A website is a must-have in today’s business world and travel is no different. But in the rush to get that item checked off the to-do list, people often forget the purpose of a website and what it should it include (and shouldn’t). So, let’s take a closer look.What’s the purpose of a website? This might surprise you. The purpose of your website is to convey your value and expertise to your ideal client and make them want to know more about you. Period. It isn’t a booking site. It isn’t a place to feature vendor deals. It should serve two goals: convince the visitor of your expertise and make them want to know more.Your website should build your email list. On every effective website there is a call to action and that is to get you to sign up for the email list that agent offers. It is NOT to link you to social media and those icons should NOT be at the top of your website. Social media should actually drive business TO your website.Your website should clearly communicate what you are amazing at. Your specialty is a huge part of what you have to offer clients – that knowledge and expertise is why they NEED you. And your website is the perfect place to showcase that. When a client visits your website they should leave knowing who you are and what you do. But if they are bombarded by vendor promotions then they probably won’t get to what is unique about you.Wonder what this actually looks like in real life? Here are some examples of websites that do this really well:www.j5travel.comwww.mckeetravel.comwww.fitzgeraldtravel.comYou will notice that each of these websites is custom-designed. They didn’t cost tens of thousands of dollars to produce, but they were an investment that the agents made to ensure they are reaching their ideal audience.What’s not a good option for a website? A cookie-cutter site. A cookie-cutter website is not only not a good deal, it is actually bad for your business. When you investigate host agencies some will proudly tell you that they will provide you a website that is customized to you. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t. Cookie-cutter websites are harmful to you in two ways. First, search engines don’t consider them real websites and put them at the bottom of search results. Second, if a potential client visits this website how much will they really learn about you vs how much they learn about vendors? Many of these websites are stocked with “feeds” from various preferred suppliers who promote specials and offers. This just makes you look like a middleman. If your goal is to be known as an expert in your specialty (that’s how you make big money in travel), then your website needs to focus on you!I challenge you to go to your website and check these things:
- What do clients see when they visit? What’s “above the scroll” is the most important information. Is it about you or is it generic information or vendor promos?
- Is it easy and obvious to sign up for your newsletter or ezine (if you don’t have one that’s another issue to address)? Many sites do this as a pop-up.
- Do you have social media icons at the top? If so, move them! You just got them to your website don’t send them elsewhere! Move those icons to the bottom of the home page or another page.
- Is your photography professional? For the most part you should use professional photos and not your own. But there should be photos of you included. The best way to do this is to hire Flytographer the next time you are on a trip and use those photos on your site.
- Does your branding match your message? If you are trying to attract luxury clients does your website feel like luxury? If your logo is DIY, you are going to attract DIY clients who will nickel and dime you to death. Your branding may need updating if your focus has changed over time. It’s well worth the money to hire a professional to help you.
- Is it easy to get in touch with you? I’m surprised at how hard it can be to find a way to get in touch with some companies. I’ve seen travel agency sites that only have a form to fill out to reach out to you. Being that hard to get in touch with means people probably won’t.
The bottom line is that just having a website isn’t enough. Your website needs to be thoughtfully created with a clear goal in mind. And most agents do it too soon. They throw up a website before they think about what they are specializing in and who their ideal client is. The good news is that websites aren’t engraved in stone and can be changed pretty easily and inexpensively. Sure it takes time and a bit of money, but those are investments that will pay big dividends for your business.