Running a tours and travels company can be one of the most overwhelming tasks; one would actually say, it is bombarding. Right from marketing, client acquisition, conversion, client retention to maintaining a steady growth of clients especially during the peak season. Just like any business, a happy client will always refer the next person and will always come back, so customer service in this industry matters a lot.
This comes with a lot of responsibilities and opportunities. Travel and Tourism is responsible for the creation of 1 in 10 jobs globally and support sustainable livelihoods in many developing parts of the world. It is also a powerful catalyst for social change and contributes to valuable conservation efforts.
A tourism company has to be visible and easily accessible in terms of online space. Being the digital era, many people will look for a company online and depending on its star-rating and reviews by previous clients, the person will choose whether to go for that company or not. Online behavior matters a lot in this field. The channels of interaction include:
1. Social media Integration- This ranges from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram among others. A person will want to check your online activity, how frequent you post and engage with your online audience and how fast you respond to queries online. This means that your company has to have a social media person who is always online to ensure that all clients are well served and on time so that no conversions are lost along the way.
2. Bulk Messaging- This is from SMS, WhatsApp and Short Code services. This is a marketing platform that allows you to send any offers you have for your existing clients and also prospecting clients. A branded Sender ID is needed so that when a client receives a message they know where it’s coming from, and also they can be able to send their queries directly and be assisted.
3. Website- A website is like an online office where you interact with online audience. People visiting your website are able to see what you offer, the rates and also the ease of booking. Ensure your service providers for website have the following in mind when developing your website:
i. Simple and professional design. Ensure it is an interactive website with good photographs. Tours and travels is all about images and client testimonials. Good graphics will make a customer stay longer online and also be converted easily.
ii. Mobile Responsiveness- Most people nowadays access websites on their phones and tablets. This feature makes it easy for websites to be viewed on smaller devices just the same way they can be seen on larger devices such as a computer screen. Ensure your Service Provider offers you this feature as it is one you can’t afford to miss.
iii. Live Chat- A client does not have to call you to make inquiries. Clients usually don’t want homework, avoid giving them. This is because, in case someone has a clarification to seek, they most probably will plan to call or email you, but before they do that, they will come across another service provider who is easier to reach- that is through Web Chat. This enables your client to ‘talk’ to you real-time. Have this implemented on your website and have somebody monitoring it throughout to ensure no potentials go away unanswered.
iv. Contact details- Also ensure your contact details and location are well visible on the website, and also working hours and days.
v. Straightforward Search Filters, which serve you destination results updated in real time based on the boxes you tick.
vi. Predictive Search which provides results based on hotel names, the city as a search category and other hotels within that city.
vii. Cross browser compatibility- it would be disastrous to have a website that only runs on a particular browser. Ensure that you are developed for a website that can run across browsers. Your audience (target users) are all over the world and you are not sure which browser they use. Check for this feature from your developer.
viii. Customer Reviews- An integral part of all retail experiences, consumer reviews are an effective sales drivers and a trusted source of information for users; unfortunately very few brands seem to use them. People know sites like TripAdvisor exist and, if sites don’t have reviews, they’ll find them there anyway.
ix. Favourites/Recommended List – If a potential customer hasn’t settled on a destination yet, a favourites list is a very helpful tool, which allows one to remember the places that they are interested in or recommended by the provider.
x. Simple, Idiot-Proof Calendars- Ensure your website has a great and easy way to view calendar for arrival and departure dates, which can pop out of the departure and return fields. Also choose colour which stands out clearly, the retention of previous and next months days and simple ‘today, tomorrow and in a week’ buttons.
xi. Clear Pricing without hidden fees- Nothing makes a visitor bounce quicker than unexpected charges and taxes. Despite your insistent, upselling tactics, ensure you are clear about the pricing throughout the customer journey.
xii. Use evocative and interesting copy- Many different operators are offering holidays to similar, if not identical destinations, so stand yourself out from the crowd with some well written descriptions.
