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FareHarbor Cares: Volunteer Trip To North and South Carolina

fareharbor cares

Ask any of our employees and they’ll tell you—one of the best things about FareHarbor is the community built around it.

Although we’re connected by business, the little stories about life always seem to work their way in. Whether it’s tacked onto the end of an over-the-phone training or tucked into an email about affiliates, we love getting to know the people, places and reasons behind the businesses we work with.

So when Hurricane Florence swept through and rattled part of our community, we felt it. We turned to our friends at SBP and Americorps, who helped us connect with families in North and South Carolina that needed a hand in rebuilding what they’d lost.

volunteers south carolina

Our team of twelve volunteers headed to Columbia and New Bern to help repair homes damaged by Hurricane Florence and Hurricane Joaquin. The trip was incredible! Both the volunteer teams we worked with and the people we were there to help were warm and welcoming.

Replacing wet insulation and painting baseboards was certainly a change of pace from the work we’re used to, but all too worth it. What a gift to make a difference for someone like Catherine, the sweet, 90-year old Columbia native whose severely water damaged home was infested with bugs and plagued by leaking water prior to our arrival.

volunteers north carolina

sbp and fareharbor

After so many trips to the area for business alone, we were happy to be in the Carolinas with a bigger purpose. But still, we couldn’t pass on the opportunity to meet with some of the locals that had us charmed with the area in the first place.

When our time with Catherine and the others came to an end, we stole away to visit some FareHarbor clients in the area. We ended up visiting more than twenty local tour & activity businesses between North and South Carolina, tipping the trip into the “best ever” category.

With team members from four different departments on the trip, we were able to mix business with leisure, offering Dashboard help, tips and tricks in between all of the fun stuff. (And there was a lot of fun stuff.)

client visit north carolina

Express Water Sports

pineapple tours

Pineapple Tours

We watched osprey catching fish with Wilmington Water Tours, sipped our way through a historic pub crawl with Original Pub and Brewery Tours, dined on she-crab soup in Charleston, got spooked at a haunted jail with Bulldog Tours and enjoyed countless other moments connecting with our amazing, local clients.

Perhaps most importantly, we enjoyed the priceless reminder of why we love this industry as we do. Thank you to everyone in North and South Carolina that we had the opportunity to connect with. We left feeling inspired, motivated and ever grateful for the people and places we’ve met through FareHarbor.

A special thank you to SBP and Americorps for organizing an incredible volunteer trip. It all starts with you!

group photo

5 Marketing Strategies For Black Friday Weekend (And Beyond)

Ah, the consumer holidays. They tend to sneak up quickly and when they arrive, it’s in full force. Especially in the age of e-commerce, where Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become more accessible than ever, the excitement surrounding the consumer holidays is growing.

In fact, online sales for Black Friday alone are expected to grow 15.31% from last year, soaring to an incredible $5.8 billion dollars in transactions.

The fervor around the weekend presents a huge opportunity for businesses in the tour and activity space. Customers new and old are both more engaged and more likely to try out a new brand when it comes with a lower cost.

So how do you make the most of the weekend? We have a few ideas up our sleeve.

1. Start prepping your marketing strategy now.

We know this one comes as no surprise, but it’s true! The sooner you start preparing for Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, the better your campaign will go. Put time and energy into the process and the outcome will naturally follow suit.

So where to start? Grab a box of donuts, get your team together and spend a few hours figuring out exactly what your marketing strategy will be over the Black Friday weekend. Here’s a few questions to get the brainstorm started:

  • What do we want to push customers towards? Seasonal items? Gift cards? Best-sellers? Package deals?
  • Will we offer a discount? Buy-one-get-one-free? A branded item with purchase?
  • How do we want to advertise our promotions?
  • Do we want to send out an email? Should we segment our email list?
  • Which social sites should we market on? What hashtags could we use?

Already using FareHarbor and need help setting up promo codes? Check out our help guide, or just get in touch for help!

