All posts by Dorene Wharton

11 Steps to Create Your Best Google My Business Description

Google is king. It dominates all search and local search queries and the impact on tourism businesses is significant. In fact, Google's goal is to create a seamless experience for travelers without ever having to leave Google platforms to book a hotel, tour, or experience.

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Website Fixes: Tourism Taglines that Persuade

Taglines -your main website headline - can turn your homepage into an immensely powerful piece of communication, and it can result in the difference between someone moving off your website quickly -- to someone who stays on it to read more.

Taglines are website fixes that can quickly improve your website's first impression and let the reader know they have landed in the right place. This tip is one of many copywriting tips that can help you make small and noticeable improvements to your brand.

This article will help you:

-Avoid creating a dull, drab, and generic taglines

-Craft your persuasive tagline for your tourism business with a formula

-See examples of tourism taglines in the industry

Don’t Stop at Telling Your Reader Only What You Do. 

Most tourism business websites have one line on their homepage that says what their company does. That is it.  

Although this is very necessary, this approach has one big problem.

It doesn't speak directly to your audience  its more about you than about them – the customer you want to persuade and entice to your business.

I call this your 'What' statement because it really just does that; it says what you do.

Here are examples of boring and internally focused taglines


-Private and day tours in France

-Boutique Hotel in San Francisco


-Airport Transport in London

Sure, these examples clearly say what the company does, but they aren't at all inspiring, motivating, or persuasive for any reader to press the book now button.

A motivating, persuasive tagline can do the following: 

  1. It speaks directly to your target audience. 
  2. It summarizes your overall value to your target guest.
  3. It can also include your purpose; which is often implied.
  4. It can share something highly relevant and emotional to your target guest. (an insight)
  5. It says what you do. (often this works well in a subline)
  6. It can be humorous, serious, or inspirational, and it MUST fit your brand's voice.
  7. It includes a keyword to help with SEO purposes.
  8. Ideally, it is 3-6 words but can still be effective if its a little longer. 

The reader reaction you strive to achieve with your tagline is:

Wow, this brand is talking to me – I want to read on!

Important note: Developing taglines isn’t easy- however there is a formula where you can start.

There is a reason why advertisers spend lots of time and energy on a tagline, and it does take time and skill, especially to get it to achieve all of the above points. We do want a great tagline but your aren't going to have the next "Nike Just Do It" here -- also because they  spent millions of dollars to solidify their message.  However we can make something clear, compelling and persuasive.

You can still have a successful tagline without achieving all of the 8 points above however, these criteria improves your chances. You can only do it if you get feedback from your target audience.

Good news! There is a formula that can help you develop your tagline easily – Start there and work towards developing your own.

How to build tourism taglines - website headline

Here is one proven and effective way to craft your tagline that ensures you have included the necessary information.  This process helps organize your key points into a cohesive tagline statement. This methodology is originally taken from the Copy Cure course by Marie Forleo, and I've used this method/with a few changes time and time again with clients in the tourism industry.

Key tip:  

Your tagline is about you – yes – but  more importantly, it is ABOUT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE. When travelers read your website, they are thinking: 

"What's In It for me?” 

To develop your own tagline. Here is a short working session that will help you: 

Write this in a workbook, or word document because you will refer back to these steps as you work through your own tagline.

Step 1: Identify your Ideal/Target Guest 

The more focused you are with your target audience, the better you can speak to them directly. 

For example:

  • Baby boomers
  • Responsible (or Sustainable) travelers
  • Solo female travelers
  • Travelers who hate big groups tours
  • Beach lovers and sun worshipers
  • Remote working travelers
  • Families with small kids
  • London business travelers
  • Adventurous travelers
  • Adrenaline enthusiasts
  • History buffs
  • Foodies
  • Using "you" can be a way to talk directly to your audience if it becomes challenging to describe your traveler in a few words, but it may not be as direct or effective. 

What would you call your ideal target audience in a few words?  

Brainstorm some options to come up with your target guest explanation. Note that these are just examples - and think of others that are unique to your business! 

Step 2: What are your Target Guests Needs?  

Think about them, what they want, and what benefits you can give them. 

(Not your features, because those are not needs-driven, and generic)


  • To travel safely and adventurously
  • To contribute to social causes
  •  To have non-stop active adventures
  •  To travel comfortably with all the comforts of home
  •  To travel luxuriously, on a budget
  •   To have all your travel planning taken care of
  •   To experience the local culture
  •    To travel, live and work in a comfortable, safe, and fun environment

Step 3: Think about the outcome or purpose your target guests want.  

what do they want to get out of this - not the benefit but the satisfaction of it. 


  • To enjoy the experience of a lifetime 
  • To learn about the impact of climate change
  •  To discover the world from a local perspective 
  •  To give back and volunteer in a foreign country
  •  To take great Instagram photos
  •  To learn everything there is to know about Italian food
  •  To feel relaxed and recharged

STEP 4:  What does your business do specifically?  (what is your vehicle) 


  • Walking tours in Madrid
  •  Accommodation and Tours in Cuzco, Peru
  • Eco-cabins in Colombia 
  • Cooking classes in Tuscany
  • Electric Bike tours in Portland
  • Transportation in the Algarve in Portugal 
  • Community-based tours in the Maldives    

STEP 5: Write your draft taglines using the information from Step 1-4

Once you work through step 1-4 you are ready to start developing some draft tourism taglines (headlines) 

Ideal structures to design your tagline and sub-headline 

Option 1: Helping [Target Guest] to [Meet their needs]

In this version of a tagline use your examples from  Step 1 and add it with Step 2


  •   Helping solo female travelers travel safely and adventurously
  •   Helping responsible travelers contribute to social causes 
  •   Helping London Business Travelers have all their travel planning needs taken care of
  • *You* can also be used as a way to talk to your audience as the rest of the line is relevant to your target audience.

Then you can input a secondary line from Step 4

Example: Helping solo female travelers travel safely and adventurously

                               Tours and accommodation in Cuzco Peru 

OPTION 2: For [Target Guest] who want/dream/wish/need [Desired Outcome]

In this structure you take step 1, add it with Step 3 copy you developed


  •     For solo female travelers to feel relaxed and recharged
  •     For Foodies who want to learn everything there is to know about Italian food.
  •     For Baby boomers who want to give back and volunteer in a foreign country

OPTION 3: [Vehicle] for [Outcome] or flip  [Outcome] and [Vehicle]

 In this structure, you take Step 3 and add it with Step 4 or flip it around


  • The walking tour in Madrid where you can take the best Instagram photos
  • Community-based tours in the Maldives to discover the world from a local perspective
  • Feel relaxed and recharged by staying in our eco-cabins in Colombia 
  • Cooking classes in Tuscany to learn everything about Italian food

*See how I took Step 4 Vehicle – and married it with Step 3 the outcome?

OPTION 4:  Where - with an [Outcome]

In this structure, you take Step 3 and use “Where” at the beginning of the line.


  • Where you will have an experience of a lifetime
  • Where you can travel safely
  • Where you can give back and volunteer in a foreign country
  • Where you can discover the world from a local perspective

If you use this format you will want a secondary line that explains what you do (from Step 4)  

OPTION 5: Where [Target Guest]  [Achieves an Outcome]

Here, you put together Step 1 with Step 3


  • Where remote working travelers can live, travel and work in a comfortable, safe, and fun environment
  • Where families with small kids can feel relaxed and recharged.
  • Where adventurous travelers can contribute to social causes. 

If you use this format you will want a secondary line that explains what you do (from Step 4)  

Now that you have five potential ways to create a more engaging, target audience centered tourism taglines, here are some examples from the industry who are using these structures or versions of these structures. 

Great examples of tourism taglines in the industry 

intrepid travel home page and tagline

Intrepid travel - a global company that runs organized small group adventures with a local guide. Typically their tours are more about culture and adventure  and traveling with a particular focus on local experiences.

Their tagline - is based on Option 4- Using the outcome their guests want to achieve on their tours. 

(although they didn't use Where but it works well without) 

- These words are based on an insight - the focus that their guests want local experiences, and community based activities. They don't want to do things that are touristy - but going to places, and doing things with local guides and local services. 

Intrepid also uses a secondary line - like Step 4 - They clarify what they do - because their tagline doesn't say it all. 

Example #2 Jo & So

homepage Jo and So tourism accommodations

This is an example of an accommodation business that recommends hotels and stays in Portugal. 

They used Option 3 with one difference. 

Outcome- Cool places to stay    Need/Insight: handpicked= carefully selected accommodation  Vehicle - 2 Portuguese sisters - who curate the tours and they are credible because they are from Portugal 

I like this tagline and it doesn't need a secondary line because it answers -  what they do and how they do it.

However,  they could have talked more directly to their audience and written something like: 

Cool places to stay in Portugal handpicked by locals especially for you.

Example #3 Impulse Travel - Tour Company

Impulse travel home page example of tourism headlines

Impulse travel- A tour company in Colombia - used the outcome method option 4 for their tourism tagline.  The insight here is that Colombia is plagued with a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions - and they want to dispel this.  

Then they added Step 4  as a subline - to describe in 3 phrases what they do.  Instead of one line, you can use 3 lines. Listing in 3’s can be an effective written approach – but any more phrases is too much information, and not as strong and brief as the subline is intended to do.

Example #4  Moscatello Family Resort

website homepage - moscatello resort

This vacation home uses Option 3 - Vehicle- family vacation house in Maremma, Italy  Outcome: Where you can live the summer all year long. This is a good use of copy, I would recommend it to be two sentences. For example: 

The family house where you can live the summer all year long

Moscatello. In the heart of Maremma, Italy.

Website image of Taste of toulouse food tour

 Taste of Toulouse -Food and drink tours in Toulouse, France.

In this example this business used a combination of  Option 1 and 5.   Helping you (target audience)  Outcome: experience and taste food like a local - going to places and eating what and where locals do.  This line is a little longer because it also includes "what" they do and where they do it. 

This is an effective example - of focusing directly on your audience in your copy, and what outcome they are looking for.

Now do you feel equipped to tackle building your own tourism taglines? Words that will help you convince your ideal target guest to keep on reading on? Let us know in the comments. And if you are looking for more copy tips to improve your marketing you can find them here.  Check out our resources page for more website and marketing tips. 

pinterest - Taglines in the industry - how to improve them

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New Target Customer Profile When Travel Opens: Where Do I Start?

It's September 2020, 7 months into the the pandemic (technically 8 months, depending on what side of the world you are), and the tourism business has changed forever.  Three important areas have forced us all to relook at our companies because the travelers' needs and perspectives are changing, and we have to reach them- somehow. 

These factors are travel restrictions, fear and uncertainty, and price sensitivity. These factors force us to relook at our target customer profile - for some of you the customer will have to be different, for others - we need to market to our current customers differently. 

3 Important Factors to Address In Your Marketing


1.Travel restrictions, regulations and uncertainty: 

a) The staggering of domestic and international flights vary by country and some countries are not permitting some countries passengers to enter. 

-Perhaps International tourism hasn't even opened yet? And who is to say that travelers will start rushing to your country when it opens? They are managing their own country's restrictions and their own fears of the unknown. 

b) To make matters worse - some travelers are not permitted to enter certain countries, due to the stage and development of the virus. We've seen this already with Americans unable to enter in parts of Europe. 

