The best time to optimize your travel sites is NOW and here’s why… Contrary to popular opinion, travel agents are more important than most let on to believe, especially during a time when we’re all working harder and longer on our personal and professional goals! That said, having a travel agent on our side to handle all the travel research for us is a plus as long as they know the basics, am I right? Well…
One thing I’m sure most travel agents learned from this terrible pandemic is that there are cracks everywhere… I mean, once you’re done putting out the fires as it pertains to solving the myriad of issues that resulted from cruise lines canceling and hotels closing, left many in a state of nothing. But now that refunds & future credits have been issued, and customers have been taken care of and databases are updated, you may find holes in your organization that you didn’t notice before. Well, it’s time to start repairing and fortifying those holes in order to start the real work, which is preparing for the future!
Build it and they will come
The famous “Build It and They Will Come” motto from the movie Field of Dreams could not be more relevant as it is right now! Whether or not you have an online presence, the time to build or best time to optimize your travel sites is NOW! There’s no doubt the future may look grim from where you’re sitting, but there’s no better time to prepare for what’s to come than this moment. The late great life coach, Stephen Covey once wrote in his best seller “First Thing’s First”, “Think with the end in mind”. During times of tribulation, the one thing you want to do is “think with the end in mind”! Travel will return and if you put in the necessary work in utilizing relevant & informative content, appropriate images and keywords describing your services & products, you can’t lose!
Researching Destinations and Storytelling
One way to begin preparing for the 2021 travel season is with combining the perfect combination of researching destinations and storytelling. Take your travel experience and combine that with facts pertaining to each and every major destination and you have a story, a relevant story about facts pertaining to the destination you’re focusing on. Australia is on my bucket list of places to experience and I plan on breaking up my travel time with a few days in Fiji, but when’s the rainy season in Fiji? Everyone wants to go to Fiji, but no one will want to go during or just after the rainy season because of all the mosquitoes! So educate us with some facts and a little storytelling for good measure!
Add Headings To Break Up The Content
One of the most important things to do in order to break up all the content is to add some headings relevant to what you’re about to discuss. Even more important is to sprinkle in some keywords in the headings that is relevant to the content proceeding it. It keeps the content flowing without it spilling over with no end. You want to keep your readers interested not bored, and breaking the interesting relevant content throughout is exactly what the doctor ordered, so let’s get started!
Add images that are relevant to the content
Images that are relevant to the content is incredibly important and don’t forget about the alt-text! There have been way too many wasted opportunities with forgetting the small stuff that make up the whole… These images can make a HUGE impact when combined with relevant content! They can also be used throughout social media, especially Instagram (IG) and Pinterest. Side Note: With Pinterest; however, it’s important to choose a 2:3 proportional pic for those. For instance a 250 x 375 or 564 x 846 image. These are all little things to think about that make a huge difference! So keep that in mind when you want to market & promote your page on Pinterest.
Update All Your Inventory
No that you have accepted that the best time to optimize your travel sites is right now and as a result of your decision, your content, keywords and images are on point, it’s time to update your inventory… Updating your inventory is a prerequisite to preparing for the future and this is the best time to get that done. There’s nothing worse than having great relevant content on a page that has last year’s rates and dates! That is such a HUGE letdown for prospective customers who find your site on Google only to discover outdated stuff. There is such a thing as Pogo-Sticking, which means someone who jumps onto your website and quickly jumps back out to find another site because you had nothing to offer. That will hurt your score with Google, which uses this metric in their algorithm to record the number of searchers who land on your page and do nothing but jump back out. Make their time worthwhile as they will reciprocate by way of filling out a form and submitting it (ding ding ding – CONVERSION!).
Follow Your Online Marketing Through
Now that your inventory is up to date and your relevant content, images & keywords are on point and as a result conversion follows in the form of a call or completed form, it’s time to follow your online marketing through with a great customer experience! This is where the tires meet the road to match up with the stellar marketing you put out to lure customers in, so now it’s time to close with nothing but net!
Marketing and Sales Go Hand In Hand
You would be surprised at the number of businesses who have hired me to help them get back on track, who think marketing the be all end all in business, and that could not be further from the truth! Online Marketing is just the beginning, and for all you travel consultants who believe marketing and sales don’t go together are wrong… Sales (or how I like to call it) Consulting is actually a continuance of all the marketing that it took to get the client to call, which means your skills as a consultant must match the tone of the marketing.
Are your consultants’ product knowledge up to date?
If you’re the owner or manager of a travel agency, step one with sales matching your marketing efforts is to make sure all consultants’ product knowledge is up to date and of course this is done through training. Fine restaurants have their servers sample that night’s specials and wines before opening their doors that evening so their servers are prepared to describe the dishes first hand. This is exactly what must be done for your consultants to be adequately prepared. For instance, if the page contains information about Australia and South Pacific, it’s important consultants are up to date in their training as it pertains to every itinerary being showcased on that page/pages. What will set you and your competitor(s) apart is knowledge of the product/service, everything must be seamless in terms of the customer making the call and the consultant knowing what she or he is looking for. The only variable standing in the way should be whether or not the date is available and even then, the consultant’s knowledge should quickly divert from there being a dead end to making a quick left or right turn into a similar alternative. All that stems on knowledge; without the necessary training, your marketing efforts will fall from the waistline.
Anticipating Customer Needs
The second step in making sure Sales is matching your marketing efforts is anticipating customer needs even before they’re asked. Having knowledge of the product and destination is the first part, but putting in the effort to build rapport by way of getting an idea or knowing what they want to accomplish during their travels and suggesting better options is paramount in the process of securing a client (notice I didn’t say sale). Remember the movie “What Women Want”? Sure, the guy was a total Jerk, but getting on the same wavelength as your customer and anticipating their needs based on what they’re saying or not saying is key!
Remember, Consulting Isn’t Selling
When beginning a phone conversation with customers, you don’t start with “Hi, my name is ______! What can I sell you today?”. No… We automatically begin with, “Hi, my name is _______! How may I help you?” Why do you think that is? That’s because we as consultants are about providing solutions and the more we know about what it is we do, the more comfortable someone feels. That’s not only how someone buys something from you, more importantly it’s how you keep them as a client.
In conclusion, your efforts although stellar, don’t end in your marketing masterpiece, it’s just starting because your consultants will need to follow it through to closing! This is something that isn’t talked about and I am so surprised, as it is paramount in any business. That’s probably because most are still under the assumption that sales is separate from marketing and why is that? Where did that assumption come from? Did it come from someone in sales or someone in marketing? Don’t Know, but it’s not true! Secondly, your knowledge of the product and destination will not only land you the account, it will also serve as a tool to fix problems as well. The twofer the training provides by way of the knowledge you accrue will help you keep the client and hopefully land you some referrals, which is what it’s all about! So… When is the best time to optimize your travel sites?