I have a few relatives, who see traveling as a huge waste of money. “You go, you spend lots of money and then you come home. And, what do you have to show for it all”? Poor Uncle Joe; he never took a vacation more than 100 miles away from his own front door. He certainly missed out on one of life’s great experiences – traveling the world and marveling at the many wonderful things in life that can stimulate our senses. The Sights. The Sounds. The Smells. The Tastes. The Feel. Merveilleux!
Years ago, many of those from “the greatest generation” primarily spent their vacations visiting and staying with out-of-town relatives. Some went away just to escape the sweltering heat of the city. Others often chose modest getaways that weren’t too far from home or too expensive to visit. The accounts of their vacation experiences have become legendary. Are they not best remembered by the home movies and slide shows, which inspired so many of our parent’s most artful excuses to “make it an early night?” Anything to beg out and avoid the boredom of watching those same embarrassing old films of Aunt Rose in her bulging, one piece bathing suit. And, did they really care enough to need to find out what some squirrel did with an acorn in the Pocono woods five years earlier? Neither scene was ever inspiring enough to trigger a copycat vacation booking by my parents.
Times certainly have changed. Today, almost everyone looks forward to a memorable vacation. The word “memorable” is strongly emphasized, since huge numbers of people now go on vacations to emotionally “connect” with interesting and often exotic places and peoples. And, we all seem to want to share our wonderful experience with others – but, not by way of home movies and slide shows, thankfully.
Social Media has changed the travel experience forever
Social Media has done for the travel and tourism industry what home movies and slide shows could never accomplish. It has created additional interest in travel among a larger pool of people, who really want qualified vacation recommendations via word of mouth rather than from some piece of grainy celluloid film projecting incidental minutiae on a screen. They want to hear about it and even “see it” while it is happening or – at least – get a strong account of what it was like from vacationers just returning home. Social Media is the perfect vehicle for this, because it operates in real time and is to a large degree self-editing.
National Geographic’s editor Keith Bellows admits that “today’s travel tours matured and now offer much more than ostentation to tourists. Today’s the trip is not longer only about luxury it’s more about connection. The trip is not long an end game; it’s just a beginning of a bigger journey. The education, the excitement, the relationships formed during trip and continues long after the trip ends, particularly with the advent of social media,” explains Bellows.
Travel companies and vacations are building communities through Blogs and informative Tweets. They are connecting common travelers before and after journey to share experiences. And, they are sponsoring contests to hype the excitement that comes with exploring vacation possibilities. All of this has changed the travel and tourism experience and the process itself.
“The travel market has an incredible opportunity to see major impact from social media since travelers love nothing more than sharing their travels,” Brandon Lake, founder of Resmark Systems. “We found operators who had systems that automatically generated content from guests in blogs, Facebook and other social networks. Other companies have discovered ways to get reservations directly from Twitter. We also found a few making excellent use of guest videos online.”
Recent statistics show that 48% of North American travel tour operators participate in social media on a daily basis, and 77% participate in social media at least weekly. Social Media is making terrific inroads in the industry.
Your audience must get on your website before they get on a plane
It all starts with a well executed website. If you are in a field that really needs to “emote” to your audience, your website must be up to the task. Photographers, architects, artists, hotels, fashion and interior designers, restaurateurs and bakers all share – with travel industry professionals – the need to visually appeal to and emotionally connect with their website visitors. In fact, they are generally expected to pull this off much better than those in the more scientific and intellectually focused fields like accounting, law and healthcare, where charts and graphs are the standard visual currency.
So, what should tourism and travel professionals be looking for when purchasing a website for their business?
+ Outstanding designs that create the right impact on your customers and build credibility for your Tours and Travel enterprise
+ A great look and feel that engages your visitors and compels them to spend more time on your website
+ Informative and engaging content that is BOTH crisp and concisely written
+ Strengthened professional credibility that presents your business and staff as expert and articulate
Increased Visibility on the Internet:
+ The ability to be found more easily by your local customers
+ A boost for your website’s visibility on major search engines
Relevant and useful features that:
+ The means to engage visitors, generate business leads and build customer loyalty
+ An attractive showcase your offerings
+ Ways to advertise and promote your business on the Internet
Travel Professionals Beware. If your website doesn’t create an appetite for travel, you may never know who is hungry for it to begin with. It’s like looking for a new barber. A good barber shouldn’t have a bad haircut. If your Travel Website doesn’t measure up, you may be losing opportunities you never knew you had.