why-testimonials-are-important-to-your-travel-business

The Secret Weapon You Need to Know For Your Travel Business

Human beings have always been cautious social animals. “To boldly go where no man has gone before,” might be a catchy tagline for the Starship Enterprise, but for normal folk…not so much.

Most of us are scaredy-chickens. Being the first to try something often offers no appeal at all.

Case in point…I don’t care how safe you tell me that vaccine is…I’m nobody’s guinea pig. So, Mikey…you go first. 😳 

Most of us rely heavily on others’ opinions before we will plunge in and make a purchase. We need social proof. And that’s where testimonials come in handy.

  • 93.4% of customers report considering online reviews prior to making a purchase (Statista.com)

Why testimonials are so important

why-testimonials-are-important-to-your-travel-business

We’ve all heard that the best advertising is the “Word-of-Mouth” kind. But what’s even more interesting is that:

  • 79% of people surveyed claimed they trusted online reviews as much as reviews coming from friends and family! (Statista.com)

Surprisingly, many travel agents don’t take advantage of this inexpensive sales weapon. I get it. It can feel awkward asking for someone to say something nice about you. It’s like fishing for compliments. But if you read my article last week entitled, The Secret Strategy for Getting What You Want; Ask, getting over the uncomfortable can increase your bottom line revenue enough to make it worth your while.

  • Using testimonials on a sales page increases the conversion rate by 34% (Impact)

Testimonials create trust and build your authority. There is nothing better than having complete strangers vouch for you. 

Featuring testimonials on your website boosts SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

  • Because you’ll want to keep your testimonials current, you’ll be swapping them out as new ones come in. By doing this Google knows that your site is dynamic and as a result, you’ll end up higher on the SERP. (Search Engine’s Result’s Page)

Often, the words your client uses to describe their experience in booking with you will be rich with keywords, especially long-tail ones. See the example below:

What-is-the-definition-of-a-longtail-keyword

What’s the benefit of a long-tail keyword, you ask? Long-tail keywords will help your travel niche float to the top of your search engine’s results page (SERP) organically – meaning it won’t cost you a cent. Of course, you can also buy long-tail keywords with your ad spend and the more specific the phrase is, typically, the less it costs. 

Type of testimonials

There are three types of testimonials or reviews that I would recommend, and a mix of all three is probably the best strategy. 

Google Reviews

Provided you are an established and verified business with Google My Business, sending a link to post a google review after you’ve done your post-trip follow-up is a great way to get quick reviews. The more reviews you have associated with your google listing, the more you will rank higher in searches.

Feature a testimonial directly on your website

Use the templates provided by your website provider or craft your own. This is a sample found on canva.com that will take only a moment to customize with your brand colours.

Sample-testimonial-for-the-travel-industry

Feature User-Generated Content throughout your social media posts

If your client is up for it, and some are, why not get them to create a quick video that you can then upload to your Instagram feed either as a story, a reel or, if longer, an IGTV video? There is nothing quite as powerful as video and having your clients make a clip while in destination…wow, that’s the Holy Grail. 

You can check out Videopeel. This paid service allows you to send a link to your client where they can record on the fly and send back to you without them having to be tech-savvy. Whatever they record will be posted to your account in the highest quality and will be ready for you to edit, should you so choose. An added benefit is that you can use their words to create something similar to the written testimonial as shown above. 

And hey, asking your clients to tag you in their posts, serves as another form of a testimonial. Nothing better than…” We are having a great time sipping coconuts in Bora Bora, thanks to @insertyourIGhandlehere

4 Ways to ensure you get great testimonials

1. Be exceptional

It’s not enough anymore to deliver adequate service. Being average runs the risk of being forgotten. A good rule of thumb is to add in a minimum of three surprises into a holiday that will leave the client thinking…” Now, how cool was that?” It might be a small bon voyage gift before they depart. It could be a phone call from you in destination to check on how they are doing. The third surprise could be a touchpoint upon their return – a discount code for a photo book service, perhaps?

2. Be good with your word – integrity is everything

Keeping your client informed throughout every stage of their booking journey is paramount. I hate cliches, but “Under promise and over-deliver” is a classic for a reason. Be the type of travel agent that people can’t stop talking about.

3. Reach out while the suitcase is being unpacked

The best way to get a great testimonial is to ask for one while the holiday is still fresh and top of mind. Not only will your client’s memories be more vivid, but it also shows that you are proactive. 

Timing is also essential in the event there were some hiccups along the way. If you respond quickly enough, you might be able to mitigate some of the damage with the supplier while there is still a chance. Do this by phone or video conferencing. Do not just send a welcome home email along with a generic SurveyMonkey link.

