Every modern tour operator should already understand the need for a website that converts visitors into customers – and does it well. You may offer one of the most unique and unforgettable experiences in the world, but unless you have a website that makes the conversion process simple for the customer, your visitors aren’t going to be navigating to anywhere more exotic than your URL.
Don’t settle for the status quo with your site because you’ve received bookings through it in the past. Many of your visitors may already be navigating away from your website because they couldn’t find the information they need to make a booking with you.
Here are some website must-haves you need to convert more website visitors into paying customers.

Clear path to booking

As a Tour Operator, your website has many entry points. People may arrive after looking for a specific destination, for a certain tour style, for certain accommodations and more, depending on your offerings. That’s why, no matter where people arrive at your website, they should be able to easily find what they’re looking for, and if they’re convinced, book with you without having to figure out how.
The ideal path to booking goes a little something like this:

  • The person is taken to your site from a referring site – be it Google’s search results page, social media or a review site like TripAdvisor.
  • The person sees a “Tours” or “Packages” button or menu item. They click it.
  • The person reads your product catalog list and selects the package they want by hitting the big bright “Book Now” button. They click that.
  • The person decides to book! They fill out the booking form and lock it in.

Seems simple enough, not much room for error there right? So how can you make sure that this process is as close to perfect as possible?

Landing Pages

A landing page is simply the first page the people reach when clicking on an external link to your website. In most cases (from organic search) that first page is your home page. For Tour Operators who offer trips to various destinations, the homepage often isn’t the page that your prospective clients will end up converting from. A traveller likely wants specific information about the destination or particular tour package they’re interested in, and often will search accordingly.
If a user searches for “Gorilla Treks in Uganda”, wouldn’t you rather they landed on the page that caters to that information, rather than a homepage where Gorilla Treks in Uganda just gets a small mention? This can be achieved with paid search ads and landing pages that speak to the interest groups that you’re targeting.  
The travel industry has been slow to adopt landing pages and the lack of standards makes it difficult to decide how to start. We’ve made it easy for you. In addition to our Tour Operator plugin, LightSpeed has also developed a Landing Page plugin that allows you to easily create conversion optimized landing pages for your users.

Conversion Assists

tripadvisor_logoThese are elements on your website that contribute to making a person (especially a traveler) feel comfortable enough to book with you.
Things like TripAdvisor badges, review and ratings, local awards you have received and testimonials all help remove the trust barriers to booking with you. These can be on a dedicated Reviews page, or, if you’re using our Tour Operators plugin, be featured throughout your site on the specific destination or tour pages that the review relates to.
Another powerful trust builder is social proof. You can easily add social media widgets to your WordPress site, so be sure to punt your Facebook likes, showcase your Twitter stream, and if your Google+ isn’t a ghost town, feature that too!

Call to action buttons

These are your buttons which link to website pages. When your visitors land on your site, these buttons tell them what action to take, and what to expect once the button is clicked.
If you think about it, you can break down your website visitors into 3 segments:

  • Just browsing. Put information buttons like “Learn More About Our Night Time Dives” and “Contact Us”. The fact that they are even browsing tells you they’re interested in experiencing your tour or activity.
  • Interested. Link to information that makes them feel comfortable, like “See Customer Reviews”, “Photos”, and “FAQs”.
  • Keen. That “Book Now” button should always be prominent on every page.

Without these buttons, all areas of your site would not be linked together seamlessly.

Tracking conversions on your tour operator websites

5-512Last but certainly not least, you should be using a third party analytics tool (for example, Google Analytics) to track your visit-to-customer conversion rate. How else will you be able to track and measure progress?
Without knowing what your conversion rate is, you won’t be able to know if a recent change you implemented has had any effect on your bottom line.
Use analytics tools to find out which sources of traffic have the best ROI, what keywords were used by people who converted on your site, measure which pages have a high bounce rate and need revision, and much more, to ensure that your site’s optimized as best as possible for conversions.

Never stop optimizing

Having a successful travel website is not about setting and forgetting. It requires regular analysis of what changes have had positive impacts and what changes have not, and tweaking things accordingly. This list should get you on the right track, but don’t stop here – this is just the beginning!