Rezgo http://www.rezgo.com Cloud based software for tour & activity operators Thu, 24 Jul 2014 22:05:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Know your customers better with a tour operator crm http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/know-your-customers-better-tour-operator-crm http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/know-your-customers-better-tour-operator-crm#comments Thu, 24 Jul 2014 15:35:20 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=9973 Your customers are an important part of your business.  Not only are they your primary revenue source, but they are also an important referral source for new customers.  With Rezgo, you can manage all your customer information and booking data in one place.

Leading edge CRM features

Like many of the leading CRM tools on the market, Rezgo provides many great features for managing customer information.  But unlike standalone CRM software,  the Rezgo tour operator CRM is fully integrated with the booking system.  Customer information is automatically added when they book a tour or activity through your Rezgo powered booking website or you can add the customer data through the point of sale.

contact-card

Capture leads & customers online

Customer interactions are captured through the online contact us form, the booking engine, and through the back-office point of sale interface.  See all the interactions you have had with a customer by adding comments to their profile.  You can even see all existing bookings, messages, and comments for customers in one place.

Make bookings for existing customers

It’s now easier than ever to make a booking for an existing customer.  If a customer calls you up to make a booking, find their customer profile and click on the “Create New” booking button.  The customers billing information will be added to the booking automatically once the tour and option are selected.  This is a particularly useful feature if you need to re-book a customer.

Export customer data with ease

There are lots of things you probably want to do with your customer data.  Downloading your customer data in a simple and universal format is important.  Get access to your customer data whenever you need and download it at your leisure.  You can download single records, all records, or just selected records.

True all-in-one solution with no compromises

The Rezgo tour management software combines all the features you need to manage your tour or activity business more effectively.  A powerful online booking engine, sophisticated channel management, and leading edge tour operator CRM.  Although there are many great CRM tools on the market, none have the deep integration with your booking engine.  Make the right choice for your tour or activity business and choose the best tour operator CRM available.

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Build a complete tour booking website with Rezgo 6 http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/build-a-complete-tour-booking-website-rezgo-6 http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/build-a-complete-tour-booking-website-rezgo-6#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 14:56:57 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=9875 When we launched Rezgo in 2007, the web was a very different place.  We had made the decision then to offer the Rezgo tour booking website as an add-on to an existing website, primarily because we didn’t think it made sense for a tour management system like Rezgo to also be a content management system.  What we have found over the years however, is that there are many different types of operators and their web needs vary greatly.  In an effort to help those operators who are looking for an all in one solution to their website needs, we have added a new feature to Rezgo 6 that allows you to add additional pages to your Rezgo tour booking website.

The Custom Pages, located in the Template settings section allows you to add as many pages as you like to your Rezgo booking website.  This is particularly useful if you want to manage additional content but you are not using a content management system for your regular website.  The new pages that you create will all use the same main website template, so you don’t need to worry about styling or adding any special html to the pages in order to have them fit in with your web design.

add-custom-pages

The page builder uses a very flexible editor that allows you to upload images and even files such as CSS and Javascript to your Rezgo site.  File uploading even includes connectors to both Dropbox and Google Drive, making it simple to copy files from your existing cloud storage accounts.

create-page-editor

 

If you are using the default responsive template, there is no need to worry about whether or not the pages you create are mobile ready.  All custom pages are automatically responsive by design.  Each page has its own custom address and can be linked to directly.  Give the custom pages a try and let us know what you think.

 

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Business rules and tour operator yield management with Rezgo 6 http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/business-rules-tour-operator-yield-management-rezgo-6 http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/business-rules-tour-operator-yield-management-rezgo-6#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 14:36:21 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=9867 One of the most powerful features of Rezgo is undoubtedly the Rules.  With the rules engine, you can manage availability, pricing, cut-offs, group restrictions, and even create promotional codes.  One of the issues with a feature like this though is that it can be a real challenge to make it easy for tour operators to understand and use.  With Rezgo 6, we’ve completely revamped the interface for rules in order to make them easier to create and more powerful.

IF… THEN…

The core of the rules engine is the concept of IF certain criteria are met, THEN trigger this action.  Currently, this means having to select from a variety of criteria and then selecting a variety of outcomes.  The issue is that even though that’s how the system works, it isn’t really clear. With Rezgo 6, you select specific IF criteria when you create your rule.  Once you are happy with your criteria, you select the actions that are THEN triggered by the rule.

if-then-rulesYou can choose from a variety of criteria that will trigger your rule. For example, you can choose to trigger a rule based on the booking date or today’s date, the day of the week, the number of passengers, a promo code, or inventory items.

if-then-rules-2

 

Once you have selected your triggering criteria, you can tell the rule to take certain action.  These actions might include changing availability, changing prices, or even changing the cutoff of a tour.

True tour operator yield management

With rules you can change your pricing and availability based on any number of criteria and have these changes occur automatically throughout the year.  For example, if you are a seasonal business that has a fairly defined high, low, and shoulder seasons, you can define pricing and availability rules that take advantage of these peaks and valleys in order to maximize your profits.  During your busy season, you can automatically adjust your pricing up and in the low season adjust your pricing down.  Do you have days that are busy than others?  You can even adjust your pricing automatically based on the day of the week.  Set your weekend pricing higher in order to take advantage of greater demand.  The beauty of rules is that you can set these pricing adjustments at the beginning of the year and they will automatically take effect based on the dates you specify in the rules.  There is no need to worry about whether or not the system is offering the right price.  Once you create your rules, you can sit back and relax as the system makes the adjustments for you.

One inventory item but many rules

The problem with many basic booking tools or scheduling software is that they rely on a calendar approach to set availability.  This usually means that when a tour or activity is scheduled for a year, the system actually creates 365 individual instances of the tour in the calendar.  This can make adjusting pricing and availability across multiple days very challenging.  With Rezgo, you create a single instance of your tour or activity and then use rules define when and how the tour or activity is available or priced.  If you decide to make a change or adjust a date range, the rules will automatically adjust the tour or activity in real-time.  This means that you can have multiple pricing and availability rules affecting the same inventory item at the same time.

rules-inventory

 

Although this may seem like it might be difficult to visualize, let along manage, Rezgo 6 has a handy availability view that allows you to see all the rules that are affecting your tour or activity on any given day.  True tour operator yield management combined with granular availability control, available only with Rezgo 6.

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New Responsive Rezgo Front-end Booking Engine Live in Beta http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/new-responsive-rezgo-front-end-booking-engine-live-beta http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/new-responsive-rezgo-front-end-booking-engine-live-beta#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 19:20:07 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=9845 We have just released the new responsive booking engine live in Beta for you to try.  Like the Beta administration system, the new front-end is a complete rebuild of the Rezgo booking engine.  This new version of the booking engine is built using a fully responsive design that will automatically adjust based on screen size.  The booking engine is also designed to work better with your own site template, javascript, and css.

