The Website Content Conundrum

It seems the travel agency community is facing a bit of a “content conundrum” when it comes to what to do with your website.  We, at Passport Online have had lots of discussions with agents regarding what is next for websites and beyond. With the evolution of the Web through social media, mobile devices, and other media, it’s becoming clear that Internet marketing for agents will involve multiple tools and solutions.  I want to address a few issues we have recently seen discussed in blogs and publications that appear to be misleading or incomplete. 

First, what do we mean when we say “content”?  In the website world, content has many different definitions. You MUST have unique information about yourself on your website. You should tell your story, share your experience differentiate your value to your customers.  Your unique content will help you with both people visiting your website and with search engines.    You unique content tells people visiting your website why they should work with you.  It also helps maximize your ranking in online searches.  Unique content is imperative for any website.

 I also think you need to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. When you shop these days at a local retailer, don’t you like to browse? Don’t you like to do a little window shopping of your own before you engage with a sales person or take the next step? Your customers should have the same ability to look at available product offers from suppliers. Maybe scan the cruise sailings, the tour operator options, the hotel and resort locations.  We call this “supplier content”.  The best websites are those that have a combination of unique content and supplier content on their sites – having success with both consumer visitors and search engines.  It’s an absolute misnomer that having supplier content on websites hurts your site with search engines.  And if you don’t have supplier content on your site, your customers can simply go to an OTA to find it.

Passport Online provides supplier content to travel agency websites through our suite of marketing solutions.

With our supplier content, which we aggregate and update daily, your website would have accurate, sellable product content in your “virtual” store window, on your virtual store shelves. And this content would keep your customers on your site, not take them off   to a supplier site or any other potential buying option.

If you have consortia specials, those will all be updated and populated on your website. And you can preference the suppliers and control what your customers see.

Search Engine Optimization is a hot topic. And it is certainly an important area to consider. As a small to medium sized travel agency, I know you are not out there trying to show up ahead of Expedia or Travelocity when someone does a basic internet search. But there are many ways to get your website noticed in the search engines.  We have many travel agency client sites that show up on the very first page of cruise searches, tour searches, destination searches. Ask Jerry Vaughn, World Voyager Vacations. Jerry runs a very successful home based leisure and meeting/incentive agency in Federal Way, Washington. All of his supplier content comes from Passport Online. All of his websites are built in the Passport Online NexCite program. Jerry works with SEO  every day, and is a very satisfied  customer.

With respect to who should build, manage and support your website that too is an individual business decision. There are options, such as WordPress or GoDaddy or other non travel industry options that work very well for some. You can add Passport Online VacationPort supplier content onto any of these website programs.

Our full service website solution, NexCite, is designed for the travel agency industry only. It integrates with our supplier content. It is easy to use, offers add-ons for social media and our customer service staff is available to help with anything you need along the way.

Whatever you decide to do in terms of building a website for your business, first ask yourself  “What makes ME different? That’s what needs to be on your website. What are your certifications, qualifications and what do you bring to the table?”

At Passport Online, we provide the tools. And our tools are evolving as your Internet marketing needs evolve.  For instance, this year we will be launching an iPhone application, and a facebook application, so you can reach your clients in the ways they want to interact, in addition to your website.  But our entire business is built on the fact that these tools simply facilitate discussion and information exchange. It is the sales person behind the tools that completes a sale, services a customer and empowers a traveler.

Join us on February 28 when we host a webinar on this very topic of Website Content for the Travel Professional Community. Hear from a few of your colleagues and our fellow travel agent customers. In the meantime, explore what we can do for your business at www.passportonlineinc.com and let us know if we can help you build your virtual presence!

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2 responses to “The Website Content Conundrum”

  1. Deb Watt says:

    We have had the vacationport option on our website for several years. We had our website designed because we wanted our own look. The vacationport option was a great solution for us.

    As an agent who has been in travel over 30 years, I have seen a lot of change. Over the past few years there has been increasing chatter about having a social presence for travel agents in the marketplace. In seems, in this past year we have seen not just a progression of growth, but a skyrochet surge about social media becoming an intregal part of the travel industry marketing. in the past 3 months, I have attened 6 different webinars involving this topic. I may have seen one webinar on the topic to sign up for in the 12 months prior to that.

    Keeping up with our business keeps us busy. Adding social media to our
    normal work routine will add addtional time. I am happy to see that Passport Online has been working on tools to help us evolve to the changing marketplace.

    The marketplace has evolved. Our younger clients ask us to text them, because they don’t answer voice mails. Hmm – so does that mean voice mail is old school? No, it just means we need to evolve and have the tools to do it.

    I am looking forward to the upcoming webinar and future tools that help our web presence evolve as well as save us time.

  2. hits but no bookings??

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