A number of businesses in the travel industry today wonder whether creating a website, developing online business listings, and enhancing their local online presence is worth the time, effort, and money required. According to a recent Google study, 78% of travel transactions involve research on a search engine, with travellers searching Google eight times on average before booking a trip, making it quite clear that online travel marketing is essential for competing in today’s business world. As time goes on, these statistics are almost guaranteed to increase, and those businesses and tourist destinations that continue to ignore the power of online marketing will most likely be left in the digital dust.
While many travellers are using the internet to find information on destinations and activities, they aren’t always using search engines. As tools like Facebook Places and Twitter Places are growing in popularity, a large percentage of web-savvy travellers are utilizing social media sites to get the information they need. This is a strong indicator that any travel-related business absolutely needs to become involved in social media in order to reach out to the majority of the local market.
Even if you’re business already has a relatively strong web presence and is involved in social media, that alone may not be enough to keep up with the growing demand from consumers for complete interactivity. According to a recent local search study by 15 Miles, a branch of TMP Directional Marketing, 81% of social networkers believe it’s important for local businesses to quickly respond to questions and complaints posted on their social site, as opposed to maintaining a static page for advertisement only. Additionally, 78% felt a desire for special offers and promotions on business social pages, along with regular updates about upcoming events and activities. The study also revealed that one in six searchers was generally dissatisfied with their ability to obtain credible information about local businesses online, which means being one of the few with a complete web presence can put a business way ahead of the game.
Those businesses in the travel market who are interested in further developing their online presence should act sooner rather than later, as competition is stiff. By making information available on both search engines and social networks, you can help your business stay ahead of the curve by being the first result a searcher sees when seeking information on your particular destination online. Of course, as the study by 15 miles suggested, it’s not enough to just make a website or Facebook page and then just sit back. Consumers, in this case travellers, want to interact with the businesses with whom they deal, and only by constantly evolving your online presence can your travel-related business stay competitive and truly reach its full marketing potential.