Are you reaching new customers online? How visible your tourism business is online can have a massive impact on your success. Luckily, there are many ways you can increase your online visibility and be noticed by new potential customers.
Studies have shown that the vast majority of people use the internet to research their upcoming travel destinations. They go online to find travel inspiration on social media, read detailed travel guides on blogs and use online booking tools to book their accommodation, transport and activities. (source 1 + 2)
In order to get a slice of that increasingly competitive cake for yourself, your business has to cultivate an engaged online presence. and start attracting customers before they arrive at the destination.
In this post, I will show you 7 ways to get more eyes on your business and increase your visibility online.
Why does Online Visibility Matter?
While a significant number of travellers book accommodation, activities & more when they are already at the destination, they do so increasingly online. And don’t forget about those who book everything before their trip.
Old-fashioned leaflets and flyers at the local tourism office – while useful to reach some customers – just won’t cut it anymore. Your potential customers see these way too late into their journey.
It takes 7 “Touches”…
You might have heard of the “Seven Touches” marketing principle.
According to this, it takes multiple – at least seven – “touches” before a potential customer will take the action you want them to take, especially if money is involved. If you want a customer to book or buy from you, you need to show up for them at least seven times.
A “touch” can be anything from seeing your ad on their favourite magazine to hearing you speak about your products or services on the radio. The internet also provides plenty of opportunities to reach your potential new customer – your website, social media posts, ads and blog posts can all be “touches”.
Do they trust you?
It all boils down to familiarity and trust. A customer who has never heard about your business before is a so-called “cold audience”. They know nothing about you and are unlikely to trust you with their money. But with every “touch”, your customer is “warmed up” – they learn more about your business and develop trust. After multiple “touches” it should be a no-brainer for them to book with you.
The great thing is that you don’t have to painstakingly create every “touch” with every single customer manually. By optimising your online presence and showing up in all the right places, you can ensure that your tourism business will reach your ideal customers over and over again.
A note before we start:
This article will require you to take a step back and honestly review your existing online presence from your website to your social media channels. It might be tricky at times or cause some frustration, but if you are not 100% honest with yourself, you might be limiting your online reach.
It is important to keep in mind, that increasing your online visibility does not happen overnight. Don’t worry of you can’t implement all the advice in this article at once. It will take time to optimise your online presence and potentially some experimenting too.
How to get more eyes on your business online
1. Have a User-friendly Website
Your website represents your business. It should bring across the same vibe as you want your customers to have after experiencing your service or product first-hand. Invigorated, pumped, relaxed, connected, dis-connected – whatever it is you want your customers to take away from their experience with you. They should have the same feeling when they visit your website.
I see many tourism businesses with websites that look amazing, but once you start clicking around, they lack substance. Or they are slow. Or they hide the most important information in obscure sub menus, side bar widgets or annoying pop-ups.
While the visual appearance of your website is important, it is even more crucial to have a user-friendly website.
- Is your site mobile-friendly – that means is it optimised for mobile visitors? Check here.
- Is the text easy to read in terms of text size, font and colour contrast?
- Do images and video elements load quickly or do they slow everything down?
- Is it easy to make an online booking or enquiry?
- Do you use clear calls-to-actions that make it easy to interact with your business?
- Are your contact info and social media accounts easy to find?
- Can a first-time visitor intuitively navigate to find what they are looking for?
While SEO and keywords are important to get people to your website (more on that below), having a user-friendly website will give potential customers an enjoyable online experience with your business.
Need a new website for your business? Book a free 20-minute call to discuss how I can help.
2. Optimise your Local SEO
SEO stands for “search engine optimisation” and while there are many technical definitions for SEO and there is a lot more to it than Google, the most important element to understand about SEO-optimisation is that it enables your business website to be seen in search engines like Google, Bing or Ecosia (this is also called “ranking”).
In short: The higher you rank for a specific search term, the higher up you show up in the search result for this and related search terms, and the more people will see your website in relevant searches.
Local SEO is an aspect of SEO that applies specifically to businesses with a physical, brick-and-mortar presence like accommodations, tour operators, shops, restaurants etc. As such, local SEO is of huge importance for tourism businesses.
Here are some of the key things to consider:
- Use Google My Business to claim your business and update your biz information. Make sure to fill in all details correctly: Address, phone number, category, attributes (features) and more. Here is some additional advice by Google.
- Enter your business in web directories to build backlinks to your website. Some SEO specialists will offer you packages to create listings with large numbers of directories, however, this may be a waste of money if it is your only link building strategy. Listings in web directories are important for local businesses, but according to Moz research, they are overall just a small ranking indicator. You can find a list of useful web directories here. Make sure you always enter the EXACT same information otherwise search engines might not be able to match your information to your business. For example, don’t mix Rd and Road in your address or +44 and 0 for your phone number.
- Don’t forget about web directories that are specific to travel and tourism, such as Trip Advisor.