2. Don’t underestimate the power of gift cards.

digital gift cards

Although gift cards make an important addition to any Black Friday marketing campaign, this is especially true in the tour and activity industry. Gift cards are a user-friendly way for customers to gift an experience to friends or family, or to purchase an activity for a future trip.

Because they eliminate the need for tricky details like dates, times and even group size, gift cards are an easy sell in your off-season, especially as people begin buying gifts for the holidays.

  • If you use FareHarbor as your online booking system, you can sell gift cards just as easily as you sell any other item. Link directly to gift cards from a button on your site, or add them to your reservation page alongside other bookable items.
  • Remember, gift cards sold through FareHarbor are digital gift cards that can be redeemed online, in-person or over-the-phone, all through FareHarbor.
  • Don’t hesitate to promote gift cards on your homepage and in your email marketing campaigns. They’re an easy purchase for your customers, help boost off-season sales, plus 75% of gift card holders end up spending more than the original value.

3. Get serious about social sharing.

In a world where shoppers are exposed to dozens of brands on a daily basis, it’s no wonder consumers are growing fatigued with digital marketing. As a result, consumers are learning to look for user-generated content—such as photos, reviews, tweets and blog posts—that is created by unpaid contributors.

Considered to be 85% more persuasive than content that comes directly from your brand, user-generated content is just as effective as a personal recommendation from family or friends.

User-generated content is considered to be authentic and honest, which makes it gold for your business. If you collected user content last year, such as customer reviews and photos, now is the time to put it to use. If you didn’t, focus on collecting it this year and then use it to boost Black Friday sales in both 2018 and 2019.

Encourage social sharing from your customers by:

  • Featuring your customers’ content on your own social pages or blog whenever they tag your business or use your hashtag.
  • Offering a discount, stickers or t-shirt to customers who @mention your business, check-in on Facebook, or use your hashtag.
  • Running a contest on social media. Sounds daunting? Here’s a guide that’ll help you get it right.

4. Go big on email marketing.

With so many sales and deals to choose from, it’s easy for your business to get lost in the noise. An email marketing campaign can put your offerings directly under the nose of your customer base, whether they be local or from afar. After all, what’s the point of running an epic Black Friday promotion if nobody knows about it? Here are a few tips to ensure email success:

  • Create anticipation. Sending your first email out before the promotion begins helps overwhelmed consumers prioritize their shopping strategy, as well as create anticipation for what’s to come.
  • Give extra love to past customers. The best way to create loyal customers that return time and time again is to show them just how much you appreciate them. An additional discount or early bird access helps build the kind of relationship that can transform a past customer into a full-on brand advocate.
  • Make sure your emails are mobile-friendly. Big, bold, image-heavy designs can be tempting—just make sure it’s all mobile-friendly. There’s nothing worse than getting your email in front of the right person, then losing the sale because your call-to-action button is wonky on mobile.
  • Include CTAs that link directly to the promotion. If you’re marketing a specific tour or activity, don’t forget to link your call-to-action directly to the item that you’re promoting. This prevents the user from having to click around your site, thus increasing your chances of converting the customer.

5. Create balance with #OptOutside or Giving Tuesday.

REI optoutside

Even if consumer holidays aren’t quite your cup of tea, you don’t have to sit this weekend out. While consumers are hyper-engaged, watching for deals and promotions from their favorite brands, take the opportunity to build brand awareness around your values rather than your products.

It’s an approach that’s been gaining in popularity after REI, a major outdoor retailer, launched #OptOutside four years ago. Acting against the mass consumerism that’s come to characterize Thanksgiving weekend, #OptOutside encourages people to spend the Friday following Thanksgiving away from the computer, instead opting to spend the day outdoors with friends and family. And much to our benefit, we operate in an industry that centers on experiencing life beyond material goods!

Since launching, the campaign has been adopted by hundreds of businesses that agree with the sentiment. Yours can be one of them!

  • Share why your business is choosing to #OptOutside on your social media pages, making sure to use the hashtag in your post. Increase impact by sharing photos of your employees outdoors, and be sure to invite your customers to do the same.

