Many web development agencies (and their clients!) make the mistake of thinking that the content that goes into the site can come after the design and development is complete. On the contrary, a proper content strategy should be outlined before any other work is done, as it will dictate the flow of the site.
We’ve put this essential checklist together as a starting point for new tour operator sites to ensure that you have a sound content plan in place before you move ahead with design, development, marketing and all the rest.
Single out your audience
First and foremost, figure out who it is you’re catering to. In the saturated tour operator market, it’s all the more important to find a niche to occupy that will help you to have a tighter target to reach. For example, rather than trying to compete with the incredibly congested market for “african safaris”, why not hone in on a specific area and travel style – you’re much more likely to succeed in targeting “honeymoon safari in zambia”, for example.
No successful tourism website is built on copy alone. In the planning stage, make sure you have all the media you’ll want on the site prepared. That means images, video, audio, interactive maps, and more. As far as possible, don’t leave the selection process up to your web design or web development team, provide them with as much original content as possible to avoid the use of corny stock imagery and the like.
Figure out beforehand what kinds of credibility building content you’ll have onsite. If you have reviews and testimonials for your tours or the accommodations that are occupied on the tours, make sure these are prominently displayed, if not throughout the site then at least on a “Reviews” page. People want to know that the people they’re trusting with their travel planning have a solid track record of providing memorable, problem-free experiences.
All the best content strategy in the world means nothing if users can’t navigate through it all in a simple, intuitive way. Make sure that early on in the content planning process you have put together a sitemap for the site hierarchy. Larger sites, as many tour operator sites tend to be, will require a well thought out search solution: FacetWP will be of great use. Smaller sites might not need a finely-tuned filtered search system like Facet, and can rely solely on a properly planned menu structure, making all content easily found.
Multiple contact options
How are your users going to get in touch with you once they’ve decided to enquire about your tours? Of course every site needs a contact page, but where else on your site are you going to have embedded forms? You might want to put a simple contact form in the site footer, in a sidebar if you are using a suitable layout, or possibly as a modal popup after a button is clicked.
Mobile friendly content
People do most of their travel search on mobile, and if your website (where most of your own content is housed) is not responsive, you are not just losing immediate bookings, but you are losing credibility in their eyes for future bookings and recommendations as well.
Aside from making sure that images and other site elements are responsive for mobile devices, you might also consider that some content is better not shown on mobile at all. This might be because it doesn’t display well at smaller sizes (infographics, for example), or because the content relates to people viewing on desktop vs mobile (i.e. use of the word click rather than tap).
Your own clients can be a great source of content. Consider leveraging trip-takers’ reviews as tour content (with their permission, of course). Using their content will help to keep your site content fresh: as the tours change and the subsequent reviews do too, you’ll be able to use that content to tell the latest stories about your latest offerings.
Taking care to plan your content will make a world of difference when it comes to the time it takes to build your website, and the clarity with which your message is delivered.