You might think that the price is the price. That you make a considered judgement based on the number alone as to whether it is high or low.

That’s not the case however. When we see a price we all instantly evaluate that price based on a range of subconscious triggers which determines whether we perceive that price to be high or low.

There is a standard psychological process we all go through to make that determination. When you see a price for an item you subconsciously generate a reference price, a price that you would expect to pay for that item.

If the price is higher than your reference price then the price will be perceived to be high. If the price is lower than your reference price then the price will be perceived to be low.

Influencing Price Perception

For people to perceive your price to be low you need your price to seem cheaper than their reference price.

There’s three key ways you can use psychology to subconsciously influence people to perceive your price to be lower – without actually lowering your price:

Make Your Price Seem Lower

Display Pricing With a Small Font

Your brain has a universal concept of size with an unconscious overlap of visual and numerical size. If the price is visually large it will be perceived as numerically large.

To change this perception display your price in a smaller font size.

In your design position your price admits larger elements, making it seem smaller by comparison.

Remove the Comma

Researchers have found that removing commas (e.g., $1,499 vs. $1499) can make your price seem lower.

Use Words Related to Small Size

Certain words can influence people’s perception so choose the words that accompany your pricing carefully.

In a study the exact same product was presented at the same price, only once marked as “High Performance” and then again as “Low Maintenance”. Even though it was the same product at the same price, the one marked “High Maintenance” was perceived to be more expensive.

When writing your copy, choose words that relate to a small size (e.g., “low” or “small”).

Be Precise With Large Prices

We tend to use precise values with very smaller numbers (e.g., 1, 5.78, 12) whereas for large number we round them for convenience (e.g. 10,000, 150,000).

People can also assume rounded numbers are somewhat random or artificially higher as opposed to precise numbers that seem carefully calculated.

As a result, precise numbers trigger an association with small values influencing people’s perception of those numbers.

Position Your Price to the Left

Think about a typical chart. On the axis, the numbers start low on the left and get higher as it moves to the right. So we tend to think of smaller numbers belonging on the left and larger numbers on the right.

You can use this association by aligning your pricing to the left.

Display Your Price at the Right Time

What people see first – the price vs the product – influences whether people decide whether to make a purchase.

When products are displayed first, people tend to base their buying decision on the quality of the product.

When prices are displayed first, people tend to base their being decision on the economic value.

So if you’re targeting the luxury market then you want people to base their decision of the quality of your safari tours or property. You don’t want them to focus on the price. In this case, show the tour or property then show the price. Go one step further and visually deemphasise the price so it seems unimportant.

If you’re targeting budget travellers then cost is far more important. In this case display the price first as this marketing segment will have a greater appreciation for the value of the tour or property.

Make the Reference Price Seem Higher

Expose People to Higher Prices

Exposure to high prices subconsciously anchors a person’s reference price to the higher end of the spectrum.

This can work for numbers that aren’t even prices. They probably don’t even notice these numbers but they have absorbed them regardless.

So on your web page for a tour you could display below the tour detail other more expensive tours that make the current tour seem better value.

Sort Prices From High to Low

You can influence people to choose a more expensive option if your products are sorted by descending price (from high to low).

This works for two reasons:

  1. The initial higher numbers make them generate a high reference price making the other options seem like a better deal.
  2. When sorted by descending price the lower products are perceived to be reducing in quality.

Make the Gap Between Prices Seem Larger

Add Visual Contrast to Sale Prices

When you compare your price to a higher price, people are more likely to buy as you’ve done their research for them.

Highlight the comparison by using a different font colour. Moving the two prices apart can connect physical distance with numerical distance. Also, a smaller font size can make a strong comparison between the two prices.

Communicate the Value of Your Product

Even if you reduce the perceived amount of your price, customers still might not be making bookings.

If you’re still not getting bookings because people think you’re too expensive then you might not have a pricing problem, you might have a problem communicating the value of your safari experience.

Instead of reducing your prices, always a downward spiral to going out of business, make the quality and value of your safari experiences clearer.

You can often solve your pricing problem by communicating your safari experience more effectively.

Still struggling to get your lodge to the top of TripAdvisor’s listings?

As we covered in a previous post 3 Tips to Get Your Safari Lodge to Rank Higher on Tripadvisor, the exact method TripAdvisor uses to rank properties is undisclosed but a careful study of area rankings reveals the main influencers are a combination of:

  1. Number of reviews
  2. Rating of reviews
  3. Recency of reviews

The first influencer is the number of reviews you receive. Unfortunately, only a small fraction of lodge guests ever leave a review on TripAdvisor. Those are the guests who managed to remember to write a review or had such a fantastic (or terrible) safari that they were compelled to share their experience.

We know you offer a great safari experience so if you can get more of your guests to write a review you will see your lodge jumping up the TripAdvisor listings.

In most cases, all it will take is a simple reminder. Here’s a few ways you can get your guests to share their safari experience on TripAdvisor:

Link to TripAdvisor in Your Post-Stay Emails

Every lodge should use email automation as part of their post-stay guest process. Once a guest leaves an email can be sent to thank the guests for their stay and ask for feedback to ensure guest satisfaction.

Add a link to your TripAdvisor listing to these follow up emails. This will increase the overall number of reviews you receive and demonstrate your commitment to excellence.

Approach Your Social Advocates

Each lodge has a core group of fans who are active on social media. Have your social media marketing team build a relationship with these brand advocates, those who have posted or commented on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and encourage them to write a review.

Research shows that properties that reach out to loyal guests to increase the number of reviews will see not only higher rankings, but increased online sentiment.

Add a Link to Your TripAdvisor Listing in Your Email Signature

Any email you send to guests should include a link to your TripAdvisor listing. You’ll often correspond with your guests over a period of time and each email will be a useful reminder of (and link to) the lodge’s listing.

Link to Your TripAdvisor Listing From Your Website

Ensure the fact that the lodge has a TripAdvisor listing is immediately clear when anyone views your website. Add a prominent badge in strategic locations, the footer and contact page are ideal.

Even if it’s just an icon, make sure it’s clickable and links directly to the lodge’s listing.

Simple Steps, Big Results

Just implementing these few simple steps can get those reviews rolling in and give your TripAdvisor ranking a real boost.

Good writing matters. Good safari tour copywriting will capture your reader’s attention and encourage them to make an enquiry. Bad copywriting will make readers quickly move on to your competitors.

Each safari description should inform, excite and build trust so that potential clients are convinced to make a booking with you.

Bad writing habits can creep into your safari and tour descriptions so, no matter how good your actual safaris are, you won’t get the bookings.

Are you guilty of these copywriting sins?

1. Overuse of Exclamation Points!!!

Too often exclamation points are overused, reducing the effectiveness of your writing. This is particularly common in social media posts but is also found in safari itineraries and descriptions.

Exclamation points are used to express excitement or surprise. Rather than expressing excitement or surprise yourself, instil it in your readers with your words. Craft copy that transports your readers to your destination where they can visualise themselves on safari.

Generally, exclamation points should be avoided but, if you absolutely must use an exclamation point, limit yourself to only one per piece of writing.

And, unless you want to sound like a giggly teenager, never, ever use more than one in the same sentence.

2. The Loooong Sentence

A purposely small number of explorers with a passion for nature who are eager to explore the animal Kingdom who will be lead on a voyage of discovery of the secrets of the African Bush: Learn to follow marks, foot prints or broken twigs, the remains of banquets of mighty predators and observe the extraordinary life of insects and small mammals which are usually difficult to spot during a normal safari in a vehicle.

Now take a breath.

Shorter sentences are easier to read. Long sentences tire and puzzle your readers.

Keep your sentences concise. If your sentences are too long, break them into two or more sentences where possible.

3. The Even Looooooonger Paragraph

People don’t read on the web, they skim. People scan your webpage, reading headings, picking out key phrases then zeroing in on what is of interest.

People find long paragraphs too hard to read and will often skip them entirely.

Welcome to the Masai Mara of Kenya (also spelled “Maasai Mara”), recently designated as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. The (lodge name) is situated directly on the annual wildebeest “Great Migration” route, near the two world famous wildebeest migration Mara River crossing points and near Leopard Gorge, all made internationally known by the BBC’s Big Cat Diary television program. Our tented lodge and camp is located on the popular Hippo Bend Lagoon of the Mara River, amongst several elephant, buffalo and giraffe herds, and with close proximity to several lion prides, including the Maternity, Musiara Marsh, Aitong, and River prides. Given the position of our camp in the richest game section of the Masai Mara, the Mara North Conservancy (winner of best wildlife conservancy in Kenya 2011 by EcoTourism Kenya), our camp guests are in the best location to most readily discover theBig Five mammals. Thousands of wildlife documentaries and countless millions of photographs stand testament to this timeless corner of the world.

Did you read the above paragraph? Me either.

