I often hear travel professionals complain they are making no sales from their websites. To my ear, the complaint, however, sounds a bit strange. If you are making “sales” from your website, I suspect you are using a booking engine or a search engine geared to supplier specials, much like Travelocity or Expedia. However, for personal travel consultants, a website is far more of a marketing tool than a sales tool. The difference is an important one to consider.
Firstly, every website should be designed with the business model of the company behind it in mind. There is no “one site fits all” website. If your business model resembles that of Expedia, then you are gearing for great volumes with little personal client interaction. In this scenario, a booking engine or supplier search engine makes sense and your website is indeed a sales tool.
If, however, your business is geared to personal travel consulting, your aim is to draw the client into a personal relationship. Your website should be not about suppliers, but about you and your travel practice, the value you add to the travel experience. A booking engine runs counter to the personal consulting side of the business, and a supplier search engine just encourages the viewer to begin a frenzied shopping excursion, comparing your offers to others on the internet. Further, your website should emphasize what is unique about you and your agency. Thus, a "cookie cutter" website resembling hundreds of other travel agency websites is an inferior way of demonstrating your unique selling points.
Marketing conditions the sales environment. Your website should be about you and your travel practice, not about suppliers. Your website should speak to the benefits of doing business with you and your knowledge of the world of travel planning. Unlike the Expedias of the world, you want the client to call, to speak with you. When the client calls, then the sales process begins in earnest. Now you can begin to establish a relationship built on trust.
As a personal travel planner, don’t be surprised you are not “making sales” from your website. However, if you are not getting calls and inquiries from your website, then you should indeed be concerned. You need to examine how you are marketing your website and whether you are generating sufficient traffic to it to generate leads and inquiries. There are tried and true methods of generating traffic. Good search engine marketing, continual promotion of your website and social media cross promotion are all techniques for building traffic. If the traffic is present but you are not generating inquiries, you have to look to your site’s messaging: are you inspiring the client to travel with your assistance?
All digital marketing requires trial and error, but you don’t have to go it alone. Reams of information on marketing via a website are available to you. Spend some time clarifying your goals and strategies to ensure you are messaging correctly and generating the traffic you need to develop a stream of leads to your doorstep through your website.
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