Without going into the impact of the coronavirus on the travel sector, what is certain is that it highlighted the importance of dynamism and agility within SEO strategies for the travel sector.
The heart of any good SEO strategy is a base-level content strategy.
At this base level, you can design and develop an agile review strategy that will help you achieve not only your SEO goals, but your overall business goals as well:
- Greater brand awareness.
- More leads.
- Greater return custom.
When working with tour companies, a common rabbit hole they get into is the idea that you need extraordinary lengths of prose to rank on certain keywords.
This is true for many requests for information, but when traveling there is only so often one can say “golden sandy beach”.
Reviews offer the same content, but in a more unique way in my opinion.
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In the face of uncertainty and ever-changing travel restrictions, if you understand, and then develop, what elements of your existing strategy can be improved by being more agile, you can go through strategic evolution, not a revolution.
Improve your assessment strategy
Reviews and testimonials are important.
This is nothing new.
When travel routes and destinations open up again, they can play an extremely important role in building user trust and increasing conversion rates.
However, the way we use reviews is often underused, imposing huge opportunity costs for both increasing conversions and business development.
When we look at reviews, we usually classify them into positive and negative.
However, the ratings go much deeper and can be used as building blocks to help potential customers better predict their experiences.
Experience prediction is when enough information is available to a user to predict their potential experience versus feedback from others and make a more informed decision.
To do this, we need to understand the various aspects of a review, which is ultimately a review of the emotions a customer is experiencing.
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These can be broken down into ratings by:
All of this can be influenced by asking the right questions after the customer completes their experience.
They can be used to help other users predict their experience and to provide useful feedback to the company to improve aspects of the overall user experience.
Brand Experience Reviews
The brand experience review covers both things that you can and cannot control, including comparing the overall experience with what is expected of the brand.
This is a variable that falls into both control categories.
Through your news and PR, you present an image of your brand and your offer.
So if you are to establish yourself as a luxury brand, you need to deliver a market-standard luxury experience.
Once you understand the type of information users are looking for, you can get the reviewers to talk about the brand by asking questions like:
- Do you feel that Brand X has met your expectations as a luxury / low-cost provider?
- Would you recommend Brand X to your friends and family for similar vacations?
- Who would you compare Brand X to in terms of Value Proposition when booking your vacation?
- Was this your first vacation with Brand X?
From these questions you can:
- Determine if your news and your product are aligned.
- Extract a personal feeling from the reviewer.
- Find out who the reviewer would compare you to in the marketplace.
- Establish trends with regular customers.
Customer experience ratings
The customer experience is controllable.
For me, the key elements for a good customer experience are:
- Communication reactivity.
- Structured guidelines.
How you communicate with the customer is important from the booking phase to the subsequent booking phase. Here you can also influence the ratings.
Structured guidelines are also important if performed correctly.
When things go wrong and there are guidelines and frameworks in place to handle multiple eventualities, you can speed up responses.
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And when delivered right, it can help turn a potentially bad scenario into an OK one.
And a potentially negative review of the customer experience in a constructive one.
For the most part, many bookings are made online without any actual human interference.
In these cases, your website is a proxy for your human customer service.
The types of questions that need to be asked in verification surveys can be:
- How did you find the booking process?
- Could you find all of the information you were looking for?
- How do you rate the hotel staff?
The product experience
The product experience, as you can imagine, is the review of the holiday as a whole.
There are many elements that you don’t need to be in control of, but this is also a potential gold mine of empirical information for you to get from your customers.
This is also where you have the greatest opportunity to combine both reviews and more traditional content marketing.
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For example, if you know the customer was in Rome and the review is likely to be used on a page in Rome, you can ask questions like:
- Would you recommend Brand X for trips to Rome?
- How would you describe your vacation in Rome?
- What would you list as your vacation highlights?
This requires a certain amount of CRM integration.
However, this is achievable given the number of connectors and data pipeline software providers available at different cost and entry level.
Make reviews easy to digest
Most websites treat reviews the same way: they are either a third party API integration that is loaded onto the page with a schema in the background, or copied and pasted onto the page.
However, better review collection and feedback can provide you with a better review experience.
In the last few months, Google has introduced a “Cliff Notes” section in Google Reviews, which identifies general topics that users can interact with and filter on.
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Taking the time to go through your ratings and work through the same parts of TLDR will help users make decisions faster.
This doesn’t need to be built into the review provider but can be a powerful module developed on your product pages.