-As restrictions relax and we learn to live with this virus - where does this leave tourism and hospitality services for travelers? Will tourism be regarded as an essential or non-essential services if restrictions and closures continue as cases increase? 

c) Protocols and regulation uncertainty - Frustrated travelers are finding it nearly impossible to understand what countries they can enter, what protocols they need to follow, and what tests or quarantine steps they need to take.  This is stopping them from booking. They are looking for safe options - like traveling in their home country. 

d) Travel Insurance restrictions -  Insurance companies haven't made it easy for anyone to travel.  Some don't cover Covid if you get sick outside your home country, while others won't cover people from countries that have reported travel advisories. Again, making it impossible for travelers to book a trip easily. 

Implications for your business:  Now is the time to take a good look in the mirror.  These obstacles are going to continue.  You relook at your target customer profile and access whether you need to target a new group of consumers (which in many cases are domestic and regional travelers or just LOCALS) As travel restrictions continue, lack of widespread and valid testing, and the absence of a vaccine, international travel will be restricted from various countries in stages.  This my require you to create something specifically for this target audience.

2. The  needs of travelers have changed  - fear and uncertainty prevails

We are changing as humans because of the impact this virus has on us. Fortunately, many research studies have evaluated the mindset of consumers and how and where they want to travel. Here are a few highlights:

  • Even when air travel continues – Every travel business will need to reassure safety and cleanliness to worried passengers –70% of Americans, and 54% of travelers surveyed from the U.K. associate air travel with getting sick. Modifications to air travel procedures will need to be made for these travelers to get on a plane again.  The same fear and uncertainty as we are seeing applies to hotels, buses and cruise ships. 2020 Phocuswright Study
  • Values for many travelers will change – Our values will shift from a focus on image and luxury to values of safety and responsiveness. Companies must focus on a clean and safe environment, and responding quickly to issues, and clearly communicate this in their marketing in order to build trust with their guests. As well, nature and outdoors is the prevailing need and desire. What can you do to help consumers with these needs?  -April 2020 Smart travel lab – Kantar
  • Local travel and staycations have accelerated – Regulation, fear and cabin fever have driven travelers to focus on getting away from the main city centers into nature and controlling their surroundings and often driving their own care. This approach gives travelers a sense of control and reduces anxiety from the fear of infection. 
changing trends that require a new target customer profile

The changing values and trends of consumers during and post Covid.

Implications for your business: 

Relook at your target audience, and what you offer them now. How can you eliminate their fears of getting sick? How can you tell and show them how you take their concerns very seriously?

You will need to change your copy and communications to meet their needs.

Contact your tourism board to get information and data on the type of consumers that are traveling to your area? What do they like, what do they want to do?  Monitor what countries are opening up to see how they are managing shifts in perspectives. If your primary target customer profile is from the U.K., but the borders remain closed to your country – this will force you to target different people from different countries, and potentially a local market in the near term. What can you offer them?  

Not sure how to change your communication and website copy?  Here are some ideas here. 

3. Price Deals and Price Sensitivity of Travelers

Pricing is going to change in the short term and long term in travel because of several major factors: 

- Widespread job loss and income will make travelers more cautious in the short term and it will impact how much they are willing to pay; for instance a staycation in their home country and shorter trips will be more palatable than longer, luxury, and international excursions. Some travelers will 'wait and see' due to health fears and choose shorter and closer trips and the demand will change. This shift will also have an impact on costs.  

- Tourism companies and airlines are advertising crazy low prices in the short term – They are desperate to get travelers back after travel is open again. This activity will be short term. It will be impossible to sustain low pricing long term in a low margin industry like tourism. 

-Longer-term, the impact of the bankruptcy of airlines, hotels, and attractions will drive up costs, and if regulations and safety require them to book fewer people for their services to satisfy distancing measures, costs for travel companies will increase. Unfortunately, travel will most likely become more expensive vs. pre-COVID, and it will not remain accessible for everyone. To add to the challenge, the virus has caused a deep financial crisis, and the disposable income for many travelers will not improve for some time.

Implications for your business: 

Pay close attention to the price sensitivity in the market, how it will change, and do your research on pricing comparisons.

Don't assume that low prices is what all travelers are willing to pay. This is not true. In fact in a study by Amadeus Sept 2020 , 70% of travelers expect to have the same or more budget for holidays.  

We may see short term discounts, but they will level off. Lower pricing will not win in the long run. The more you stay in touch with the market dynamics,  the better you can manage your profits of your business. My bigger questions is: What will the future of luxury tourism look like? 

Understanding the new needs of your post COVID guest is criticalIf you don't understand the needs of your guest, you can't effectively market to them.The more you can persuade them, the more of a chance they will buy from you.

Do you need to develop a new target customer profile Post-CoVID-19? - probably.

All the factors mentioned above will require tourism businesses to look at their target audiences. Most likely you will need to shift to a new audience, at least in the short term. 

Here are some new target customer profiles to think about: 

a. Local daytrippers, domestic instead of International travelers. – We've seen this in many countries that opened up in May onward.  Consumers are uncertain about regulations and have a fear of traveling too far, and if your target market was traditionally foreign,a domestic target could vary in language, and in different needs. Local travelers may like to do different things, and pricing may be different. For example: If you historically offered a city tour, a  local traveler may more likely book an adventure that is not easily accessible, and not somewhere they can get to in their own car. Do you have a few packages, rooms, or attractions to appeal to them?* 

There are different subgroups within the domestic traveler to consider:

b. Families with kids – It's a guarantee that some parents will want to unleash their kids to enjoy some activities that they don't have to organize, manage, or monitor. And after being trapped indoors – nature and the outdoors will play a key role in their travel decision. This is particularly relevant for local travelers - and they may want to bring their dogs too. 

c. Retired and semi- retired travelers  -This group will either be very worried by the crisis, and will wait and see what happens for several months OR they will be the first ones on the next plane because to them "life is too short, let's go traveling again." As long as you provide offers relevant to them (i.e. cultural and low impact adventures). This group over-index on the use of Facebook, and you can target them easier with ads, based on their demographics and key brands they use.

d. Expats and digital nomads – There are groups of foreigners who may be an option to target since they are already in the country and looking for something to do. For example, I live in Medellin Colombia right now, which is a hotspot for retirees, as well as startup companies as well as individuals and groups who live and work online here. A lakeside hotel in a nearby town advertised their services with a call to action "Come stay and recharge in nature after the quarantine" – and they received hundreds of responses and bookings. Don't forget that local Facebook expat and digital nomad groups are a great place to find prospective buyers. (just check their rules for promoting). 

e. Students- The younger generations are  having a tough time coming to terms with their canceled plans, and they aren't spending money like they used to, as they are cooped up at home. In some studies, this group will be the most anxious to say YES! to travel quickly after the crisis is over. Think about December when many students will be out of school - how can you create a plan to target them now? 

f. The Business Community – There is no doubt that many companies are challenged to bring their businesses online and work from home. Now, in September we continue to see many businesses have not returned to their offices, and they do not have any scheduled group business events. Cities around the world are missing the extensive income generated from  these offsite business meetings. However, are their opportunities to reach out to local businesses - to create a safe, physically distanced event, tour, meeting to bring the team together? Also, reach out to past contacts to remind them of the future opportunity to work with you again. 

g. Occasion: Communicate the needs and emotions of missed celebrations – Not only should you look at target groups,  but also look at occasions to market. Many celebrations have been missed by travelers – like graduations, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and reunions – marketing directly to consumers who have missed these occasions can be very useful to tap into their needs and their emotions. Facebook can be a very effective tool to advertise to people on these occasions because you can directly target past birthdays, engaged, and anniversaries within the targeting functions.    

 *Thanks for the opinions and views from the Covid study from Toluna/Harris Interactive April 2020, - Digital Tourism Show, and Arival Webinar April 21 tourism insights 

How do I start defining a new target market and ideal customer profile?

Here are the key steps:

1. Brainstorm. Start with your own best guess

- Think of as many people that you could attract to your business. It could be someone you met before, a neighbor,  or it could be a friend of a friend that would have some interest in your services. It could be a past guest you had and you know if you had more of them, it would help your business. OR  maybe you could make changes to your product or service that would be of interest to them. 

2. Review your list and pick 3-4 of the most viable people 

No business appeals to everyone. Nor do you need to sell to everyone. Now think through in more detail about these people. Most importantly think about their behaviors. What do they like to do? What are their interests? What do they want to do now to feel safe, comfortable, stress free?  Can you offer them an escape outdoors, to nature? Offer a weekend getaway from the city? Write as many things as you can about this person - who are they, what do they do?, what do they worry about, what can you do to help them in some way? 

3. Interview these people to validate your guesses, AND learn more about them.

 Yes. you have to ASK people questions in order to understand them. Contact that neighbor, that friend of a friend, some past guests that you know -- and ask them specific questions. You will be amazing by how much you will learn about them! 

Set up a call and ask these questions from this questionnaire. (download here) 

You will ask questions about their background, Their likes and dislikes, Their Interests, Their "pain" – these are the problems you can resolve for them, How they plan their travel, what activities do they like to do, and what do they need to feel safe and comfortable using your products or services. 

4.   Create a Guest Persona 

Summarize this information in a little chart.  One page for each potential guest. You can summarize this in different ways.

Why:  This acts like a vision board, or a goal posted on your bulletin board -- This will help you hone in on this person, think about them, how to market to them, and share this information to your staff.  Your staff and partners can also add to this summary, to help you better attract them. 

You can do this in several ways. 

Use software to create it. Like Uxpressia

or use our simplified target guest powerpoint template (download here) 

A guest persona will make your life much easier because it will help you develop:

-Website Copy

-Facebook and social media posts 

-Media content

-Better customer service responses to your guests 

-Email marketing that doesn't get deleted 

-Advertising and sales materials 

-Tours, or amenities you offer, the types of events you run

 5.  Important points about your ideal target customer profile

  • Often mindset, interests, and behaviors will be a more significant factor than their demographics  (age, what country they are from) to appealing to this consumer.
  • Don't get caught up with a specific age (range)
  •  Focus on the person with the mindset, attitude and the stage they are in

Download the resources, and start working on your new target customer profile. How did you make out with your new guest persona? Let us know, and you can find more tourism marketing resources here. 

Picture of start and recovery - and how to create a new target customer profile

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Tour Operator Website Copy Tips with Tourpreneur Podcast

touroperator website tips

Recently, I had the absolute pleasure of being interviewed by Shane Whaley from the Tourpreneur Podcast.  This is a forum for tour operators from around the world to improve their tourism business. 

The mission of the podcast is to flatten the learning curve for the tour operator with actionable tips to apply to the tour industry. This is one of the most popular podcasts in the tourism industry and listened to in 110 countries and I'm a fan, I've learned a tonne about the industry for this podcast. Our interview was about a big topic: 

Tour Operator Website Copy Tips  

You can listen to the podcast directly by clicking below, or catch the key tips in the transcript.

Below are the tourpreneur transcripts and key travel operator tips

Shane: Hello, and welcome to Episode 106 of the Tourpreneur podcast where we flatten the learning curve for tour operators around the world. Today, we're tackling a topic that many of you have written in asking for help with and that's how to improve your website copy. Most of us know our grammar and our spelling, but we didn't really get taught how to write copy and there are people out there that charge thousands, sometimes 10s of thousands of dollars to write copy for us. It's quite an art.