Some important to keep in mind as you get to know the new responsive front-end:

  1. Your template has been ported
    We have migrated your existing template to the Beta system so you can modify it at your leisure.  Making changes to your Beta template will not affect your existing template.  If you decide to make changes to your existing website, those changes will not be reflected on your Beta booking engine.
  2. Styling the booking engine
    The Beta booking engine has it’s own stylesheet that can be controlled separately from your template.  These styles are different from the old Rezgo stylesheet, so you will need to make the changes to this stylesheet separately if you want to fine tune the layout and design of the booking engine.
  3. Large images are important
    The new booking engine emphasizes large images.  The small thumbnail image previously used on the existing booking engine has been removed and replaced with a new image gallery that supports 720p HD images.  Your existing images have been imported and converted so you may notice that your smaller images look a bit strange as they have been placed on a black background.  You should take the time to upload high resolution images to your tours in order to take advantage of the new image gallery and retina supported responsive design.
  4. New SEO Page Title and Descriptions
    We’ve added a new SEO section to the tour details that allows you to specify the page title and meta-description as it would appear in Google.  If you aren’t sure about what to put here, don’t worry, it will auto-populate with your tour name and a truncated version of your overview.

We will be refining the front-end over the next few weeks in preparation for the live release.  If you have any feedback, please feel free to send it through the feedback link on the Beta admin.

UPDATE: As of July 14th, the dev team is addressing an issue that causes the booking to fail after the order summary page.  This will be resolved in the next update to the Beta.

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Rezgo 6 Beta Now Live http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/rezgo-6-beta-now-live http://www.rezgo.com/2014/07/rezgo-6-beta-now-live#comments Thu, 03 Jul 2014 19:05:28 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=9817 The latest version of Rezgo is now live in Beta for all existing members.  This new version of Rezgo is a complete rebuild of the system and features a long list of improvements and changes that should make your management experience better and more efficient.

To access the Beta, go to the Rezgo login page as normal.  On the login page, you will see a button that will direct you to login to the Beta.  Log into the Beta using either your username or email address associated with your user account.  While Rezgo 6 is in Beta, you will still be able to login and manage your business using the existing Rezgo administration system.  The Beta is connected to your live data, so if you use the Beta, keep in mind that changes that you make to your tours, bookings, rules, etc. will be reflected in your account.  There are several features that will not become available on your web booking engine until the Beta is made live.

During the Beta period, we would love to hear your feedback about the new platform, both bad and good.  We are looking to improve your experience with Rezgo and to make it better for you and the other operators that use the system.  To that end, please try to be as detailed with your feedback as possible.

Here are a few highlights to consider as you navigate Rezgo 6:

  • Dashboard now shows sales trends, latest bookings, messages, saved searches, and upcoming tours.
  • Settings now include more templates for the white label, emails, and vouchers.
  • You now have the ability to add additional pages to your white label (this will be fully functional when Rezgo 6 is live)
  • You can set your own security policy to enhance the security of your accounts.
  • Booking management has been completely revamped.
  • Inventory now includes automated labelling when tours are booked.
  • Additional custom field types have been added. (this will be fully functional when Rezgo 6 is live)
  • Reports have been completely revamped and allow for customization of both criteria and display.

Rezgo 6 has been in development for almost a year.  As you can imagine, this has been a massive undertaking for us and we are happy that we can finally present it to you.  Our goal is to provide you with the best possible online booking engine for tour operators and activity providers.  Enjoy the Beta and don’t hesitate to use the built-in feedback mechanism to let us know how we can improve it for you.

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Rezgo Forum on Getsatisfaction.com is Closed http://www.rezgo.com/2013/11/rezgo-community-getsatisfaction-closed http://www.rezgo.com/2013/11/rezgo-community-getsatisfaction-closed#comments Wed, 27 Nov 2013 19:36:54 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8865 Sniff sniff.  It is with some sadness that we let you know that the long standing Rezgo community on Getsatisfaction has closed permanently. <single tear drop flows down cheek>

Earlier this month you may have noticed that the Rezgo community on Getsatisfaction closed down.  Unfortunately Getsatisfaction.com was no longer going to be upgrading the features of older  communities like the Rezgo community and as a result, the Rezgo community would have become less and less relevant over time.  We made the decision to shut it down to avoid having the community become stale and orphaned.  Don’t worry though, we have a back-up of all the excellent feature requests, ideas, and answers.

I don’t know if you had a chance to participate in the Rezgo Getsatisfaction site, but if you did, you will appreciate how seriously we take customer feedback and engagement.  I hope you’ll engage with us on the Rezgo support site and on the Rezgo Facebook page.  Each category on the support site has a question and answer section that allows you to post public questions that can be answered by the Rezgo team or by other engaged users.  I encourage you to post your public questions directly on the support site and keep the conversations going.

Thanks again for being part of the Rezgo community and I look forward to interacting with you in our other customer support venues.

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What the heck is the Rezgo Webhook? http://www.rezgo.com/2013/10/rezgo-webhook http://www.rezgo.com/2013/10/rezgo-webhook#comments Fri, 04 Oct 2013 23:39:26 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8798 Over the years we’ve collected a lot of great suggestions for features from customers.  Customized emails for example has been a perennial hit on the Rezgo community forum, as has integration with email marketing apps like MailChimp and ConstantContact.  When we looked closely at these features though, we saw something else.  We saw an opportunity to build out a feature that could empower our customers to do all of these things and more in a way that made the most sense for them.  So we developed a webhook.  “What the heck is a webhook?” I hear you ask.  Well, to put it simply, the Rezgo webhook is a way to push booking data from Rezgo into another system that has been programmed to accept it.  It is different from the regular API in that the regular API is request based, meaning that you have to request something from the API in order to get a response.  In the case of the webhook, when a booking is made in Rezgo, Rezgo sends the booking data to an endpoint without being prompted to do so.

So how does this make your like easier?  It means that you can now build out smaller more discrete applications that do very specific things with that booking data.  For example, when we built out the webhook, we needed an application that we could use to test against.  We decided to contact a third party developer through Elance to build a WordPress application that we could use to test the webhook API.  What the developer created, I think, is a great example of the kinds of apps that are useful to you.  The WordPress app that the developer created is called “Custom Emails for Rezgo” and when installed on a WordPress site, it allows you to send custom email messages to your customers when they make bookings on your Rezgo site.

Here is a diagram that helps to explain how the Webhook works in the case of custom emails.

Rezgo webhook custom emails when online booking is made

 

1) When a customer makes a booking on your Rezgo booking website, Rezgo will send the customer a confirmation email that includes a link to their online receipt and some basic information about what they booked.  This email is mandatory for the customer since it contains payment and billing information.

2) If a webhook notification has been set, Rezgo will also send a webhook notification to the endpoint URL that is specified in the webhook settings.  In this case, it would be the endpoint URL specified in the Custom Emails for Rezgo plugin.

