Last year AdventureEDU Educators worked with more than 300 adventure travel businesses from around the world – Colorado and New York in the United States, as well as from Macedonia and Peru, to name just a few. Despite the diversity of destinations, common challenges and opportunities were easy to identify, leading us to suggest the following top two tips.
1: Optimize Your Adventure Business Website for Mobile and Voice Search
As of January 2015, a full 80 percent of global Internet users are using smartphones to search online. If your company’s website is yet not optimized for mobile, this should be a top priority for 2015; users frustrated by their experience while viewing your site via their smartphone will jump off to another source in just seconds.
“The quickest way to instant gratification is that rectangular device in your pocket,” explains Jason Reckers, ATTA Vice President of Operations. “As soon as you need the answer to a question, have an idea for a new business, or are ready to experience the world, your first move is to that inseparable connection to all things relevant. If your website is not ready to receive that visitor at the ‘zero moment of truth’ (thanks, Google) then you have missed your opportunity, the feeling has passed – you lose.”
If you’re already optimized, great! Next, begin to plan for optimizing all your sites in search engine environment where more and more people are using voice searches versus typed keyword searches. People don’t speak the way they type, and the proliferation of voice-enabled smartphones is impacting SEO, making keyword strategies less effective and placing even more emphasis on good content.
2: Create a Strategy to Elicit Consumer Generated Content
The industry adage that your biggest referrals will be from word-of-mouth has not changed in 2015; what has is how that word-of-mouth referral is expressed. For example, the ATTA’s recent AdventurePulse consumer study of U.S. adventure travelers found that across all travelers, the advice of friends and family, followed by researching online reviews, consistently outstripped the use of any other decision making resources (such as blogs, articles, and social media ads). However, travelers more than ever are using digital channels to share their experiences and thoughts with their networks – not just after a trip, but before and during trips as well.
Are you doing absolutely everything to equip happy customers to share their experiences with you? Are you providing photos and digital keepsakes they can share? Are you staying in touch with personalized messages? Are you enabling your guides to incorporate social media sharing opportunities during tours in a way that is fluid and non-intrusive?
Don’t forget reviews. An acceptable way to manage reviews is to stay on top of TripAdvisor, Yelp and other sites where people review you and respond quickly and publicly, not just when there is a negative comment. A sophisticated way to handle reviews is to have an email system that requests guests to complete a review within a system that allows you to handle negative reviews one-on-one while streaming positive reviews as earned content to your web and social sites for credibility.
For detailed instruction on the above topics, take our online course: Marketing Strategies for Adventure Travel Tour Operators (En español)
Learn more about AdventureEDU: Education for the Business of Adventure Travel.