xiii. Google map integration- It’s helpful to see available holidays laid out on a map, especially one that’s fully interactive and lets you see the details of the destination selected with an arresting image.
xiv. Simple checkout- Creating a great user experience is wasted if your checkout contains various barriers to purchase. Travel sites do have a habit of over-complicating checkout, be different.
xv. Simple registration- Make the registration process as painless as possible and continue the good work with a clear and simple check out form.
xvi. Optimize your online search- This helps you to be easily seen by online visitors when they search for tours and travels company, making you appear in the top searches. Choose keywords that people will use to search for you online.
xvii. Language Translator- This is a feature that most web developers overlook, but for a tours and travels website, it is key. You want your website to attract people from different parts of the world. Only a language translator will help you do this bearing in mind that a good number of your potential clients don’t speak of understand your language (the language of your website).
xviii. Huge beautiful images, just a handful of well-chosen pictures, which you can cycle through at your own pace.
ix. A good maintenance plan- For this, the first thing you should seek to have is a user-friendly CMS (Content Management System). This will help you update your site content as need be, that includes, publishing travel offers, changing or removing some packages among other maintenance activities. You realize that you may not have all the time to manage your website; ask your developer whether they offer maintenance services.
4. Blogging- Use blogs to interact with your customers and keep them looking forward to any upcoming offers you have. Blog as often as you can so as to keep your audience active. This makes people to identify and easily connect with your brand.
5. YouTube channel- Nothing sells more than a video of the safaris taken so far and the experience of the client. Let people see what you offer and how you interact with your customers. You can create short videos of how you pick up your clients from the airport upon their arrival, the hotel bookings, the tours to different destinations, the tour guides, camping and so on.
Above all else, build relationships:
Speaking of relationships… something that’s really important when you’re trying to build your online presence is, of course, “being seen”. If no one knows you, then presumably they won’t be looking for your website, your Facebook profile, your Instagram stories, and so on.
So what’s the best way to draw people into your world?
Find a group or online community that is made up of individuals who share the same interests or who run similar businesses as you do, and therefore, are in your industry or niche. Then, start building relationships with them through providing value and being an active member in that group.If you’re just starting out, chances are these people are better connected than you are, and they might be able to help introduce you to others who are in your industry or niche.
You should also find a group or community of individuals who fit the description of your audience, because joining this type of community has the potential to give you priceless insights into what your biggest pain points are. Knowing this can help you pivot and create the exact content your audience wants and needs.
So find one or two communities that fit these descriptions, and commit to being present in them. Every single day for 5 minutes go into these communities and answer a question, provide a piece of feedback or guidance, and ask a question. After a few weeks go by, you’ll have made several amazing connections plus given the members within that group a reason to want to know more about you and what you do.
Again, always start by adding value to others FIRST. When entering a group or community, it’s important for you to NOT advertise yourself or your business. Once you start building strong relationships with others in the community through following the steps above, they’ll naturally become interested in what it is you have going on, and you can start to share your content over time.
6. Connect with existing brands for guest posting and podcasting
Connecting with existing brands and requesting to guest post or be a guest on their podcast will not only help you build new relationships, it will also help you get your name and brand in front of a whole new audience.
But you want to be strategic when you go about requesting a guest post or to be on someone else’s podcast, be sure you can provide value to the person’s audience, first and foremost. Then, confirm their audience will actually be interested in what it is you have to offer via your own platform.
Guest posting is a great way to get your name out there, build relationships with other bloggers, and show people the value you have to offer. Guest posting can result in increased traffic to your website, a strong backlink, and a lot of social love.
Being a guest on others podcast is also a great way to get your name out there, build relationships with other podcast hosts, and share some incredible value with that person’s audience. It’s also great practice for how you talk about your business, your brand, and your expertise.
This is an industry that involves dealing with clients one on one and taking them through the adventures. Your customer service, patience and keenness to understand the requirements of your customer. Every detail, every feedback should be taken into consideration since most customers will be converted according to the reviews.