‘Little drops of water make the soil very wet.’

Working for a utility company can be a life changing experience.

Just after I finished high school – too many years ago now – I got a job in customer service helping water company customers with their billing. It was a simple job but it had a profound impact on how I would end up starting a web design company for the tour and activity space.

It was all about leaks. We’d regularly receive calls from outraged customers who’d just received an enormous bill and were desperately looking for a way out. It must be a mistake, they’d insist! Our machines must have it all wrong!

Not quite. Water utilities aren’t like telephone companies so they don’t often make mistakes.  Take the right pipe or toilet and a surprising amount of water can get out of a tiny hole if given enough time!

One hundred leaky pipes later I left that job, but was privileged to take along with me a profound marketing paradigm: Find the leaks. Plug the leaks.

I guarantee you that your pipe – your website – has lots of tiny little leaks. Everyone’s does, including mine. The goal of this post is to show you the top three website leaks that I see nowadays from tour & activity operators around the world.

1. Lack of booking software

I’m taking it that the Rezdy team has already given you the hint on this one but in case you’ve somehow missed it, I’m going to repeat it: it’s 2015 and you need booking software on your website.

Just three days ago I was talking to an activity operator in South Carolina in the United States and he told me something that surprised even me: nearly ALL their visitors come from last minute impulse bookings from people looking online! Without booking software with instant confirmation, how many of those bookings do really think he would get?

Not everyone wants to cross their fingers that you actually check your email (most operators take forever to respond) and I can guarantee you that most people will pull their teeth out before picking up the phone to call you. Not only that, but do you think at 10pm that people would prefer to just book online or risk interrupting you?

It doesn’t matter whether it’s hotels, airlines or tour companies: travelers expect online bookings and you’ll lose their business if you don’t offer it.

2. Doesn’t work on mobile

I have access to a lot of website data (as you might imagine given my role) and there’s one consistent theme that’s recurring everywhere: traffic on mobile devices is exploding.

In 2015, nearly all websites will see a majority of their traffic coming from mobile devices. This is great news if your website is ready and terrible news if your website is not. Smartphone and tablet users are often on poor internet connections and just don’t have the patience to deal with an old clunker when they know that the next option is most likely going to be user-friendly.

The key word here is ‘responsive’, which means that your website adapts itself to the size of the device used by the visitor.

Does having a responsive website actually make a difference? Big time! While writing my book I was lucky enough to interview Peep Laja, the world’s most prominent expert on website conversion rates. He had this to say:

“I’ve never seen an instance where a website has not increased its sales as a result of changing their design to responsive.”

The equation is simple: responsive design = more sales.

If you’re unsure whether your website is actually responsive or not, just check out this free tool from Google where they’ll tell you how mobile friendly your website is. What you’re looking for is a mobile usability score of 95% or more. Anything else and you need a new website.

3. Your special reason isn’t point blank obvious

Many website visitors will wait little time before clicking off if they can’t find what they want straight away. This means that your very first goal when someone arrives is for them to hang around longer than a few seconds so you can have an actual chance at making the sale.

There’s two things that your ideal customer need to see in those few seconds:

  1. What You Do
  2. What Makes You Special

When someone first arrives at your site, they frankly don’t care who you are, which is why the typical “Welcome to John’s Tours” headline you see everywhere is harmful.

Tell your visitor why they should hang around your site. To get an idea of what I mean, check out this design I just whipped up:


A visitor to this site will have no doubt whatsoever what this business does – Small Group Winery Tours – and what makes it special – their 19 years of experience.

You may be surprised just how obvious it needs to be but think about it – people are distracted. Have you ever browsed the web while watching television, dealing with your children, walking around a shopping mall or waiting for food?

Your website needs to be ready for every scenario, not just for those potential customers with fast internet connections, great computers and all the time in the world to dedicate to reading about your business.

From adding testimonials to having a fast loading site, there’s many other leaks you can probably plug. Just be sure to take care of the big three first.

To learn more about websites, see Rezdy’s checklist of what every tour operator website needs.

This blog was written by Matthew Newton, Founder of Tourism Tiger.

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