Tourism Web Marketing 101

Tourism Web Marketing 101

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Hello. This is Kathy Gray, Brand
Engagement Strategist for Pole Position Marketing. Today, we’re going to be
talking about web marketing basics for the tourism industry. We’re going to start at
home base, your website, your most important piece of real estate on the
internet. As an example, we’re going to take a look at a tale of two bed and
breakfasts from Cooperstown, New York, the Landmark Inn and A Comfort Woods
Guesthouse. According to Google Travel research, 60% of leisure travelers use
search engines when they are travel planning. Can the traveler find your
business? I did a quick search for “Cooperstown Bed & Breakfast”. As you can
see, the Landmark Inn shows near the top of the results. This is actually their
Google Business listing that is displaying. It shows an inviting picture,
and I can see that it has 11 reviews, with a 4.9-star average. This listing grabs my
attention more than the others. A Comfort Woods Guesthouse doesn’t appear until the
second page of search results, which most of the time people never even make it to
the second page of results. How are you going to show up for travelers? There are
hundreds of factors that go into Google’s search algorithm, so we’re going to focus
in on a few quick wins that many other tourism businesses aren’t utilizing. The
first step is to understand how customers are searching for you. Many people start
with their business name, but new customers don’t know your name yet. Here
are some of the most used words when travelers are searching on Google.
Notice that location and destination words are some of the most used. The important
thing to note is that travelers aren’t searching location alone. They’re
searching “Cooperstown hotels,” “Cooperstown restaurants,” “Cooperstown
weather,” “Cooperstown attractions.” Or they may be searching “hotels near
Baseball Hall of Fame.” The location or destination they’re searching could be an
attraction or even region, not just the name of a city. Google AdWords offers a
free keyword planning tool. But for a little bit of money, you can sign up for, which is very easy for the novice to understand and will give you
some basic SEO, keyword search volume information. You can enter in keywords you
think people might use to search for your business, and it will show the search
volume and give you variations of these keywords. It’s important to remember that
more generic keywords that have a high volume of traffic might not always be the
best match for your business. For example, if you did a search for “New York hotels,”
that may have a huge amount of search traffic, but it’s a very generic search.
What was the searcher’s intent when they made that search? Were they really looking
for a hotel in Cooperstown, New York, a hotel in New York City, or a hotel in New
York state? One of the most important SEO influencers on your site is your title
tag. What is the title tag? When you look at search results, the title tag is the
text used as a hyperlink to your website. Many businesses never customize their
title tags, and often they’re missing out because of this. Looking at our examples,
you can see that Landmark Inn uses “Cooperstown Bed and Breakfast” as part of
the text in their title tag. A Comfort Woods Guesthouse only uses their business
name. This doesn’t send a signal to Google that they’re a Cooperstown bed and
breakfast. Your title tag should be no more than 50
to 55 characters. After that point, it begins to get cut off in results and
offers no value. Each page of your website should have its own individual title tag.
