Building a Website for Your Tourism Business
Don’t wait until you’ve got all the pictures that you want or for your business to be fully up and running. Get a website done first and edit it later if needed. There are multiple reasons to get your website done early but I’ll stick to the main two ones. First, Google takes a LONG time to rank your website on the first page of relevant search engine results. Your “domain age” (meaning how old your domain name is from the date you registered “www.mylovelytour.co.nz”) is a big part of it. Second, it will truly help you get your marketing ideas together. You may have 10 ideas of what you want people to know about your travel product and what your best selling points are. But as you start getting a website together, you’ll have to trim things down and only keep the best stuff. So what is the best way to build a website for a tourism business? In this instalment of our New Zealand tourism marketing guide, we go over how to build a simple website and what content and features you actually need to build a tourism website that will drive sales.
A Note About This Tourism Marketing Guide
If you are just stumbling upon this page randomly or through a search engine, good on you. But before you keep going, you should read the introduction to this series of tourism marketing guide for New Zealand businesses so you get a bit of context about the tone and the content within it.
This article follows directly from Tourism Marketing #1: Know What You are Selling.
What Information Should You Have on Your Tourism Business Website?
Let’s get started! Keep in mind that the focus of building a tourism website is on the word “simple”. Many businesses get lost in the large amount of information they want on their site, as well as all the “blogs” they have to create after reading about SEO tips to get their website on the #1 spot on Google (more on that in Tourism Marketing #7: Improve Your SEO – spoiler alert, you don’t need to do it). To build a website that will generate sales, however, you’ve only got one simple thing to do: think about what your client is after, not what you are offering.
Most people want to know only a handful of things, such as:
- What are my options?
- How much does it cost?
- How long does it take? (if applicable)
- What are the departure times? (if applicable)
- Where is the pick-up location? (if applicable).
Don’t worry about selling your region. According to a 2019 study, 91% of travellers landing on a hotel’s or operator’s website were already on the market for an accommodation or an activity in the area. Just give your website visitors the facts, make it simple to book, and you’ll see your conversion go up. The less noise, clicks and options there is between landing on your site and getting a booking confirmed, the better.
How Much Should You Pay for a Website?
Now with all that in mind, your website should not cost much to make. In fact, I recommend starting with a free website. A platform like Wix has templates that are incredibly easy to update with the option to hire one of their “Experts” to help you, should you need it. You can also get all that domain name-nonsense sorted on Wix. I have advised and helped tens of tourism businesses in building their site with such platforms with great success. You do not need a $10k bespoke website to start with and, honestly, you probably never will. Some multi-million dollar turnover businesses here in New Zealand are using Wix or other website-building platforms. After all, this is New Zealand, we’re the home of DIY!
What about implementing more complex website features? Remember the purpose of your site: describing your offering to those that search for it online. When starting your website, focus on just that. Instead, for instance, trying to create a whole payment and booking system online, have your “book now” button redirect your clients to Booking.com or Viator so they can book – more on this in Tourism Marketing #5: Expand Your Sales Channels. You will have to pay a bit of a commission to pay but it may be worth it to avoid the initial hassle. You can always implement those complex features later on down the track when you have money to pay one of the experts on your chosen website platform. Again, I took Wix as an example above because I have personally used it with multiple New Zealand businesses to give them back ownership of their website and URL, but there are plenty of website-building platforms out there so you have options.
Research the Websites of Your Competition
The most important tip I can give you when designing your own website is to know your competition but don’t copy them! We are talking about your wording or selling points here. Many operators are checking out their direct competitors and trying to replicate what they are doing. As we talked about in Tourism Market #1: Know What You’re Selling, this is the wrong approach. It is much easier to be “different” than “better”. Set yourself apart by finding a different selling point.
Pick a strong selling point and build off of it to create a strong brand identity and show it off with your website. Remember, I am advocating for having a very simple website so your number of words will be limited. Make each of them count! A great way to find inspiration is to pick a different country, say Norway, and find tourism businesses that offer something comparably similar to see what kind of angle they took on it. This may be the revelation that will spark your inspiration. Then you can translate it to the New Zealand tourism industry and to the template you choose for your simple website.
One Last Word on Why YOU Should Build Your Website
I get it, most of us get scared by the sheer idea of building a website. But think of the alternative: being chained to a marketing company that will likely charge you a monthly fee plus extra for most edits on your site. They will probably legally own the design of your website, even after you leave them, and maybe even own your domain name. It’s a problem I’ve seen tourism businesses having time and time again.
Building a website is as simple as creating a word document nowadays and there are tons of tutorials online. Look into it, even if you are not internet proficient. If you apply yourself to it, creating a two-to-three-page website will only take you a day. It’s just modifying text and images on a template. Alternatively, just hire your nephew to do it for you as a school holiday project…
If all else fails and, well, you don’t have a nephew, hire one of the “expert” contractors on your chosen website-building platform. They can’t lock you into a contract and will only do what you ask them to do as a one-off task for a fixed fee. Easy.
Oh, and when you are done, move on to the part three of this series of New Zealand tourism marketing guides, where we talk about the imagery that you will need to plaster all over your website. Don’t wait until you get your pictures to build your website though – that’s an excuse I’ve heard way too often! Just use placeholder images.
Don’t delay, build a simple site, stick to answering only the questions that your clients may have, and do it yourself.
Do You Want to be Featured on NZ Pocket Guide?
Once you’ve got your website sorted out, if you want your business to be featured on New Zealand’s largest and most popular travel guide, we’re just a quick email away. Just head to our contact page. Plus, if you mention this article series, we’ll shout you 20% OFF your first year ad campaign – just like that!
Continue Reading the Tourism Marketing Guides…
To keep going with this article series, check out Tourism Marketing #3: Get Striking Imagery for Your Website or go back and start afresh with our 10 Tips to Promote Your New Zealand Travel Business.