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Picture this: you're exploring a new destination, eager to discover its hidden gems. You stumble upon a cute little storefront travel agency, but wait...there's no sign, no indication of their expertise or the amazing experiences they offer.
Would you trust them to plan your dream vacation?
In today’s online world, you’re most likely not operating a brick and mortar agency. Instead, your travel agent website is your digital storefront. Your website is where you demonstrate your expertise, how potential clients learn more about what you do, and can ultimately be how they decide whether or not you’re the right agent to help them plan their next trip.
Without a website, I guarantee you’re losing a ton of potential clients. Most people simply aren’t going to pick up the phone to call you without having any other information.
What you need is a custom website. One that reflects your brand, sparkles with your personality, and makes the clients you want to work with say “Yes! I need them to plan my next trip!”
Why travel agents need a custom website
Imagine if you have a sales employee who is always selling. They never need to sleep, eat, take a bathroom break, or take a vacation.
That’s what the best travel agency websites do.
They're a place anyone can visit and that’s always open. They're informing, educating, and selling 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They're a powerful tool that can revolutionize your business.
Let’s take a look at what a custom travel agency website can actually do for you.
Showcase Your Unique Brand
Your travel agency is unique, and your brand identity should show that. From your logo to your color scheme and overall website design, no two travel agency websites should be the same.
When you have a website that stands out from the crowd it leaves an impression on a potential customer. Not only that, it helps the clients you want to work with, who your brand resonates with, want to click that “consultation” button!
Engage and Inform Visitors
A custom travel agency website can provide valuable information and engaging content to your visitors.
Your website is where you can create destination guides, share travel tips, provide insider knowledge, and share special offers that keep travelers hooked and coming back for more.
Do you have group space on a cruise or tour that you’re trying to fill?
Your website is where you can share that. Not by using an ad created by the cruise line, but by creating your own valuable content about the cruise. Content that resonates with your audience and makes them want to book their dream trip.
When you offer informative and engaging content on your website, you establish yourself as an expert and build trust with your audience.
Tell people how to work with you
If someone wants to work with you, you want to make it as easy as possible for them to take the first step. Any difficulty they run into could easily be enough to lose that client forever.
By clearly outlining the process to work with you and what they can expect every step of the way, you make huge progress towards turning that person browsing your website into a paying client. The more they understand what to expect, while avoiding so much information you overwhelm them, the more comfortable they’ll be scheduling a consultation.
The important thing is to give enough information that they feel comfortable, but not so much that you overwhelm them.
Do you have a 65-step booking process? Your website isn’t the place to share that. In fact, your client should never know that. That’s far too much detail.
Instead, give them the next 2-3 steps to work with you. Something like this:
Click the “schedule consultation” button below and find a time that works for you.
I’ll call you at the time you select and we’ll talk about the trip you want to take, where you’d like to go, past trips you’ve enjoyed, and the budget you have in mind.
If you decide I’m the right agent to plan the trip of your dreams I’ll start planning an amazing trip for you. All you’ll need to do is decide what to pack.
That’s all you need. Not tons of details about “you’ll get a proposal within 5 days. We’ll go over it and make any changes you’d like. Then I’ll collect payment information and start making the reservations. Once I have confirmation information I’ll send you your full itinerary as a PDF. Prior to travel you’ll receive any tickets, vouchers or confirmations you need in a PDF packet. Etc. etc. etc.”
Keep it short, sweet and to the point.
Help people find you
With a custom website, you can optimize the words on your site, i.e. your website copy, to start showing up higher in search engines like Google. It’s called Search Engine Optimization, or SEO.
In other words, with the right strategy, when someone searches for “how to plan a trip to the Maldives”, your website can show up if that’s a destination you specialize in. Potential clients can click through to your website, decide you’re the right agent for them, and book a consultation.
That’s something you definitely can’t do with a generic, host agency provided or mass-produced website.
Build lasting relationships
Your website is also where you can start having ongoing conversations with clients and potential clients. The best way to do that is by incorporating an opt-in offer or lead generator that people can download in exchange for their email address.
