It’s crucial to understand that a great tour or activity website should not be seen as merely an expense, but rather as an investment. But the question to answer is why?
What Happens When You Don’t Have a Great Website?
Let’s start at the opposite end of the spectrum. What happens when you don’t have a great website? A poorly designed or functioning website sets you and your business up for failure in the following ways:
- Poor user experience
- Not aesthetically pleasing
- Does not accurately represent your brand or tours
- Poor SEO performance
In all of these instances, your website is working against you rather than as a tool to ultimately help generate more bookings.
So, let’s move on to why you should invest in your site and the possibilities that open up when you do.
Present Your Tours or Activities in the Best Way Possible
A great website consists of three fundamental elements:
- Engaging content
- Inspiring design
- Simple yet effective technical functionality
Let’s take a look at the first two.
Website content includes all written material that appears on your website. From the headings, subheadings, tour descriptions, FAQs, and even what your call-to-action buttons say. Content takes into account both the information that needs to be conveyed to your guests, but also the way it’s presented.
Depending on your target audience, the tone will not be the same. Writing for a luxury relaxation experience, and active-packed adventure requires two completely different styles. By adapting your content, you are appealing to your intended audience.
Successful site design takes into account all things visual on your site. This includes what photos, videos, or graphics are featured as well how they are presented, the font styles, the font sizes, how the menus look, how the buttons look, as well as the colors or textures used on the website.
And ultimately, the design is about making sure all of these components play nicely together through the overall layout. We tend to take successful design for granted. But when design is unsuccessful it certainly stands out in the worst way possible.
Great site functionality takes into account a few factors:
- Page loading speed
- Image loading speed
- Site security
Page and image loading speed are the most obvious part of the functionality that a visitor to your site will notice. Again, like design these are things we all take for granted when they function well, but when they don’t work they become glaringly apparent. Each piece of additional code, third-party app, or service should be carefully selected in order to not cause an adverse effect. Often this involves balancing the pros of the feature with the cons of its impacts. There’s nothing worse than waiting for a page or picture to load for what seems like an eternity.
The third aspect which site visitors don’t see is security. As your site is connected to personal and financial information, a great site will do its part to keep your site secure from potential cyber threats.
Offer the Best User Experience Possible
When we talk about the site experience we’re looking to create an intuitive experience. In other words, it should be obvious from the first moment someone lands on your site where they can find more information about a tour or your business or complete an action such as filling out a contact form or even making a booking.
Of course, page and image loading speed also contribute to (or detract from) overall user experience as well. The other essential aspect is device compatibility. With more time spent on our phones, your site needs a mobile version, and it needs to be just as effective as your desktop version.
Improve SEO and Overall Site Traffic
SEO takes a variety of factors into consideration, and onsite content is one of them. This includes strategically selected and integrated keywords. While it’s important to be using the right words, it’s also important not to stuff keywords (which negatively impacts your SEO).
All those other elements we mentioned: page speed, mobile-friendliness, and optimized content contribute as well, which then factors into customers browsing online being directed to your site or not.
Your Website Is Your All-Hours Employee
Look at your website like your most consistent and best performing “employee”. Why? Because unlike you and your guides, your website is ready to welcome guests, present your tours, and answer any potential customer’s questions at any and all times of the day. If your website is visually attractive, the content is appealing, and the user experience is positive, then your website is your best salesperson. Set this employee up for success by making them efficient, allowing them to provide an enjoyable but also informative experience.
Your Website is the Face of Your Brand
When travelers are online looking for tours or things to do, your website is likely the first thing they’ll come across. As everyone knows, first impressions are crucial in all aspects of life, and that includes your website! You know how great your tours are, and you know the business persona you’re trying to portray, so again, your website should be an ally in this. A great website is a gateway for both your local market but also international customers. Through proper branding, you’ll also attract and appeal to your ideal customer type wherever they are in the world.
Your Competitors Likely Have Their Own Great Website
Another crucial reason why a great website is important is so that it’s not the reason you’re losing sales to your competitors. If your offerings are relatively on par, you run the risk of your negative website experience or presentation being the reason that sale went to them rather than you. Having an effective website allows your company to stand out from the crowd, placing you in front of your competitors without having to lower your price to compete or pour lots of money into paid advertising.
Easily Interact With Your Customers
There are multiple ways you can interact with your customers, but the crucial aspect is that it be straightforward. Again, because your website is likely the first point of contact for your potential customers having a welcoming online experience will give them the confidence to reach out. Whether it be regarding special accommodation or itinerary, or anything else. With a proper contact system and one which is clearly indicated, no guest request or question will go unanswered.
Keep Your Content Current and Adaptable
There’s nothing worse than going on a website and it is inherently obvious that the content is dated. Whether it’s a review from five years ago or a photo where the guests are wearing leg warmers or shoulder pads. A great website requires current and accurate textual and visual information at all times.
This also includes making sure your site doesn’t have any broken links. If and when updates need to be made, a great website and hosting provider will easily allow you to make those changes.
Persuade Guests and Ultimately Secure the Sale
Securing the sale means first getting people onto your website, and then getting them to convert to an actual booking. Your website is your opportunity to convince potential customers to book your tour or activity rather than anyone else’s. By offering a website that ranks well in searches, has clear, informative, and attractive content, an overall positive experience, as well as carefully funneling them to make a purchase towards your online booking system, you’ve set up all layers of persuasion.
An Investment for Both the Short and Long Term
By deciding to spend money on a website, you are ultimately investing in both the short-term as well as the long-term success of your business. An effective website developer means there’s a team of people right alongside you, checking off all of these points and more.
This is precisely because it can be incredibly overwhelming for any individual to try and take on designing and building a website by themselves. No one person is a master at design, content, and the technical aspects that go into a website, but all of these categories remain equally important. Moreover, a website for tour and activity operators has its own set of criteria and necessities that need to be met.
At the end of the day, the fundamental reason why tour and activity operators need a great website is because it means you can focus on running every other aspect of your business, managing guides, and ensuring the best tour experience possible, rather than being stressed over your website.
Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Andrea Marek from TourismTiger – the premier web design company for tours and activities.
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