There's quite a science to copywriting. So today we are chatting with Dorene Wharton with the Head marketer and strategist at Travel Life Media. And she has some pedigree 25 plus years in marketing, particularly focusing on brand strategy brand communications website copy, SEO, and she has worked as head of marketing for Anheuser Busch. She's worked as head of Canada marketing for Jim Beam brands, they make one of my favorite drinks Maker's Mark. And on the other side, she's also worked on marketing for visitor centers, and brewery tours.

Topics we cover in this podcast:


- Copy changes needed since COVID. 

- And what hasn't changed in terms of effective copy

- Must-haves in your copy the importance of authenticity,

-Why good copy starts with your purpose.

- Finding the right balance of SEO keywords versus your brand voice.

Shane: We are here today to talk about travel and tourism, and how to improve our website copy for the tour operator. And this is something I hear a lot about from our listeners and operators where many of us can't afford a copywriter. So we're doing this on our own. And it's something that we all struggle with, because it's not anything that's taught at school. And there are various courses online and everything else. But I'm really excited to talk to you about copy because it's a subject that I'm really fascinated with. So what do you think has changed since COVID? And what hasn't changed in terms of effective copy?

Dorene: Well, the interesting thing is that because of the heightened sense of awareness of our fear of health and safety, that obviously isn't Really important point that we have to address with our consumers. Now, the adventure travel guys, they've been doing this all along because they have to address the safety issue. But we all have to do it now so pronounced because it's absolutely on top of everybody's minds. So that would be one.

But there's other trends that were happening pre COVID that are just much more pronounced.

The rise of conscious consumerism and why it matters 

Now, let's take for example, I like to call it conscious consumerism. Those are those consumers and in the past, they were millennials predominantly millennials who thought about this, that people buy products that they value, that don't just make money, but they're equally focused on improving the world in some way. 

The millennial generation started out because they were the most cynical, and they were the most untrusting of brands. And they use the word authentic, which is really where that word really started  to make a difference. Some consumers call brands real some call it you know, transparent, whatever the case may be.

Consumers want to support brands who do and say the things that we believe in.  - Simon Sinek

But what it really means is that as consumers we want to support brands who do and say the things that we believe in. So that was happening before. But now that we've got, you know, fake news, fake brands, we don't know what's true and what's not. We're getting more skeptical with brands, and what really the motives are. And it's not just millennials, it is consumers, all generations, and it's certainly consumers, global consumers, in fact, 87% I think the number is that of global consumers that look for brands that equally value, business interest, but society interests too.

Shane: Yeah, that's a really good point. I know we went on a cruise in the Caribbean in January. And that was something I was really aware of when booking experiences that I didn't want to go on an experience where animals were treated badly or not living in good conditions, and I was really scouring and I kind of hope because I booked all my experiences through the cruise line, that they had been vetted and I'm pleased to say they were all exceptional, but as a consumer that's so I'm nowhere near being a millennial as you can tell, but it's still something that's on my mind. behind that, you know, I want to make sure that I'm taking an experience with an ethical company.

Shane: So what do you think are some of the, the must- have in copy in this new world? So we've got that conscience consumerism. And now of course, there is a major concern around safety. And I think we're at this point where we don't really know how this is going to play out. And I was saying to someone the other day that I'm not sure right now, even though I'm in this industry, if I'd go into a museum, or some kind of attraction, because you closed in, you know, you've got kids touching everything in there and whatnot.

I'll book with a tour operator and go on a walking tour or biking tour or kayaking, but do I really want to go into this attraction or venue? And someone said, Well, I think it's gonna change once someone you know, has been into that attraction and has come out and they didn't get sick and we had a good time, this new normal, but what can we do in our copy to reassure people that the attractions Or the experience. So I've taken all the necessary steps on hygiene and safety.

Dorene: Okay, so let's talk that because that's this is on everybody's mind. And fortunately, we've had a lot of good webinars even with Arival, And we talked about what really we need to do with opening. We got to talk to fears head on, it's got to be really obvious by saying things like your health and safety are important to us to keep you and our employees safe. Like that would be kind of a thing you want to say very clearly on your tour operator website and very obvious. You also want to have a reliable source of Who are you are you looking at CDC? Are you looking at your city's regulations in terms of that?

How to create great COVID safety copy for your guests 

Example of great Covid Safety copy: Eagle Wing Whale Watching Tours - in British Colombia Canada.  

Why is this a great example?

-So they have two really big buttons on their homepage.

-One it says COVID one says safety pledge and I think they have a third one that just has an offer on it.

-They have their staff have masks on. And they say on their tagline, we're ready for you. So it did you know, inviting.

-But what I really liked is when you hit those tabs, there's two very significant pages.

-One, the title is what we are doing to keep you safe.

-And the second title is what we are asking you to do to help us. And it's in clear bullets, very obvious, it's actually in a big font. (use bigger font so your audience over 40 years old can read it) 

So that's the first thing is obviously the health and safety and they were very clear with what they were doing and what they expect of their desk. And then of course, the other thing is the easy exit. So you need easy cancellation and you got to make it so darn obvious because I mean, you know, look at look at what's happening now in Melbourne right now. You know they're closing and so people are going to be asking for cancellation.  When you do reopen, don't underestimate the power of a welcome back. Like that's really powerful communication.

Shane: Yeah. And I was just reading about a depending when the show goes out, but there was a boat tour operator in Chicago and the mare is absolutely furious because she saw there was 100 people crammed onto the cruise on the lake. And I can't see what the numbers were put there. The agreement was much less than that. And of course, that's all over the news. So the public is seeing this and the thinking, yeah, these tour operators that they just want to cram us on. They don't really care. They're all saying they care, but they don't. And that's why copy and photographs are going to be so important going forward, isn't it? Yeah, it's establishes trust. It's actually it's, it's doing a lot, both the copy and the visuals.
You also said so copywriting is quite an art. I think it's a ninja skill. Because there's so many different things involve a copywriting. I mean, the way I look at is you really have to when you're writing anything, you have to put yourself in the shoes of the person who's going to be reading that copy. And that's tricky, right? When you think of two operate as you think it's not just one, it's not just millennials coming to my experience, it's a wide mix of people. So how do operators think about writing for you know, other people?

Dorene: Well, first of all, it's not easy. And I totally respect that. Because the thing about your website is you have a lot of different styles on there that you you're trying to address, because you're trying to be a little bit of a storyteller. And then you're also you need to build trust, which we all hear about this all the time that you need to do that. But then there's some sales copy, you want to try to convert people, so there's like a lot of things going on. So it's no wonder it's kind of daunting.

You need to understand your target audience really well to write good copy.

But one of the biggest things they can do and we we've probably heard this lingo in marketing a lot is you got to do a deep dive into who they are. And there's various, you know, pieces of terminology for that. Some people call it the guest persona, the customer persona, and that's just simply interviewing your guests. reading your reviews. When you spend time with your guests. You get to know the lingo and the things that they're saying. You get to really, like really understand what is it that they're asking for? And what are the questions like your FAQs are a great way to do that. So those are like, you've got to know your, your consumer because those that's actually you're going to play back a lot of things that they say in your copy.

So let's say I'm putting you on the spot here a little bit, but let's say you are that whale watching tour up in beautiful British Columbia. And you're interviewing me as a guest. And we're a couple of standard questions you would ask me so that you could understand in my persona? 

There's a little bit of a read between the lines you have to do too. So I know sometimes people hear Oh, okay, well ask the Ask the guests what problem they have. Okay, well, what are they going to say? Like, oh, I you know, I lost my job or whatever. Like, how is that going to help you?

You can ask things like find out like, what is their lifestyle? Like, what do they love to do? What are their what lights them up? What are you most excited about? What are the things that bother them about traveling in our city, country, whatever. Those are a good place to start and say, what is it that what are the most important things that you want out of your vacation? Those are places to start. But then you start to read between the lines when you hear them answer the questions. And then the little things come up. It's like, Oh, that's interesting.

Shane:  What some of the best tour operator copy you've seen out there when it comes to travel? 

Your About US page is one of the top pages on your website -  personal connection matters

I like to look at different sections because I look at a website and I love the About Us page which is an essential absolutely It is your top, if it's not your top three in terms of traffic, you've either not put it in the top end, you've not put your about us in the top navigation and you've buried it. But I would be surprised if it's not. So I sometimes look at the About Us page, I look at the homepage, I look at the tour descriptions. And I find that like, there's various different websites that I like different parts to it, depending on it is

Shane:  This is so fascinating to hear that because I agree with you about the About Us page is one of the ones I visit first, but then I often think is it just because I'm in the bubble? Um, because we do we work in this industry and marketing will do the general public, actually. So I would ask our listeners go check your Google Analytics and see if your audience are actually clicking on the about page and if not, we've got some work to do.
Yeah, I mean, and there's there's a reason why they're clicking on there because people care about either spending time with like, think of us being all locked up right now. Well, we're not some of us aren't locked up anymore, but the time that we spent to think about our business who wants  to spend time with who we actually want to put our money towards? You know, do we want to buy local? I mean, you've talked about, you know, the restaurant that you want to support in your neighborhood. I mean, those are the people that you truly care about what's going on with them.

And I don't know about you, but I don't want to spend my time with everybody. When I had limited time to see people. There's certain people, it's the people that inspire you. And the people that actually you have, you know, a connection with, those are the people you want to spend time with. So it's no surprise that people go to the About Us page. I think, in fact, Neil Patel even said it was like if it's not your top three, because again, they just want to see the people behind the business instead of the corporate business itself.

Shane: Yeah, it's so true. Absolutely. I guess I need to get to work on my about page. I haven't really touched mine.

Dorene: Your About Page is not a resume. That is a resume with a list of I've done this, I've done this. No, it's not. It's not that at all. It's actually about writing in a way that it is about you and your brand, but through the eyes of your target. Yes. So you're writing it like, Okay, I'm going to tell you about myself. It's like I'm sitting with you. I've known you for 15 years chain. And there's a lot of things I want to tell you about what I'm passionate about. But you know what, instinctively, you totally connect with it because you're inspired by what I have to say, or you actually believe in what I say.

So it's not a resume. It's not about bragging, or don't worry about that, because you can still put your credentials and your awards and things like that on it. 

It's really about the personal story that you have so people can connect with who you are and what you stand for.
Yeah, and I don't think I really do that on the page. Well, I know why you should listen. 

