Being in the travel business – and in the communication business – for over three decades now, I’ve had the opportunity to meet managers in the tourism industry as well as ‘marketing experts’, all struggling to find the best way to market their businesses. In today’s digital marketing world, the question is: Does your travel website attract the right visitors?
Having studied thousands of travel websites, I often become sad because I see so many obvious misinterpretations of what good transactional web marketing actually can deliver. To prove my assumptions, I contacted a journalist/marketing colleague in Vancouver, Canada, Darryl Leniuk, who founded Aventur Marketing back in 2010.
Darryl has many years of experience as adventure journalist and photographer and has written for several publications, overseas as well as in North America. He worked closely with the national Canadian newspaper the Globe and Mall and photo agencies like Getty Images.
Fun and interesting assignments gave him the opportunity to travel around the world doing adventure travels, scuba diving, mountain biking, skiing and a lot more.
“The media industry changed a lot in the years following 2010. I began learning new skill sets as well as improving my existing ones. I had quite a strong background from journalism and PR, having worked with many tourism boards, literally around the world. I was a member of several trade associations and had won a few awards for journalism. However, I felt I lacked marketing experience, so I went to night school and also joined the Duct Tape network, founded by bestseller author John Jantch,” says Darryl.
When I ask Darryl where many tourism marketers fail, he answers:
“Too often they do not understand who their ideal clients are, who their competitors are, their niche in the market – or the demand in the market. Yes, there’s definitely a need, not just in adventure marketing, I would say tourism marketing in general. Just now I am working with high end tourism marketing, for instance luxury adventure tours, heli-skiing, high end fishing lodges, eco resorts and this sort of thing”.
Is it a long process?
“The strategy part takes about a month to do. And a lot of that is in client interviews, so the first thing we do is to ask for a list of their best clients and repeat visitors. We interview them by phone since we really want to understand why they chose a particular operator. After such interviews, we really understand the key things we are looking for. And when we understand those, that is kind of the basis for the rest of the process.”
How did you manage to get through the COVID-19 problems?“One of our clients, a heli skiing company, lost about 95% of their market since the borders were closed and not many Canadians do heli skiing. We created content, new messaging and worked with them to create some new tour products especially for the Canadian market as a short-term stopgap so they could keep the business running. The revenue blossomed and the client was very happy that most of his competitors did not open that year, since they thought it would be too difficult. We solved the problem with a different product”.
What skills will marketers need in the future?
Marketing techniques are constantly evolving. It’s becoming increasingly more technical, literally by the day. And so, you really do need to stay on top of all the changes. You have to constantly be trying things and testing and experimenting and staying on top of what’s going on.
PR is to get awareness. People can’t search for something if they don’t know it exists. Let’s say I’m looking for fly fishing in Norway, you want to make sure that that particular business comes up because people don’t remember what, they just might see a great story on fishing, and they all want to go to Norway, and they look closely at the first ones that come up. And so, you want to make sure that your business is among them.
Here’s where we come into the picture. I’ve worked in the tourism industry, and as you know, there’s many types of tourism businesses. There are inbound operator, there are outbound operators, agents, there are so many different things. But the one that I tend to focus on the most is what you just described, I’d say, an inbound operator, where they are based in, pick some place in Scandinavia, and they want to get the word out to the UK, the US, Canada and other English-speaking markets. It’s definitely a combination of a couple different things. I would say PR and SEO are the big ones, generally.
Issues to be considered
Are the visuals on your website engaging the right prospective guests and differentiating your tourism business?
If it’s all blue skies, spring green trees, smiling models or other perfectly boring crap, they’re probably not. Today, competition is fierce, and having the right visual strategy is key to generating sales and attracting more high-value guests. The right combination of photos, videos, and illustrations which can define your brand is a key part of luxury travel marketing.
Understand Your Audience and Brand
Before taking a step further, you need to understand your ideal guest or buyer’s persona.
Who are they? What sort of places do they want to visit? What activities appeal to them?