3) When the plugin receives the webhook notification, it looks at the message and extracts all the pertinent information from it.  In the case of the Custom Email plugin, the script looks at which tour was booked and when and selects from a list of custom notifications that have created.  It selects the one that matches the tour booked and sends the message to the customer.  This message can contain whatever information you choose and can be in TEXT or HTML format.  You can even specify a custom message for not only each tour but for each option.  A record of the notification is stored in the log and can be checked periodically in case there is a problem.

An Ecosystem for New Apps

Our long term hope is that the API and now the webhook will spur the development of other applications that you can use to simplify and automate your business.  We know that we can’t be all things to all people, and we think this is another way we can help to make it easier to extend Rezgo in directions we haven’t thought about.

To learn how to create a webhook notification, refer to this support article.

To download and try out the Custom Emails for Rezgo WordPress plugin, visit the plugin page on WordPress.org.

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Add Taxes & Fees to Your Tours http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/add-taxes-fees-to-your-tours http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/add-taxes-fees-to-your-tours#comments Wed, 31 Jul 2013 12:09:13 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8664 Many operators need to add taxes and fees to their tours in order to collect them from customers.  Some operators include these taxes and fees directly into the price of their tours and others prefer to itemize these costs for the customer during the booking process.  With Rezgo, you can add any number of taxes and fees to your options and display them for your customers during the booking process.

In most tour operator systems, taxes and fees are set-up at the business level which means that all tours or options are subject to the same taxes.  For most tour operators, however, this is not how taxes and fees are collected.  For example, an operator that provides a packaged tour that includes a meal may have to charge a different tax rate then they do for their non-meal inclusive offering.  In some cases, certain activities require an additional fee that is not required when booking another activity.  It was for this reason that we developed the taxes and fee system in Rezgo to handle a tour by tour taxes and fee structure.  Each option in each tour can have it’s own tax structure.  This means that when a customer books multiple tours, the tax amount payable will be calculated based on each tour booked.  The resulting tax revenues collected are reported separately in the revenue report for easy export.

Add taxes and fees to your tours and track the fee revenues easily with Rezgo

 

Taxes can be bundled together and added to other tours.  Change the order of taxes and fees by
dragging and dropping the fees into the right order.

 

Per Person vs. Per Booking

One popular request from Rezgo members was to include the ability to charge flat fees per booking.  For example, charging each passenger that books a $5.00 Land Use or Park Fee.  Some operators wanted to charge a flat per person booking fee or just one flat fee per booking.  Both of these scenarios is now supported with the added benefit that this fee can be taxable or not depending on where you place it in the list of charges.

Taxes

A tax is usually a % that is added to the booking and calculated on the sub-total and any other taxable fees.  Taxes are shown in a separate column in your revenue report and an total tax column for reporting purposes.

Fees

Fees may be either a % or fixed amount and is charged on a per person or per booking basis.  Common fees might include a booking fee (such as passing on the Rezgo transaction fee) or a land use fee that is a fixed amount charged per person.

Simple for Customers to Understand

The most important part of the new taxes and fees system, however, is not just the set-up in your Rezgo admin, but how the fees are presented to your customers.  Since you can now label the fee anyway that you like, you are free to be as descriptive as you like with the fees.  Each fee is displayed on its own line and with its own separate calculation making it simple for your customers to understand exactly what they are paying.

Make it simple for your customers to know what taxes and fees are being paid during the booking
Enhanced taxes and fees support is available in both the Rezgo white label as well as the latest version of the Rezgo WordPress plugin.  For more details on how to add taxes and fees to your options, check out this video:

Alternatively, you can read the following support articles:

Add New Taxes and Fees
http://support.rezgo.com/customer/portal/articles/1244551-add-new-taxes-and-fees-to-an-option

Add a Tax and Fee Bundle
http://support.rezgo.com/customer/portal/articles/1244650-add-tax-and-fee-bundles-to-an-option

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Support for Asian Tour Operators with PesoPay and Rezgo http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/support-for-asian-tour-operators-with-pesopay-and-rezgo http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/support-for-asian-tour-operators-with-pesopay-and-rezgo#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 13:10:55 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8652 We are very excited to be able to offer support for PesoPay, a division of AsiaPay.  The integration with PesoPay allows tour and activity operators based in the Philippines to accept real time credit card payments from their customers.

PesoPay and Rezgo support online payments asia

Tour and activity business in the Philippines can contact PesoPay to apply for a merchant account in order to receive credit card payments.  Once approved, your business will be issued a merchant ID that is entered into Rezgo in order to connect your Rezgo booking system directly to your PesoPay payment gateway.

When a customer books on your Rezgo booking website, they are presented with a credit card payment form that is integrated directly into the booking form.  During the booking process, the customer credit card is sent to PesoPay through a secure connection and the results of the transaction are sent back to Rezgo in real-time.

The entire process is PCI compliant so you don’t have to worry about security or compliance.

AsiaPay supports tour or activity businesses located in Hong Kong, China, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, or Vietnam.  To find out more about PesoPay, you can visit the PesoPay website at http://www.pesopay.com.

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Resell Tours through Orbitz & Manage the Bookings in Rezgo http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/resell-tours-through-orbitz-manag-the-bookings http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/resell-tours-through-orbitz-manag-the-bookings#comments Mon, 22 Jul 2013 12:26:58 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8654 Import Orbitz bookings directly into RezgoIf you are planning to resell tours through Orbitz (or if you already do), the updated booking email import feature will help make your life a lot simpler.

When Orbitz sells a tour on your behalf through their website, you’ll receive an email from Orbitz with details of the booking.  The booking email contains the name of the tour that was booked, the primary customer’s name, the date of the booking, and the number of guests booked.  Normally, if you want to add this booking to your tour operator software, you would have to manually add this booking through your back office or point of sale.  Although the Rezgo point of sale is very efficient and it only takes a minute or two to create a new booking, it can still take a lot of time to input in bookings if you receive many of them from Orbitz.

Resell tours through Orbitz and manage your bookings in Rezgo

Example of a booking notification email from Orbitz.

Once you have activated Orbitz email imports in your Rezgo Settings and set the “Item Name” that Orbitz uses to identify the specific tour, you are ready to begin forwarding emails to your custom Rezgo email address.

Resell tours through Orbitz and import booking emails into Rezgo

Select Orbitz in your email import settings.  
You will forward your Orbitz booking emails to your “Import Address”.

The email import allows you to import the Orbitz booking notifications by forwarding them to custom Rezgo email address.  Once received, the email is stored in your Rezgo Messages.  The import scans through the content of the email and pulls out the relevant booking information.  Rezgo then creates a new booking in the system and sends a notification email to your email address to let you know that the booking was successfully (or in some cases unsuccessfully) created.  The associated Rezgo Message will also show the results of the import, for your reference.

The message will show the results of the import including the corresponding booking number.

The successfully imported email will show the details of the booking.

As soon as you receive an email notification from Orbitz, you can forward it directly to your Rezgo email address and continue with your day.  There is no need to worry about missing out on valuable information or potentially forgetting about a customer.  The best part is that all your bookings will be in one place and you can run reports whenever you need.  Bookings generated through the email import will be tagged with the “orbitz” referral ID, so you can track bookings and verify them against your Orbitz reports.

