In 2010 World Tourism Organization (a United Nations governing body for Tourism) estimated that global tourism is an US Dollar 919 billion industry. Take a look at the World tourist arrival rankings developed by the organization :- France is the most visited country, United States stands second and China enjoys third position.
Now we know tourism as an industry is almost worth 1000 billion USD. This article focuses on explaining Internet marketing techniques that can be used by Travel companies, Tour operators, Ministry of tourism of various countries and states, Leisure/Entertainment business owners who depend on tourism, Hotels, Resorts/Home stays and other businesses whose bread and butter depends tourism.
The basic goal behind any Online marketing campaign is to get more leads to your business using various online marketing techniques.Let’s take a look at these one by one.
How Tour planning companies and Travel agents use Internet marketing?
A well designed and useful website is the first key step behind every successful online marketing campaigns. Travel agents and Tour operators use techniques like Search Engine Optimization, Pay Per Click Advertisements, Creating high quality content using blogs, Offering great customer service through Live chat facility and Toll free number and above all by developing a highly useful and well designed website.
Search Engine Optimisation:
If you are hearing this word Search Engine Optimisation or its abbreviation SEO for the first time, please take time to read our articles that explain this online marketing technique.
Travel agents and Tour planning companies operate in a number of ways. Some companies will be operating internationally, while some others confine themselves to a single nation, and there are agents who operate only on a smaller state or a particular region alone. SEO strategy for the company website should be formed based on operating locations.
IrisHolidays can be taken as a case study for Search Engine Optimisation, marketing through use of blogging and a really good website design. Speaking more about Iris, they are a Tour planning company based in South India; to be precise Kerala. Their key specialty and highlight is their design. They have designed it with “Conversion Rate” in mind. Design is simple, elegant, uses modern style and is rich with content. It educates the user/visitor about their tour plans and pricing. For more they have categorized their various plans and arranged them in a well manner.
Now we know they have satisfied the basic need of a great website. Let’s look into their SEO strategy now. Keywords are the heart of Search Engine Optimisation. Success of an SEO campaign depends highly on the selection of keywords. Irisholidays has optimised their website for some targeted keywords like “Honeymoon travel packages” , “Kerala Ayurveda Packages” , “Munnar honeymoon packages” , “Honeymoon tour packages” etc. Analysing all keyword combinations used by Irisholidays is beyond the scope of this article. Using Google keyword tool we can calculate the rough estimate of search volumes for these keywords. It shows 1000+ searches happen a month in Google for keyword “Honeymoon tour packages“, where as nearly 500 searches happen every month in Google using keyword “Honeymoon travel packages“. Irisholidays uses Search Engine Optimisation to rank high in Google for these search phrases. People who search Google with these terms might be some one looking to hire a tour operator or to buy service of a tour planning company. Companies who rank high in search engines like Google, Bing and Yahoo for such related keywords takes advantage of this and increases their business.
GoldenTours is another tour company that utilizes SEO to get more business. They are based in London, United Kingdom. Similarly you can find many more companies by refining your search phrases in Google like “Washington DC Tour Operators” , “Chicago Tour companies“, “Paris tour companies”, “Travel management companies in Spain” etc. Millions of keyword combinations are possible theoretically. You just have to limit it your areas of interest.
Let’s come back to Irisholidays, our case study. They have a separate Content Management System setup for listing all Hotels and Resorts in Kerala. They serve articles about each hotel separately describing facilities provided, their special cuisines, photographs of exterior and interior, near by locations to see and other useful information for tourists. They offer this as a value added service to everyone who visits their home page and to their customers. The visitor who comes to Iris home page need not go to any other websites to checkout various hotels and accommodation facilities available. He/She can get all the information from the Iris website itself. Another advantage is Search Engine Optimisation and traffic from search engines. Since they provide lengthy,descriptive articles about each and every hotel, Irisholidays will get listed in Google for searches related to hotels (eg: “Hotels in Kerala“, )and searches that happen with individual hotel names (eg: “Leela beach resort kovalam“, “Greenwood resort Thekkady”, “The Taj Hotel Cochin”). This is an added benefit which brings more visitors to Iris website. If 100 people comes through this path and if 1 or 2 buys their service or recommends their service, it’s a success for them.
Next is marketing using blog and useful contents. Iris is doing this in an effective way. Just take a look at their blog, they update frequently with great articles. An example:- 10 things a tourist can do in Kerala only! Similar and other types of useful articles are published in their blog which adds value to all it’s visitors and customers. Great and really useful articles will get shared in Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Above listed article is shared more than 50 times. Additionally various travel bloggers and writers will mention such useful blog posts in their writings. Referral traffic to Iris home page is just one side of many benefits. All these blog articles will get listed in Search engines, highly useful ones will be mentioned in Social medias, Travel websites and magazines. So this way Iris is opening up their chances of getting more and more leads online which they later can up sell.
Another point to notify in this case study is their personalized testimonials page with photographs and descriptive tour details. They collect testimonials from their guests and publish one best testimonial every month. They personalize testimonials with photographs and details so that new visitors will feel Iris as an authentic tour company. Personalized testimonials also give a comfortable feeling to new visitors. For more Iris has arranged it in a cool and friendly manner.
The last thing to notice in this case study is Iris’s customer service facilities. They provide all sorts of communication facilities ranging from phone, email and Live chat.
I just took Iris as a case study, there are a handful of other similar companies who gets Online marketing well. On the other hand there are plenty of companies who has never used online marketing in a proper way. They are loosing potential customers. I wrote this article as a guidance for other tour companies and business who depend on tourism. The above case study can be used to frame your online marketing strategies.
Now lets go to websites of Ministry of tourism and examine how they are marketing their country and tourist destinations.
A classic example is Singapore Tourism website maintained by Singapore tourism board. They have developed a really useful website with great information. Website design and architecture itself is an experience, just like their country Singapore. Kerala Tourism is another example which provides helpful information to all it’s guests. But their navigation is not so user friendly.
Pay per click advertisements is another technique used by various travel companies and official tourism websites of the destination. These are advertisements listed in search engines and other websites for related keywords as shown above. Website owner has to pay per every click he receives on his ad. Each click on the ad will take user to owners website or a page in his website.