Google ranks each page individually, and often users will enter your website
through pages other than your homepage. The meta description tag doesn’t have a
direct impact on your rankings, but it does have a direct impact on whether or
not a user will click on your listing in the search engine. Google is actually
looking more and more at the click-through rate of listings in search. So if you’re
getting a high rate of people seeing your listing show up in search, and then they
click through, that can help you. This is approximately 150 characters of text that
appears as a description below your listing. Again, if I’m looking for a
Cooperstown bed and breakfast, the first listing includes those keywords along with
other features and benefits of the property. Dream showers, Jacuzzi tubs,
walk to Downtown, sounds perfect. Sign me up. The second listing doesn’t have a
unique meta description. Google is just pulling content from the website to
display and it’s not as enticing. As a user, the first listing is much more
appealing and matches what I’m searching for, so I’m going to be much more likely
to click on that link. Tourism was made for mobile. Smartphones have become a
traveler’s best friend. Instead of carrying around a guidebook or visitor’s
guide, travelers can now just pull out their smartphone to find out whatever they
need to know about their destination. This doesn’t mean the visitor’s guide is
obsolete, so don’t go out there and stop printing brochures or visitor’s guides. It
still fills an important role, but when travelers are in destination they are more
likely to turn to their phone for information, rather than a visitor’s
guide. Eighty-four percent of leisure travelers
rely on search engines via smartphone to find local information about activities
within the destination. This is huge and something tourism businesses need to be
cognizant of. How does your site display on mobile? Is it just a tiny version of
your website or does it reconfigure itself to display beautifully like the Landmark
Inn’s website? Put your website through the Google Mobile-Friendly Test. Last
year, we experienced Mobilegeddon, where Google started favoring sites that were
mobile-friendly when users search on their smartphone. You can check your website
using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. If your site isn’t mobile-friendly, that
needs to become a top priority for your business. Does your website appeal to the
traveler? Which is more appealing, this website or this site? A picture is worth
1,000 words. In tourism, high-quality photos of your business can make or break
a traveler’s decision to spend their dollars with you instead of the
competition. As we’ve discussed, high-quality images are a must. You can
also appeal to the visitor through the use of high-quality video on your website.
Make the text on your website easy to read and skim through the use of short
paragraphs of just a few sentences, breaking content up with subheadings or
the use of bullet points. Your website’s navigation can also make or break the user
experience. Make it clear to the user what info they will find when clicking on
different navigation links, and make it easy to find the information they are
looking for. Now, we’re headed to first base, which is local listings. As Google
evolves and becomes more complex, they are able to provide more precise results for
users. One area that is constantly evolving is local search.
This is any search that uses a local modifier, such as “Cooperstown bed and
breakfast,” instead of just “bed and breakfast.” As the user, I’m going to
expect this search to return only bed and breakfasts’ in the Cooperstown area. How
does Google know where your business is located? One way is through local
listings. So what’s your NAP? Do you know what it is? This is one of the first
things we have to memorize in school: our name, address, and phone number. The most
important thing about NAP as adults on the web is that we keep it consistent across
all listings. If our business is Landmark Inn Cooperstown, 64 Chestnut Street,
Cooperstown, New York 13326, we always want to list our address exactly the same
way. We don’t want it to be the way it was stated before on one site, and then as
Landmark Inn Bed and Breakfast 64 Chestnut, Cooperstown on another site. The
number one local listing you should claim is your Google local listing. To do this,
go to Make sure they have the correct info for your business,
complete all of the fields available, and add some of your high-quality images.
Other local listings you’ll want to claim include those with your local Convention
and Visitor’s Bureau, your local Chamber of Commerce, state tourism website,
TripAdvisor, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Yahoo Local, Bing Local, Citysearch, and social
media. There may be other directories that offer listings as well that are specific
to your niche, such as or Taste Ohio Wines, which is specifically
for Ohio wineries. Data aggregators provide Yellow Page and local
directory-type sites with their data, along with GPS systems. Making sure your
business is listed with these sites and listed correctly will aide in your
business turning up in local searches. Now, we’re going to head to second base
with Cleveland Indians player, Rocky Colavito, and we’re going to talk about
online reviews. You know what travelers are saying about your business online.
Make sure you’re monitoring reviews. Some of the top sites travelers use to review
businesses are TripAdvisor, Yelp, Google Local, Yahoo Local, social media, and
Urbanspoon. Again, depending on the type of business you are, there might be other
industry-specific sites like, which also offers
reviews. What you don’t want happening is the review we see here, where it says
“R-U-D-E,” “RUDE” with a one star. That’s not going to invite people to stay at your
location. Then, respond to the reviews and not just the bad ones. Thank people for
their reviews, and use customer service skills to resolve issues when there are
complaints. When possible, try to move resolving the issue offline or into a
private online setting. Encourage travelers to review your business. After
their stay, send an email thanking them and giving them links to your Google or
TripAdvisor listings where they can review your business. Include a link to your top
listings on your website. Include a call to action on your receipts. Place a sign
by your cash register asking for reviews. There are many different options. Now,
we’re headed into third base with my favorite Indians player of all time, Jim
Thome. As we slide into third base, we want to get social. Eighty-three percent
of leisure travelers were inspired to travel by social networking, video, or
photo sites. Think it’s just the youngsters on social media? It’s not.