Similarly, Giving Tuesday takes place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, and is meant to turn the rush of the consumer weekend outwards. Created to foster charity and community during the holiday season, this perfectly complements the spirit of #OptOutside.

  • Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to give back to your community and sponsor local events, charities or organizations that your business aligns with.

Whether you opt for all of these strategies or just one, take advantage of the increased engagement that comes with Black Friday weekend. Or, alternatively, keep these strategies in your pocket for another important holiday or event.

Let’s Recap! The FareHarbor User Conference

Last Monday, magic happened. And it’s all thanks to you!

More than 300 attendees from 7 different countries joined us in Las Vegas for a full day of all things tours, activities and of course, FareHarbor, at the very first FareHarbor User Conference.

Ever focused on growing your business, we packed one-on-one meetings, educational sessions and even a feature release in between the countless conversations, connections and some pretty tasty food (if we do say so ourselves).

After an endless amount of phone calls and emails exchanged, it was incredible to meet so many of you face-to-face. Our team left feeling humbled by the community that’s formed around FareHarbor, and motivated by the passion and drive you all have for this industry.

Notable moments & statistics

Boost by FareHarbor

  • More than 60 friendly faces from the FareHarbor team in attendance.
  • Personalized, one-on-one meetings with 150 clients.
  • 15 general sessions covering everything from social media to Dashboard best practices.
  • Average session rating of 4.5 out of 5 for usefulness.
  • More than $1 million collectively won on slot machines. (Just makin’ sure you’re still paying attention!)

We also announced the release of FareHarbor Boost, a digital marketing program backed by our team of certified experts. The goal here is simple—to support you in making smart, data-driven marketing decisions.

We’ll work with you to dig through your data, and deliver custom-built strategies that cater to your business and market. From PPC to SEO, organic search to email, we’ll help you decide what’s working, what isn’t, and where next to focus your budget.

As with all of our tools and benefits, FareHarbor Boost is completely free to FareHarbor clients. Simply get in touch if you’re ready for a boost! Our digital marketing experts are excited to start working with you and perfecting your marketing campaigns.

Your most asked questions

FareHarbor User Conference Questions

Over the course of the conference, you sent in 402 questions ranging from, “What time is lunch?” to “Does a blog help SEO?” For brevity’s sake, we selected a few of the most-asked questions to answer here:

Does a blog help SEO? Absolutely! Blogs are one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep fresh, relevant content flowing on your website, and a great way to boost your overall SEO strategy.

With the proper keyword research and on-page SEO, blogging can help your website rank for relevant keywords that bring more traffic and revenue to your business. Here are a few help docs to get you started:

I’m very active on social media, but I don’t feel like I see much business from it. What am I doing wrong? Is it now a total pay to play arena? When it comes to social media marketing, there are two options: organic and paid. Organic allows you as a brand to control 100% of the channel content and platforms. With organic social media, your posts will reach people who have liked or followed your page directly and have chosen to engage with your brand.

On the other end, paid social media allows you to reach users that don’t already follow your brand through boosted posts, offers and promotions. This enables you to target those who have expressed interest in your type of business or service, or a specific demographic.

If you’re not seeing great engagement from your social media marketing efforts, try changing up your content or posting strategy. If refreshing your strategy doesn’t increase your brand awareness and engagement, try incorporating paid posts and promotions.

Remember, all of social media is trial-and-error. Keep at it, and eventually you’ll find the content, frequency and balance between paid and organic posts that works for you.

How do you recommend introducing hotel concierges to becoming an affiliate and using the features of FareHarbor? The best way is get hotel concierges interested in using FareHarbor is to offer the hotel concierge a commission for tour sales, and show them about how easy it is for them to resell your activities or tours.

You could even offer them a comped or discounted ticket to your activity, so they can experience your offering first hand and share their experience when selling your activity to guests.

Remember, once connected with FareHarbor, they’ll receive a login that allows them to book directly through their own Dashboard. They’ll also have trackable ‘Book Now’ buttons that can be placed on their site, so they can resell with no effort needed!