If you are interested in finding out more about reselling your tours through online travel agencies such as Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, and Viator, check out 10 Tips to Sell Tours Online through Resellers.

 

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Use Rezgo with Stripe to Accept Online Bookings & Payments http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/use-rezgo-with-stripe-to-accept-online-bookings-payments http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/use-rezgo-with-stripe-to-accept-online-bookings-payments#comments Thu, 18 Jul 2013 17:54:14 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8629 Use Stripe with Rezgo to process online bookings and real-time credit card payments.Every once in a while we come across a software or service that really catches our attention. Stripe is one of those services. As an online bookings platform, Rezgo has to integrate with many different payment systems in order to facilitate local payments for tour and activity operators all around the World. There are, however, a lot of payment systems that we would love to integrate but simply can’t because they are not developer friendly. Stripe, on the other hand, is extremely developer friendly and offers a variety of integration methods.

Easy Set-up

The first major benefit of Stripe (besides the ease of integration) is that it has a very fast sign-up and verification process which means that businesses in the U.S. or Canada can set-up an account in minutes instead of days (or sometimes weeks) and start processing credit card payments right away. We signed up for an account, verified it, and turned it live in less than 15 minutes. For many small businesses, this could mean the difference between accepting credit cards or not.  The only piece of banking information you will need is a check with your account numbers, this is used to verify your bank account that is attached to your Stripe account.  Once you have created your Stripe account, you can attach it to your Rezgo account.

Simple Pricing

As you can guess, Rezgo is a big fan of simple pricing.  Unlike a traditional merchant accounts and payment gateways that may have a multitude of charges, Stripe only charges 2.9% + $.30.  This is similar to PayPal’s fees and include everything, even American Express fees which are traditionally 3.5% or higher.  Although you may be able to get a much lower base transaction fee directly from a merchant processor, you will probably find that your average transaction fee is much higher at the end of the month once you factor in premium card charges, international fees, and currency charges.  Not to mention, merchant processing statements can be very hard to figure out.

Includes Everything

Another bonus of Stripe is that it includes pretty much everything you’ll need to handle payments online and in the real world.  Because it is so developer friendly, there are mobile apps now that support Stripe and integrate with your account.  One of the first is Pay Pad, which allows you to manage your Stripe account on your iPhone or iPad and even allows you process credit card transactions.  There is sure to be much more in the way of integrated applications as Stripe gains popularity.

 Fast Payments

Finally, for those who are not fans of having your money sitting around in a PayPal account, your funds are transferred to your bank account every 7 days.  Although this is not as fast as a true merchant account, which tends to do nightly deposits, it is much more efficient than having to initiate a transfer each time you want to move money from your online payment system to your bank account.  You set up your receiving bank account when you verify your account.

Using PayPal only? Consider Adding Stripe

If you are in the U.S. or Canada and you are using PayPal as your online payment system.  I highly recommend you consider adding Stripe for accepting credit cards.  Although PayPal is a great payment solution, the standard offering is an off-site payment which means that your customers complete payment on the PayPal site before returning to Rezgo.  Our statistics show that although PayPal is one of our most popular payment options with tour and activity operators, it is actually the least used payment option.  Over 75% of all bookings through Rezgo are made with a credit card.

[tagline_box link="http://www.stripe.com" button="Sign Up for Stripe" title="Customers Prefer Credit Cards" description="Sign-up for a Stripe account & start accepting credit card payments fast."][/tagline_box]

 

 

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Rezgo Celebrates 6 Years & 1,000,000 Guests http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/rezgo-celebrates-1000000-guests http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/rezgo-celebrates-1000000-guests#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 13:36:04 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8589 Rezgo is six years old and we couldn’t have done it without all our incredible tour and activity members. We also broke a significant milestone by reaching 1,000,000 guests booked with tour and activity operators who use Rezgo. It’s not just the number that is important, but the data that is associated with all those transactions. The beauty of being able to aggregate all that data means that we can analyze trends and report them back to you and to the industry in general. Just to be clear, we don’t use any private data, so no need to worry about personal information ending up in a report. We only use aggregate data.

In honour of our birthday, we’ve put together this interactive infographic that provides a bit of insight into what those 1,000,000 guests have been up to.

Rezgo tour and activity operator providers have serviced over 1,000,000 customers Worldwide

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10 Tips to Sell Tours Online Through Resellers http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/10-tips-to-sell-tours-online-through-resellers http://www.rezgo.com/2013/07/10-tips-to-sell-tours-online-through-resellers#comments Tue, 02 Jul 2013 14:58:19 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8509 I sometimes get asked from tour and activity operators…

“How do I sell tours online through Expedia or Orbitz?”

or

“Do you connect with travel agent systems like Sabre?”

First of all it’s important to understand that the tour and activity segment is not as mature as the hotel segment.  Online reservation systems like Rezgo don’t connect to GDSes (Global Distribution Systems) like Sabre, Amadeus, or Travelport.  Not because we don’t want to but because these organizations have to see the benefits of opening up to live availability systems like Rezgo before they will invest the time and energy to making connectivity possible.  When that day comes, of course, you will want to make sure you are ready.

Connectivity aside, there are still ways that you (as a tour or activity operator) can work with these well known online brands.  Here are some tips on getting yourself ready to enter a business relationship with the big players in online travel:

1. Get insured – All of the major OTAs (online travel agents) require that their supplier partners be fully insured.  This means business liability insurance that covers injury and loss.  The OTA will require that they are named as an additional insured on the certificate.  This is to protect the OTA from someone injuring themselves on your tour and then turning around and suing the OTA.  Without this insurance, it will be next to impossible to form a relationship with any of these companies.

2. Have something interesting to offer – In almost all cases, OTAs are looking for something different and unique to offer their customers.  In the case of Viator for example, they will only work with a few select suppliers in each destination.  If your tour or activity is similar to one that they already offer, it will be unlikely that they will want to do business with you.  You’ll need to make sure your offering is unique, interesting, and lucrative for the OTA.  Take the time to visit each site and look at what tours or activities are already offered in your destination.  If you find that there is clearly an opportunity for your to offer something new and exciting, then go for it.

3. Get your content ready – Although the OTAs will most likely rewrite the content you provide them, you need to be able to provide them with descriptions, itinerary information, things to bring, etc.  Pretty much all the fields in Rezgo are fields that are required by all the major OTAs.  There is a reason why those fields exist.  If and when they are ready to work with you, you should be able to point them to your Rezgo account so they can get whatever content they need directly from your site.

4. Invest in great photography – When it comes to tours and activities, pictures are worth more than a thousand words.  In a sea of products, your amazing photography will help to differentiate you from your competition.  Not to mention, if you offer an OTA partner some really nice high quality photos, they may be more inclined to feature your products (all things being equal).