Chances are visitors are already talking about your business.
Make sure you’re there with them. Your visitors are there, but what are the
benefits? It can assist with branding and loyalty, reputation, authority, increase
website traffic, affect search rankings, and finally purchasing decisions, which
all provide you with ROI. There are challenges with social media you need to
take into account when getting involved. How much time do you realistically have to
spend? Do you have the knowledge needed? Maybe you keep hearing about Snapchat, but
you’re more comfortable on Facebook. Stick with Facebook until you have the knowledge
and time to take on Snapchat. What’s your social media budget? Social media isn’t
free. Most of the major networks now use algorithms to determine what content shows
in user feeds. It takes a mix of organic or free posting and paid to get the most
out of social media. You may also need tools to make managing your social media
accounts easier. This is one of my favorite graphics explaining the different
social networks. Do you need to be on all of the social networks shown here? No. The
biggest mistake companies make is trying to do it all. Pick one network, master it,
and then add another. Also, make sure your audience is actually active on a network,
and the purpose of the network fits with your marketing goals. Marketing general
Cedar Point admission on LinkedIn isn’t going to work really well. But marketing
corporate outings and events at Cedar Point would. Real-time is where it’s at
with social media right now. The most popular posts on social media are those
that are real-time, or nearly real-time. People want to see what’s happening at
your destination right now. Hand in hand with real-time is visual content. Travel
is a visual adventure. Yes, you want high-quality images.
But on social media, they don’t always need to be perfectly staged images. Get
your smartphone out and start taking pictures and short videos showing off your
destination. Take advantage of user-generated content. See a great photo
of your business on Instagram? Ask the Instagramer for permission to repost it. A
traveler’s image is going to carry much more weight with a potential visitor than
your image will. One way to keep social media manageable is to do a little
planning. Take the anxiety of wondering what to post out of the equation. Create a
posting schedule with what I call “theme days.” Each day has a theme or themes for
what you’re going to post. This way, you know that each Tuesday you’re going to
post about an upcoming event. On Friday, you’re going to post a live photo from
your patio. Saturday, you’re going to share a customer’s photograph. Depending
on the network you’re posting on, you may have more than one post per day, or you
may have only several posts a week. But you can still implement a schedule such as
this. Facebook is the largest social network, and many businesses still don’t
understand how people who like their page see their posts. The algorithm was
implemented because the average user has so many friends and likes so many pages,
that it would be impossible to see every single post every day. The algorithm tries
to solve this by showing the users posts they are more likely to find engaging.
There are hundreds of factors that go into the algorithm, just like the Google
algorithm. But on a very basic level it looks at how often the user interacts with
the user or page, amount of engagement a post receives overall and time of
engagement, how much a user interacts with that type of content in general, whether
it’s photos, links, video, amount of negative feedback a post is receiving. So
if people are hiding your post in the newsfeed, that post is not going to get as
much distribution. Because your posts aren’t always going to
get in front of consumers, you need to consider social advertising. But it’s not
just to get more eyeballs on your posts. Many of the social networks offer highly
targeted ad options at reasonable prices. With Facebook advertising, for instance,
you can target your website visitors on Facebook, your email subscribers or male
cat lovers between the ages of 36 and 43 who live in Hartville, Ohio. You can get
very specific with your exact target audience. So those are the basics that you
need to make sure that you’re covering in your tourism marketing. Have questions?
You can find me on Twitter @KaGray, or email me at
[email protected] Thanks for watching.

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