Once you develop a partnership with a hotel concierge, just let your Channel Development rep or our Support Team know and we’ll work with your affiliate to get them set up.

Is there a manifest or other way for an affiliate to track their bookings? When the affiliate logs into their affiliate Dashboard, they’ll be able to see all of the bookings which have them tagged as the affiliate in the Recent Bookings section and in the Reporting section of their Dashboard.

If you have a question about a specific affiliate, reach out to our team and we’ll go over the various ways it’s possible for your affiliate to track their bookings based on your relationship and set up.

Does Telescope allow you to separate out individual tours/products or does it aggregate them all into one average price? FareHarbor Telescope looks at each individual Item for every Availability Month that exists within your Dashboard. Our predictive pricing algorithm then springs into action, taking the Average Price Per Customer for all customer types (Adults, Children, etc.) within that Item.

A look at the event

Conference Check In

Breakfast at FareHarbor Conference

Lawrence User Conference

Gabby

Conference Full House

FareHarbor Client Interaction

Meeting with clients

FareHarbor Swag 2

Google Analytics

One on One

Conference Sessions

Conference Polls

FareHarbor Swag

One on one 2

Relive the conference with session recordings

If you that couldn’t make it this year or if you want to revisit the information shared at the conference, check out our library of recorded sessions. You’ll find everything from Google Analytics advice to Dashboard best practices, all with love from our team to yours.

Get ready for next year’s conference!

We’re still unpacking from this year’s conference—but we can’t help thinking about next year! So, keep your 2019 calendars open for another great event. Until then, thanks for choosing FareHarbor. Onwards & upwards!

FareHarbor Is Headed To Arival, The In-Destination Event

As a proud launch partner of Arival, we couldn’t be more excited for the conference kick off in just a few days! We anticipate a memorable event, marked by a whole lot of great information, networking and enthusiasm for the industry we all love.

If you’re attending Arival, we’d love to connect while we’re both there. We’ll have people from every team at the conference, from Sales to Account Management, so regardless of whether you’re already a FareHarbor client or interested in learning more, let’s chat.

You can find us at the FareHarbor-hosted Workshops and Demo Labs listed below or at the FareHarbor booth in the Artist Hall. And of course, don’t miss Tuesday night’s Hawaiian Luau! We’ll be serving up lots of aloha (and mai tais).


Tuesday, September 25

Demo Lab: Winning Direct Sales
1:30pm – 2:00pm

Consumers are increasingly drawn to the convenience of shopping for experiences over desktop, tablet, and mobile devices. As tour operators, we need to prepare ourselves to offer quick and effective mediums for users to book activities online in order to stay competitive. FareHarbor is invested in understanding and meeting your operational needs to better service your online customer base. Come learn about some simple tactics we use to optimize industry-specific websites so you can make a dramatic difference in your online revenue.

Demo Lab: Grow Your Business Every Year
2:15pm – 2:45pm

FareHarbor partners with medium- to enterprise-level businesses to boost year over year revenue on a multitude of channels. After joining FareHarbor, our clients outperform their year-to-year online revenue by an average of 250%. Not only do we analyze bookings through your online channel, but we provide industry-specific best practices to streamline your operation so you can cut your administrative costs and drive sales. Learn what our team is doing to ensure continued revenue growth and see the potential growth FareHarbor could bring to your business.

Workshop: The Direct Marketing Manifesto
3:00pm – 3:45pm

Within our varied industry of tours, activities, and attractions, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to digital marketing and distribution. This workshop will walk through the essential questions each tour and activity operator must address as they map out their strategy to drive growth and acquire new customers. Touching on everything from Google and Instagram to phone sales and hotel concierge networks, we will guide you through all key marketing channels and strategies we recommend to have in your direct marketing toolkit. Workshop Leader: Max Valverde, President & COO, FareHarbor

Don’t miss out on the FareHarbor Hawaiian Luau! Hosted at the Vanity Nightclub, the party starts at 8:00pm and runs until midnight. Don’t miss it!


