It’s not easy starting from scratch.
While the end goal may seem out of reach for the foreseeable future, there are test methods that will help you gain momentum more quickly and help you gain the edge over your competitors.
It also helps to hear advice that can be specifically applied to your business niche. This article focuses on how to make it big in travel and leisure. The principles are easily transferable from one industry to another, but your skill and willpower will be the ultimate test.
1. Research Your Market and Be on Top of the Tech
As an industry expert, you must know your way around the travel and tourism market. This means understanding the numbers, the destinations, the innovations, the future trends, and cultural and behavioral shifts. Join each of those dots to get a strong bearing on consumer habits that can impact and outline opportunities for your enterprise.
Take time to read success stories from people who have started out from nothing and built an empire. The travel sector is changing so rapidly, particularly with the advent of new technologies, or new applications of old technology, opening up the industry. There are also hot fresh markets becoming more accessible each and every year, so bringing them even closer and easier to travelers is the mission.
2. Define Your Business Model: Make It Unique
You already have a plan, but does it make sense on paper? Choose whether you will begin your business venture as a referral agent, sign on with an agency, or become an independent online travel business store.
Each has its own benefits: a referral agent leads customers to travel companies in exchange for a fee; signing on with a host agency requires working with their contacts to book reservations for a commission; and an independent business gives full freedom to explore your own route to making money, whether that comes via selling a product, ad space or other commercial dealings.
It’s a competitive world, so you need to define and own your market share. For example, villas and private accommodation are a billion-dollar niche in the trillion dollar tourist industry as there is a global shift in the movement from hotels to villas.
3. Build a Search-Friendly Website
The foundation of any successful online travel brand is a compelling website, which invites in your customers and convinces them of your credentials. The former requires technical know-how and configuration for SEO, whereas the latter is defined by the aesthetics and ease of use of your website pages.
Include components, such as email capture, call to action buttons, social feeds, and platform for readers to contact your directly. Such characteristics are vital for your business model to succeed. Any respectable online travel brand will swear by them. This is an aesthetically hungry audience, so keep those images up-to-date and looking beautiful. And be aware of the power of implementing 360-degree video and other new methods of showcasing your inventory.
4. Establish and Regulate Your Social Media Presence Strategically
The perception that the public has of your brand speaks volumes for its capability to grow online. If word gets around that your business offers a substandard service compared to your competitors, then it will come out online warts and all. If you are delivering on your promises then you have nothing to worry about for the most part.
The best in the travel business direct their achievements through platforms, such as Facebook and Instagram, to share with their community, with its own distinctly outlined strategy. The more positively this resonates with an audience, the faster the message spreads and helps your subscription and engagement levels grow too.
Cater to consumers with a daily digest of photo, video and written material to continually keep them stimulated and aware of your latest news. Be careful it doesn’t become a time-vampire, but B2C is built upon shareability and social media is key to getting your brand known, even if it is hard to estimate the real ROI.
5. Network With Media Influencers and Use Their Power to Enhance Your Brand
Every business needs an edge over the competition to fully stand a chance of getting its the out there. One trusted method of making this happen is to develop a self-promotion strategy. Connect journalists, authors, news broadcasters and bloggers who have an extraordinarily high following or readership through a PR service, social media or the old-fashioned way of picking up a phone and introducing yourself.
These figures of influence are all waiting for the next big thing in travel, so package your business messaging to present them with a fresh and unique story. When executed with precision, a business owner can take advantage of the publicity that money simply can’t buy. The right influencer engagement program can super-speed your followers and dramatically increase your online presence overnight.
6. Adopt a Digital System or Platform That Spans All Devices
Innovative leaders in the travel and leisure sector, including Uber and Airbnb, have shown that the right technology in place can streamline your customer journey from sign-up to check out. If you are operating as an independent business, whether it is for booking holiday villas abroad, selling flight tickets or offering some other service, ensure the system you are implementing on your website is capable of sustaining the number of visitors it receives and coded appropriately to ward off spam attacks and virus threats.
Introducing your brand on mobile and through apps will also enhance your likelihood of capturing the attention of your desired audience. The future of booking is mobile and tablets make sure you are a part of it.
7. Invest Heavily in Resources to Assist Growth
Because of the nature of working online, a travel enterprise has certain drawbacks that have to be taken into consideration, such as the lack of infrastructure that a major player like Thompson Holidays or Expedia has. Therefore, be wise in how you armor up to compete with the bigger fish.
Dedicate finances for each aspect of your brand development and define a strategy for acquiring talent to fill these needs individually. Fortunately, the upside of operating remotely is the freedom to work with specialists on an as-and-when-needed basis. Plan ahead and make connections for when you need to call on their services. Growing pains are sure to come, so align business objectives with the appropriate financial spend so that you can keep the wheels turning while still testing new avenues to improve the business.
7 Steps to Executing a Killer Online Business Strategy