Why Sell Online? 5 Pros of E-Commerce
Word of mouth and referrals have always been a cornerstone of the tours and activities industry, and while they are some of the best ways to create loyalty and foster trust, they don’t have as much reach as other avenues. If you’ve been running a successful brick-and-mortar operation for a while now, or if you’ve just started a brand-new business, you might be wondering what the benefits are of selling your tours and activities online. E-commerce has become a huge part of the travel and tourism industry, and selling online can make an impact in your reach and, most importantly, your bottom line. This guide covers some of the most important reasons why you should be selling online in an industry that’s becoming more and more web-centric.
Meet Your Customers Where They Are
Your customers are the most crucial component of your business and it is with their best interests in mind, and the desire to provide them with excellent experiences, that motivates all aspects of your decision-making. Because of this, it’s critical to be visible whenever and wherever they are looking for the kind of services you offer. Today, that means having an online presence — 83% of US adults prefer to book their travel online (Condor), so small businesses can’t afford to miss out on this opportunity to capture online bookings.
In 2018, 66.7% of travel bookings were made directly on the businesses’ website (TrekkSoft). The number of people booking travel and tourism online is continuing to grow as we become more reliant on mobile devices. In fact, online travel bookings are expected to hit $817 billion by 2020 (Condor). Get your piece of that revenue by making sure your offerings are available online!
We absolutely don’t discount the value of face-to-face interaction, and human interaction is, of course, a central part of your business, but the majority of that will happen during your actual tours and activities, so the first step is to get them booked. Travelers today are looking for ease and convenience when they’re making their travel plans, and that means booking their tours and activities quickly and easily online, then it’s up to you to dazzle them with your amazing activities and your friendly and knowledgeable tour guides. In 2018, 82% of all travel bookings were made online via a mobile app or website, without human interaction (Condor). You can see why it’s important for your offerings to be available to this large majority of travelers who are booking online.
Sell 24/7 While You’re Running Your Business
You already know that running a business is time-consuming. At times, it can probably feel like there are not enough hours in the day to take care of every single part of your business, from hiring and training tour guides to keeping on top of finances to maintaining your equipment. The great thing about offering your tours or activities online is that you can be selling 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without actually having to make those sales yourself. While you’re out providing one of your tours, the reservations can be rolling in effortlessly, freeing up your time to do what you love. The time it takes to set up your tours to be bookable online is well worth the time you’ll save answering the phones or taking reservations in person, and FareHarbor is here to help. Our team will help make sure all of your items are bookable online, and that you are paid and notified in a timely way. You can also get started on optimizing your website to help drive SEO and review our 8 elements of a website thank ranks and converts.
Having your tours bookable online also allows customers from across the world to book regardless of timezone. This is particularly helpful for international travelers, as it might not be easy for a customer to call you during business hours, but they can book your tours at a time that is convenient for them. With 24/7 access, you can literally sell tours in your sleep!
Operate Your Business from Anywhere
Depending on your type of business, you might not have a need for a brick-and-mortar location. For example, if you run your tours out of your boat at the marina, you might not want to spend money on a ticketing desk or another type of office space. When you sell your tours online, you don’t need to have a physical space to meet with potential customers. This makes it easy to run your business from wherever you are, which in turn can lower your overhead costs.
Increase Online Visibility & Expand Your Reach
When planning their vacations, travelers turn to the Internet first. Today, 93% of online experiences begin with a search engine (imForza). Making your tours available for purchase online and optimizing your site for SEO will help your business appear in the search results when travelers are in the planning phase of their trip. This expands your potential customers way beyond those who might find you when they’re already in their vacation destination, exposing your business to a much wider audience.
SEO is especially important for local businesses. According to SEO Tribunal, 97% of people learn more about local businesses online than anywhere else. Having an online presence and making it easy to book your tours is going to help you capture new customers who are searching for the types of tours or activities you offer online.
It’s likely that your competitors are already selling online, so you can’t miss out on this opportunity to capture new customers. Making your tours available online is an easy and low-cost way to expand your reach and bring in customers who might not have found your business otherwise.
Get Easy-to-Measure Data
Understanding your customers is vital to growing your business, and selling your tours online gives you easy access to the data you need. Using a combination of tools like your FareHarbor booking report, Google Analytics, and other online data, you can really delve into what your customers care about, such as best-selling tours, peak hours for bookings, the customer’s journey from landing on your website to booking their activity, and more.
Instead of going through handwritten records or spending hours building a spreadsheet, you can easily export valuable data that will help you understand your customers and grow your business. This can save you time and give you insights that could dramatically impact your business.
So much of the travel industry has already moved online, starting with flight and hotel bookings, and industry experts all agree that the tours and activities sector is the next big online market. It’s important for businesses like yours to stay on top of this trend by making your tours and activities easily and quickly bookable online. It’s easy to do, and it will help your business grow! Ready for more tips on how to grow your business? Head over to our growth strategy guides.