Wednesday, September 26

Demo Lab: “FareHarbor Connect: An Effortless Solution To Third-Party Resellers
1:30pm – 2:00pm

FareHarbor offers a variety of integration options to help connect you with your third-party resellers in a convenient way. Through API connections, our Agent Portal, or even adding your book buttons to third-party websites, you no longer need to worry about overbooking or updating availabilities. With FareHarbor Connect, connecting to third-parties is completely risk-free. Join us as we dive into the details of FareHarbor Connect, reviewing all the ways it can work for your unique business. We’ll review our different integrations for different types of resellers, and share benefits and best practices.

You can find our team at any of these events or the FareHarbor booth in the Artist Hall! We can’t wait to see you!

5 Best Practices Every Tourism Site Should Follow

Even as a tour provider, the digital world is still a part of the gig.

Researching and booking travel online is officially the new norm, meaning businesses in the travel industry are all but required to look to the web when it comes to growing their customer base.

The sureness of this is actually a great thing. It gives you, as the business owner, the advantage of knowing exactly what information the majority of customers will see prior to making their final decision. Now, the challenge comes in delivering this information in a way that guides the customer towards your mutual goal—a booking!

To help you master the art, we turned to our local website experts: the FareHarbor Sites team. Together, they’ve built over 1000 sites, each and every one of them for tour, activity or attraction companies. Safe to say they’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to create a site that converts visitors into paying customers.

From our team to yours, here are the five most important features of a successful tourism website:

Shay K

  1. High-quality images that provide a glimpse into your tours and services can go a long way in enticing potential customers to make a booking. Don’t underestimate the power of professional imagery in creating feelings of trust for your site’s visitors.”

    -Shay Knolle, Senior Web Content Specialist at FareHarbor

Trust and credibility are two of the most important drivers behind purchasing decisions. Your online visitors want to know that they’re choosing a solid company that will provide an awesome experience from start to finish.

Photos help customers visualize the experience, giving them confidence in what they’re booking. High-quality photos deliver this assurance in a beautiful way and make a statement about the professionalism of the company.

Dan J

  1. Treat your website as a tool to guide the customer towards the tour they are most likely to book. Aim to minimize the number of clicks and not overwhelm them with too many choices at each step. Use tools such as colorful badges, taxonomies and categorization to lead your customer to a decision.”

    -Dan Johnson, Web Content Specialist at FareHarbor

Every aspect of your website, from content to design, should lead online visitors to a booking. It’s about predicting what information they need along the path to purchase and delivering it to them in the most succinct, helpful way possible.

If a visitor lands on your site looking to book an activity, is there a short, defined path to purchase? Are all of their pre-booking questions answered along this path? Ask these questions as you move through your site.

Taryn P

  1. Always put a call-to-action above the fold. The goal is to start driving conversions as soon as someone visits your site.”

    -Taryn Parsons, Web Content Specialist at FareHarbor

A call-to-action (CTA) is a button or hyperlink that tells the user to perform a certain action or next step. For a tour, activity or attraction company, the most effective CTA is a ‘Book Now’ button.

Placing your CTA “above the fold” means making the ‘Book Now’ button clearly visible immediately upon landing on your webpage. No scrolling necessary. This way, visitors are pushed into your booking funnel without first having to click around your site.

Sommer S

  1. “Mobile is everything. The amount of people browsing and booking on mobile sites is about equal and soon to overtake desktop users. Google even ranks based on the page load speed of your mobile site. The better your mobile experience, the more people are likely to purchase a ticket on the fly.”

    -Sommer Shearer, Senior Web Content Specialist at FareHarbor

This will hardly come as a surprise but you simply have to think beyond desktop these days. Mobile devices are quickly becoming the new normal for both Google and your customers.

Improving your mobile experience is a quick way to boost both your search engine ranking and your conversion rate. A bonus? A mobile-friendly experience also speaks to the trust and credibility of your site by letting visitors know that your business is modern and up-to-date.

