You may be offering the experience of a lifetime – but how do you convince a new, blissfully ignorant audience to book or enquire online?
You’ll be pleased to know there’s a formula for it – called the Online Travel Conversion Funnel.
Most travellers go through a conversion funnel of behaviours when booking a trip. From inspiration to interest, desire and action, a good tourism digital strategy ensures your online activity gets you in front of the right user, at the right time; then your website works to cater to each stage of the process. The result? Users are taken on a journey through the conversion funnel – eventually booking or enquiring online as the result of an inspiring brand experience from the get-go.
The first step in the conversion funnel is Awareness
First, focus on the audience who may never have come across your offering before. Who might they likely be? What are their demographics, wants and frustrations, influences? Then, create your content in a way that plays off the basic desires and interests of this target audience. Blogs within your website, social media and video are great platforms for this. Start with the basics – why is New Zealand so fantastic to visit? Why would you include your location/tour/experience in an itinerary? Dig up some unique information on your location that the audience may not know, and serve users messages that are attention grabbing and inspiring.
Educating & addressing Barriers to Travel
This level is all about advice and insights. You’ve lightly hooked them; they’re interested in what you have to offer, but they’re about to filter what’s valuable and what’s not and come up against barriers to what you’re offering. For example, they may start thinking along the lines of “this activity works out to be quite expensive…why would I want to go to Gisborne, as it’s pretty far out of the way of the main tourist spots…Fiordland looks really rainy..”, etc. This is when you provide content that addresses these concerns. In the case where you’re having to charge a lot, you could talk about the quality and uniqueness of your offering, and why it’s unmissable. If you’re in Gisborne, talk up the benefits of getting off the beaten track. And Fiordland – how about a blog post about the gorgeous waterfalls that start cascading in the rain.
They’re ready to make their travel purchase decision, and this is a critical time to get your content right. What do you do better than your competitors? Why should they choose you? Why should they buy now? This is the part of the funnel where you focus your content on user action. This call to action should get them rearing to go and create a sense of urgency to purchase.
Paid media to reach people in this part of the process may include targeted Facebook and Instagram display campaigns, mid-funnel AdWords, generic display and YouTube campaigns that focus on addressing barriers to travel. We see retargeting – serving ads to people who have been to your site, but not yet booked – as a way to get people tossing up ideas over the line.
Creating brand advocates from your guests themselves
The user purchases your trip online, travels to New Zealand and has a fantastic experience. At the core of this experience is your brand. Use this step strategically by finding ways to make your guests advocates of your brand & your experience – testimonials, social media, Trip Advisor – use your guests to inspire their friends/other guests to visit your site. And then the funnel starts all over again!
Keep in mind that creating this type of a purchasing journey is the best way to drive online sales for audiences who don’t speak english as well – if you’re targeting Chinese, Japanese or Latin American guests, you may want to consider ways to ensure these users are nurtured through the travel conversion funnel in their own language (think: multiple translated pages, or a hub of content that relates to their travel style in their own language).