a graphic designer. Or you could use Canva.
Canva is Photoshop, for people who don’t know how to Photoshop. They have super easy to use templates for any graphic you can imagine.They even have brochures templates to help with your offline marketing efforts.
And you can add brand colors and fonts, so all your materials match!
Canva is free for the first month, but after that, you’ll need to pay $15/month. The free trial is more than enough time to figure out if it’s right for you.
Once you have a logo, it’s time to build your website. Similar to your graphics, you have a couple of choices here. You can either pay a contractor to create a website for you, or you can do it yourself.
Now if you think there’s no way you could possibly build a website, think again! If you can click and type, you can create a website using Checkfront’s Site Builder.
And no, I don’t mean type strings of code. All you have to do is type normal words into pre-sized, mobile responsive, text boxes and upload a few images. It doesn’t get any easier than that.
You have complete control of your website, and everything’s linked with the Checkfront booking manager. So if you adjust your price, or add a new tour, your site will immediately reflect the changes (you’ll need an online booking system to take online bookings anyways so this is a nice two-for-one).
No back and forth with contractors and ridiculously high minimum fees.
Site Builder has 6 themes for you to choose from. All designed with industry-leading best practices that are proven to get you more online bookings.
Site Builder is an additional $35 on your monthly Checkfront fee. You can try both Checkfront Booking Manager and Site Builder free for 21 days.
Now that you have a beautiful website all you have to do is wait for the online bookings to start pouring in, right?
If only it were that easy.
Even if you fully optimize your website for search engines, it will take awhile to crawl up the rankings. And until you build some brand awareness your site is likely going to be stuck on page 2 or 3 of the search results. Which isn’t good for online business.
To speed up the process, you can strategically bid on local keywords through Adwords. That way when a person’s Google search matches the keywords you’re bidding on, your website will appear at the top of search results.
The price of Adwords depends on how competitive your market is. For example, bidding on “Napa Valley wine tours” is going to be much more expensive than “[insert small town name] wine tours.” But you’ll be paying for visitors who are likely to purchase because they’ve expressed interest in a tour like yours in your city.
You’ll also get insights into the keywords that are bringing the most people to your website, so you can update your copy to include those words and get more organic (unpaid) traffic.
Online travel agents (OTAs) are an excellent discovery tool for new tourism companies. Yes, their high commission rates suck. But, the truth is OTA’s expose you to an audience you wouldn’t be able to find on your own. Especially in the beginning.
Search Google for any tour in a specific city. I bet the top results are either TripAdvisor, Viator or the top company in the area.
OTA’s hire digital marketing experts and have a lot more money to throw behind their campaigns. Not only do their site dominate the search rankings but travelers trust them.
Some people will ONLY use OTAs when booking experiences.
So set aside a portion of your inventory to sell through these channels. You will take a hit on your margins but will gain brand awareness, guests, and if you do a good job free word of mouth referrals.
You won’t find either of these hotels in a Lonely Planet or Travel Bali guide, so how did I know about them?
At least once a week I would see pictures of Instagram models posting photos in these amazing private pools, and I had to find out where they were.
I ended up choosing the Gravity Hotel because of its incredible view (okay, so I could Instagram myself in front of that incredible view). But my point here is that influencer marketing works.
I had a chance to speak with the owner of the hotel, and he said they opened earlier that year and were already so booked up that they were beginning construction on another set of villas.
Influencers have already done the hard work of creating mass followings. By paying them to showcase your experiences, you gain access to their audience and benefit from the social proof they provide.
Many of these influencers have their contact information listed right on their profile so you can email them directly. Just be prepared for some steep fees.