5. Get some professional video – If you have budget to put together a promotional video of your tour, I recommend you go for it.  There are several providers of video production that offer packages specifically tailored to tourism businesses.  For more details about getting started with a video distribution package, talk to the fine folks at ITS Video.

6. Show direct sales success – If you are expecting distribution to save your business, then don’t waste your time trying to connect.  Distribution in the tour and activity space accounts for less than 12% of total bookings.  That means that you need to be generating 88% of your business through direct sales to your customers.  If you are not already working on driving more direct sales to your customers, then you need to focus on that first before worrying about distribution.

7. Remember that you won’t own the customer – One thing that many suppliers don’t realize is that they don’t own the customer in the case of distributed bookings.  The OTAs make it very clear in their agreements that the suppliers are not allowed to solicit business from customers that are referred to them through the OTA.  Things means that, in many cases, the suppliers are not allowed to email them after the tour or activity or reach out to them for reviews.  If you’re not okay with this level of customer ownership, then you’ll want to rethink whether distribution is for you.

9. Set up for free sale or block allocations – The OTAs are not currently set-up to handle live availability requests.  This means that if your tour has a limited capacity, you may have to accept a request for a booking and either agree to or reject requests when they come through a distribution channel.  The issue is that live availability, especially for limited capacity tours or activities, are crucial to a good customer booking experience.  Currently, on most OTA sites, if the booking has to be confirmed, the customer will make the booking and receive an email that says that the booking needs to be confirmed by the supplier.  If the supplier cannot provide the tour, the booking is canceled and the customer has to book something else.  Needless to say, this is a pretty lousy experience if it happens to a customer.  Your best bet is to either accept all bookings from OTAs as confirmed (freesell) or set up a block allocation with the partner.  A block allocation would mean guaranteeing a certain number of spaces on your tour for the OTA.

10. Be patient - Building a relationship with a large company can take time.  Be patient as you go through the process with them.  In some cases, it can take months for your tours or activities to show up on an OTA site.  You must be able to maintain your business in the meantime through direct sales.

Once you are ready to take the next step and consider reselling through these well established brands, you’ll want to submit your application.  To save you the time and hassle of trying to find the links yourself, I’ve gathered them in one place.  Be sure to bookmark them or just bookmark this post for reference later.  Of course there are many other resellers out there.  If you know of one and would like to add it, please feel free to leave a comment.

 

 

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Tour Operator Mobile & Online Payments with PayPal http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/tour-operator-mobile-online-payments-paypal http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/tour-operator-mobile-online-payments-paypal#comments Fri, 21 Jun 2013 18:41:23 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8567 You’re getting yourself prepared for the season.  You’ve got your website set up, you’ve printed your brochures, your Rezgo online booking system is almost ready and you’re wondering how best to handle your online payments.  If you’re new to online payments and you’re not sure how much volume you are going to do OR if you expect to handle payments in person and you want to consolidate your payments into one system, then you may want to consider PayPal as way to manage your online payments.

use paypal to manage online payments

In the last year or so, online payments and mobile payments have become increasingly popular.  Although PayPal has been around for a long time, it was primarily used for online payments, especially those through auction sites like eBay or through small business websites.  Their seller and buyer protection mechanisms are quite strong and their brand is well recognized.  But most recently companies like Square have popped up to handle in-person and point of sale purchases through a mobile device.  The service, as great as it is however, doesn’t support e-commerce purchases, which leaves a disconnect between online payments and in-person payments.  In fact, we’ve received many support emails and questions about whether Rezgo supports Square.  As much as we would love to support Square, the issue is that Square does not support e-commerce transactions or have an API that can be integrated.

PayPal identified the opportunity to bring the two sides of the payment equation together and provide both online payments (through their traditional offerings) and point of sale payments through their PayPal Here program.  The program provides you with a credit card swipe that attaches to your iPhone or Android device.  For now the program is only available to the U.S. and Canada currently, but PayPal is already accepting interest from the U.K. and Australia as well.

If you are looking for a single merchant that can handle your online payments through Rezgo as well as swiped credit card payments from live customers, you may want to take a closer look at PayPal.  You can find out more about how Rezgo integrates with PayPal.

You may find these other articles about online payments interesting as well:

 

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You Should Have a WordPress Booking Engine for Your Tour or Activity Website http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/wordpress-booking-engine-tour-activity-website http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/wordpress-booking-engine-tour-activity-website#comments Wed, 12 Jun 2013 11:04:06 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8544 There are a lot of reasons why I really like WordPress.  As a former developer (I don’t write code much anymore) I spent a good portion of my time building content management systems for business users.  In fact before we developed Rezgo, we had developed a module based content management system that was quite sophisticated and extensible for its time.  Part of the reason why we stopped building our own proprietary content management system was because platforms like Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress were really starting to pick up steam and, frankly, they were better in many ways than what we could develop ourselves.  Not to mention, third party developers were creating all kinds of really great plug-ins and add-ons for these platforms.  What we have now, after ten years of WordPress, is an incredible ecosystem of plug-ins, including the Rezgo WordPress booking engine, that make WordPress, in my opinion, the best content management system for tour and activity operators.

Drive online revenues with a WordPress booking engine

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/64060016@N03/5964629989/

Open source with lots of commercial support

Businesses are always a bit skeptical about things that are free or open source.  For many applications, that may be the case, but for a small business website, it isn’t as important.  One of the reasons why WordPress has taken off is because, despite the fact that it is open source, there is a ton of commercial services that support it.  There is an entire ecosystem of WordPress developers, designers, integrators, and consultants ready to provide you with technical services if you need it.  There are even companies like WooThemes that have built their entire business on building WordPress themes and applications.

Easy to use out of the box

Even if you choose not to use a designer or developer to help you with your WordPress install, you can do most of it yourself through your web hosting company.  Many popular web hosts provide one click installs for WordPress.  Bluehost, for example, has out of the box support for WordPress and makes it incredibly simple to get a site up and running.  For many small businesses on a limited budget, using the standard theme with a nice custom header image will result in a website that is, in my opinion, better than most out there.

There are also a ton of getting started resources and training videos.  The WordPress site itself has a getting started section designed for those who have never used WordPress before.  If you are going to use WordPress, I recommend you spend the time to go through the tutorials, it is well worth it and you’ll feel really good when you’re done.  WP101 has an excellent series of WordPress tutorials.  Some are free but most require a small annual subscription.  It’s well worth it if you are new to WordPress.

Search engine benefits

A key reason for the success of WordPress as a platform is the way in which links and content are created within a site.  WordPress websites, when using search friendly permalinks, are automatically search friendly and easily crawled by the major search engines.  Because of the way WordPress is designed, website owners tend to be much more engaged with creating content and making tweaks to their website on a regular basis, which also helps to keep the site updated and fresh in the eyes of Google and the other search engines.  There are also a number of incredibly powerful SEO tools that are available that help you to optimize your WordPress site.  One of my favorite plugins is Yoast WordPress SEO, which automates a lot of the SEO functions for you and makes the process of optimization fully integrated into your WordPress experience.

