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This is a guest post by Andrea Appin from TourismTiger.

Credibility, why is it so important?

Well, if you’ve been to any large city, you’ve experienced the touters. The ones that have a variety of ‘designer’ goods laid out on a blanket on the side of the road. Or you may have found yourself in some far flung corner of the world, stumbling into a hole-in-the wall store full of iPhones at a dirt cheap price.

Have you bought any of these things? My guess is probably not. Why? Well you may have wondered if it was fake. Or if it was stolen. You were probably worried that the quality wasn’t up to par and it would break after a measly few days.

Everything from the environment, to the seller and that ‘bottom dollar’ price made you decide not to go through with the purchase.

The reason? Nothing about it was credible.

Well, the same holds true for websites: it’s the first impression most people get of your tourism business. You want them to believe that you provide a trustworthy service that will meet (and hopefully exceed) their expectations.  

How do you do this? You guessed it, make sure your site is credible. Here’s how:

#1 Make your site professional

Last year, Chartbeat’s CEO did a study for Time.com. He wanted to see how much time people spend on any given website. His results? On average, most people will give your site 15 seconds of their attention.

So what are they going to notice in those vital seconds? Well, they’re definitely going to start with your website design (which by the way, is the largest contributor to website credibility according to a 2003 study).

Although designing a website is a lofty task, there are some key points that you should keep in mind, such as: layout, typography, images and consistency issues. And as a general rule, the visual design should match the feel of your tour company and your target audience.

#2 Make your site user-friendly

Now that you’ve gotten people to stay on your site past those nail biting 15 seconds by ‘wowing’ them with a super sleek appearance, you need to reel them in even further by providing them a seamless user experience.

To make this happen, you need to ask yourself why most people are viewing your site -- and if you are a tour operator, they more than likely are there to find out more about your tours. So make your tours shine by featuring each tour option on your homepage.

While working with Walia Adventures, we used striking images to frame the tour options, making them impossible to miss. We also incorporated a sticky menu, so the viewer can access other categories of the website at any point. 

The most important element of making the site user-friendly, however, is to ensure that the viewer doesn’t have to search around for any call-to-actions (CTAs). The CTAs, especially the ‘book now’ button, should be super obvious and visible throughout the user experience.

Our favorite way of achieving this is by integrating a sticky ‘Book Now’ feature on every tour page -- this way, potential customers can book the tour from wherever they happen to be on the page. 

Pro-tip:

To make your tours really shine, you’ll need to craft great descriptions. Find out how to do exactly that in this article.

#3 Make it easy for people to verify your claims

As people are perusing through your tour descriptions -- reading about all the great things to do and places to see on your tours -- they might be wondering whether or not you will actually deliver on all of your promises.

Unless you give them reasons not to speculate in the first place.

Start by showing off all of your online reviews so viewers know that real-life people actually vouch for your tours.

We did this while designing Jaco Tour’s site, so people are constantly aware of how amazing their tours really are.

#4 Let your expertise shine through

Now that you’ve piqued the viewer’s interest, you need to really drive home the fact that you know what you’re talking about when it comes to tours.

So how do you do that? Well, start by showing off all of the reputable tour associations that you’re part of. And don’t be shy about showing off any awards you may have received.

Check out how Tasmanian Safaris prominently displays all of their accolades directly on their homepage.

Make sure you also include details such as years of experience, qualifications and industry recognitions on your about page and across the your website.

#5 Make your contact details visible and easily accessible

Time and time again I’ve visited a website in a desperate attempt to find the company’s contact details -- because I actually, you know, want to get in touch with them -- and they are nowhere to be found. And do you know what I do? Leave the site and look up their competition.

Don’t let this happen to you by making sure that your contact information is glaringly obvious to anyone viewing your page. A no-fail option would be to include a ‘Contact Us’ option on the menu linked to a contact page. 

So what should you include on that contact page? Start with the basics -- a contact number and email -- but also include a physical address and Google maps with your location pinned.

Pro-tip:

Fancy contact forms with a variety of fields actually tend to deter potential guests from contacting you. More than likely, they probably have a simple question about your tours and really don’t want to deal with the hassle and time of filling out a form. If you do feel like including a form, make sure that you keep it as simple as possible and be sure that your tour business’s email address is visible as well.

#6 Keep your content fresh and relevant

Nothing says ‘abort mission’ to viewers like a website full of outdated and irrelevant information. That means, make sure all of your tour information is up-to-date -- especially things like the time, duration, cost and inclusions. Any conflicting information could lead to seriously disappointed customers.

Another word of warning: if you are going to keep a blog, make sure that you update it frequently. And don’t make it overly sales-driven. Write about what your target audience is interested in reading -- and make sure that your writing tone resonates with them.

#7 Check and double check your work

When it comes to all of that copy, check and double check your writing to make sure that it is completely void of any grammar or spelling errors.

And while you're at it, make sure that all of your links are working: if people are clicking on them, they are clicking on them for a reason -- and they will be sorely disappointed if they are taken to a page displaying a ghastly 404 page error.

We’re all human though, and even the most pedantic of us can let a few things go amiss.

My recommendation? Let someone else go through your site with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that everything is in tip-top shape.

So regarding all that copy, check out fiverr and search either their ‘Business Copywriting’ and ‘Articles and Blog posts’ categories. You’ll find loads of freelancers offering up their services to do all of that tiresome proofreading and editing for you (at a super cheap rate too). You can also find people offering similar services on Upwork.

Wondering about all of those links you have to check out? Don’t fret, Broken Link Check has your back covered! Just go to their site, enter your website’s URL -- and in seconds, they’ll display any broken links you may have. Want to know what’s even more exciting? It’s all free of charge (unless you have thousands of pages for them to go through -- then they’ll start charging you).

Well done!

If you follow these steps, people may just find your website (and what it represents: your tour business) credible enough to spend all of their hard earned cash on your tours. If you don’t, the only thing you’ll start increasing is your bounce rate. 

This is a guest post by Andrea Appin.

Andrea Appin is the lead marketer at TourismTiger, a web design company dedicated to building beautiful and affordable websites for tourism and activity operators.