If you’re like most travel professionals, you already know that digital technology has brought many changes to the industry, including how customers source tours and activities. You probably also know that having an attractive, user-friendly website and a solid, engaging social media presence are both essential components of a successful career in travel.
You’re probably also aware that there are many opportunities for creating a strong online presence as well as plenty of ways for potential customers to find your service, yet you still may be struggling with visibility issues. Fortunately, there’s an easy, highly effective online tool that helps businesses stand out from the crowd. It’s called Google My Business (GMB).
The majority of travelers book tours and other travel-related activities on the internet, and the online travel market is expected to continue growing in the years to come. An optimized GMB listing helps businesses of all types connect with those who are seeking their goods and services. You’ve undoubtedly seen GMB listings during the course of online surfacing, and your business probably even already has its own profile that’s been automatically generated by Google.
You can check to see if your company already has a default GMB listing simply by doing a Google search on its name. However, it’s not a good idea to simply leave the default listing as it is. You can claim the listing, or if one hasn’t been generated, you can create one yourself.
The issue with autogenerated listings is that they pull information from the internet that may or may not be true about your business. At best, these Business Profiles are incomplete, lacking vital information such as current phone numbers, addresses, and websites.
A complete, engaging GMB listing helps promote your business by providing potential customers with more information about your services. Other benefits include the following.
A customized GMB listing also offers an interactive experience where you can engage one-on-one with those interesting in finding out more about your tours. You can also add photographs, customers can leave reviews, and people can even check the availability of your tours and book them right from your GMB listing.
It may seem like local search optimization wouldn’t be important for tour and charter businesses — after all, these services are used primarily by travelers who come from other locations. However, in-destination bookings are on the rise as an increasing number of travelers wait to book tours and activities after their arrival.
Your GMB listing can put your services in the spotlight when tourists are seeking things to do in your area.
Here’s what you need to know about claiming an autogenerated Business Profile or creating one from scratch:
If Google has already autogenerated a Business Profile for you, you can request ownership by clicking on the “claim this business” link. Google will then proceed to verify your ownership of the business and send you a verification code via snail mail once verification has been completed. You will then have the ability to manage the page and control how your business is presented on Google.
If no existing profile exists, you can create one by going to google.com/business. You’ll be asked to enter basic information such as the physical address of your business, contact information, your website, and your hours of operation. You’ll also be asked to choose your primary business category and to clarify whether you’re a service provider or a storefront.
After Google verifies your business and confirms that you’re the owner or a manager with permission to create and access the page, you’ll be able to customize it.
Besides basic information, business owners and managers have the ability to add a variety of features to their Business Profiles, including the following:
Quality visuals provide an excellent way to draw prospective customers in and make them want to find out more. This gives them the chance to imagine themselves taking your tour or enjoying your activity. Although the photographs and videos don’t necessarily have to be taken by a professional photographer, they should be of the best possible quality. Hiring a professional may be in your best interests if photography and videography aren’t in your wheelhouse.
The descriptions of your tours and activities should provide a clear, concise picture of what you have to offer. Overly flowery or complex language should be avoided in favor of clarity. You should also employ specific keywords designed to lead those doing a Google search to your Business Profile.
It’s important not to go overboard on the keywords, however — Google penalizes profiles that practice keyword stuffing, which will have a negative impact on your visibility within the search engine.
Asking for reviews is another way to increase your ranking on Google. Not only do Google business reviews increase your visibility on the platform depending on frequency and amount, but they also provide prospective customers with real-life word-of-mouth recommendations.
You can also use your Business Profile to offer real-time promotions and discounts on your tours and activities.
The Insights panel on your GMB dashboard will provide you with the information you need to track and analyze the results of your digital marketing strategy. For instance, you can see the total number of searches that have led users to your profile, the actions they have taken while on your page, and the search terms they have used. All of these can help you fine-tune your digital marketing approach.
It's also possible to sync an online booking system to your Business Profile, providing customers with the convenience of being able to book tours and activities right from your listing.
Because Google My Business is free for small businesses, it has the potential to save you significant sums on advertising dollars. Please feel free to contact Junglebee for more information on making the most of GMB.