Effective Web Presence for Tourism Operators

Article submitted by Charlie

February 12th, 2010

The internet has become the primary means of researching and planning a holiday or activity, so as a tourism operator, it's vital to establish yourself online with an effective web presence. In the current web climate, this means much more than simply having a website. You need to be actively involved in social media, creating an open dialog with past and potential customers.

So, does your company have an effective web presence? Let's answer that by considering the following questions:

  1. Does your current site represent your business appropriately?
  2. Do you have active listings on all the major review / travel sites?
  3. Are you embracing the power of social networks / media?

Raftabout White Water Rafting in Rotorua and Skydive Lake Wanaka are two great examples of New Zealand tourism operators who are making the most of the web and reaping the rewards. We'll refer to them both in looking at the three questions above in more detail..

Does your current site represent your business appropriately?

You obviously have an existing website to promote your company, but is it relevant and enticing to your target market? If your customers are primarily adventure junkie 20 somethings, then the design should scream adrenaline.. If they prefer unwinding with a massage and a thermal bath then your site should whisper with calm and serenity. The bottom line is that your website should appeal to or WOW your target market, and if it doesn't then this is the first change you need to make.

Imagine you run an adventure tourism operation such as bungy jumping.. Although it's impossible to portray the adrenaline hit of a bungy jump online, you can still do the experience justice and create excitement by maximising the use of high quality action photos and video. Seeing someone else actually doing your activity will go a long way in converting a potential customer.

Remember, if someone is researching you to do an activity, they have already decided they want to do it - it's just a matter of convincing them that you are the company to go with!

Do you have active listings on all the major review / travel sites?

Online reviews or "word of mouse" plays a massive role in today's tourism industry. Listing your business with the major travel sites is easy and there is usually a free listing option. Once listed, you can encourage your customers to review their experiences with you, although an increasingly web savvy public will often do it on their own.

All the major travel review sites provide "badges" which you can place on your own site. These badges promote confidence in your business by showing that other people have positively and independently reviewed their experience with you. They also encourage your customers to place reviews by providing an easy direct link. Check out some badge examples below:

Although independent reviews on external sites are most effective, it definitely doesn't hurt to have a guestbook / testimonials area of your own site.

Are you embracing the power of social networks / media?

In terms of social networks, the big boys on the block are currently Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. All are FREE to use, making them the most cost effective marketing tool available. (note: Facebook and YouTube also have paid advertising options available)

Here's a couple of tips to get you started with social media:

  1. Be Active! Follow other people & businesses in your area or industry, tweet regularly, upload photos and videos, post updates about events and conditions, share what's happening with your business, locally and in the industry.
  2. Engage with your friends / fans / followers. When someone posts a comment or gives you a mention, respond to them! As well as it being good manners, it will encourage others to join in the conversation.

Any successful company knows that expanding your network is good for business. Social networks have opened up a massive opportunity to connect with customers and form business relationships. If you're not embracing social media then you should start now.

Check out Raftabout and Skydive Lake Wanaka's social media profiles by following the links below:




So does your company have an effective web presence?

Are you making the most of the web or do you have some work to do? There's plenty you can do yourself in the social media realm, but if your branding or website needs work, then it's a good idea to call in the professionals. All good web development companies will ensure your site is built with solid Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and will be able to facilitate your online marketing campaigns.

I hope you found this article interesting and useful. Please feel free to leave any comments / feedback by using the form below.

Charlie Evans
Charlie Evans

Charlie Evans is a proud Kiwi who loves to experience all his amazing country has to offer. Having travelled extensively at home and abroad, he currently lives in Sunny Nelson at the Top of the South Island, New Zealand.

Charlie is a co-founder of KiwiWise.co.nz and Technical Director at SunRoom Web Design Nelson.

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    "New Zealand businesses and tour operators need to better market their brands and companies online and lure customers through sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare, says social media enthusiast Julien Smith." -nzherald.co.nz 18/05/10