Various items of content will be needed to be provided by you to enable the construction of your website.

This content includes copy (text) for all pages, photos and images, tour and/or property information, contact details, social media accounts and anything else that is to be included in your website.

Branding

A copy of your logo will be required. The background of the logo should be transparent so that it can blend into the design. The ideal file format for the logo is png.

The website will often designed to reflect your corporate colour scheme unless you have another preference. This can be picked out from your logo if that reflects your colour scheme otherwise your preferred scheme will need to be provided.

If you have a tagline for your business you should provide that also.

Photos & Images

Good quality images are a critical component of a successful website and will directly impact its visual appeal. You will need a good selection of images to showcase your operation, destinations and tours/activities.

You will need at least one image to represent each tour and it should encapsulate a key feature of the tour.

All images should be high quality. Large images are best; large images can be resized, small images will be distorted if stretched.

Images should be a minimum of 1,280 px wide but 1,920 px would be ideal and is essential for any banner images.

Copy

Each page or section will need copy (text) to describe the business, its destinations, properties and tours.

Aim for at least 300 words per page. Websites with a small amount of copy won’t rank highly on the search engines.

Contact Details

You’ll need your office address and contact phone number(s) for the contact page.

Your website will include a contact form and any enquires will be sent to a nominated email address. Please advise which email address enquiries should be sent to.

Social Media

Website addresses of your social media accounts that the website will link to.

Format

All items should be provided in a digital format. Text should be via email, Word or similar.

Build a Booking Machine

To run successful online marketing campaigns that will generate bookings for your safaris you need:

1. Great Safari Experiences

No matter what else you do, if you don’t provide a great safari experience no one will want to do it. If you don’t have this, stop now and go back to the drawing board.

2. Laser Focus on Your Target Market

Identify your ideal clients and make sure every aspect of your marketing speaks directly to them. What type of experience are they looking for? What do they love? What are their concerns?

3. Relevant, Interested Traffic

Not only do you need a steady supply of visits to your website but it needs to be targeted traffic – people who are interested in your safari experiences. Use social media, search engine optimisation, online advertising and a blog to drive this traffic.

4. Excellent Content

Eye-catching photos, well-written descriptions, useful information and credibility statements all work together to create excitement about your safaris and build trust so they’re ready to book.

5. Well-built Website

Your website needs to be well organised, designed for mobile devices as well as desktops, easy to navigate and easy to read, with booking buttons in the right location.

6. Visitor Retention Strategy

Few people are ready to book on their first visit to your website. You need to use strategies like retargeting or marketing automation to keep their attention and get them to come back.

With so many of these elements revolving about your website its critical to focus on continuous improvement so you’re moving forward, not backward.

Is Your Website Generating the Amount of Bookings You Want?

No? These ten website improvements can turn things around and get you extra bookings. Even small improvements can make a big difference to your bottom line.

1. Optimise Your Site for Search Engines

Just having a website doesn’t mean that people will start visiting.

To be found by the search engine and people searching for your safari experience you need to ensure that the at least basic search engine optimisation is undertaken.

The SEO foundation should be implemented when the site is built but is unfortunately missing from many safari operator websites.

Think about what search terms you want to rank for. Then make sure your website has these keywords in all the right places.

Caveat: Be realistic with the keywords you want to rank for. I’ve seen many a safari operator try to rank for keywords that are so highly competitive or so broad that they have zero chance to rank for them.

The (Very) Basics of On-Page SEO

Each page should focus on one (maximum two) keywords or phrases.

Titles

Title tags are displayed on search engine results pages (SERPs) as the clickable headline for a given result, and are important for usability, SEO, and social sharing. The title tag of a web page is meant to be an accurate and concise description of a page’s content.

Each title should be unique.

Optimal Format

Primary Keyword – Secondary Keyword | Brand Name

Optimal Length

Google typically displays the first 50-60 characters of a title tag.

Descriptions

Meta descriptions provide concise summaries of webpages. They commonly appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page (SERP).

Each description should be unique.

Optimal Format

Descriptions should include keywords (in a natural way) and be compelling descriptions that make a searcher want to click a search result.

Optimal Length

Descriptions should be long enough to be sufficiently descriptive without exceeding 160 characters.

Simple right? But most safari websites get it wrong.

2. Ensure Your Website is Viewable on Mobile Devices

According to Google, over 50% of searches are made on mobile devices, from tablets to smartphones.

That’s such a large chunk of the market that it simply cannot be ignored.

You don’t want users having to squint to read your website, zoom in or out or scroll around to view different areas of your pages or worse, wait for ages for it to load on small screens and slow connection when they are travelling.

