In this industry, nearly everyone can agree on one basic truth: every tour and activities company should have a website. If nothing else, you need to be sure customers who search online can reach you — and that’s the bare minimum your company website can offer.
But what else should it have? Trends come and go. Tastes differ. When you’re setting out to make the right website for your business, you don’t need to be loaded down with jargon. Your website doesn’t need virtual reality, blockchain technology, chatbots and Internet of Things support. It needs the staples, and those aren’t subject to the ever-changing whims of fashion.
Clear, Coherent Branding
The first question a customer will ask themselves on visiting your website for the first time isn’t “where can I book?” or “what’s their phone number?”. It’s “Am I in the right place?” You only have moments of someone’s attention before they move on, so use them wisely.
You can communicate four key pieces of branding in those moments: your company name, your logo, any brand colors you use, and a core message.
Below, Phare, The Cambodian Circus, gets across who they are, what they do, and why it matters — all at a glance.
Once your website visitors know they’re in the right place, it’s essential that they find whatever they need quickly and easily. How you choose to design your navigation isn’t as important as how simple it is to use.
If you offer online bookings, the path to reach them should be clear and obvious, not nested deep in menus. Social links should be accessible. Pages that customers are less likely to need, like privacy policies, should be kept tucked away in the footer.
Think printing your contact information on your website is redundant? Think again. Not only will your customers appreciate knowing how to reach you, search engines need that information, too. Local search in engines like Google Maps or Apple Maps relies on your company’s NAP — name, address and phone number — being accurately and readily available in as many places as possible.
As for your customers, the more contact methods you can offer, the better, so long as your staff can keep up with them all.
Call to Action
Whether you offer online bookings or not, you probably want your customers to engage with your website in some way. A call to action directs them to that point of engagement.
“Book now” is one of the more common calls to action in the tour and activity business. If you don’t take online bookings, “Sign up” might be a better choice, directing customers to your newsletter signup. Or “Follow us on Facebook.”
Whatever it is, begin with a strong verb — an action — and put it front and center on your website.
BrightLocal’s 2017 Local Consumer Review Survey has some interesting things to say about trust:
- 85% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
- Consumers read an average of 7 reviews before trusting a business – up from 6 last year.
- Positive reviews make 73% of consumers trust a local business more.
Customers don’t take a business’s quality for granted — they’re better informed than ever. Formal reviews aren’t necessarily required, but your website needs some form of social proof to show customers why they should trust you.
For some companies, that might be posts on social media. For others, TripAdvisor reviews. Testimonials are also popular, although customers are less likely to trust them without good sourcing.
Here, Juneau Whale Watch highlights a recent ranking from TripAdvisor, a trusted source for many tour guests.
A Solid Backbone
Content management systems (CMS) have been a vital part of most websites for quite some time, but you wouldn’t know it just from looking at those sites. A website’s CMS is the backbone of a site, the admin system that serves the content you create — and not just blog posts. In 2017, about half of all websites are using content management systems, and the majority of those use WordPress.
Using a good CMS for your website is as important as using good booking software for your online bookings. With that foundation, your website can do anything you need.
One common tip that you might have encountered is that websites are read in an “F-shaped pattern,” so content should be laid out to meet that pattern. Not so.
The F-shaped pattern was first noticed by the Nielsen Norman Group in 2006, in a study of where users’ eyes rested on a website. They found that users would scan the headline — the top bar of the F — then the first few words of text below that, before finally skimming down the left side of the page.
Designers took that as gospel, and began to design pages based on that observation. But as NN/g explained recently, that reading pattern was an effect of bad page design.
If users run into large, unbroken blocks of text, they’re more likely to skim aimlessly, and wind up in that F pattern. You can improve that by including bullet points and subheadings, both of which break up the content and make it easier to read.
Consider eliminating large blocks of text entirely if you aren’t writing blog content. The clearer and more concise your copy is, the more engaged your website visitors will remain.
Most websites don’t need mobile sites or apps, but they do need to be usable on mobile devices. That’s why Rezgo is responsive — it adapts to the needs of users on different sizes of display — and that’s why your website should be, too.
Well over half the consumer traffic visiting US websites comes from mobile devices, and that number is likely to be higher for people who are travelling. If your website is going to be there for your guests, it needs to be usable at any size.
The best way to secure bookings is to be available whenever you guests may want to book, and the best way to do that is to adapt to all their website needs.
Online bookings will help you do that, so why not start today?