You write to be read so break up up your paragraphs into easily digestible chunks. Convey one idea per paragraph. When you’ve conveyed that idea, press return and start on the next.

4. Buzzwords

Any words that are overused become tired and uninteresting. Any traveller researching their next holiday will see these phrases time and time again and tune them out

Create fresh copy that makes you stand out from your competitors, not blend in.

5. Unnecessary Capitalisation

Safari descriptions often include excess capitalisation. For example:

Experience the thrill of tracking Africa’s Big Five, namely Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant, Lion and Leopard through the African bush on dawn and dusk game drives in open Safari Vehicles exploring the magnificent Kruger National Park.

Some simple guidelines:

Edit Your Copy Before You Publish

One of the most important parts of any writing is the editing stage.

Before you publish your next piece of writing proofread it. Give it to someone else to proofread. After you’ve stared at the copy for a while it’s easy to miss a mistake so read carefully. Then correct any errors and edit any awkward phrases.

The more you write, the easier it becomes so get to it.

The headline or title is arguably the most important part of a website page or post. It is your first and often only chance to grab a guest’s or agent’s attention and start them down the path to making a booking.

A reader can choose to read your content or not. It’s totally up to them and you only have a matter of seconds to grab their attention. You might have a great safari that is exactly what they are looking for but they will never know if they don’t get their interest so they click though to your website.

As in all things, balance is important. In this day of clickbait (often deceptive headlines solely designed to catch the eye) it’s important to ensure the content backs up the title. You’re trying to build a relationship so trust is important. Managing a guest’s expectation is critical to ensuring a happy client and you want to start that from the very beginning.

Certain words are so overused in safari tour titles and descriptions that people no longer heed them at best and distrust them at worst. How many Magical Destination Safaris have you seen? Great safari perhaps, but magical? I don’t think so and I’ve already started to cross that operator off the list.

Headline Data Driven Analysis by Online Marketing Experts

Outbrain, the world’s largest content delivery platform and Hubspot, inbound marketing and sales software, have collaborated to analyse a wealth of data to see what makes content successful. They specifically looked at how headlines affect reader behaviour in driving traffic to websites, engaging visitors and finally converting visitors into clients.

Here we see how their content marketing headline analysis can apply to safari operators.

Increasing Visitors to Your Website

Headlines that Increased Visitors

The findings on what increased clickthrough rate aren’t too useful to safari operators. The words ‘photo’ and ‘who’ increased the clickthrough rate but would be difficult to use naturally.

It does reinforce the importance of quality photos for every page and post you create. People want to see what you’re talking about.

Headline That Decreased Visitors

Avoid the Superlatives

Even though their use is widespread in headlines, superlative words like ‘amazing’ and ‘magic’ are not effective.

This may be because they are so overused or it could be because readers see it is typical sales writing that is not to be trusted.

Google has published an interesting tourism infographic that will be on interest to every safari operator. Google Think Insights summarised the study as follows:

Travel brands have traditionally relied on rewards and free gifts to keep customers coming back, but smart airlines, hotels and other organizations are realizing that by understanding the needs of travelers they can go beyond simple rewards and achieve true traveler loyalty. Our Google+ Advertiser Insights Travel Habits Study focused on dual income no kids (DINK) travelers to understand how and why they choose their trip.’

The study certainly shows the importance of TripAdvisor reputation management and getting you social media marketing working on sites like Facebook and Pinterest.

Congratulations to our client Kafunta Safaris, whose safari lodge in Zambia, Kafunta River Lodge, has been awarded a 2013 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor.

The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 per cent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.

Intergise has developed several TripAdvisor packages to help safari lodges and camps to utilise this tremendous marketing resource. We can setup and optimise your property listing on TripAdvisor, help you management your online reputation and get the most from this important tourism marketing website.

TripAdvisor have launched a new tool to help tourism property owners deal with potential “blackmail”, that is, when a guest threatens to write a negative review unless a refund, upgrade or other demand is met. The new feature allows you to easily report these threats before the corresponding negative review is submitted. Prompt reporting of these blackmail threats can help to keep such bogus reviews from ever appearing on TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor takes allegations of blackmail or threatening behaviour very seriously as it is against their guidelines and, indeed may be illegal in many jurisdictions.

Best Practices For Submitting Potential Blackmail Reports

If the Bogus Review Has Already Been Posted

The TripAdvisor blackmail tool only works if the review has not yet been posted. If the review has already been posted then you should do the following:

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