Fully Integrated Booking Engine

Of course one of my big reasons for liking WordPress is our Rezgo Online Booking plugin.  In just over two years, the Rezgo WordPress plugin has become the most popular way to integrate Rezgo into a website.  We’re seeing almost 60% of traffic coming from API calls that originate from WordPress based websites.  The benefit of integrating a booking engine like Rezgo directly into your WordPress site is that you benefit from having all of your tour or activity content on your site versus having it hosted only on the white label Rezgo site.  Unlike javascript or iframe based booking engines that don’t provide any search engine benefit (and pose a potential security risk), a fully integrated booking engine provides you with a seamless customer experience while providing you with all the search engine benefits of hosting the content on your own site.

Although we have seen some amazing WordPress integrations lately, even the standard out of the box installation adds a huge amount of credibility and professionalism to a tour operator website.

Social by nature

We can’t forget about the social web and how important it is to share content.  WordPress is particularly well suited for this.  When you combine the fact that WordPress was and still is a platform for blogging or content generation in general, with the ubiquity of RSS (really simple syndication), it is a small publisher’s dream machine.  Producing good content is something I recommend you do as part of your overall social media strategy.  It helps to establish your expertise and also helps to attract customers who might be in the early stages of planning their trip.

Follow these simple steps to to improve your SEO, write great content, use WordPress to get it on the web, and use plugins that support social sharing, like JetPack, and you will be well on your way to increasing your traffic and most likely your conversions as well.

 

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Using Analytics to Increase Online Bookings http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/using-analytics-to-increase-online-bookings http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/using-analytics-to-increase-online-bookings#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2013 11:27:39 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8535 Analytics are an important tool for helping you determine who your website visitors are and why they are coming to your website.  But did you know they can also help you increase online bookings for your tour and activity business?  Without some form of analytics, the chances are you are missing out on valuable data that you can use to determine what content is most important to your online visitors and how best to drive them towards online booking.

increase online bookings by using analytics

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/titanas/8352719853/

 What are Analytics?

If you are like most small business owners, your first question is probably “What the heck are analytics?”.  To put is simply, an analytics program is one that tracks activity on your website, analyses it for you, and then presents the results in a human readable format (most of the time).  Analytics programs and services usually use a small snippet of javascript code that is placed on your website to track visitors to your website.  This code is something that either you or your web designer usually has to place on your website.  If you are using a content management system like WordPress, there are plugins that you can use to simplify the process.  In all cases, however, you still have to copy and paste the code snippet from the analytics provider and paste it into your site somewhere.

At Rezgo, we use a variety of analytics tools to measure and compare visitor information.  For our marketing website and support sites, we use a combination of Google Analytics, Alexa Pro, and HitsLink.  All three services offer slightly different information and it’s nice to be able to compare the results against each other (for verification and validation purposes).

Which Analytics Provider Should I Use?

There are many analytics providers, but by far the best and most comprehensive is Google Analytics.  It is also a free service, so the cost benefit is pretty clear.  The only downside to Google’s offering is that it can be quite daunting for a non-technical person to understand all the features provided in the service or, for that matter, what to do with the information once you have it.

Another good choice, that is relatively inexpensive for a small website owner, is HitsLink.  The HitsLink dashboard is much easier to read and provides snapshot data in an easy to understand way.  You still have the ability to dive deeper into the data if you like, but the basics are there, in your face without being overwhelming.

hitslink is a web analytics service that can help increase online bookings

One of the nicest features of HitsLink is the simplicity with which they have integrated the conversion tracking and ecommerce goals.  The javascript code, for example, can be easily added to your Rezgo account.  The best part is that the ORDER TOTAL values and ORDER ID fields are automatically updated by Rezgo with the correct values, so you get up to the minute details of conversion values in your dashboard.

When you set-up your account on either Google Analytics or HitsLink, be sure to add the analytics code snippet to all pages on your site include your Rezgo account.  You can always refer to this article if you need help adding analytics code to Rezgo.

What should you look for?

1. Search Terms / Keywords – Chances are when you take a look at your reports, you’ll find that a high percentage of traffic is coming from Google.  How those customers find your website and what search terms they are using will give you a good sense for what your customers are searching for in the major search engines.  You may find that you are ranking really high for a completely unrelated term and, as a result, you are getting a lot of traffic to your home page but those same visitors are leaving right away.  This will be reflected in your bounce rate.

2. Bounce Rate – This value tells you what percentage (on average) of your visitors come to your site, views only one page, and then immediately leaves again.  The goal is to capture that visitor and have them look at other pages of your site.  If the visitor is truly interested in your tours or activities, they will most likely visit other pages on your site looking for information that is important for them.  When they do leave your site, you will want to know where, since you may want to find a way to change the content on that page to be more engaging or reduce the likelihood of that page being a major exit page.

3. Exit Pages – These are the pages from which your visitors exit your site.  Understanding where your customers are leaving can give you a good idea about how to keep them from leaving.  Take a look at your top exit pages and see if you can determine why someone might leave your site from that page.  If your home page is top exit page, that may be an indicator that the visitor you are attracting is simply not interested in your tours or activities.  If your top exist page is a tour page, then perhaps your tour or activity is not being described in the best way.  Perhaps, you don’t have a clear call to action on the page for them to continue, in which case, the visitors next best option is to find a competitor that does have a clear call to action.

4. E-commerce activity – Whether you use Google or HitsLink, both will provide you with information about your conversions and where those customers came from.  You will be able to see if customers came through Google or another search engine, or if they were referred by another website.  The bottom line is, take a good look at where your sales are coming from and what you might be able to do to increase your e-commerce activity from those sources.  You may also be able to determine what groups are not converting by looking at regional breakdown of customers.  Combining your analytics with targeted advertising campaigns may help to increase your conversions for regions where your conversions are currently low.

5. Mobile vs. Desktop – You will want to keep an eye on the devices that your customers are using to view your site.  Tour and activity websites tend to have a higher mobile viewership than other segments of travel, primarily because travelers tend not to use their laptops when traveling.  A traveler in a destination looking for things to do is more likely to use a mobile device to search for and book a tour or activity.  On average, according to StatsCounter, about 14.62% of web traffic is viewed on a mobile device.  Rezgo analytics report mobile viewership at over 27% for the same period.  Understanding how your customers are viewing your content can help you determine the best way to get them to book.  If your main website is not mobile friendly then it may be turning a large percentage of your customers away before they even get consider doing business with you.

What’s Next?

Once you have had a chance to review your analytics, you can begin to make changes to your site in order to improve conversions on your site.  If you are just beginning or have just installed your analytics code, you will need to wait some time to gather enough useful data before taking action.  I recommend you give yourself at least a month before making any meaningful changes.  Why?  Because ultimately, you don’t want to start making changes when you don’t have enough reference data to compare against.

After you have gathered enough usage data to start to view trends in your data, then you can do things like change content, navigation, and landing pages in order to increase or decrease certain metrics.  But we’ll save that part for another article.  For now, get familiar with your analytics tool of choice and watch.

