People want to buy travel services from a real person and not a website. It makes no difference how exciting and flashy your travel company website may be. To convince more visitors to make a booking, you must show the world that you run a real tourism business staffed by actual people.
Using stock photos of happy travelers interacting with stock images of smiling staff is not the best way to keep it real. It is always advisable to post photos of yourself and your valued staff members on your website’s About Us page.
By welcoming online visitors with photos of your team (the personal touch), you will make it more likely they will keep browsing to learn more and make a booking.
Fortunately the benefits of this best practice are easy to explain whether you are an independent tour operator, manage a hospitality businesses, or provide specialized travel services.
Your business probably ranks high on many of the keywords for your vacation style niche or geographic area. Perhaps you are also running an online advertising campaign, targeting people that are searching for travel that is covered by your area of expertise. In both situations, most visitors to your website will be first time visitors and have never heard of your tourism business before. Without the instant brand name recognition of a top 100 global travel provider, you are at a competitive disadvantage if you fail to highlight your trustworthy reputation.
Promote Your Tourism Reputation First
A key part of showcasing your online reputation as a successful member of the travel industry is the ubiquitous page titled “About Us” or sometimes “Who We Are” or filed under “Company History.” It is oftentimes the second page viewed by first-time visitors to your website (home or landing page) as they seek out the answer these essential questions:
- Who are the tourism business and people behind this website?
- Are they a reputable provider of travel products and services?
- Do I feel confident and comfortable to (eventually) make a booking?
Displaying a text heavy (without pictures) page is a going to turn off many visitors who want to be inspired by your travel offerings while they plan a vacation for themselves and their family. Remember at this stage your goal is not to convince them to book travel. First you must meet their lowest level (core) need on the Tourism Website Hierarchy of Needs – Reputable Travel Business.
Unless your visitor believes that you are a reputable tourism business, your website will not be given the opportunity to convince (convert) them from casual visitor to paying customer.
About Us Travel Staff Photos Offer the Personal Touch
Most visitors will have reached your site via a travel search results page or by clicking an online ad. Perhaps they even picked up a paper copy of your brochure at the local tourism office. Regardless of where they are coming from, their first goal as a first time visitor is to gather information about your reputation. They are going to make up their mind by looking at your About Us page as well as your overall tourism website design and its ease of use.
First time visitors need to quickly determine whether you are an established, reputable, and professional travel business before they decide to take the next step in the booking process.
By including one or more photos of yourself and your staff who deliver travel services, you are making it real to all visitors that you care about delivering the travel experience they seek. At the same time you will make it obvious that you run a hands-on travel business and are not another reseller or aggregator of tours, hotels, and packaged itineraries. Unfortunately many flashy looking booking websites exist solely to serve ads and to get unsuspecting visitors to click on their travel affiliate links. You don’t want to be confused with those sites ever!
Seeing some examples in action is the best way for me to convince you to add photos of yourself and your staff (tour guides, reservation agents, food and beverage staff, front desk people, …) to your website today.
No Photo About Us Pages for Tourism Websites That Can Do Better
The following screenshots of actual travel websites are for example purposes only (I am not judging the ability of these companies to provide top notch travel services, just their About Us page). It should be instantly obvious that the text heavy and stock photo approach can leave prospects cold. For many first-time visitors, it will fail to inspire the high level of confidence and excitement that is necessary to convince travelers to learn more and make a booking.
Welcoming About Pages for Travel Websites with Real Photos of Owners and Staff
Now here are my top examples of tourism marketing done right – with actual photos of staff (sometimes wearing funny hats) on their About Us and other relevant pages. As compared with the about pages shown in the “No Photo” examples above, this personal touch is warm and inspires confidence and excitement while consumers plan a trip online.
People searching for travel options need to be reminded that your company is made up of real people that love their job in the travel industry. You want them to remember the faces of your team when it comes time to finalize vacation plans. It makes no difference whether you offer lodging, day tours, tourist activities, or full tour packages as you can tell from the travel about page screenshots below.
Marketing travel online requires you and your reservations team to make a personal connection with every visitor that happens upon your site. Travel planning has become more social and reaching out via social media destinations like Facebook, Google+, and FourSquare is also an essential part of your tourism marketing plan (more on that in a future article). However before making a booking, most people will visit your website directly to see if your tourism business appears reputable, trustworthy, and secure.
With so many competing travel sites just a click away, it is critical that you connect with travelers as soon as they arrive to your website by personalizing your message. Adding photos of the owners and key staff in action is an essential step to showcase your well-earned reputation as a quality provider of travel products and services. In order for your website to rise above the competition, you need to make the conversation (and booking conversion process) personal by leveraging your people to convert more lookers to bookers.
So delete the stock photos and take some real pictures of you and your staff delivering the travel experience that you are known for. By posting these photos on your About Us page (and on popular social sites too), you will greatly enhance your travel reputation online 24/7 and certainly get more bookings.
-Scott, BookingCounts – Tourism Website Optimization to Get More Bookings!