- Stay active on Google My Business, Trip Advisor & co and respond to questions and reviews.
- Research keywords you want to rank for – here is how.
- Optimise your homepage and use those keywords in a natural way.
SEO is a massive topic and I could go on and on about how to optimise your website for search engines, but if you start with local SEO for now, you should soon see the benefits of your work.
3. Be Active on Social Media
Research by amp agency has shown that 84% of millennials and 73% of non-millennials are likely or very likely to plan a trip based on someone else’s vacation photos or social media updates. The majority of travellers use social media for travel inspiration, many book entire trips or specific experiences because of the content they have seen on social media.
This kind of aspirational marketing opens fantastic opportunities for small tourism businesses.
If you think about your website like your shop, social media is your shop window. It is what entices people inside to take a closer look, learn more and ideally to make a booking or purchase.
Posting high-quality social media content, creating engaging posts and stories, and utilising popular and relevant hashtags can multiply your online reach, introduce your business to many new potential customers and increase your brand recognition.
For more on social media, read my tips for creating engaging social media content.
4. Write SEO-optimised Blog Posts
Blogging is a highly effective way to bring more people to your website. But why?
When you publish a well-written blog post about a topic that people are interested in and that is relevant to your business, search engines will show your blog post in the search results for that topic. That means people don’t have to search for your business in order to find your website – instead, you let them in through the back door.
Of course, there is a lot more to successful blogging.
- Research keyword: Just like you want to use relevant keywords on your website, you should research popular search terms to use in your blog posts. It is important to be realistic and target keywords that you can write about with a level of authority and expertise in order to beat other websites that might currently rank for that topic.
- Fulfil user-intent: While keywords are important, always keep in mind what the user is typing in the search box and how you can provide the best answer to their question. The content of your blog post should always match the title.
- Structure your posts: Using headlines throughout your blog post does not only make it easier to read, it also helps search engines to understand the information you provide in the post.
- Make a plan you can stick to: Consistency is the key to any content strategy. Before you write your first blog post, brainstorm enough topics to write a blog post per month for the next 3-6 months. Block out the time to write them in your diary and stick to your plan.
Search engines are looking for websites with Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness – in short, E-A-T.
Want to show Google that you are an expert, have authority on a topic and are trustworthy?
Write multiple blog posts about the same or related topics!
5. Connect with Online Media to Tell Your Story
Great things can come to your business from a media feature. While mentions in print media are a fantastic way to reach new audiences, depending on the circulation of the newspaper or magazine, you might benefit even more from an online feature.
An online feature on the website of a big national newspaper, an international magazine or even a relevant blog can allow you to reach new potential customers for a very long time. Remember – print editions are thrown out when the next edition comes around, online features remain relevant forever.
If you have the budget to hire a PR agency to do outreach on your behalf, go for it. But you can also connect with journalists and reporters yourself. Sign up for services like HARO (Help a Reporter), follow the travel editors of different publications on social media and engage with bloggers who reach an audience that might be interested in your business.
Don’t be afraid to pitch a story to an editor – but always put yourself in their shoes. Journalists are always looking for interesting stories, but you need to offer them something that will provides an interesting take on a current issue.
Approaching bloggers is slightly different as they are based on a completely different financial model – most bloggers will not write an article about your business for free. But that’s a topic for another blog post.
Check out Rural Roots Media for useful PR resources for small tourism businesses.
6. Collaborate with Local Partners
I strongly believe in the power of collaboration and I hope that if you work in the tourism sector, you have your own first-hand experience of the benefits of working together with other businesses.
Build networks with other businesses in your local area as well as similar businesses in different areas, regions or countries. Why? Because their audience and their recent customers might be interested in your business too. And vice versa.
There are many ways to collaborate and reciprocate: get mentioned in newsletters, supply services for each other, offer special deals and discount codes. If you put your heads together and think about the overlapping interests of your audiences, the world is your oyster.
7. Network, network, network
And this brings me to my last point: network, network, network. Tell people about your business, show an interest in other people’s offers and services, and keep a mental list of people who you might be able to approach for future projects.
I know that networking doesn’t come natural to everyone – I still feel like the odd person in the room when it comes to networking situations. But if that’s how you feel too, you are probably not the only one in the room.
There are tons of networking opportunities in the tourism sector. Try to branch out from local business events, and try joining a network like your local Travel Massive chapter. It’s free to join and I have met some amazing people through my local Glasgow chapter.
Of course, there are many other ways to create these “touch points” between you and your potential customers – both online and offline.
You can increase your online visibility by paying for Google ads, placing paid social media ads or get listings with online travel agents. These can be useful strategies in your marketing toolbox and get even more eyes on your tourism business.
But I hope that before you spend money on ads or listings, you give my seven methods a try first to max out how many people you can reach organically, without paying for it. Doing this, you will learn where a paid solution makes the most sense for your business.
Did you find this article useful? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Pin this post for later: