Without going over the impacts that the Coronavirus has had on the travel sector, one thing for certain is that it has highlighted the importance of both dynamism and agility within SEO strategies for the travel sector.
At the heart of any good SEO strategy is a base level content strategy.
From this base level, you can design and develop an agile reviews strategy that not only helps achieve your SEO objectives but also your wider business objectives:
- Greater brand awareness.
- More leads.
- Greater return custom.
When working with travel companies, a common rabbit hole they fall into is the notion that to rank for specific keywords you need exceptional lengths of prose.
For a lot of informational queries, this is true, but in travel, there’s only so many times you can phrase “golden sandy beach.”
Reviews offer this same content but, in my opinion, a more unique way.
With the uncertainty and ever-changing travel restrictions, understanding and then developing which elements of your existing strategy can be enhanced through more agility allows you to undergo a strategic evolution, rather than revolution.
Enhance Your Reviews Strategy
Reviews and testimonials are important.
This isn’t something new.
And as travel routes and destinations open back up, they can play an extremely pivotal role in building user trust and can increase conversion rates.
However, how we use reviews is oftentimes under-utilized with a huge opportunity cost to both increasing conversions and business development.
Typically when we look at reviews, we classify them into positive and negative.
But reviews go so much deeper and can be used as building blocks to better allow potential customers to do something called experience forecasting.
Experience forecasting is when there is enough information available for a user to forecast their potential experience versus the feedback of others and make a more informed decision.
To do this we need to understand the different aspects of a review, which is ultimately a review of the emotions a customer experiences.
These can be broken down into reviews of:
All of these can be influenced by asking the right questions after the customer has completed their experience.
They can be used to both help other users forecast their experiences and provide useful feedback to the business to improve aspects of the overall user experience.
Brand Experience Reviews
The brand experience review covers both things you can and can’t control, including how their overall experience compares to their expectations of the brand.
This is a variable that falls into both categories of control.
Through your messaging and PR, you’ll portray an image of your brand and what you offer.
So if you pitch yourselves as a luxury brand you have to deliver a market benchmark luxury experience.
Understanding the sort of information that users are looking for, you can influence reviewers to talk about the brand by asking questions such as:
- Do you feel that Brand X lived up to your expectations as a luxury/low-cost provider?
- Would you recommend Brand X to your friends and family for similar vacations?
- When booking your vacation, who would you compare Brand X to in terms of value proposition?
- Was this your first time vacationing with Brand X?
From these questions you can:
- Establish if your messaging and product are aligned.
- Extract some personal sentiment from the reviewer.
- Find out who the reviewer would compare you to in the market.
- Establish trends in repeat customers.
Customer Experience Reviews
The customer experience is controllable.
For me, the key elements to giving a good customer experience are:
- Communication reactiveness.
- Structured policies.
How you communicate with the customer is important from the booking stage right through to the post-booking stage – which is also when you can influence reviews.
Structured policies are also important when executed in the right way.
When something goes wrong having policies and frameworks in place to handle multiple eventualities will help expedite responses.
And, if delivered in the right manner, can help turn a potentially bad scenario into an OK scenario.
And a potentially negative customer experience review into a constructive one.
For the most part, a lot of bookings are made online without any impact from an actual human.
In these instances, your website is a proxy for your human-faced customer service.
The types of questions to ask on review surveys here can be:
- How did you find the booking process?
- Could you find all the information you were looking for?
- How would you rate the hotel staff?
The Product Experience
The product experience, as you’d imagine, is the review of the vacation altogether.
There are a lot of elements that won’t necessarily be within your control, but this is also a potential goldmine of experience information you can get from your customers.
This is also where you have the greatest opportunity to combine both reviews and more traditional content marketing.
For example, if you know the customer has been to Rome and you’re likely to use the review on a Rome related page, you can ask questions such as:
- Would you recommend brand X for trips to Rome?
- How would you describe your vacation in Rome?
- What would you list as being your vacation highlights?
This requires some level of CRM integration.
But given the number of connectors and data pipeline software providers available at varying costs and entry levels, this is achievable.
Make Reviews Easy to Digest
The majority of websites treat reviews in the same way – they’re either a third-party API integration loaded onto the page with some schema in the background, or copied and pasted onto the page.
However, with better review gathering and better feedback you can create a better reviews experience.
In the past few months, Google introduced an almost “cliff notes” type section to Google Reviews, pulling out common themes that users can interact with and filter by.
Taking time to go through your reviews and pulling through the same TLDR parts make it a lot easier for users to make quicker decisions.
This doesn’t need to be integrated with the review provider but could be a potent module developed on your product pages.