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Is Outsourcing Your Tourism SEO Killing Your Traffic http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/is-outsourcing-your-tourism-seo-killing-your-traffic http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/is-outsourcing-your-tourism-seo-killing-your-traffic#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 21:32:39 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8524 Manage your tourism seo so your website is open for business

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/opensourceway/4427310974/

One of the most common questions I hear from tour operators is “I have created my site, now how do I market it?”.  For many business owners, the expectation is that once a website is built, people will naturally come to the site and start booking.  Unfortunately, if your site is not well optimized and you don’t have a lot of content, your potential customers are not going to be able to find you online.  Luckily having a Rezgo booking engine can help a lot because the tour details pages are search optimized, however, having a well optimized booking website is only one part of the solution.  So, many businesses outsource their tourism SEO to a freelance or the cheapest SEO resource they can find on online.  The problem is that these resources don’t know tour and activity businesses as well as the owner and as a result, they may do things that can negatively affect a site’s rankings.  If you are currently outsourcing your SEO, here are three things you can do right now to make sure your traffic is not being affected as a result.

1. Write your own content

Have you ever read some of the content written by an outsourced SEO firm?  You would probably cringe if you took the time to read what is written for some clients.  You know your business and the experience that you have with your customers better than anyone.  If you are not a writer, I’m pretty sure you can find someone close to you who can write and who can help you craft your content in a meaningful and relevant way.  Your customers will be judging you based on the content they read on your site, make sure it is well written and authentic.

If you are a reseller or tour aggregator, don’t copy and paste generic tour information on your site.  Not only does it make your site look and sound like every other reseller of the same tour, but it may also affect your rank if there is an issue with duplicate content.

2. Stop spammy blog comments

You know the ones.  Those comments on your blog post that sound generic and have absolutely nothing to do with your content.  These comments are generally created by SEO firms that are trying to build back-links to their clients websites.  The problem with this approach is that the comments are so easily identified as spam, that most of them get caught by tools like Akismet and don’t even make it into the site.  The other issue is that if the comment does make it on the site, people have come to recognize these comments are irrelevant and not useful.  If the visitor ends up clicking on a link in the comment, it may be totally unrelated to what they were looking at, that they exit your site right away.  This will only increase the exit rate on your website home page and may impact your overall rank.

The better option is to find blogs that are relevant to your destination or your type of tour/activity and post long form and relevant comments on posts that are actually related to your business.  Usually, when you write a lengthy comment, it’s acceptable to include a single link back to your site at the end.

3.  Learn basic online marketing

Learning to do online marketing will be one of the most valuable skills you develop for your business.  Even though it may not be a skill you currently have, this is an area that you can learn and apply as you grow and develop your business.  Basic online marketing is not expensive, which means that you can save money that can be applied to other areas of your business.

The challenge for many small businesses, however, is that online marketing is intimidating.  The reality is that online marketing is not complicated and can be done well by most anyone who has the time and desire to market their business online.

If you do decide to outsource your SEO to another company, make sure to do due diligence on the company.  Check their references and, if appropriate, talk to some of their customers.  Work with the company to put together a campaign that works for you and set clear milestones and deliverables.  Remember that it’s your business reputation on the line, not theirs.

It’s your business after all

In the end, you are the probably the best person to market your business, whether you want to or not.  Take some time to learn some online marketing and social media techniques.  If you haven’t already done so, take a moment to download the free Social Media for Tour and Activity Operators E-book, it has a great strategy for helping you figure out how to market your business using social media and content marketing.  If you end up using an outsourced SEO, be prepared to manage them well.  It’s up to you to keep your website open for business.

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New Rezgo Open Source and WordPress Online Booking Plugin Available http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/new-rezgo-wordpress-online-booking-plugin-and-open-source-app-available http://www.rezgo.com/2013/06/new-rezgo-wordpress-online-booking-plugin-and-open-source-app-available#comments Tue, 04 Jun 2013 15:56:54 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8531 Rezgo WordPress Online Booking

I’m very happy to announce that we have officially released a new version of the Rezgo WordPress Online Booking Plugin and a fully updated version of the open source booking engine.  The new versions are a result of major updates to Rezgo that were recently released.  The WordPress plugin and the open source booking engine both support the new multi-booking functionality as well as provide an improved search functionality and enhanced security.  You can read more about the recent release in this announcement.

Rezgo members who have customized their websites with the open source booking engine will find improvements including many fixes to bugs that have been documented since the initial release of the code.  We recommend that you download the most recent version when convenient.

Here is a quick summary of the change log for version 1.7

  • Brand new shopping cart interface allows many items to be booked at once.
  • New XML commit request supporting multiple items.
  • New anti-spam measures added to contact form.
  • Inconsistent date labels have been changed to “booked for.”
  • Some share links removed from item details.
  • Fixed a bug causing the search date range to produce inconsistent results.
  • Many bug fixes and performance improvements.

You can download the latest version of the Rezgo WordPress Online Booking Plugin on the WordPress site.

You can download the Rezgo open source booking engine from SourceForge.

As always, if you have any questions or comments please let us know by submitting a ticket.

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5 Terrible Website Design Mistakes That are Hurting Your Tour or Activity Business http://www.rezgo.com/2013/05/5-terrible-website-design-mistakes-that-are-hurting-your-tour-or-activity-business http://www.rezgo.com/2013/05/5-terrible-website-design-mistakes-that-are-hurting-your-tour-or-activity-business#comments Thu, 30 May 2013 14:23:10 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8514 So you’ve done everything right.  You have a website, an email address with your domain (not just a gmail account), an online booking engine (for example Rezgo), and you’re starting to see some traction.  But your site just doesn’t seem to be converting customers the way that you had hoped.  Well, it could be that your site is suffering from some of these website design mistakes.

This website suffers from every terrible website design mistake in the book.

If you’re interested in looking at some truly awful websites, head over to Websites From Hell.

1. Splash page or fancy flash intro

This is a bit like asking someone to stand and watch an advertisement before they can enter your front door.  Do you really want to force your website visitors to look at a splash screen first before they can click through to your site?  No, if you have a splash screen or some kind of splashy flash intro, get rid of it.  Remember that Flash also doesn’t work on most mobile devices, so you are already alienating 25% of your web visitors.  You can read more about why splash pages are bad in this article from Devin.

In the same vein as the splash page/flash intro, do not auto load music in the background when a customer lands on your site.  Nothing is more annoying then to hear music blasting when none was expected.  If you have a music background, remove it asap.

2. Overly complexificated navigation

I realize that’s not a real term, but you get the point.  On of the most common errors with websites is creating a navigation menu that is overly complicated.  Keep your navigation simple and consistent throughout your site.  A common convention is to place your main navigation menu in the upper right hand side of the site.  A standard menu for a tour/activity business might include:

  • Home
  • About Us
  • Our Tours (link to your Rezgo site)
  • Blog (if you have one)
  • Contact Us
  • Booking Terms & Conditions

Do you really need more than that?  If you do have a lot of pages on your site with rich information, then that’s great.  Just remember that your customers are going to be looking for specific kinds of information on your site.  Make sure that the critical stuff like your tour information and pricing is easy to find.