If your website isn’t responsive, you are losing money.

3. Add Eye-Catching Photos

You might have the best safari experience on the continent but if you don’t show it, no one will know.

High quality, amazing photos are very effective at grabbing people’s attention and getting them excited about your destination(s) and safaris.

If you can, consider getting a professional photographer to take some high quality photos. Those photos will last for years and is probably one of the best investments you’ll ever make.

4. Optimise the Home Page to Get Them to Take Action

The purpose of your website’s home page is to get visitors to go deeper into your site.

Make sure you include links to all of the major sections of your site. What’s obvious to one person is not obvious to another so make sure your links stand out.

The most obvious way is to include large, clearly labelled buttons that stand out from the background. As most visitors will not be ready to make a booking straight away, try “Enquire Now” instead of “Book Now” so they’re comfortable about making contact.

Add sections to the home page that highlight the best you have to offer. For tour operator, add engaging teasers to your most popular (or profitable) safari tours.

Monitor Your Bounce Rate

Your website’s bounce rate is an essential indicator of whether your website is doing it’s job.

Simply put, your bounce rate is the percentage of people who visit just one page on your website (typically your home page), then leave or “bounce.”

That means they arrive on your home page and either it frustrates them so they click away or nothing on the home pages captures their attention enough to look at anything else on your website.

The lower the bounce rate, the better. If your bounce rate is above 50%, you’ve got a problem.

5. Make it Super Simple to Get Around

Modern life is full of distractions. In many cases people will be looking at your website in front of the TV or perhaps kids playing loudly nearby. It’s a rare case where you’ll have their undivided attention.

Make things easier for your clients and keep things simple and obvious. New visitors to your site should be able to tell at a glance what you do and what you offer.

Organise the web pages in a logical, easy-to-understand manner with clear navigation that can take them right to where they want to go.

As da Vinci said:

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

6. Make the Text Readable

It’s harder to read on a screen than it is on paper. You want visitors to your website to actually read about what you offer so make it easy for them to do so.

For more tips on writing safari descriptions read 5 Bad Writing Habits You Need to Cut From Your Safari Descriptions.

7. Add Social Proof to Get Them to Trust You

For many travellers a safari holiday is a once in a lifetime experience that they’ve saved years for. For them to spend their hard-earned money on one of your safaris they have to trust you.

To build that trust add credibility indicators to the site such as:

If you can, ask some happy clients for a quick video testimonial, preferably whilst in the field enjoying what you have to offer.

8. Make it Clear What Makes You Different

With the the safari industry being so competitive, how do you stand out from the herd?

You need a unique selling point that sets you apart from your competitors and gives travellers a reason to book with you instead of them,

Make your unique selling point crystal clear right from the moment someone lands on your home page.

Put some thought into your unique selling point when you’re developing it. I’ve asked a lot of safari operators lately what makes them different and few could articulate it. Most came up with something that was neither unique nor a selling point.

Unless you want to race to the bottom on price, why would a client book with you?

9. Keep Your Site Fresh and Your Clients Informed With a Blog

For the typical safari tour operator the (not so) secret to ranking well for your chosen keywords is to have a blog, regularly updated with articles tour clients will find useful and interesting.

Without a blog you’re going to struggle to improve your search visibility.

With a blog you can tailor content for certain search terms, keep your clients and agents updated with the latest news, position yourself as the expert on your destination and types of safaris and provide insight into your team and operation.

If you’re going to have a blog, make it integral to your website rather than on offsite blogging service like Blogspot. An offsite blog won’t benefit you at all so are a waste of time and effort.

Running a blog is not easy. It takes planning, hard work and discipline to keep at it but, if you do, you’ll see the results.

10. Turn Casual Visitors Into Confirmed Bookings

First time visitors to your website generally won’t book a safari.

If they come back to your website however, they are more than 3 times as likely to make a booking with you.

So, how do you make sure you don’t lose those prospective clients?

Marketing Automation

Properly managed email marketing slowly build a relationship, turning casual visitors into confirmed clients.

Incorporate lead magnets into your website to collect their email address then deliver targeted messages to convert them from visitors, to leads and finally to clients.

Keep the conversation going through email and demonstrate your superior service and knowledge of African safaris. When they’re ready, they’ll come to you.

Retargeting

When someone visits your website but leaves without making a booking rekindle their interest with targeted ads that are displayed to them as they surf the web and social media.

Ads from retargeting campaigns get clicked on 200-400% more often than traditional online advertising as they’re already interested in your destination or safaris.

Retargeting keeps your safaris in front of them after they leave giving you second, third, even fourth chance to bring them back to get that booking.