The answers to these questions should give you an idea of what types of images to use. If they’re couples age 60+, for god sakes make sure the people on your website and other channels look like that. People want to see themselves when imagining their dream vacation.
If they want luxury holidays, you should show high-end experiences through your visuals; if adventure travel is more what they seek, make sure to show guests doing those activities.
Then think about style. I’ve seen phenomenal atmospheric images, cloudy skies, backlit models and otherwise the kinds of photos and videos that would never wind up in tourist brochures being used successfully by top tourism brands.
Get Experimental With Images And Videos
Visuals aren’t limited to great photos. While images are a great way to excite website visitors for their next vacation, you should be creative and experimental to offer something different from your competitors. This difference keeps viewers engaged.
While not as common in the travel industry, illustrations or infographics can be an effective way to explain more complicated topics, like travel logistics, in an easy-to-understand way.
Related: Picturesque Biking in Sweden
Custom Photographs or Stock Pictures?
Captivating images grab our attention more than plain text, which is why they are a powerful tool in tourism marketing. An excellent scenic picture is often enough for a person to pursue their wanderlust.
Pictures for a travel website are available in two main forms: Original/Custom Photographs or Stock Pictures. While guest or user-generated-content can be great for social media, it’s generally not a good idea for something as important as your website.
It is best to always go for professional images as they are unique and allow the readers to connect with the destination. When working with a photographer or videographer, make sure to use a photo brief that explains the style that matches your brand.
However, pro photo shoots are expensive and time-consuming to do. On the other hand, countless fantastic sources offer stock images. They are easily accessible at an affordable price and available in numerous categories. But regardless of the images you choose, stay relevant to your brand and destination.
Images for SEO
SEO is essential for tour and activity providers. Google is the center of everything, and for a tourist, their journey often starts directly from the search bar. With a reliable tourism SEO strategy, you can direct your guests to your tour operation.
The same SEO approach is essential for your images too. When integrating visual files within your content, make sure to:
Resize Images – Images having a high resolution will slow your website load time. You can utilize an online tool to reduce the size of your pictures.
Descriptive Alt Text – An alternate text is a piece of information that describes what an image shows. It helps the visually impaired to have a better understanding of the image offered. In terms of SEO, it helps search engines recognize your content.
Correct Image Format – Different formats are available, and each offer something substantial. It entirely depends on what kind of image you are using and how you want to use it.
JPEG for large photos or illustrations as it offers good results with small sizes.
PNG to preserve image background transparency.
SVG for logos and icons.
Image Sitemap – A sitemap is a simple directory or guide that holds information about the pages and elements present on your website. Search engines crawl a sitemap’s database to find information concerning a specific search query.
Does Your Travel Website Attract the Right Visitors? Continue reading….
Watch Out For Google’s AI
The AI behind Google aims to provide users with the most relevant search results by analyzing their search queries. Google’s AI uses the content of the text near the image to understand what the image represents and can even understand what and where the image is from the image itself. So that beautiful stock photo of an island on the other side of the world? Don’t use it. Google will probably know it’s not from your destination and penalize you for using irrelevant images.
Does Your Travel Website Attract the Right Visitors? Putting it all Together
Aventur Marketing has years of experience delivering results and growing bookings for premium tourism businesses. The luxury tourism industry is going through a big shift. Be flexible and adjust to these changes and engage with your ideal guests by using the right visual strategy.
Aventur Marketing’s Total Online Opportunity Report will tell you why. We’ll take a deep dive into your business and find those strengths, weaknesses and most importantly, opportunities. We’ll show you how you stack up against your competitors and what you can do to gain an unfair competitive advantage.
Aventur Marketing + Daily Scandinavian are your perfect marketing partners in Scandinavia and will help your tourism business grow. Click the link below NOW and get a FREE copy of the E-book Strategic Marketing for Adventure Tourism Businesses.
Does Your Travel Website Attract the Right Visitors? Darryl CEO of Aventur Marketing, Darryl Leniuk, interviewed by Tor Kjolberg
All images © Darryl Leniuk /Aventur Marketing
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