Dorene: I'll give you some specific examples of great about us pages with tour operators. What I love is that you actually included a mission It's like, okay, what's the mission? Here's what happens is we spent too much time talking about what we do and how we do it. We don't talk about why we do it.  Check out these great pages:  About Us Page from Impulse Travel  As well as Taste of Thailand Food Tours

What gets us up in the morning to do this job, why it's so important to us. Eg. say, Shane, I met you at an event somewhere, and you introduce yourself and you said, Hey, I'm Shane Whaley. I run a podcast to help tour operators run successful businesses. That's like, Oh, great. Yeah. Okay, cool. That sounds interesting. But if you set it differently and included your mission, call it your purpose, your belief statement, your mission, those are all generally the same things. You would actually include something different, you actually include the fact "Hey, I'm Shane Whaley. I run a podcast to help tour owners and operators flatten their learning curve to run successful tourism businesses." Okay, that's got way more power. Every time that you say flatten the learning curve. That's like a signal in people's head is like, Yeah, he's, he's on a mission. He's helping people out and he's very specific about what he's doing. What he's passionate about,

Shane: it's good that you raise that because that wasn't your original mission. It kind of was. But I didn't know that. And it came to me some way into the podcast was like, yeah, each story here is flattening the learning curve. I'm not flattening the learning curve for people. But our guests who come on like you're doing today talking copy. Absolutely. So that's something that grew with a brand. And I realized that and I think that's why we do need to be with to self reflect on what we're doing and why we're doing because sometimes that, you know,

Dorene: I'll tell you another one, devour tours, they have a really great mission. So their mission is to connect curious travelers with local food and communities in a way that helps culture thrive. So it's who they're talking to what they do, and why they do it. It's all encapsulated there. And in fact, they have a tagline that really that's very similar that rings true with their mission.

Shane: So are there any exercises so I know right now money is very tight for operators can't all outsource this to experts to or focus groups to come up with this. Are there any exercises or tips or anything that tour operators can do themselves right now to come up with an epic mission statement,
any sort of copy type of courses are good, you know, to think of like descriptive words and things like that. But I'll leave you with a bunch of examples of how how you can just generally improve your your copy. And actually, in the in the show notes, I'm happy to leave I have a pretty detailed blog post that shows you how to write an About Us page and talks about more tips that's related to this, this topic. So I'm happy to leave that to, you know, it's just doing little bits at a time. Let's take for example, tour descriptions. When you're looking at your copy. You really want to avoid the adjectives that are like stunning, beautiful, wonderful, they don't help. They're not really bringing it to life. And if I know anything about tour operators, you know, they're really good at obviously telling their story when they're in field.

So paint that picture with descriptive words you know, like turquoise waters or vast landscapes like don't like those kind of things really help.

Use Verbs - to move your copy especially tour descriptions to action

And the other one is verbs. Verbs is a wonderful, wonderful way of moving to action. So like say for example, you do a tour description, start with a verb on your bullet, dive and do this, enjoy this eat hearty food at this restaurant, those things verbs really, really help get you grounded and putting the most important words at the beginning as well which, you know, because we've got scanners, we're going to scan those details. Those are examples of how you can actually improve on your copy.

Shane: So you can't see it cuz obviously is a podcast but next to me here I have a very thick thesaurus. Do you think that is something that is with luck because I will often go to my test services, okay, I keep using the word beautiful all the time to give you you know your example, or fascinating or fabulous when I'll go to my festivus and try and find other words It's repetitive, but they might be more emotional, for instance, more powerful words to use.

Dorene: Instead of that think about just how do I would How would I would describe that. It's sort of like, wonderful is my opinion, but describe it like, is it blue? Is it large? Is it green? Is it Yeah, you know, Is it hurting isn't? So there's ways to do that.

Shane: The thing that comes up a lot in sales and copy is features versus benefits. What would you say the differences are between them?

I think there's a role for both because we've got the people that are scanners and I know a number of our, our  Tour Operator Themes and WordPress templates and whatever other templates have, like why work with us, and there's like the three bullet points of you know, we have experience guides, we have private tours. The reality is there's people that are going to scan and they're going to want to like okay, it's not my checklist. I want a private tour, good to have private tours done.

I'm going to book but the benefits stuff is describing how people feel and let's stuff that's most important. The best visual example of a benefit is when you're showing someone having fun clinking their glasses and watching the sunset. And it's like, oh, I just want to be there. I just want to book that thing. Now, on a copy side, it's a little harder to do because you cut you know, okay, I don't want to be cheesy. I don't want to totally romances, but you kind of do have to romance it up. 

And I'll give you example, Luksa from Rewind Dubrovnik. They run boat tours in Croatia. He was on your on your podcast, his copy, he is really good benefit copy, and it's on his About Us page. And he has this line.

His copy says: "we do our very best to make you feel like a movie star, speeding on the boat with the wind in your hair, having a cold drink, listening to good music, taking pictures and fully enjoying your vacation." Luksa  knows his audience. Number one. He knows exactly what they want. They want to look like movie stars and just, you know, hair in the breeze and he actually he's talking to them, and it's totally benefit focused.

Shane: Yeah, I liked his way. I liked his photos as well that I just wanted to jump into a boat and can't travel right now, but we won't go there. So an English isn't his first language. Obviously he's in Croatia. So even more kudos to him for coming up with that
great copy. Yeah, he knows who his audiences
absolutely will have to ask Lucas in the group, how he interviews his, his customers, how he came up with that.

Shane: What are some other writing tips you can share with two printers, maybe some do's and don'ts,

Dorene: Calls to action. Those are important. I know, it seems so ridiculous that we have to say to people, for more information, call us or book it out or you know, read our blog to learn about this. But there's this weird mindset thing that we have that there are people that are going okay, I'll go do it. You know, when you ask people to like your page or comment on this, it's just a weird psychological thing that we have to kind of tell people what we want them to do next. So that would be one the other one would be, which I think is probably the easiest thing for every choice. operator to do is to, to go and take all that beautiful copy that you've done.

How to make your copy legible

Make smaller paragraphs, reduce your copy, add titles and subtitles Just cut it up, put it into smaller bits, put some titles, put some subtitles, even change the fonts in some areas, it just makes it so much easier to read so much easier. and highlight the like the important points that you want to express. And there's a lot that are doing that really well. But then then you come across a page and you just go wow, like this is so much copy. I like I'm kind of getting lost. 

Read your copy out loud

Guaranteed you're going to pick up something that sounds a little funny.

Get feedback from your target audience - not your family

Don't be afraid to actually don't feel like you need to have perfect grammar. Because you don't we always say oh it doesn't sound right or or not a natural English speaker. It's not going to be good. Well, you know what you're talking to an audience and it doesn't have to be perfect grammar and actually we don't talk with perfect grammar. We don'ttalk and also

Shane: I Find I use the app Grammarly, which corrects my grammar as I go along, which is absolute godsend. Totally worth it. I wanted to ask you so one of the things that frustrates me when I write a blog post, obviously, I wanted to rank well in Google and the search engines. So I'm envious of journalists of the past, I could just write a beautiful story or a wonderful article, rather than when I'm writing now. It's like, Okay, I need to get and I'm not keyword stuffing, but I need to get the SEO terms in and the keywords then I have the Yoast plug in and it'll say not enough keywords or you don't have this and that the other.  What's the right balance between SEO keywords and our brand and our voice?

The balance of keywords and just good copy 

Dorene: I'm a little believer that if you're doing copywriting you got to understand SEO and an SEO company that you work with has to understand copywriting. The best thing to do is do your keywords first and then write if you're writing a blog post in particular, look at the keywords that you're okay. You know, I want to write about boating in Croatia, look at those words first, and then you can more naturally put them in. As opposed to like feeling like okay, I have to use and sometimes it's an awkward word. You say travel Croatia? Well, who says travel Croatia? They would say, you know, traveling in Croatia or Yeah, you got to be conscious of that. And also with SEO, you can also rank for secondary words. 

There's an opportunity to rank for other words, and then maybe you might use that word that you didn't use in a different post or in different places on your website. So I yeah, I try to you want to be as natural as possible, but I'm only view like, if something just doesn't look right. Especially a title. Just don't worry. Don't worry about the keyword just make it sound like it's interesting.
I think it's just a matter of using your good judgment. The error that you could make the most is if you truly have a title, that when you read the article, it's like, oh, the title is not even consistent with the article is it's just it's completely off. Well, that's what you don't want to do, but You know, like three ways to do this or whatever, I mean, use your best judgment. But yes, like things that have a number and a title, you know how to use those things they do really well. But there are other versions of different titles and I I should probably do a blog post that shows like the different versions of titles that you could do that that might be a good project. So because especially
for tour operators who keep blogs and write blogs i think that's that's the tricky thing as well.

Get personal in your copy

They share what's going on in their lives. They're not afraid to actually get a little emotional. And that's the number one thing that I see missing from a lot of websites is you know, what, we have a tendency of worrying about sounding so professional. And so then we kind of taught corporate with a corporate language.
I think you're spot on instantly that person that email I unsubscribed today because the sales that it was trying to sell me Bitcoin, I ain't getting any of that. So I unsubscribed so I've gone. But to your point about emotion and personality, I think it is absolutely right. Especially for tours. Because if you have someone, let's say that three or four whale watching tours in British Columbia to use your example, the personality is what's going to get me and it might be a personality that I don't like and I move on and that's fine. Do you really want that customer if they don't get your humor anyway? Or do you want to get someone to say I really like this person's humor, we're gonna fall on that boat. And it was something that I said to Chris Wilson, who runs typically Swiss tours, you know, you're in his car for eight hours. I'm like this, your website needs more, Chris, because I need to know who you are. If I'm going to spend all that time with you on a private tour, I need to know I'm going to get on with you and that you're not creepy as well because you know, he comes from Manchester so you know.

What is your brand tone of voice?

Well, and here's the thing, if you're not comfortable, you know, you got to figure out your brand voice so that that's another aspect is okay. Do I is my brand funny? Or is it serious? Or am I, you know, talking more worldly or are educated in a longer blog post that I have, which I can share with you in the show notes, I actually have the words that you could use to kind of help you figure that out.

If you are worried about your copy, make a video, show your personality or do both! 

How to choose a good copywriter

Shane: How do you assess whether a copywriter is going to be good for your business? What are some best practices?

Dorene: Ask a perspective copywriter - do they know SEO too?  I think they need to understand your industry. I have worked, you know with businesses that are you know, kind of emotionally led businesses and take a look at their stuff. interview them, what kind of questions I would ask them would be, you know, what's important to you? Also ask them how they create my copy? And if they're not talking about like, if it's if it's very sales focused only and not, you know, emotional, and like with marketing and sales in mind, then I would say, maybe they're not for you. But it always helps if you've got reviews, of course, and if you have takes a look at samples of their, of their, their coffee that they've done.

Shane: Yes, that's a really good point. I guess I would say make sure they invest time in you, if you sign up with them, you know, ask them you know, how do you work? What do you need from me? I think that will tell you a lot about how thorough the copywriter is.

Dorene: You are going to know your business better than anyone. You're going to know your consumer better than everyone. Don't worry, like start doing your own copy and then you No, you can always hire someone to to polish it and make the tweaks. But your think about what you have at your disposal. And you know your copy is always going to change. You're always going to do tweaks, you're always going to do adjustments. So don't worry if you don't feel like it's perfect, because you're always going to adjust it.
Yeah. And I think also there are words out there that that can repel us as well. 

For more in depth tips on how to improve your website copy you can find the details here. 

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10 Tips for Better Tourism Website Copywriting

website copyrighting for tourism - image of a vacation page for a tour company

It's no surprise that in the tourism industry, the primary focus areas of your website are design and user experience. They do the big job of inviting travelers to read more and engaging with your website.  However, your website copy can inspire, persuade and convert future travelers to guests, and improve the overall health of your brand. Tourism website copywriting is an important aspect of your website and it doesn't have to be scary. Here is what you need to know: 

The Benefits Of Good Website Copywriting

1. It creates a personal connection.
We are emotional human beings who crave personal connection; this was a trend before CoVid19, it's even more evident. People want to buy from people they like and who share their values. In a world of fake news, make-believe stories on social media, and a "look at me"artificial culture, there is no better time to show your target audience who you are, and why your tourism business is important. How do I know this? Your ABOUT US page is most likely the Top 3 or 4 traffic pages on your entire site. The more authentic, and the better you can communicate who you are, the more guests will want to strike a meaningful interaction with you.