Blake K

  1. You have roughly 3 seconds to tell visitors what your site has to offer. Our team strives to cause action, gain trust, and provide a clear path to your booking flow.”

    -Blake Kenney, Senior Web Content Specialist at FareHarbor

With all the information available on the web, it can be challenging to keep a user’s attention. In fact, most visitors will only give a site a few seconds of their time before they bounce to the next one.

Capture their attention quickly with a site that caters to everything they’re looking for. In this industry, that’s trust, credibility and ease of booking.


The best sites are the ones that anticipate the visitor’s needs and meets them. Keep this and the above tips in mind as you update your site—or if you’re a FareHarbor client, just let us know that you’re interested in working with the Sites team.

Not yet a FareHarbor client but want help with your website? A site from our team is completely free when you partner with FareHarbor! Get in touch with us!

Faces Of FareHarbor: Jess

Meet Jess Pashos!


Jess Pashos

A FareHarbor veteran, Jess was one of the first people to join our Sales team in Needham, MA. Now the VP of Sales Operations in our Amsterdam office, she’s bringing the best of FareHarbor to our friends in Europe. If you partner with FareHarbor, it’s likely Jess has been involved in your go-live in one way or the other. Let’s get to know her!

You just moved to Europe! What’s been your top place to visit so far?

Well, Amsterdam has been amazing. One morning, I woke up at 5am and biked to the I Amsterdam sign before the crowds got there. I watched the sunrise and took some cool pictures of the sign and the Rijksmuseum. I’ve also had some fun trips to other cool cities in the Netherlands.

Outside of the Netherlands, I went to Stavanger, Norway for a long weekend and did some awesome hikes. It is so beautiful there, I cannot wait to go back!

What do you miss most about the Boston area?

Besides all of the rippers in our Needham office and my family and friends, the Red Sox have had an incredible season, and I used to be able to make it to quite a few games at Fenway as I’ve always lived so close to the city.

I think I’ll miss the enthusiasm in the Boston area during all games (baseball, hockey, football, etc) the most.

What’s next on your tour/activity bucket list?

My dad has a work trip in London in a few weeks so he is coming a weekend early. We are meeting in Scotland and hiking the Cairngorms 4000s loop. 21 miles total! And we will hit 5 of the highest peaks in Scotland.

I have a long bucket list though, and as the list of companies that we partner with in the EU grows, that list gets longer and longer!

We have been out with a few of our local clients already including Flagship Cruises and Walks of Europe. We had an amazing time. And when we all first arrived, we immediately got bikes from one of our first live EU companies – Mike’s Bike Tours!

What’s been the most surprising difference about life in Amsterdam?

The same day that I got on the plane to Amsterdam, I sold my car. I knew that things would be different without it, but I have been pleasantly surprised!

We are able to bike everywhere and transportation is super easy, even to surrounding towns and internationally. I thought that I would miss the freedom that a car can but things have been smooth sailing!

You’ve been at FareHarbor for a while. What about this place makes you want to stick around?

The people! I get excited coming to work every single day. What’s even cooler is that our Amsterdam office is bringing together employees from our Boston, Denver and soon, San Francisco offices.

Even though some employees had not met in person before, it felt as if we were one big family right off of the bat. As we start to welcome our first EU hires, everyone just fits right in. Being around so many awesome people with different backgrounds and the same big picture goals makes it a lot of fun to come to work each day.

Not to mention that we work with the coolest clients ever and have the industry-leading product… I could go on and on!

Describe your job at FareHarbor in three words.

Different every day!

Influencer Marketing Strategies for Tour & Activity Businesses

It’s not just you: influencers are indeed taking over the world of marketing. And while we’re all for new marketing trends (especially ones that actually create results) this one can feel a little intimidating. After all, compared to traditional marketing methods where you’re in control of the final product, influencer marketing relies on a third-party to make it happen.

But as with most trends, the question remains—is it here to stay?

Research shows that influencer marketing isn’t disappearing anytime soon. In fact, it’s only getting more popular. Especially in the travel industry, which has always been a stronghold for influencer marketing, influencers are on the rise as one of the most effective ways to connect with your audience.

