The way that people search, find and book holidays has certainly changed thanks to the internet. Rather than visiting a travel agent many people are now favouring taking to the internet to research and find the best attractions, accommodation and prices themselves. And, thanks to mobile phones people continue searching for local tourist attractions during their holiday.
If you own a small tourism business the online world can seem daunting, but it also presents some great opportunities for you to reach more customers and get them through your doors, here’s four ways you could get started.
Be visible to potential customers
If customers are searching for attractions in your location, or even trying to find your business after a recommendation from a friend, if you’re not online you won’t be visible to them.
By creating a website you’ll have that all important online presence and potential customers will be able to find you. Make sure you take some time when designing your website, making it really visual and include useful information such as how to find you, when you’re open and how much tickets cost.
Your website can also be a great platform to showcase feedback and reviews from other visitors, and it’s no secret that more and more consumers are reading reviews before making any purchasing decisions. Also make sure you optimise your website to work across different devices too, as 44% of people planning summer holidays anticipate using a mix of devices to plan their stay. Perhaps they might research attractions near their holiday accommodation at home on their laptop, before searching for reviews on their tablet in the evening and finally searching for directions on their mobile the morning they wish to visit.
You can also use your domain name to showcase your business identity, for example securing an .cymru and .wales website and email address can be a great way for Welsh tourism businesses to celebrate their connection to Wales and make it clear to visitors they’re in the right place when searching for local attractions.
Creating social media profiles for your business is another way to get in front of potential customers and opens some great opportunities to share reviews, images and content. It’s also a great platform to engage with your target audience and get involved with pages and groups created for your local area or aimed at tourists.
Target relevant people and searches
There are also some simple steps you can take to help get your name in front of an audience who are searching for relevant terms, such as tourist attractions in your area or people who have joined relevant groups or shown interest in certain pages on social media.
If you haven’t already, one of the first things you should do is set up a Google My Business Listing filling in as much information as you can whilst making sure your details (business name, address, telephone, etc.) are consistent across all mentions online including your website and online directories. As we’ve touched on previously, encouraging customers to review your business is also worthwhile, including Google as these show when consumers search for attractions in a certain location on the search engine.
You should also invest some time to focus on local SEO, after all your business most likely relies on visitors in your location. Setting up your Google My Business listing and building credibility with reviews will help, and you can consider some simple on-page and content improvements too such as including the town and country in your title tags and geographic terms in your meta description, each of these steps are explained in more detail in this helpful online guide.
You also no longer have to set aside a substantial budget to advertise your business online and how you can target audiences is continually becoming more in-depth and accurate.
To get started you could look at running an advert on social media targeting people in your location with interests in what you offer, to generate clicks through to your website or encourage people to like and share your post. Or, you could investigate running a Google AdWords campaign that bids for your advert to appear at the top of relevant searches your customers might be typing into Google; for example, (top places to visit in Devon) or (family attractions in Wales).
Explore partnership opportunities
Building partnerships online can be a great way to get your name out there to a wider audience. There’s plenty of different websites and businesses you could investigate working with and lots of innovative ways you could partner with them. Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
research and ask to be included in blog posts or articles listing the top attractions in your area
approaching other attractions/businesses that complement what you offer and working with them to offer special offers or package deals to customers
speaking to travel agents to offer discounts to your business in return for inclusion in promotions and recommendations
building a partnership with online directories and voucher sites (which we’ll cover in our next point)
Be on listed directories
With 6.8 million accommodations, restaurants and attractions on TripAdvisor as of January and 390 million unique visitors, online directories and comparison sites can help put your tourism business in front of a massive audience. Online directories like TripAdvisor mean consumers can find a wealth of information in one place, such as the top attractions in an area with reviews, nearby restaurants and frequently asked questions.
As well as these directories, there are also a number of websites offering online deals and coupons, take Groupon for an example. By offering a special discount or deal in association with these trusted sites you’ll be able to get your business in front a huge audience that are looking for attractions in your location. You could even be included in their weekly newsletters and see an increase of visitors and revenue through the channel.
Getting listed on these directories is easier than you might think, and getting started often involves completing a form online with your business details. If you do get a listing up and running, it’s good practice to keep an eye on the reviews and questions being posted so you can respond quickly and engage with your potential and existing customers.
These are just a few ways you can use your online presence, through your website, social media, search engines and online partnerships, to reach a wider audience and get more visitors through your doors. Why not start by getting more active on social media or exploring some exciting partnership opportunities?