4. Make the testimonial process as easy as possible.

While you never want to put words in their mouths, there is nothing wrong with guiding your client with what the testimonial should address. You can ask them pointed questions like, “What service did I offer that you felt was the most valuable?” or “What was your favourite part about working with me?”

You can even send them some samples of past testimonials for guidance. Lots of people aren’t comfortable writing. They may love you but will feel embarrassed that their written communication skills are lacking. So help them out. The easier you can make it for them, the more likely they are to respond quickly.

Review ‘do’s and don’t’s

DO: Be sure that you do a legal check regarding the rules of using testimonials. In Canada, it’s the Federal Competitions Bureau. The details are best explained within the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. In the US, it’s the FTC – Federal Trade Commission who govern what can and cannot be used when it comes to advertising.

DO: Be sure to get written permission to use the testimonial.

DO: Respond to every review, both good and bad, within 24 hours of posting. This shows your client that you appreciate the effort they took, and their review hasn’t gone unnoticed.

DON’T: Offer an incentive to get a positive review. That can come off sounding disingenuous and all around slimy. I know some agents who will send Starbucks gift cards as a thank you, after the fact, but I think a genuine phone call offering your appreciation goes a long way and is probably sufficient.

DO: Keep your testimonials current. Even reviews older than three months start to lose their lustre.
DO: Feel free to edit a testimonial that goes off track. You’ll want to keep all testimonials succinct and on point. Some people are just so ecstatic with their travel experience that they can write pages. Be sure though however you edit, that you get their final sign-off first.

How to Leverage Testimonials

Great, now you have some testimonials, where should you put them…ummm….everywhere! (except maybe on the back of a bathroom stall, touting “For a good time, call 867-5309.”) 

Place testimonials on your website

Most website builders come with testimonial templates you can use. Your homepage is often the most viewed page on your website, so it makes sense to put them there. 

You can also put them alongside a specific package you are trying to promote. And some agents prefer to create separate landing pages to post all of their testimonials. 

Pepper them throughout your social media posts

Humble brag time. Yes, it’s okay. It’s especially okay if you can post images along with a testimonial from Bob and Margaret if the testimonial also offers some value-added content that others would benefit from reading. And…you can use one testimonial and divide it up over multiple posts. That works well, too.

Use them in your weekly newsletters

I love the idea of posting one testimonial at the tail of your weekly newsletter. When it comes to your newsletter, you can also add excerpts from your clients’ trips that will add value to your fellow audience. And…while not specifically a testimonial about how great you are, it’s still a subtle reminder that you have loads of clients who love working with you.

word-of-mouth-advertising-is-everthing-for-your-travel-business

Pro Tip: Don’t wait

Testimonials are such effective selling tools that if you don’t have any posted on your site right now, don’t wait for your next clients to return. Go through your past client interactions and see what might be lurking there. 

There is also nothing wrong with reaching out with full transparency. You can always say, I’m updating my website to include some testimonials from past clients. Would you be willing to say a few positive words about your experience working with me? Heck, this might even be a perfect post-COVID ice breaker. I’m sure your clients will have lots of questions surrounding the current travel conditions. 

And if you are brand new to the industry, you can always use testimonials from people who’ve worked with you in a similar capacity and can vouch for your character.

Oopsy, now what? How to handle a bad review.

Having said all that, the good news is…are you ready for it? Marketing guru, Neil Patel says having a few not-so-great reviews can actually help. We all subscribe to the idea that “Nobody’s Perfect”, so if a company or a product suddenly sweeps all categories with perfect 10s across the board, our Spidey senses go off. “Ain’t nobody that good!” It smells like 3-day-old trout in here. 

Truth…when reading reviews…do you know that most people will actually search out the worst reviews before making their purchasing decision? They want to know what the worst possible flaw is and then decide if it’s something they can live with if they had to. 

So don’t get too hung up if you don’t score a perfect 10 – let’s leave that for Bo Derek

The key to handling a not-so-stellar review it to respond as quickly as possible. Be gracious. Stay on the high road. Never take things personally. You don’t want to run the risk of sounding defensive, so try not to over-justify your position. And ideally, try to move the conversation off-line as quickly as possible. 

How you handle a negative review will often speak volumes to the outstanding travel consultant you are. 

And on that note, I would love it if you would leave me a comment below. It would sort of be a review of sorts. By leaving a comment, it gently reminds Google that this website isn’t just full of crap and then Google will respond by offering Digital Travel Academy to more people just like you.

I’d be eternally grateful. 🙏

Diane

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