I have heard this question a thousand times. And, my answer is always the same. “What do you want your website to do?” On virtually every occasion the agent has no specific purpose for a website, but just want to have one because they think they need it.
Website are like businesses. In order to have a successful business you need a business plan and focus on the results of your business. A website is exactly the same. Your website needs to have a plan to achieve your desired results. Without this focus you should carefully consider moving ahead with your plans to create a website. Websites can perform quite well in accomplishing very specific tasks, but without a plan you might spend up wasting a lot of time and resources for no results.
I always want to know why I should listen to someone regarding technology and only want to read an author that has been successful using the technology. So before we get into the various types of websites that there are and your options let me share my personal experiences with websites. I founded CruiseReviews.com, built it and sold it for a ton of money. I founded the Cruise Agent Digest, built it and sold it to ASTA (it is now known as NAD, NACTA Agent Digest) I founded, built and sold PortReviews.com, as well. I operate several sites now that generate a six figure income and have numerous urls that I have invested in.
So that said, let’s look at the various kinds of websites that you may consider. I will write articles on each topic and explain exactly how you can create websites to accomplish your objectives. So keep in touch as they are published.
Understanding How a Website Works: Before we get into the different kinds of websites that you may consider, understanding what domain names, CMS, HTML, host servers and search engines are and how they come together to create website is very important.
Basic Web Presence: When agents ask the above question this is generally the kind of website that they are referring to. They want to have a site that acts as an online business card and shares contact information and not much more. This kind of website will never generate organic traffic nor will it ever generate bookings of any kind. However having a web presence will allow you to be listed on many of the online search and review sites. Getting a basic web presence site is easy to accomplish and not costly at all.
Travel Industry Website Providers: There are several companies that offer turnkey websites that they frequently update with content and travel specials. These are a great solution if you want to have a more robust site that enhances your online image. Companies like Passport Online, Online Agency and Agent Studio all offer websites for agents. While they all have booking capabilities, most agents do not see revenue streams developed by them and would rather have the client deal personally with the agent.
Custom Travel Websites: This is the type of website that travel professionals who are serious about generating organic traffic and new clients from search engines lean toward. While at one time having a custom website built was considered expensive, that is not the case now. You should consider having a custom site designed and built for you if your plan is to attract organic traffic based on specific keywords and niches. Again, as in any business plan you should have your custom website completely thought out before you start the process of building it.
Travel Affiliate Websites: Google’s EMD (Exact Match Domain) algorithm update pretty much killed the first generation of affiliate sites who counted on organic traffic that was driven by keywords. Today, content driven websites are in a position to cash in on the travel industry’s various affiliate programs, which exist for all aspects of the travel industry.
Niche Travel Websites: If you specialize in a specific niche, a niche oriented website may be the way for you go go. Currently search engines love niche travel sites that are robust with content. When you think of niche travel sites, think of the various niches that you may create sites for. Here are some example of keyword niche sites that are operated by one company in Maui, Hawaii; RoadtoHana.com. LahainaTown.com, Maui-Maps.com, MauiWebCams.com, MolokiniCrator.com, MauiInformation.com and so on. You can see how effective this is for driving organic traffic.
Blogs: Blogs can be very effective as a primary website, or as a supplementary web marketing tool. Blogs are easy to set up and operate, but must be consistent with your web objectives otherwise a blog may eat up a lot of time and resources. Blogs are excellent ways to share niche information with other folks interested in the niche.
Social Media: Many agents have created formidable content on Facebook and other social media that easily serves as their website. The beauty of using social media is that the cost is virtually nothing to establish and maintain the content.