Years ago, everyone wanted to travel no matter what. You didn’t have to put a lot of effort in creating an effective travel website. If it was online and offered attractive packages, customers were coming like bees to honey and booking holidays. But the COVID pandemic followed by an economic recession changed all that,
Now, people still want to travel, but they study the available offers very carefully. They are looking for several key elements, which used to be a non-issue in the past:
- How safe the destination is
- How easy it is to interact online with the travel agency and the resort
- How flexible the cancellation policy is.
As Travel Resumes, Competition Is Getting Worse than Ever
Traditional travel agencies now have new competitors: direct booking platforms. People can think of a destination and book their plane tickets, hotel rooms and even car rental on specialised platforms. These platforms connect the tourist directly with the provider – airline, hotel, restaurant or rent-a-car company.
In this context, creating an effective website, incorporating some of the features these platforms offer, represents the key to survival in this business. In this article, we will do things a bit differently. We will not only tell you what you should do, but also what you should avoid doing when building or updating your travel website.
Without any further introduction, let us start:
DO: Creating an Effective Travel Website Starts with Custom Look
Creating an effective travel website starts with the layout. Design trends are continually evolving. Big names in the travel industry afford to hire talented designers to create custom designs for them.
For smaller firms, one of the best choices is using WordPress for creating an effective travel website. You can find a lot of modern and responsive site templates that allow plenty customisations. Some of them are free, while others are available for a very affordable cost.
DON’T: Use Dodgy Site Builders
You will probably find many platforms that promise you “free and easy site building tools”. They may be free and easy, but they come with many unwanted features, such as:
- Ads appearing on your site which you cannot control – you may end up with a competitor’s ad on your home page
- Limited customisation options making your site look generic
- Burdensome code in the back-end of the drag & drop options, making pages slow to load.
These site builders are great if you are just starting out in keeping a personal blog. But they are really not recommended for creating an effective travel website, or any business website, for that matter.
DO: Use High Quality Images from Stock Photo Platforms
Ideally, you should have original photos on your site. But this is hard for travel agencies, especially if you specialise in destinations abroad. Sometimes, you may get your clients’ permission to use their photos if they share them with you.
Otherwise, you have to rely on stock photos. There are two categories of sites you can use: royalty-free and regular stock photos platforms. The first option is great if you are just starting out in business. You can find great photos and use them for free, 100% legally.
DON’T: Download Photos from Social Media or Google Images
Many people and business owners still don’t understand how copyright laws work. Nobody has to do anything to have full rights over a photo they took. The fact that they share it on their blog, on Facebook or Instagram, does not mean that anyone can download that photo and use it elsewhere.
While many individuals won’t bother to file a copyright infringement action, professional photographers will. At any rate, your business reputation is in jeopardy every day if you use photos without obtaining the author’s permission. This is not the way for creating an effective travel website.
DO: Creating an Effective Travel Website Involves a Content Strategy
As a travel agency owner, you know the trends – where people go in the summer and where they go in winter or during the Easter holiday. Since you have this knowledge, put it to good use in creating an effective travel website.
Make sure that the content you post and promote meets the tourists’ expectations. There are few people interested in skiing opportunities in the summer, for example. And only hardcore enthusiasts will take a surfing trip on Easter or Halloween.
DON’T: Forget about SEO Optimisation
You can craft creative and engaging content. But without SEO optimisation, most potential clients won’t find it. For this reason, when you plan your content strategy, pair it with a keyword strategy.
You should include the keyword in:
- The page title
- The header
- The content
- The meta description
- The ALT tag and description of images.
You can search for keyword optimised content simply by performing a Google search on a specific travel destination. You will find extremely attractive and engaging articles, where you will be able to spot keywords only if you look for them. There is an art in adding keywords in a natural way. If you are not sure you master it, you can hire SEO copywriters to create your content.
DO: Use a Great Booking System
Creating an effective travel website means offering clients the choice to do their own booking. People are very knowledgeable in using technology and they prefer booking holidays at their own convenience.
For this reason, try to invest in a professional booking system, which offers:
- A simple user interface, easy to use by anyone
- Real time database synchronisation, to avoid double bookings
- Connection to a secure payment gateway
- An effective notification system, both for the user and the travel agency.
DON’T: Slow Down Your Site with Unnecessary Plugins
In the past, creating an effective travel website meant offering users various cool widgets, such as:
- The time and weather in various travel destination
- Currency exchange calculator
- Number of clients who booked the destination in the last 30 days.
Now, these are fun and some of them useful. But consider this: each addition means more loading time. And neither users nor Google like slow loading web pages.
DO: Offer Users Advanced Search Filters
Some people are looking for travel ideas on your site. Others know exactly where they want to go to. They even have a favourite hotel in that place. Thus, creating an effective travel website means catering to all potential clients.
For those who have a clear destination in mind, make sure that the search function offers many filters, down to the price range, accommodation type and hotel name.
DON’T: Forget about Internal Linking
Another form of optimisation is adding anchor text to content pointing to booking pages or any other page on your site where you want your visitors to land. Many people will book a vacation after reading an interesting article about a place. If they can find the link within the article, so much for the better!
Creating an effective travel website does not have to be a cumbersome and expensive affair. You can do the work by yourself, or by hiring freelance professionals and enjoy the benefits of getting more bookings and loyal clients.