2. It gives your business credibility.

It helps communicate your credibility as a tourism professional, which helps in building trust. Your words can help convince a traveler to book with you, converting from a looker to a buyer. The better you can build trust, the more they know you can meet their needs and buy from your business.

3. It can persuade and convert and help travelers find you on the internet.
This is the result. Your words play a big role in communicating, persuading, and converting prospective bookers at all sales funnel stages. What you say and how you say it makes a difference, and when you combine it with Search Engine Optimization practices – it will help you get discovered on the internet. 

Copy Must Haves in a Covid19 World to Reduce Fear and Anxiety

There is nothing more important right now than relieving the fears and concerns on potential guests' minds. You can do this with good website copywriting. Travelers need to know you are open, AND that you care for their health and well being.

Here are the important steps:

  1. Communicate that you care and you are making steps to make them safe. Use copy such as: "Your health and safety and our staff are important to us.                                                                                                                          
  2. List your protocols step by step - what steps you are taking and what you are asking your guest to do?
  3. Site a reliable source for your new standards – don't leave the traveler to guess whether the protocols are good or reliable tell them if you follow CDC guidelines, or your country or municipal guidelines. The WTTC (World Travel and Tourism Council have initiated the #SafeTravels protocols, you can find these Health protocols and guidelines here)
  4. Make it easy for them to change and cancel – Losing money is a big fear right now, it will make people more hesitant to book at all, if there isn't an easy process if regulations and protocols change.
  5. Don't underestimate the power of "Welcoming Back", and how happy you are to be back serving them and what it means to you.

Here are examples of a tour businesses doing a great website copy job for Covid Safety.

Eagle Wing Whale watching tours

Intrepid Travel Covid Communication 

10 Top Tips for Improving Your Tourism Website Copywriting

Tourism business copy is a combination of several different types of writing, that is why it feels so daunting. It is  a combination of fact-based copy(tour descriptions and FAQ's), creative copy(Service descriptions, the home page), persuasive copy (About us page), conversion copy (calls to action, asking for the same) and storytelling (About us, a service description). So your copy has to work hard to do all those things effectively. 

Here are 10 tips to help you improve all aspects of your tourism website

1. Make a personal connection– share your passion and your views.

Who you are and what you stand for matters to your target audience. Because people want to buy from people that they like and who share your values.  Some call this authentic, or real but the definition is that people want to buy from people that believe in what they believe. Did you know that your About Us page is top #3 of all website pages for traffic? That is because people want to know the people behind the business.  Never be afraid to share your beliefs, what is important to you, and share your personal story. People want to support brands and people they like and who share their values. Why you do what you do is equally important to what and how you do it – So SHARE your Passion, and share your views! It's not a surprise that the best reviews you receive for your company are when guests mention specific tour guides and employees. That is because they made a personal connection with them, and it's the people that created their positive experience.  Watch this video and I'll explain why your purpose connects with travelers.

One way to improve your personal connection is to optimize your About US page. People want to book with people they like and who support their values. Optimize your page to create that connection. And you can use that content to help introduce yourself to future partners and travel clients, and gain publicity for your business through podcasts, interviews, and articles. Learn how to write a powerful About Us Page here. 

A mission statement or belief statement is another compelling way to make an emotional connection. These statements share why you do what you do. (your purpose). It is what moves you, and its how you contribute positively to your guests, your community, and the world in some way. I recommend you share this on your home page and about us page. Check out Impulse Travel's mission - and how they share their what, how and why, and Taste of Thailand Food Tours Mission and About Page

A great example of this is Devour Tours in Europe have a strong mission statement that they share throughout their website and their marketing communication.  Also check out the About Us page, and mission for Impulse Travel, these guys are crystal clear on who they are and what they stand for. 

"Our mission is to connect curious travelers with local food and communities to help culture thrive. We crave food and travel experiences with a true sense of place and believe that travel is about immersing yourself in the local culture." Devour tours

2. Talk to your guest directly because you understand them and their needs.

Travel professionals like you are naturally curious – and the best way to learn about your target guest is what makes them tick. Who are they? What is important to them?
-Listen, interview, and get feedback from your target guests because they will help you write your website copy. They will use the words  to describe their needs, likes, and dislikes, which will improve the relevance of your copy. Not sure what to ask your target guest?

 Download our target audience question sheet here.

Create a guest persona – a document that describes your audience to speak directly to them in your website copy. This is a summary description of your target guest, to help you recognize them, and explain who they are to your staff.

Write in the second person – use words like "you, yours "– as though you are speaking directly to the traveler you want to attract. 

WIFM - What's in it for me? (well in this case - your target audience) When you are not sure, read a paragraph or sentence and think: "what is in it for my reader? " That will guide you to writing more customer-focused writing. 

3. Talk like a human being, not a stuffy corporate entity. 

  • You can still appear professional and credible without talking like you are a corporation. Speaking like a real human being goes a long way. That is why imperfect grammar, sentence fragments, and slang are perfectly ok if you relate to your target audience. The goal is your writing is open and approachable and speaks directly to them like they have been friends forever.
  • PLEASE remove any 3rd person talk from your copy. For example – you write a bio on your website that sounds like a magazine interviewed you.  
  • Use "I, We" when talking about yourself, instead of He, She, or They. The "I" talk should be limited on your website. It is essential when you share your story, your mission, and experiences specific to you. Have you noticed that many brands send you emails from a specific person and not a business? That is because personal emails have higher open rates than emails that are from a company.

4. Use a brand voice relevant for your brand.

Every successful brand has three essential aspects of its brand personality. A brand is like a person; it has a style, behavior and voice. 

  • Style= What your brand looks like- it is your design and style, the visual representation of your brand. It includes design elements, the colors, the fonts, and logos. This is the one area of a brand that we tend to focus on the most.
  • Behavior = What your brand does  This is what your business does precisely. Depending on your business, your brand runs tours, hosts travelers at your attraction,  transports guests around the country or you provide lodging for tourists to stay. Brand behavior is also how you run your business – the approach you take while running your business and the type of services you offer.
  • Voice= What your brand says and how you say it This includes your website copy on your marketing materials, and even how you answer the phone and what you say to current and future guests. It's no surprise that your brand voice, your brand copy, tends to hit the bottom of your priority list. Here is a way to help you define your voice. eg. What words would you use to describe how you talk? For example, is your brand funny or serious, loud or quiet, friendly, or sarcastic? 

    Find 3-5 words from this list below that are consistent with the tone of voice for your brand. 
    If you know your brand is fun and sarcastic (for example), then you will write your copy with that tone in mind.

Brand Voice - Descriptive words to describe your brands to write better copy

brand voice - a tool to help you with website copywriting

5. Benefits vs. Features- there is a difference.

Features and benefits are very different. Features are aspects of the service that you provide. It includes offering a private bathroom, or private transport or free airport pick-up, or bilingual guides. Benefits are how it will make a traveler FEEL. And feelings are more powerful because it helps the reader say, "Yeah, I want to feel like that." Strong benefit words include escape, relax, enjoy life again, feel like a kid again. Features are great for scanning and helping travelers compare, yet benefits are what make your copy speak to them. 

Check out the About us copy for Rewind Dubrovnik and how they use benefit copy in their "Why choose us paragraph." This is a great example of letting your guest visualize how your tour experience will make them feel.

6. Rules of thumb to give your words more power.

  • Remove meaningless adjectives when describing your experience or service. Describe what your guest is going to see, do, and experience when they book with you. Avoid adjectives such as  "stunning", "beautiful", "wonderful"– because they don't describe anything. Instead, paint a picture, use descriptive, objective adjectives like vast, expansive, moist, hearty, sweet, turquoise waters. Think about how your sentences benefit your reader, and answer what they are looking for. For example, Instead of "Stunning lakeside views" instead describe them as:  "Expansive views and turquoise waters."
  • Verbs are your friend. Verbs are action words, and for a good reason, they are powerful. Because travelers want to do, see, and feel when they travel, right? Usually, these are active verbs like discovering, diving, eating, learning, and taking a boat to....                                                                                                                            
  • Put your most important words at the beginning of a sentence, and at the start of a bullet. These are usually verbs.                                                  
  • Remove filler words. Words that if removed, won't change the meaning of the sentence or they can be replaced with a shorter word. Some common pesky words that sneak in here are words like- a bit, kind of, really, quite or a little.                      
  • Read your copy out loud. Guaranteed, you will pick up on little errors, and when you hear it, some things will appear unnatural. Reading and hearing it at the same time will always improve your copy.

7. Make your copy easy to follow.

Whether your reader is a scanner of copy or not, you need your copy to be easy to read and follow.

  • Break up your copy with headlines, sub-headlines, shorter paragraphs, and different fonts and bolding to make it easier to follow.
  • For Tour page descriptions add summaries and details- include a summary page, detailed subscription page,what's included/not included sections and what to bring is extremely important. This will help because different readers will look for different things. Each piece of information will vary depending on where they are at in their buying journey. Check out two examples of great tour page descriptions from Taste of Thailand food tours and Impulse Travel.

8. Tell your guests what you want them to do.

Include one Call to Action on every page –It is human nature to respond when you direct readers towards something you want to do. i.e. Use commands like Search, Download, Read, Buy, Watch. Think about what is in it for them - in order to motivate them to act. A call to action is kinda strange isn't it? Think about when you ask someone to like a post or comment. Often your reader listens and shares it, and this works far better than when you don't ask for anything at all. 

9. Never sacrifice good web copywriting for SEO.

Copywriters should also know how to write for SEO, and SEO people should know how to write copy. The clarity in your copy should never be sacrificed to fit in a keyword, or to stuff in too many keywords. Complete a keyword search first, then you have those words in mind while you write, instead of forcing them in later. Visibility on search and persuasive writing can both be achieved. Check out our video tips on how to improve your SEO.

10. Write with the customer journey in mind.

  • Think about what stage your reader is in when they are reading sections of your website. For instance, if they land on any page on your website, they need to know what you do. Your home page needs to tell then in less than 3 seconds what you do.
  • The main headline accompanied by an inviting, captivating photo or video is a must. (Better yet, is a tagline that brings in emotion, purpose, and what you do all in one. This is much harder to do, and you need a copywriter involved.) 
  • Include a strong credibility statement on the top of your homepage (i.e. Since 2010, serving 5000 happy guests or a credibility statement like 400- 5 star Google reviews and counting…). A credibility statement on the top provides a strong queue to build trust very quickly as trust will be a top factor in their decision to click to something else and read more. 
  • Book now button above the fold of your homepage? – I have strong opinions that a book now button at the very top of your website homepage isn't inviting. If the reader knows nothing about you, this comes across as too salesy. However, you can use data from Google Analytics and a service called Hotjar to guide your decisions of what sections and what clicks are working on your website.

But what if you aren't a web copywriter? Can you still do this?

