Travel website development essentials

Posted by Nick Charles

Brazilian flag football

What do I need to make my website stand out from the crowd?

After a summer of sport and perhaps the worst British weather in 100 years, travel companies have a great opportunity to get consumers on board quickly for either winter destinations or travel in 2013. How do you make your online presence stand out from the crowd and take advantage of future opportunities?

Data from Forward Keys1 gives us an indication of the volume of travel to South America over the next 2-4 years by looking at the effect of the Olympics on the UK. Air travel was up by 13% for the period during August against 2011 figures with early bookings in Jan up 31% and surrounding destinations also benefiting; we could see a similar development in South American travel. Tour companies need to develop their presence now before it's too late and consumers spend their hard earned salaries on a trip with someone else.

Branding

Is your brand presence strong and representative of your business? Have you looked at your web based style recently and does it still match with your offline brochures? Consumers need to trust your site and the wrong image will give an inappropriate impression of the business and therefore your ability to meet the needs of the customer.

User experience

Try navigating around your site; is it easy to find what you are looking for, does the site load quickly, are there interactive features, quality content that inspires? If not, then visitors to your site will not stay long as they seek exactly what they are looking for elsewhere. Offer a dynamic experience that draws a user’s eye into the process and wow them with video, images and articles. A robust CMS system will allow you the freedom to add content at will and keep everything fresh.

Product promotion

Are your customers getting the full range of services on offer through the website or are you waiting until they call to describe the added extras? Why wait and risk losing them? Present a full range of your service in a way that complements the users experience but doesn’t get in the way. Using a bespoke CMS system will allow you to do this properly and will dramatically increase the average spend per customer and your bottom line.

Categories

Do you understand what your customers are looking for? Or do you know their demographic identity? It is really important to understand your customer’s desires and match their need for a landing page that leads them to you. Have you developed pages aimed at the sports market for South America travel? Current keyword data shows Thomas Cook have this market almost dominated but there is room for all if you position your site now for the inevitable growth in searches.

Checkout

Do you offer consumers the opportunity to buy packages from you directly off the site? This is a difficult decision for some companies as the personal experience matters. Users are looking for immediate fixes so why not offer both? A strong ecommerce engine alongside a bespoke service will allow you to maximise different visitors to your site and generate increased revenues for you. If you have an ecommerce platform running have you reviewed this process recently? 51%2 of ecommerce site owners admit that they haven’t reviewed their checkout process recently, this risks putting consumers off at the last hurdle and wasting all your hard work!

Get this right and your SEO will drive more consumers to you, visitors' time on the site will go up, average spend will increase and revenues will grow quickly as consumers buy from you with minimum discounting.

1 Forward keys Summer Olympic 2012: Impact on Inbound Travel
2 Converstion rate optimization report 2011 by Econsultancy

About the author

Nick Charles

Nick Charles

Nick is in charge of Business Development and works pro-actively to spread the gospel of Gibe to potential customers, with 15 years of sales and marketing experience.