As you start to build your email list, you can send out regular emails full of valuable content to your subscribers. You’ll start to grow that essential “know, like, trust” with them.
That means, when they’re ready to start planning their next trip, guess who they contact?
That’s right. You.
Your social media profiles should also be linked from your website, so potential clients can click through to your Instagram, Facebook, Tiktok, Pinterest, or wherever else you have an online presence.
Assessing Your Current Website Situation
Now that you know what a custom website can do for you and your business, it’s time to assess your current website situation.
Umm, I don’t have a website at all…😞
That’s ok! Starting from the beginning is a fine place to be. We’ve all been there and had to take our first steps into website creation.
Starting from scratch gives you a world of options. You can create a site yourself through a website builder like Wix or SquareSpace, which allow you to choose a website template that you can customize, or you can hire a professional copywriter and designer to help you turn your ideas into reality.
That’s what I do at The Savvy Travel Advisor. If you’re interested in getting some professional help with your website you can find out more here.
Building your website from the ground up, whether you DIY it or use a pro, lets you build a website that reflects your specific business and brand and speaks directly to your ideal customer.
My host agency provides my website
A host agency website is a good solution when you’re just starting out, since it’s better to have some online presence than none. But once you’re past those first couple of months, it’s time for another solution.
A pre-made website provided by your host agency, while convenient, simply doesn’t have the ability to be customized and help your business stand out.
You’ll also have a very hard time getting potential clients to find you through an online search. While some of your content can be edited, you can’t make enough significant changes for search engines to understand why they should show your website to someone who is looking for your services.
It’s not that search engines like Google penalize you. It’s because the basic content on each website provided by your host agency is the same. A custom website that’s been optimized for search will outperform yours every time.
You won’t be penalized, but you’ll never see the results you’re hoping for.
If you’ve stayed with your host agency provided website because it has a booking engine, that’s a whole other blog post. The fact is that you don’t need a booking engine. I’d go so far as to say you shouldn’t have one at all!
After all, if your clients can book their travel themselves on your website, what’s the difference between booking through you and booking through Expedia or any other online travel agency? You’ll be hard pressed to make a case that you’re really providing them with a service.
I know some people will be offended by that, but can you really argue with it?
I have a custom website, but…
If you have a custom website already, first of all, congratulations! That’s a huge step.
The next question is whether your website is 1) getting any visitors, and 2) turning any of those visitors into customers.
Far too often in my experience, the answer to both of those questions is no.
If you’re not sure if people are visiting your website, the first thing to do is to check your stats through a site like Google Analytics. If your site traffic is low or nonexistent, it’s time to start looking into why.
Is your site hard to navigate or provides a bad user experience? Does it rank for any of the keywords you want it to? Is it blocked from search, or are there pages that Google can’t see? Look at your metrics and bounce rates, since these can help you figure out where your website is missing the mark.
Maybe the problem is that a website visitor is coming to your site, but then leaving quickly. That’s called a “bounce”. Both Google Analytics and your website provider can provide you with your bounce rate.
The average bounce rate across industries is between 41% and 55%. Bounce rates are like golf, low score wins, so if yours is below that it’s good. Above that and there is definite room for improvement.
If your bounce rate is high, it’s time to start figuring out why. Do you sell luxury travel but your site looks DIY? Is it full of supplier offers that are taking people from your site directly to theirs? A redesign may be what you need.
Maybe your site looks fine, but the words you use aren’t connecting with the clients you want to work with. It could be time for some professional copywriting help.
If you’ve invested time and money into your site, you deserve to know what isn’t working and how to fix it. If you’d like a pro to take a look, click here to find out about website audits. With an audit you’ll find out what’s working, what isn’t, and next steps you can take to start attracting those clients you want to serve.
The bottom line
Your website is your virtual storefront, and it’s important that it showcases what makes your travel agency unique and the value that customers will get when they work with you.
With the right words and design, your website will help turn those browsers into buyers so you can grow your travel business.