I get it, copy takes time to perfect it, and you have a business to run. However, the more you learn about your audience and test and try copy, the more you can improve it. I believe that copywriting has to start with you. If you are the owner, the marketer, the managing director of your business, you will understand your business, your competition, your target audience better than anyone. Start with a short outline of bullet points, then small paragraphs to express what you want to say – and then you can get a copywriter to polish it and optimize it.

These tips are designed to help you refine and fine-tune your website copy. When you update your website copy, PLEASE also update your Google My Business Page with copy, details, and service descriptions.

For more tips to improve your marketing check out our resources page, look up the topic, and find answers to your tourism marketing questions.

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computer showing how to write better website copy

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Researching Keywords for Travel and Tourism Part 3

Looking to improve the SEO for your tourism business? This is the third video of our SEO for the tourism industry so you can improve your education of this topic and learn how to do many of these strategies on your own. In this video, we show you how to create an SEO Plan that saves alot of time for you and how to do research keywords for travel and tourism professionals who run hotels, tours, attractions or transportation.  Please note that this process is the same regardless of the type of tourism business you run.

If you missed my first video and 2nd video in this SEO SERIES you can find them here:

Video 1: The myths about SEO 

Video 2: The Missed steps in SEO by knowing these tips it will save you time and effort.

If you don't know me I'm Dorene Wharton - I'm a tourism marketer and strategist and I've been a marketer my entire career for over 20 years -in all facets of marketing and I learned SEO from industry leaders, in numerous courses and I keep up to date with all the trends - and apply these  skills to my own websites as well as to clients in the tourism industry.

In this video,  we are going to talk about how you plan SEO on your website, and also how you perform effective Keyword research.
I'll show you a way you can look at your SEO plan for your business beyond just looking at keywords one by one. and SAVE TIME
- Then I'll show you how to do a good keyword research

Whether you decide to do SEO yourself or a team member or you hire someone to do it like a freelancer or agency you can never go wrong with understanding how SEO works - because that allows you to ASK the right questions and manage whoever is working on it.

You have alot to do on your business and lots to think about in your marketing so here is a step by step process.

How to build an SEO Plan for Your Business that support tourism keywords

Step 1: Think of your entire business – entire communication plan

Don't just plan for the next keyword, think of your content you want to share on your website, from key topics, themes, and what you plan to include in your blog posts.  Focus on the content -and then key words. 

Ask yourself these questions:   

-What are the key themes and important topics of your business?

-What are the keywords you would use to describe it?

-Where is your business, what are important tourism aspects of your business?

-Your products and key descriptions?

-What are the popular questions that your guests ask?

- Now capture them in themes and put them on a spreadsheet 

In this video I show you how this could look for a bike tours business. 

e.g. Bike tours Portugal

Step 2: Analyze your competitors and the market

-Do a competitive review of their tourism keywords- this will save you alot of time and searching and will give you some clues what is working and not working for them.

-What are the topics (and keywords) they are writing on their blogs and pages? How do they rank?

-What are the names they use for their products 

Step 3: What trends and themes come up?

What relevant topics and themes are being searched, and what common questions are travelers asking? This will help you come up with travel and tourism keywords and give you relevant topics to include in your blog or on your website pages.

Here are some great tools to help you with this. 

-Check Google Search – don’t press send, and see suggested list on bottom of pages

-Answer the Public – put in your business and key terms and it generates a great map of what the key questions travelers ask. I love this tool - yet you are limited to 3 free searches a day

-Check Google Trends for key words/topics and themes that are ‘hot’ 

-Tripadvisor forum – what are travelers asking about your area?- This is a free tool to see what kind of questions travelers ask. You can search by country, area, city.

-Reddit – Another great tool to see what key trends and topics are out there. Beware you can get lost on Reddit - so search for travel then your area, or your niche and go from there!  

Step 4: Capture all this on one spreadsheet

Use one spreadsheet to capture this information. If you would like a copy of this example in the video, hit reply and I'll send you a copy.

Step 5: How to find Travel and Tourism Keywords Effectively

​Watch the video to see the details for doing a keyword search. 

Key things to remember:
1. If you find a keyword with good traffic and low competition, it doesn't mean you are going to rank for it

2. Pay attention to Domain Authority and Page Authority because that can help you understand which keywords you have a better chance to rank for. 

3. Secondary words matter - you can also rank for thes too, so don't forget them. 

Sure you can use Google keyword planner but I prefer to use Keysearch because it gives me all kinds of information in one place, and its good value for the money. Even with the basic plan, you can do alot with it.

200 Daily Searches & Analysis
80 Rank Tracking Keywords
Keyword Research
Youtube Research
Competitive Analysis Access
Content Assistant & More!

I pay $17/usd a month - and if you are interested in trying it out -- I have a discount code for 20% off if you are interested in trying it out. 
​Here is a link where you can save 20% off your first months membership

Keysearch 20% off code   and use the Code KSDISC to save.

keysearch - where to find travel and tourism keywords
keysearch mainpage image - how to find keywords for travel

Keysearch main SERP page - where to find effective travel and tourism keywords, and if you can rank for them.

I hope this post was useful to you!  What tips can you share to find keywords for travel? 

For any questions and feedback please hit reply. 

To watch all the videos in this series you can find them all there:

Seo video tips website series

image of SEO video tip series and how to increase your web traffic

*Affiliate link: By using this link on this page I receive a small commission on any sales at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products that I use regularly and would openly recomment.  

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SEO for Travel Website Video Part 2:Missed Steps

Are you looking to improve your SEO for your travel website? If you missed Part 1 of our SEO for travel website video series you can find it here. 
This is a how to improve your SEO series that I'm sharing with travel professionals in the travel industry.

If you don't know me I'm Dorene Wharton - I've a tourism marketer and strategist I've been a marketer my entire career for over 20 years in all facets of marketing and I learned SEO from the best minds in the field, taking hundreds of hours of courses and workshops, with reliable sources such as, Neil Patel, and Brian Dean from Backlinko and I've applied these skills to my own websites and with helping clients in the tourism industry.

There is alot to know about SEO, too much! so in Video 2, I thought I would share some important aspects you need to know before we get into the tactics. These are my SEO for travel website mistakes I've made -- early on - that could have saved me alot of time and energy. For example, I jumped right into keyword research insteadof thinking through how SEO could work for my entire business - and my entire website. I also didn't pay attention to the technical aspects and the tools that could fix these areas, which were readily available.

SEO for Travel Website Tips:  

1. SERP - This is the Search Engine Results Page

The search engine results page is the page you see once you type into the brower on any website. It is not just a list of top ranking articles and posts both organic and paid  - it also includes the knowledge panel,  people also ask (PAA) sections, featured snippets (tables, calculators, lists, pictures and stories). There are lots of sections and engaging content to easily find information.

Why this matters: There are several areas of the SERP page that SEO impacts. Ranking #1 on this page isn't the only way to improve your visibility on the internet. Developing quality content that helps viewers with their search, and what they are looking for it the goal. 

2. The Marketing Funnel and Why It Matters in SEO

The marketing funnel, also known as the buyers journey, are the steps a traveler goes through from the problem they are trying to find a solution for (searching for travel) to the time they buy (conversion). This model is used for everything in marketing --- you use it to organize your website, how you develop ads for your products, for email marketing for everything because we have to understand the stages a buyer is going through to know how best to communicate to them -- and help them.

The funnel also works the same way with SEO.  There are different types of search people are doing at different times in the buying process.

Informational searches: 50-80% of all searches - This is in the awareness and dreaming stage  where travelers are looking for their next travel solution. They look at pictures, guides, read tips and when to travel to certain regions. 

Commercial searches: Are travelers that are moving down the funnel and narrowing down their options such as reading reviews, making comparisons, and this is where ads start to show up. 

Transactional searches include: This is the type of searches where the traveler looks for booking, they look at price, specials and this is where high ad competition comes to play.

Why is this important - different SEO strategies and different types of SEO are going to impact the different types of searches by travelers --- you are going to do different things on your website to impact how the traveler will learn about you, gain confidence in you, trust you and then buy from you.                               *Moz SEO learning center

Tourism SEO for travel website picture of the marketing funnel

3. 5 important aspects of SEO to maximize your visibility

To achieve our goal of maximizing visibility on the internet we have to look at a number of actions consumer take including:

Rank - Where you rank on the SERP - often the other actions will result in higher rank, but rank is not the only important aspect of SEO.

Clicks- clicks to your website, to other articles to your pages.

Visits- new and returning users to your website and allowing them to 

Links - is seen as the quality source - an endorsement by linking as a quality source to their website. It's like reviews 

Shares - Don't underestimate the value of a share, it encourages visits and clicks which will aid in the performance of your website views. 

Why this is important: Some people think its just about ranking - its not - often ranking or higher ranking can be the result of all the things that SEO does. 
I can assure you I have articles I have written on my blogs that are not even on the top page of google,and I've made sales. So its important to know that.                                            *source: resource center

4. The 3 Types of SEO and how they help achieve the goal of more visibility

It starts with sharing the types of SEO 

1. On page SEO-  Everything you do on a certain page to help with SEO such as: Picking Keywords you can rank for such as: titles, meta descriptions- explains what the page topic is about, copy on your website and quality blog posts and articles.  

Why this is important: To Improve visits, clicks (Stay on page longer with good and helpful content, read other articles), Shares, Links

2. On site SEO -SEO that is done across your site to improve such things like clicks, time on page, views. It includes:  Good internal linking structure- across your pages, Permalink structure – URL addresses, Site maps, Categories and Tags, Archives

Why this is important: To improve clicks, visits, and shares

3. Off Site SEO -The things that help your SEO off your site, when other websites link to your site, or share your site and articles. This includes several kinds of backlinking strategies

Why this is Important: To improve rank, links, and shares

5. Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority and Why it Matters to SEO

Domain Authority (DA)  and Page Authority (PA) Domain Authority is a measure by Moz.

They assign a Domain and Page Authority to every site/page on the internet.  It’s a relative measure and meant to judge how likely a domain (or site) is to rank in search engines compared to all other sites. It's a number from 1 to 100. The higher the DA, the more likely the site is to appear in search results.

Page Authority (PA) is similar to Domain Authority but is assigned at a page level, rather than at a domain level. refer to both pages and posts.This means that different pages on your site may have a different PA.

Will your DA and PA change? This means that it is quite possible for your site to regularly go up and down when Moz updates it (usually every 4-6 weeks).
It's easy to become concerned when your DA drops. However, this is only a concern if your DA drops while the DA of similar sites to yours increases. Having a DA of 30+ allows your site to be much more competitive on keywords. 

**Here is an important thing to remember -- When you do keyword search and you find a golden word that has good traffic and low competition -- it doesn't mean you will be able to rank for it. and you may wonder - why is my competitor doing well with this work and we're not? 

Watch the next video in this SEO Optimization series and I'll show you how this all works. (coming soon) 

*source: Build blog freedom- Sharon Gourlay

6. The key steps to create your SEO plan

The biggest mistake with SEO is jumping right into SEO keyword search and not developing a plan for your entire business, beyond the next page and article. If you plan your content wholistically, and do your research first - then move into onpage optimization, on site activities and off page SEO
Is getting all excited with finding key words - and writing copy and articles for your website but not having an actual plan for SEO for your whole website not just individual pages or articles -- because everything needs to all work together.

