For Tour Operators selling more tours through your own website is probably your number one marketing goal.
It’s a simple desire but with so many marketing options and contradictory advice, it’s very difficult to know exactly where to start. Focus on making your basket as big as possible – not just implementing one tactic incessantly but taking micro-steps every day which work to a grand whole. If you really work on building a solid online presence, you’ll notice that various components begin to work with each other as people see your business mentioned in more than one place during their research.
“Fine, but HOW does one do this?” you might say.
The key is to grow your online presence just like an octopus, spreading your tentacles far and wide. Not only do you open up potential new revenue sources but there’s also a great chance that you’ll improve your Google ranking.
Talking about Google, let’s jump into 5 simple methods you can start with today to improve your online presence and be the octopus.
Submit your Tour business to Google My Business
Run a search for Walking Tours New York and there’s a good chance that something similar to what you’re seeing in the above image will also show up for you.
Without a Google My Business listing, you probably will not show up in those results. Take this opportunity because getting ranked in this section is typically a much easier exercise than showing up in the ‘normal’ results.
This is because only local businesses are allowed in those listings. No TripAdvisor, no Viator, no GetYourGuide. Just tours and activities like yours will show up. Not bad!
Further Reading: 10 tips to follow to make Google My Business work for you.
Get 5 Reviews on Google My Business
So you might have a Google My Business listing, but how do you make it great?
One major step – that very few people follow – is to secure 5 reviews. For the love of everything holy, do not leave those reviews from your own account or your own computer – Google is pretty savvy to these kinds of things. Don’t get them all done in one day either, as that is a major red flag.
Make a note each week for the next 2 months to ask someone who has had a great experience with your business to leave a review there. I know you want the TripAdvisor review much more, but diversifying your web presence also means doing the same to your review sources!
The debate is still raging as to how many reviews you need to rank higher in Google but 5 reviews means your listing will have a visible ‘star rating’, just like Free Tours by Foot has in this listing shown below:
They may be ranked slightly lower but I guarantee you on the life of my mother-in-law that they get more clicks than the other tour operators listed. Just make sure to read this article right here about the right way to go about this kind of thing:
Reply to your TripAdvisor Reviews
Are you responding to your TripAdvisor reviews straight away?
I’ve noticed that many tour operators are now responding to all their reviews but do you wait a week or two to do so? You could be missing out on bookings! The most recent review that shows on the screen always needs a reply because that’s the first one that people will see when they look at your listing! Just make it part of your morning routine to check your reviews and respond and you’ll never fall behind.
But why? More bookings, that’s why! There’s no statistics available for Tour & Activity businesses, but we do know that hotels on TripAdvisor who respond to more than 50 percent of their reviews are 24% more likely to receive a booking enquiry! That’s truly significant.
The next step is to make sure your responses are fun, personal and show a true personal connection with the guest. The goal of a response is to get more bookings, right? That means you should write them in a way that will make people connect with your personality!
Get Your Competitor’s Links
Link building (the practise of getting other websites to put a link to yours) is one of the most time consuming yet effective ways to get more traffic from Google. If you get links – and the more relevant the better – you’ll slowwwly see your site begin to grow in the rankings.
The question that tour operators always ask me is: “how do I know which links are relevant?’
Thanks for asking! The answer, in fact, is super simple: go and get the links of your competitors! Think about it – if you focus on getting the links your high-ranking tour operators already have, there’s a good chance that you’ll get a high ranking too!
Then the next question is always: “how do I find these links!?”
This is also not difficult – just Google looking for your competitors! It’s impossible to hide a website listing. If your competitor is mentioned on a website, this means you can find it. If you Google their name OR their phone number OR their URL. For example: search for David Thomas Tours and on pages 2, 3, 4, 5 of the Google results you’ll find them mentioned and listed all over the place! See if you can get those websites to mention or list your business, too.
Make a note to grab 1-2 links each week and within a year you’ll find yourself with a very healthy Google ranking.
Get Listed in WikiTravel and WikiVoyage
If you have heard of Wikipedia (and by this point I’m really hoping you have), you can probably guess at the purpose of WikiTravel and WikiVoyage.
These are sites that anyone can sign up to and you can edit any article you want, including the one about your own city.
Definitely do this – these sites receive a lot of traffic – but please think about the needs of others. There’s nothing worse than someone only focused on themselves and adding their own business to these kinds of articles without adding any additional value.
Take the time to add a few tips to the article and add some other businesses in such as restaurants or airport transportation companies and spread the love. It also makes it much harder for people to pin you as a spammer 100% focused on your own business.
Once you’ve got these 5 steps down, keep working on your presence. Be ambitious – be the octopus (and now I’m starting to sound like an 80 year old kung fu master). The more difficult something is to execute, the harder it is for local competition to follow you. To selling more tours!