How to succeed in the European market? Eight basic tips for online tourism companies

Europe books travels online

The profile of the European customer is that of a consumer who prefers to book online and appreciates both the immediacy in the responses and the comments and experiences of other travellers. Therefore, in addition to an attractive Website with a high user experience, you need to provide channels on which your satisfied customers can recommend your company. One way to do this is to manage your presence in social networks and review pages to gain online reputation and grow, based on a positive feedback from your customers.

The tourism industry has been among the first to adopt digital technologies and leads the absolute online sale. Beyond the intermediation of tourism product, which is also done through the XML network, the final customer has the possibility to investigate destinations, be inspired by social media and share their experiences.

How can you attract tourists to your Website? Do not wait for your customers to find you, take advantage of the opportunities that the Internet offers to your tourism company. Here are our 8 best tips to find success with your online tourism company:

Tip 1: Invest in a good travel Website

Your Website is the storefront of your business. Would you enter a dull, soulless, sad and empty agency? An attractive design is essential to catch the visitors’ eyes. Regarding the content, the more original, complete and accessible, the better. Photos and videos should be tasteful and have a good image quality. And obviously, the design has to be responsive to adapt to all devices.

However, that is not enough. You should also position your page in search engines (SEO) and have tools to measure its performance (for example, the number of unique and recurring visitors, page views and countries of origin).

Tip 2: Enable a good online booking and payment engine

Nowadays, digital bookings represent more than half of all travel purchases in Europe, more than in any other market. This share is higher in northern and western Europe, where online channels already represent three-quarters of accommodation bookings.

It is absolutely essential to have a good online booking system. Search results should show without waiting and in an orderly manner, free of duplicate information. Booking Engines display on screen the search fields (place, date, service or tourist product, etc).

Another key element for your booking system is online payment. Customers must have facilities for online payment, to allow them to complete their purchase without problems. In addition to payment by credit card, offer international alternatives, such as PayPal.

Tip 3: Consider distributing your product through an OTA

Selling directly through your Website admittedly helps you get higher profits than you would through an external distributor that resells tourist products, such as accommodation, transportation, tours, activities and packages. However, collaborating with an online travel agency (OTA) is not a bad option. The profit margin is lower due to the commission you have to give it (10-30%), but it is a powerful sales channel because around half of the European online bookings are made through an OTA.

One of the advantages is that you get a greater exposure of your product. You need a good booking system that updates the information in real time to avoid situations such as, for example, overbooking.

Tip 4: Use social networks for tourism

There are two possible approaches: the first one, more commercial, consists in being present in social networks to contact potential customers; and the second one, in understanding that travellers use social networks as a source of information before, during, and even, after their trip.

The most relevant are:

  • Instagram: perfect to share photos and videos of your destinations and attract customers to your proposal.
  • Facebook: to create, promote and share content and interact with customers.
  • Twitter: for real-time interaction, from customer service to updates on events.
  • YouTube: to show your destination or experiences in an audiovisual way.

The way to find potential customers in social networks is looking for related hashtags or joining groups interested in travel and tourism. Having contacts is not enough; the interaction with them is fundamental. In addition to answering direct questions, you can also respond to travel advice requests on blogs or forums.

A fundamental practice is to give voice to your satisfied customers. What other people think of your business is your most powerful marketing message. You need to create a positive word of mouth. Obviously, the first step to achieve this is to provide your customers with a great experience during their vacations. Later, encourage them to share that great experience online, for example, through review pages (TripAdvisor, for example), social networks or your own Website.

Tip 5: Build relationships

It is easier to sell to an existing customer than to get a new one. This means that you must take care of them and turn them into loyal customers. Have good practices, such as maintaining contact after the trip, a personal courtesy that travellers appreciate a lot. Invite them to make an assessment of their trip and use it to improve your product.

Another highly recommended way to establish relationships is to create a database of E-mails to send them exclusive information of interest, making sure you comply with the European general data protection regulations. To do so, request their consent before storing and using their contact details.

Tip 6: Invest in advertising with Google AdWords and Facebook ads

Who are your customers and what influences and motivates them? Before launching the advertising campaign, you have to make a segmentation work to know exactly who you are going to address, specifying even their demographic data.

The key to not throwing away money is to pay only for advertising when it is specifically targeted at your ideal customer or target audience. Some good ways to reach your potential customers are Google AdWords (a pay-per-click advertising service, based on search engine keywords) or Facebook ads, which now also offers useful advertising tools for the travel industry.

Tip 7: Have a rapid-response system

If your potential customer communicates with you through your Website or social networks, you must respond quickly. If a customer needs assistance, delaying your response may generate impatience, annoyances, bad reviews and loss of loyalty. With potential new customers, slow responses may even cost you your business.

There is a strong correlation between response reaction and consumer buying behaviour. The faster you respond, the greater the likelihood of conversion. When queries are posted on social networks, sales often go to the first company that responds appropriately.

If customers contact you directly on social networks, try to respond within a maximum of 12 hours.

Tip 8: Keep learning

Online marketing strategies and tools are constantly evolving. Sometimes, at a dizzying pace. Take time to update your marketing knowledge, for example, through online courses. Being an online company is very demanding, and enjoying a notorious presence on the Web requires a lot of dedication and resources.

Complete this short form to download the Complete Guide of Booking Engine for tourism intermediaries:

Booking Engine guide

The Complete Guide of Booking Engine for tourism intermediaries will explain:

  1. How to approach the decision making process, and the steps to selecting the right technology partner
  2. The critical role a Booking Engine will have on the current and future success of your business.
  3. The key differences between the different reservation systems
  4. What a successful solution implementation looks like, and how to get your entire team on the same page.
  5. Functions that your Booking Engine software should offer.

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