Key steps for an SEO plan

Thanks for watching. How has this SEO for travel website video helped you with your SEO planning? Let us know in the comments. 

Stay tuned for our next SEO video where we show you examples how to create your SEO plan and do a proper keyword search.

Watch the rest of our SEO Series here: 

Video 1: SEO what you need to know

Video 3: How to do an effective keyword search and create a plan

For more marketing resources you can find them here. 

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Tourism SEO Video Tips: Part 1

Looking to gain more organic traffic to your website? (I think I heard you say yes!). Did you know that more than 50% of site traffic comes from organic search? And you can get really good at this or at least understand it so you can work with others to execute a plan for your tourism business. This is Part 1 of a series of Tourism SEO video tips for travel brand professionals. As I make some fixes on my own websites, I am going to show you how to do the same. 

How can I help you improve your Tourism SEO?

I've been working in SEO to a large extent the last 7 years. I've worked with tourism profeesionals like you. I've done hundreds of hours of courses from the best in the industry like Backlinko, Moz, Google, Neil Patel and courses with the top bloggers in the travel industry. I've learned also by trying and testing things because these are the keys to improving your performance.  I've also learned a tonne and I keep up to date, since its constantly changes. I have 2 of my own websites - Marketing Website - Travel Life Media and the other is a travel blog - Travel Life Experiences - I've had some great success with my sites - getting on the top page of Google - and getting high quality traffic --100 fold over the years but I have to keep up with it.

Watch out for this series here on our blog, or join our Facebook Group at Tourism Marketing That Works. I'll be posting a number of facebook lives and videos to help you optimize from the comforts of your home. Now if you choose to continue to do elements of SEO on your own while you have the time. or when travel picks up again you can also work with agencies to work on other elements to keep up the maintenance of it. depending on your time and patience - but its not something that you just love for leave it.

Tourism SEO What You Need to Know and Common Myths

Before we get started on these fixes in this video, I do want to mention a few important Myths about SEO and also some education because I can guarantee you have probably thought about these things, or had discussions with agencies or partners you've worked with.

Common thing I hear is:  "I don't know anything about SEO but I know I need it."  Education will help you feel much more comfortable with your travel SEO it is not a wall of smoke and mirrors. 

What is SEO? In simple terms please!

The practice of Increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search results. Notice how I didn't just say Quantity -- you want good quality too, because you want readers who don't just land and then bounce off quickly and a better chance is that they are going to buy. and you get a better quality rating by Google.

Here's a great analogy: SEO is like a subway system - each website is a station and the search engine is like a subway car that moves between the stations and stores information - it is one part of a larger system.

Why Bother With SEO? -- Instead of Doing Other Marketing Strategies

Three damn good reasons: 
1.  MORE THAN half of site traffic comes from Organic Search
2. Over 40% of all Online revenue is captured by search traffic

3. And you can save a tonne of money on paid ads (over time) and become less reliant on them.
​Tourism SEO can pay out for you long term with the future health of your brand.

Important SEO Goals: 

- We want to please the search engines so we can get maximize our visibility, this means working alongside GOOGLE --and they know every trick in the book that has been used to cut corners (I have learned the hard way and hired businesses who cut corners to get results) -- meaning SEO takes time - it also takes continous effort- experimentation and how to navigate around the rules and regs.
Please trust me on this one --- getting penalized by Google will be the worst thing that could happen to a business if you don't follow the rules. - I have seen it in the tourism industry and it can HURT your business.

SEO MYTHS - Get these out of your mind! 

1. SEO growth can be fast - no not true. And you want good, quality and lasting SEO for your business. As well,  there are alot of different elements to SEO On page, On Site, and Off page - so there are alot of different strategies and tactics and it requires trying some things.

2. I have to be the top listing on Google to grow my traffic and visility - That is not true at all -- getting to first page should be a top goal, however there are a number of areas on Google in particular to get visibiltiy - SEarch engine results page, there is also the Featured snippets section, People also ask section, and the knowledge panel on the RHS

-- and let's not forget your Google My Business Profile - can play a big role with improving your ranking overall. 

3. The Top volume keywords are the best words - not true at all -- And if you choose a key word that is good - it doesn't mean you can rank for it, because you have to look at the competitors and their Domain Authority of the other site. You can beat out your competition with also using related keywords throughout your content - don't worry I will share what this all means in my future videos.

4. ROI for SEO can't be meansured that is why I don't invest in it. Wrong -- Yes there is -- and it requires looking at your data and coming up with goals in advance (improving your organic clicks) - However it isn't as easy to see as say paid search. 

What are your views on yourTourism SEO? Do you share these views or have a different point of view.

Let us know in the comments! 

Missed a SEO training video? Watch the other SEO videos here: 

Video 2: Tourism SEO missed steps by most companies

Video 3: How to do an effective keyword search

image of webtraffic growing as a result of SEO

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Marketing During A Crisis: What Should I Do?

 Yes, we have heard it all now, "These are unprecedented times." We can make comparisons to the SARS and H1N1 outbreak or the 2008 recession, but still these events don't compare because every single market and every traveler on earth is experiencing this crisis. There is no rule book, all we have right now is uncertainty. Imagine if you knew the quarantine would be over in a month and the travel industry would be back to 'normal?' Well, we don't have that luxury-- this is all brand new. You can imagine that the top two questions every tourism business owner is asking are:  SHOULD I still be marketing during a crisis?  and HOW should I be marketing in times of crisis like this?  Here's my recommendations: 

1. Should I still be marketing my tourism business now given the global situation?

Well, the answer is you have to define what you mean by marketing, there are so many facets to marketing, often, paid advertising is defined as marketing in general, which is only part of it. Marketing includes several other aspects that help to find and persuade customers including: content, social media, target market analysis, market analysis, email marketing, planning, strategy, pricing. Just to name a few. It's not just about ads. 

2. What should I be marketing during a crisis?

This is the second  most common question. And it really depends on the situation. Today, when we are locked up in quarantine or in social distancing measures, and the entire travel industry is grounded, here is a road map recommendation for you.

A. Discontinue paid advertising  (at least until there are signs that tourism is back in your market) 

Yes. I am a marketer telling you not to spend money that you don't have. When there are no travelers who have complete uncertainty as to when and how they can travel, it doesn't make sense to spend money that you don't have.  Can your cashflow be used toward something more important right now? (like paying your staff to work on projects) 

  • Paid advertising are Ads like Google ads, Facebook ads. My view this would be wasted spend right now, who has the cashflow? Many of you are trying to figure out how to keep your staff, feed your families for an uncertain # of months. Why promote to an audience who cannot travel at all right now?  And think about your customers mind state  – They are in panic, uncertainty, worries about money, health, and safety right now- right now is far too raw for them, and I believe that if you are not careful, some brands advertising will come across with negative sentimentAnd of course every country is going through different waves and different levels of this crisis.
  • Here is where paid ads could come across negatively:  I just saw an ad on Facebook from Get your Guide- it was for a tour in Colombia (which is where I am) and there are NO flights in and out of this country and the nation is in total lockdown.   They made no change to their copy at all – as if nothing is happening in the world – and I thought – "how insensitive to the people that would love to travel!" – not to mention the cash they are burning with no traffic.
  • Some brands however choose to advertise right now - Some large brands that want to make a big statement about the situation, and also have cashflow and big marketing budgets vs.entrepreneurs like you.   The tourism board of Portugal created this outstanding ad #can't stop hope.   This creates a big statement on the state of the world and invite travelers to come later. This will definitely create a positive sentiment to travelers, yet again, they are a large brand that have different goals which will help their tourism industry in the future (a multi-million dollar business) and they have very different budgets. Check out Nike's ad campaign as well. 
  • Important point: **Watch what is happening with the reopening of different countries over time. Travel will start opening up in waves, depending on the situation in each market. China and South Korea for example, are relaxing their restrictions, residents are able to go out, domestic travel is starting to open slowly , and Google traffic searches for travel are growing. Every travel prediction say that local travel will improve faster than international travel, and guests will want to control their environment such as taking road trips in their own car. The more you stay in touch with the constant changes, the more an opportunity to start promoting your business again with paid ads, and  most likely to a new audience. (we touch on this topic below) 
  • Paid ads is the right thing to do for businesses that are attracting new clients now, or tour businesses that are running virtual online tours right now, because there is a captive audience ready to buy.

B. Do 'Other Marketing' Right Now 

There are so many facets of marketing that make sense right now, because they can help you with important goals for the future of your business. 

1. Email Marketing: 

Is a great way to maintain a relationship with your past guests, update them with what is happening with you, your business, your market area, and what you are doing in the midst of the quarantine. Although there are many unknowns in terms of future travel restrictions and access, don't neglect the possible opportunity that they may buy your products again, and they can certainly recommend your business to others in the future. For example: I just received an email from a tour company - We Hate Tourism Tours, I bought a tour in Portugal in February – I was happy to hear from them, they made a point that they would be back, but for now they communicated (see website) on how they are focusing on delivering goods to their neighbors in need because they have the vans, suppliers and they know the streets. They asked me for a review – which I was more than happy to do again– on another review platform  because they asked and mentioned it would help them. Please use this time to ask your past guests for reviews! Here are some review tips. As travel restrictions change - updating your subscribers on what is happening to you and your business. What is changing and what you are working on.  Looking to start an email list? Here are some tips.

2. Social Media and Content Marketing: 

These two marketing levers can help you with a number of goals - Maintain awareness of your business, and help travelers through the dreaming phase - no doubt they are starting to dream about their next trip or remember their great travel memories. You can do this in a creative and useful way without spending alot of money. You can also share what is happening in your market, what you are doing now, and how you are planning your comeback in the future. Don't just post - Engage with your audience - ask them how they are doing, ask them to share their positive memories. Check out brands like  Devour Tours – they are doing a lot of quality IG posts,stories and video content– they share the new ideas they are developing, the new recipes they are creating - including videos from their guides quarantine in their homes. They share  inspiring stories of what is happening in their communities and how people are helping each other out.  Content marketing is the road map of topics, articles and posts you are planning for your business. Remember those 1000's of photos, video clips and ideas for content you put on the backburner when you were too busy to think about them? Now is a great time to organize your content like planning a calendar of topics, starting  a blog or develop new articles and edit previously shot videos and photos.   Looking for tips to build your content marketing topic list? Start here.

3. Marketing Analysis and Getting Comfortable with Your Technology:  

There is no better time (because you have more time right now)  to understand your data and past business trends and the resources you have at your disposal to analyze your business results. Even if your target audience and your tourism offerings change after the covid-19 outbreak, it's helpful to establish what your baseline was, and learn how to understand and evaluate your data. This can include both your quantitative data: real numbers, and your Qualitative data: reviews, comments, questions.