3. Buried or hard to find contact information

Even if you don’t want your customers to pick up the phone and call you or send you a letter, it’s important to let them know that they can.  Your website should provide your customer with all the information they need to make a purchasing decision and as long as you live up to their expectations, chances are they won’t have a reason to pick up the phone and call you.  Adding your contact information to the footer of your website is a good idea, since that is a common place for customers to look if they are close to the bottom of a page on your site.

4. Bad color choices and hard to read fonts

Your content is only going to be interesting and persuasive if your visitor can read it.  One of the most common mistakes with web design is sacrificing readability for layout or design purposes.  If you have a dark background, use a light easy to read font.  If you have a light background, use a dark font.  Pretty straightforward right?  You’d be surprised how many sites I have seen with dark backgrounds and green or red colored fonts.  Remember the old adage, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.  If your site is suffering from a colored font overload, simplify it now.  Not only to high contrast easy to read and attractive color schemes enhance the look of your site, it makes it easier for your customers to actually read about what you offer.

For more information about fonts and readability, I highly recommend this post from Ben Hunt.

5.  Clutter

Images, videos, and text are all great things to have on a website.  But, they have to be organized in a way that make sense for your customers.  Jamming everything onto the page without any consideration for layout or whitespace will only make it hard for your customers to scan your page and find what they need.  Avoid cluttering up your site with ads or images that are not directly relevant to the customer experience.  I recently had a tour operator ask me if they should have a banner ad on their site for a potential affiliate partner.  My answer was “No”.  Why? Because all you are doing when you add distracting media to your site is giving your potential customer an excuse to leave your site.  Once they leave, the likelihood that they will return is greatly diminished.  Keep your content pages clean and well organized.  With Rezgo, your tour detail pages are always consistent, so you don’t need to worry about them, but the pages on your regular website should have a form and structure to them that make the customer experience consistent from page to page.

Think like your customer

Imagine yourself as your customer.  When you go to your site, how hard is it for you to find the information that you need?  Obviously, it’s going to be difficult for you to go through this process in an unbiased way.  Your best bet might be to get a friend or colleague to do this for you.  But take the time to do an honest evaluation of your site and how effective it is for your business.  Remember that, according to Google, 82% of leisure travelers start their holiday research online.  The chances are very good that a customer’s first experience with you will be your website.  Now is your chance to make sure you are putting your best face forward.

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3 Simple Steps to Increase Tour Operator Profits http://www.rezgo.com/2013/05/increase-tour-operator-profits http://www.rezgo.com/2013/05/increase-tour-operator-profits#comments Tue, 28 May 2013 13:24:01 +0000 http://www.rezgo.com/?p=8500 Generating revenues with your tour or activity business is one thing, but making a profit is something different.  You’re probably in business because you love what you do and because you want to be able to keep doing it for a while.  Making a healthy profit from your business gives you the freedom to grow your business at your own pace and to make decisions and even mistakes from time to time without having to worry too much about the bottom line.  Whether you choose to take your tour operator profits out of the company or re-invest them back in to the business to fuel growth, the point is that you can’t do either of these things if you aren’t actually generating a profit.

These 3 tips will help you increase your activity provider or tour operator profits

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/76657755@N04/7658159678/

Here are 3 things you can consider doing today to increase your tour operator profits for the long term.  You may even find that these tips help to improve other areas of your business including your brand equity and credibility as well as your perception in the marketplace.

1. Stop competing on price

There will always be someone more desperate than you who will sell their tours or activities for cheap just to get the business.  You may be tempted to lower your prices or to cut your margins just so you can compete.  Don’t do it, this type of competition is a fast track to the bottom.  You are far better off differentiating your tours or activities from your competition and even raising your prices.  Once you stop the obsessing over low prices, you can focus on other more important things like providing the best possible value for your customers.  Here’s a quick calculation:

Tour A = $120
Cost = $80
Gross Profit = $40
Profit Margin (Profit/Cost) = 50%

Increasing cost of Tour A 10%

Tour A = $132
Cost = $80
Gross Profit = $52
Profit Margin (Profit/Cost) = 65%

So by increasing your tour by 10%, you have increased your profit margin on your tour by 30%.   For a traveler who has already paid hundreds or thousands of dollars on airfare and hotel or who have committed to visiting your destination, the prospect of spending (in this case) an extra $12 per person for a unique experience is not going to be a deal breaker.  In a best case scenario, assuming you are differentiating your tours and providing good value for the price, you shouldn’t see a dramatic decrease in your conversion rates.  Even with a decrease in conversion rates of say 30%, you can still expect to generate more profit then with your previous pricing model.  The additional perk is that you will have more margin to play with in case you want to offer one-time specials or promotional codes.

Remember that increasing your prices requires you to have a unique service offering that delivers high value to your customers.  Offering the same or similar tour or activity to your competitors at a higher price simply won’t work.  Once you break yourself of the habit of always lower your prices or competing on price, you’ll find that you have more freedom and energy to build other areas of your business.

2. Focus on overall profit not on actual revenue per customer

Let’s face it, not everyone is going to love your tour and when they don’t, they may be vocal about it.  I’m not advocating cow towing to review trolls or people that complain for the sake of complaining, but when a customer has a truly bad experience on your tour or activity, don’t be afraid to make things right.  This may mean offering them a complimentary tour or activity on another date or a refund.  They will remember the incredible customer service they experienced and that may be enough to turn a negative review into a positive one.  In today’s world of mediocre customer service, differentiating yourself with a superior customer experience can go a long way to increasing your word of mouth marketing and your brand credibility.  If you’ve already done the work to increase your profitability, then being able to offer this kind of higher level customer service won’t cost you anymore and will actually drive more business.

3. Ditch the paper & pen and get with a program

One of the biggest steps you can take to increasing your profitability is putting your administration on auto-pilot.  The first step is taking the leap from paper and pen to a tour and activity operator software like Rezgo.  The next step is simplifying your offerings in order to avoid things like “schedule clash”, offering many tours on the same schedule but only ever being able to offer one.  Simplifying your offerings doesn’t mean decreasing the value of your offerings.  The easier it is for your customers to book and pay with you online, the less administration you need to worry about.  Remember that according to Google, 86% of  travelers plan their travel online, so making sure you are online and can be found is a big plus.

If your tours or activities are less than $200 per person and are easily booked online, you can expect a lot fewer phone calls.  Spending less time on the phone on each sale will also free up your time for other things like improving your website SEO and driving more customers online.

What have you got to lose?

At the end of the day, you won’t know what money you’re leaving on the table if you don’t try to change things up.  You can always make small incremental improvements in your business in order to increase your profitability.  Just remember, that you need to put some metrics in place in order to measure your success.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results right away, a profitable business takes time to build and grow, you’re in this for the long term.

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