How Social Proof Will Increase Sales On Your Tourism Website

Andrea Appin|December 29, 2015

What if I told you that you could increase the conversion rates on your site by 34%? Would you believe me?

Well you should. Here’s why:

An A/B test was done on a site that attracts over 500,000 users a month. They tested one simple element: the addition of three lines of testimonial. The testimonials were simple and to the point, “Good training for the work environment in Europe,” one said. Another simply stated, “Very useful for practice!”

This is a guest post from Andrea Appin, of TourismTiger, a web design company for tour and activity operators. Visit their blog for more great advice on how to market your business!

Then there’s Mat, the founder of Ship Your Enemies Glitter. Although the testimonials on his website may have been slightly unorthodox, they did help him generate $20,000 in 24 hours.

While both companies took on wildly different approaches when using testimonials, both examples highlight the fact that social proof is a game changer when it comes to increasing sales.

So what exactly is social proof?

Social proof influences our decisions. It’s the reason why we choose to enter a crowded restaurant over an empty one. It’s what convinces us to spend half of our paycheck on a pair of designer jeans. It drives our rationale.

And our rationale is backed by this: we are influenced by the choices of others. We assume that what others are doing is the best choice; the correct choice.

How can I use this concept to drive tour sales?

Although the ‘do it because everyone else is doing it’ concept might not always be the soundest of logic, it is a concept that tour operators can use to seriously increase sales.

And there are many, many ways that you can use social proof to encourage people to book more tours.

Here are some of my favorites:

#1 Testimonials

As you may have guessed from my introduction, I’m a proponent of testimonials. But not all work. In fact, some can be painfully bad (which will probably cause more harm than good when trying to reel in potential customers).

To ensure that you don’t go down this slippery slope, there are two main points that you should keep in mind when gathering testimonials for your tour business:

Make them resonate with your audience

Think about your target audience. How old are they? What do they look like? What are their interests? Once you get all of these details, pull testimonials from people that are representative of them. Why? Because people are more interested in people, places and things that resemble them. Basically, it rubs their ego the right kind of way.

Pro-tip: Use Google Analytics to gauge if your target audience is actually viewing your site. To do this, log into your account, click on ‘Audience’ and then ‘Demographics’ to get a general idea of the kind of people that are viewing your tourism website.

Make them authentic

In other words, use real testimonials from real people. If it’s been prefabricated, it will sound phony and insincere. And it will ensure that your potential visitors will book their tours elsewhere.

Photos and names help with credibility. If you can get some video testimonials made, even better!

#2 Ratings and Reviews

TripAdvisor and its branded sites reach 350 million unique visitors a month. Some visitors (myself included) spend hours painstakingly going through review after review. So if you’re smart, and have great TripAdvisor ratings, utilize this super powerful form of social proof to increase your sales.

While spending time on TripAdvisor and responding to every single review is vital to making potential customers feel more at ease, you can further leverage all of these great reviews by installing a TripAdvisor widget on your site.

Pro-tip: Don’t forget about the other review giants out there. A one star increase on Yelp, for example, has proven to increase sales by 5-9%.

#3 Social following

I’m not always a huge advocate of installing social plugins. They often go unnoticed and can affect your Google PageSpeed Score. And sometimes social sharing options can actually create a reverse effect by creating negative social proof — basically, if you have a minimal social following and little to no shares, you can create doubt in the viewer’s mind. However, if your tourism business has a great social media following, then you’ll reap all of the positive benefits of social proof.

Baja Bikes is a great example of this. They have a very healthy 5.7 thousand likes on Facebook. By including this large number of likes on their website, it will elicit the ‘what am I missing out on’ response. They also added even more clout to their Facebook ‘Like’ call-to-action by including pictures (and relevant friends of the viewer) that have liked the page.

Although your tourism business might not reach such a large number of ‘Likes,’ if it is reaching anything close to a thousand, you are doing better than most and definitely should highlight this on your website. (The same rule applies for shares, retweets, etc.)

Pro-tip: If you want to show off all of the love that you are receiving on social media, download Shareaholic. It’s a simple and free plugin that can be modified according to your needs.

#4 Proof in numbers

If you don’t have a large following on social media, but you have high numbers elsewhere, don’t be afraid to show them off.

City Sightseeing, for example, displays the amount of people that have viewed each tour on their website.

Likewise, if there are a significant number of people viewing your tours — or better yet, signing up for them — make this evident to the people checking out your site.

#5 Add badges

Marines, police officers, martial arts instructors — they all wear badges of sorts. And each badge or emblem is distinctly representative of their knowledge and skill level.

Their badges make them credible. They make us believe that the recipients know what they are doing.

The same can be said for your tourism website.

If you are a member of a sustainable travel initiative, add the company’s logo. If you are a member of an elite travel operators’ association, include that too. Or maybe you’ve received some travel awards. Those should be definitely displayed. If you have enough, you could even create a whole page dedicated to them like Abercrombie & Kent.

#6 Pictures of people having fun

Whether you’ve been in the tour game for a while, or you are only just starting to build up a name for yourself — pictures are key to making people feel comfortable booking tours with you.

Basically, people want to see pictures of other people having fun. This might seem like a fairly obvious tip, but time-and-time again, I’ve come across sites advertising tours without pictures — or even worse, including pictures of people that are having a very mediocre time.

Once again, keep your target audience in mind and display people that are representative of them. And because they are having fun, they should most definitely be smiling in the pictures that you present on your website.

Notice how Baldyga Group displays images like the one below for the tours they sell to make sure their visitors can envision themselves having a similar amount of fun on their tours.

If you really want to make a splash with your photos, make sure that they are of professional quality and they’re taken on a sunny day.

Pro-tip: Can’t afford a professional photographer? Turn to colleges. There are a lot of students out there who are developing a portfolio and could use the spare cash.

Start converting

A great looking website, backed up with some social proof, will undoubtedly turn all of those “maybe” customers into “yes” customers. Just remember to always test and double test your efforts with an A/B test. Or use HotJar — a free tool that generates heatmaps and screen recordings or websites — to see which forms of social proof your viewers are showing most interest in.

Dying for more information? Check out this great video about social proof. Wanna share this with your team? Don’t forget to download a printable version below.

Andrea Appin is the lead marketer at TourismTiger, a web design company dedicated to building beautiful and affordable websites for tourism and activity operators.

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