A Safari Booking Machine

If you implement these ten website improvements you will start transforming your website into a sales machine that will bring in a steady stream of bookings, clients and profit.

The purpose of your website is to generate bookings. To do that it must convert a visit into an enquiry.

Unfortunately, many websites put up barriers, frustrating prospective clients and stopping them from making that booking. They want to go on safari, they are ready to give you their money but your website drove them to a competitor.

There are many barriers to booking conversion but here are three that commonly appear on safari websites.

1. Slow Load Times

Perhaps the most important barrier is slow website load times. People are impatient and will tend to abandon a site if it hasn’t loaded within three seconds.

If they abandon your site before it loads then you have zero chance to get a booking from that particular prospect.

There’s many things you can do to speed up your site, many of them quite technical. Two simple actions that anyone can do are:

  1. Optimise your images: Don’t upload a 4,000px wide image for an image that will display at a width of 500px. Optimise each image before you upload it, balancing file size with image quality.
  2. Invest in a good web host: Don’t skimp on web hosting. A cheap host might save you a couple of dollars but it will cost you much more in lost business.

2. Lackluster Images

For any tourism website, eye-catching images are critical.

Too many websites fail to use photos that really sell their safaris, instead using out of focus, small or just plain boring photographs. Worse, some tour operators don’t feature any photos at all on their tour itineraries.

Select photos that showcase your destination(s) and your safaris in action. You want people to be saying “I want to be doing that!”

Hire a professional photographer. Compare a website that utilises photos from a pro against another where an amateur has collected a random batch of snaps. The contrast is startling.

3. Grammatical & Spelling Errors

A study found that “59% of people would not use a company that had obvious grammatical or spelling mistakes on its website or marketing material.”

So, more than half of prospective clients will desert your website if they see copy with poor grammar or spelling.

Spend time copywriting each page carefully and once you’re done, edit it and then edit it again.

Ride Botswana

Ride Botswana with David Foot Safaris specialises in horse riding safaris in Botswana. David Foot Safaris offers exclusive horse safaris in the Kalahari and along the Thamalakane River. They also offer private safaris by game drive vehicle, canoe or on foot.

Ride Botswana wanted to gain control of their website so it can be updated and amended in a timely fashion. The domain name and web hosting was registered in the name of a former contractor rather than the business.

Ride Botswana would also benefit from a modern update to the design and functionality to showcase the operation to best effect.

Hambana Travel

Hambana Travel is a boutique travel company that specialises in customised safaris in the East African region with an all-round emphasis on understanding the people, culture, flora and fauna of a country.

A redesigned website to showcase the safaris offered by Kafunta, their lodge and camp and the South Luangwa National Park has just been launched.

Kafunta Safaris operates safaris in the South Luangwa National Park, Zambia at their classic safari lodge, Kafunta River Lodge and Island Bush Camp, a rustic bush camp on the banks of the Luangwa River.

With travel and tourism being one of the most popular products on the Internet, a website is critical to the success of any tourism operation. Just having a website is not enough, however. Just sticking up a brochure website and marketing over the Internet are very different things.Your tourism website must be designed to meet your online marketing objectives and with your target market in mind. Your website needs to attract visitors, spur them to visit your safari lodge, hotel, apartments, buy your tour excursion or product and encourage them to spread the word.

When planning your tourism website it is important to:

Fundamentals of Tourism Websites

Gone are the days when a simple brochure website was sufficient. Successful tourism websites are design with the following three key elements in mind:

The operator of a tourism or hospitality business knows their business, target market and products the best and so the operator must define these and clearly communicate them to your Web developer. This will enable your Web developer to build a website that will be beneficial to your tourism business and satisfy your customers.

Objectives

It is surprising to us how many business’ approach us to build them a website when they have no clear objective in mind. “I just need a website” is a common refrain. Step back and think about what you want the website to achieve for your business. Talk to your front of house staff and your back of house staff, ask your customer service people, your sales staff, your admin staff, they all interact differently with your customers and may have useful insights.

Some common objectives are:

Target Market

For each of the tourism operation’s target markets the following should be considered:

Consider how the website can be designed and what items or functionality can be included to satisfy each target market’s needs, wants and expectations.

It is always a good idea to segment your target market so you can correctly identify and cater for each segments differing needs, wants and expectations. Different segments could be travel agents, family groups, eco-tourists, adventure travelers or budget travelers.

Products and Services

The website should be designed and developed to reflect the products and services on offer. These products and services must be clearly identified and defined and considered in the design process.

Some examples of design complementing the products or services are:

Other Important Considerations For Your Website

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