Here are some suggestions on where to analyze your business: 

a. Google Analytics- The top information to review and assess on this platform is: 1. Overall performance - new and returning visitors, where they were coming from and key time periods. 2. Acquisition - find out where travelers were finding you - direct (from your website) , from another website(referral) and social.  This platform also helps you understand which products and pages are generating the most revenue for you. If you do get some local and domestic traffic, where do they come from? This will help you decide how to target them on Facebook for example. 3. Behavior: This section allows you to see where viewers are looking and clicking on your site, and which pages they stay on longer; hence the pages that have better engagement. 4. Slow loading pages - This is a big opportunity to review and improve - site speed plays a big role in your bounce rate;the speed at which readers leave your site, that has an impact on your SEO and ranking on Google.

b. Google Search Console -This tool shows how you are performing on Google search results and which key words and pages are ranking on Google. Specifically you can use it to:  1. Find what keywords your website is ranking for 2. Find URLS that are linking to your site both internal and external  (which is a main factor in good SEO) 3. How to reindex your site on Google when you add new content  4. Ensure that mobile usability is working well on your website. I recommend you get to know Google search console, this is one of the most neglected tools. 

c. Sales Results: Your website booking platform is the best place to review your data, even if your market changes in the future, start with understanding your sales trends, key periods and those top customers will be worth contacting and staying in touch via email marketing when your travel business is open again.

4. Improve your Website - copy, design, hierarchy, sales and marketing strategies 

There is no better time to make changes and updates to your website even if the future is uncertain  Now more than ever, your purpose and values will play a role in your business and your life. Look at your website from a new perspective - how well do you tell your story? how well are you communicating what is important to you? Also how well are you leading the visitor from persuasion to conversion (the marketing funnel ) on your website?

Here are a few resources that can help you accomplish these goals: 

-Free mini training video to persuade and convert guests 

- Your secret weapon - Your About Us Page

- The amazing results of Purpose Marketing 

5. Crisis can be the mother of invention - can your tourism business go online now?

Travelers are yearning for an experience while they are home in quarantine now.  Is there an experience, education, lesson that you can develop online and earn some income now?  Respectfully, not every tourism business can do this, and not everyone can develop an experience with just the tools they have at home. The point here is, is there an opportunity to make some income and have some fun while we you are in quarantine?  Can you demonstrate how to make a dish from your country? Show viewers how to play a game or learn a dance from your region? Teach them how to do a new and valuable skill?  Perhaps a guide can do a virtual tour or tell stories about your business or area? Airbnb just launched their online experiences. Perhaps there are ideas here (or an opportunity to join) to build an online experience. Also the Online Tourism Academy is offering a Virtual tour course to help tourism professionals develop a product, and take them through all the steps to create a virtual tour. Here is an example by TakeWalks - home edition. This idea won't  generate the same income you had before, but it could be a fun, useful, and valuable experience to a captive audience online. If you do participate in online experiences, a small investment in paid ads makes sense (after you connect with your email and social audience). This is because you have an opportunity to make revenue now, with a captive audience ready to buy.

6. Your marketing strategy for the future - create a new and evolving plan knowing your business will never go back to "normal" 

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but business is going to change as a result of this pandemic. As to the exact changes, no one knows but now is the time to make some assumptions, and hypotheses. Here are a number of questions to ask yourself as this crisis continues, and evolves to help you redesign your marketing plans moving forward. Today, it's too soon to anticipate how your business will change. However, it will be very important to think about and develop a new guest persona in the coming months.

Here are some important questions to ask:

a.How will the needs of your target guest change after the crisis? What will they be worried about, and want their needs and fears to be alleviated?

e.g. Safety will be key - you will need to show them that you take hygiene and cleanliness very seriously. Value will be very important so in the initial stages of opening you will want to show that they are getting a deal - because they likely have dealt with money problems and periods out of work. 

b. What kind of activities, amenities, rooms, tours, will be of interest to your target guest? and how their interests change when travel is back? And how will it evolve over time?

c. Will your target guest change to a different target after the crisis? ie. domestic traveler vs. the international traveler may be the only opportunity for you in the short term, as travel regulations open up.

d. How will your business change before there is a vaccine and after a vaccine? How will regulations impact and change your business and how will they evolve?

e. How will pricing change when tourism comes back?  Since supply and demand of travel services, and transport will change. 

- It's too early to know for sure, however with the early opening up of Chinese markets there are low price offers in the airline industry. You need to think  through scenarios, and assumptions will help you generate a picture of your guest, understand their needs, in order to best market too them. 

7. Improve your marketing skills - because you'll need them when this is over too.

There is no better time than now, to up your marketing skills. It seems like every business is online developing all kinds of great information, courses and skills. Here's a few resources to help:

- Free video course: How to persuade and convert your travelers into guests 

- 4 Steps to better reviews and referrals to get more bookings

- Weekly marketing tips

 The Corona Virus battle plan

- 13 ways for brands to use SEO and marketing now

-The tour business virtual summit

Now, let's hear from you, what are you doing with your marketing during the crisis and how are you improving your skills? Let us know.

undertainty in marketing during a crisis what should you do?

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Your Greatest Asset in Times of Uncertainty Is This

No doubt, last week was one of the most challenging weeks in the tourism industry, and it's going to continue for an indefinite period. Of course, the Coronavirus situation in China is bad enough. Still, its impact has now spread to numerous countries leaving travelers and tourism companies alike in a place of fear, uncertainty, and uneasiness. I've felt it personally, as a traveler and industry professional traveling to Berlin,  learning about the cancellation of Arival, ITB and the Berlin Travel Festival and meeting tourism companies in the same situation.
However, remember that this industry is resilient, and we have been here before – during the lows of economic recessions, in the face of SARS, Ebola, and the impact of 9/11. Our history shows that business will come back, it always does. But how you manage this situation now will have an effect on your business in the future. No one knows what will happen next, nor how long this disaster will last. In times of uncertainty, there is something that is your greatest asset.

Your greatest asset is communication, even when you don't have all the answers. 

And communication requires leadership because it's going to need that you communicate in the absence of all the information. You will have to make some tough decisions, own up to the challenges, and ensure you are communicating authentically, regularly, and timely.

Communication Is Everything 

Put yourself in the shoes of your travelers

(You are a traveler too) 

-Travelers are going to have a lot of emotions. They just spent their hard-earned money and countless hours of planning their vacation. And this could be the one vacation they have of the year, the thing they are looking forward to – and it's unclear as to whether they will enjoy it or not. How do you want to be treated if you were going on vacation, and this happened?

- They are thinking – can I postpone my travel? How much money am I going to lose? Will I be allowed into the country I am going to?, or will I be allowed to come back home? Will I be forced to go into quarantine? Do I even have the money in my health plan to pay for it? What if I bring something back home and infect my friends and family? And will I get a vacation this year?

- Unfortunately, one of the host hotels of the Arival conference in Berlin – took the wrong approach with the cancellation of their rooms. After the minister of health demanded the cancellation of the travel industry events – the hotel handled communication very poorly. Without any dialogue or empathy for the situation, the hotel didn't budge its current and inflexible cancellation policy. This action caused more rifts with their guests (who will likely rebook later when the conference is rebooked). Instead, it created a very negative perception of their organization. Many attendees expressed doubt that they would stay at this hotel again, whether it was an inconvenience for them or not.

How you can help your future guests:  

  • Review and update your cancellation policies – and are they reasonable given the uncertainty of the current situation in the world? It is hard enough to find a new customer – how can you encourage your guest to postpone and rebook instead of canceling entirely? Especially when last-minute decisions may be the answer.
  • For example: Think of the greater good – how can you make the customers still booked happy? Because if you cancel on them because it doesn't meet your minimum bookings- is it worth canceling?
  • Of course, costs are a consideration, but can you look at your total costs in your business to offset?
  • Timeframe: In normal circumstances, you would look at how much time would you be able to secure a new booking? That should help drive whether your time frame is 24,48 or 72 hours. However, in unforeseen circumstances like this, how can you manage if you don't get a new booking to replace it? Is it better to keep your seven happy customers that are booked, instead of the two that want to cancel?
  • Make it easy for your guests to make changes – If they can't do it online – do you expect them to be on the phone for hours to postpone (ideally or cancel)? What kind of message do you send when it's not easy or straightforward?
  • Encourage a postponement instead of cancellation –How you handle their requested changes is going to impact their views of the situation. Offer credit towards a future date first, but give them the leeway to make changes. If you don't ask, you don't get even if you could turn a small percentage of bookings to future credits, it's better than nothing at all.
  • The challenges that cancellations will cause this isn't the time in crisis to protect yourself and recoup profits. However, you do need to look at your finances independently and look for ways to cut costs (especially fixed costs), share costs with industry partners, and look for solutions instead of burdening your guests in red tape and unreasonable cancellation policies. 

Speak with your partners – You and your partners need to get on the same page. H​​ow can you manage the situation, collaborate on the cancellation policies, and at least ask for a credit instead of a full cancellation? Look what your partners, distributors, and how your Online travel agencies (OTAs) are handling the situation.

Put yourself in the shoes of your staff

-Your staff will be feeling their levels of anxiety. What is going to happen to their jobs? Are they equipped to manage the emotions of guests that want to postpone or cancel? What if they get sick and pass it one to their own families? There will be loads of personal and professional stress and worry going on here.

1. Take time out to talk to your staff frequently– face to face or video conference. Listen to their concerns and issues.

2. Get comfortable with saying you don't have all the answers or solutions, and of course, the situation is very must fluid and uncertain. Things are going to change, and you can't make any guarantees until you have more information.

3. Equip them with the information and communication scripts, they need to speak to your guests. Arm them with your approved communication. Emotions are very high right now, and managing the messages is the right way to do it.

Updated communication and policies in the industry:

Here are a few perspectives from the industry on how they are handling their communication and cancellation policies for the Covid virus. 

Avianca Airlines – just released new policies for cancellations and changes, including waiving their cancellation fee. 

Likewise Delta Airlines and many other airlines have published theirs - Delta has done a particularly good job to be very clear and it doesn't come across like they are making many restrictions, but rather focusing on the the traveler. 

in times of uncertainty- delta airlines response to covid

Intrepid travel – rewrote their booking and cancellation policy and also their Frequently asked questions to address the issues on the minds of travelers. 

intrepid travel - how they deal with times of uncertainty

Get your Guide – Made a point of sending a communication to their partners (tour and attractions) to explain what they were doing and recognized that this situation is abnormal and requires a different approach. – ie. "People are feeling nervous about travel, so we want to make sure we protect our customers and give them maximum flexibility whilst also supporting you as our valued partner. Although we don't anticipate a rise in too many last-minute cancellations, the ability for customers to cancel within 24 hours is not designed to harm you. For now, our current policy is that we will still pay you for the booking even if the customer cancels and GetYourGuide will absorb this cost of issuing a voucher to the value of the experience booked"

Get your guide also communicated this on their website – to manage the situation:

get your guide - in times of uncertainty this is what they do

How you can alleviate concerns of your guests?

Here is a template used by some tour operator clients to manage your guests' concerns: 

Dear (guest name),

Paragraph 1:  Introduce yourself to address their concerns, stress, and issues they are facing, and they are a valued client. 

Paragraph 2: How you are managing the situation within your control (cleaning, changing your policies, the seriousness you are placing on the situation) 

Paragraph 3: Your policies and how you have given the flexibility to postpone, reassure that it is business as usual in your city or location (if that is the case) 

Paragraph 4: Recognize that things could change – the situation is fluid and assure them you will communicate any changes and not to hesitate to contact you (email, phone, chat) 

Thank them for their business 

We would love to hear how you are managing the coronavirus in your area. How have you communicated to your staff and guests? How have you been able to alleviate the concerns and aftermath for this?

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