Of course, it’s only effective if you can get it right. To help you perfect your influencer partnership, we’ve put together a crash course in influencer marketing. Let’s get started:

What is influencer marketing?

influencer-blogging

Like most forms of marketing, influencer marketing is all about building relationships. But instead of building relationships with each individual customer, you focus on one very specific customer; the influencer.

Influencers can be bloggers, popular Instagram users, YouTube stars or even the neighbor next door—anyone that has a large, dedicated social following.

They use social media as a platform to create a community around their own personal brand, connecting with people (followers!) that share their same interests.

Similar to the way you might reach for your favorite magazine, people look to influencers for inspiration, up-and-coming trends, product reviews and advice.

In fact, the average person trusts the opinion of the influencers they follow as much as they trust their friends and family.

That leaves hundreds, thousands or even tens of thousands of customers to be reached with a trusted peer review, all by connecting with just one influencer.

That’s the beauty of influencer marketing. One relationship can transform into a tour de force of customer connection. A trusted voice advocating your brand can be that powerful.

The challenge, of course, comes in finding the right voice to work with.

How to choose an influencer

location tag searches

In any form of marketing, the key to an effective campaign is knowing your audience. After all, how effective would an advertisement for men’s shaving cream be in a room full of single females? If you aren’t selling to the right customer, it simply won’t matter how good your activity is.

Keep this in mind as you choose an influencer to work with. It’s not just about them, it’s about their audience too. After all, these are the people that you’re targeting with the partnership.

So how do you make sure you choose the right person?

  • Search hashtags, location tags and Google to find influencers you like. A little research goes a long way. If you’re looking to connect with a blogger, tools like BuzzSumo make it easy to find bloggers that have used your keyword. A simple Google search will do the trick too!

    If you’re looking for an Instagram influencer, use the app to browse hashtag keywords associated with your activity or area. Try starting locally, with hashtags that feature your location’s name, like #explorehonolulu or #surfhawaii. You can use Instagram location tags in the same way.

  • Take follower count lightly. Follower count seems like it’d be an intuitive way to gauge the potential of an influencer, but that’s not always the case. A larger reach also means a higher price tag, and the promise of a higher return has led some accounts to purchase fake followers. Fake accounts obviously won’t give a great ROI (return on investment), so keep followers as a metric, but not the metric.

  • Check for authentic likes and comments. Remember that fake followers warning? Here’s where you vet your influencer for authenticity. In the social media world, likes and comments are known as “engagement.”

    Good engagement means your influencer’s followers are real people who care about what they say—not bot accounts purchased online. You’ll know you’ve found a good one if people are tagging their friends in the comments, asking questions and getting responses from the influencer.

  • Scan posts for consistency. You’re looking to make sure they not only post consistently but that their brand is solid. The influencer you choose should have a brand that aligns with yours—and not just while on vacation or in your area.

    Scroll through a few months of their posts to view their content and read their captions. Remember, you’ll be putting your brand in their hands. The extra time it takes to dig in is worth it.

What to focus on

instagram searches

Now that you have the right partner and the right audience, what comes next? You’ll get the best results if you work side-by-side, planning and executing the promotional content as a team.

While the influencer is ultimately in control of how the brand message comes to life, it’s your job to pass along clear expectations about your business’ values and goals, as well as technical details like post length, frequency and compensation.

  • Decide what you want to offer beforehand. Be strategic, and fully plan out what you’re willing to offer an influencer in exchange for exposure to their audience. What is expected will vary between influencers, so it’s easiest to establish the partnership on your terms.

  • Don’t break the rules! There are, of course, rules when it comes to advertising your product but you’ll navigate them well if you keep things transparent.

    You’ll always be in the safe zone if you insist that your influencer is fully transparent about the partnership, letting their audience know that the experience was sponsored. This can be as simple as a “#sponsored” or a thank you included in their caption.

  • Be prepared to measure ROI. It’s valuable to track likes and comments, but you’ll want to keep an eye out for an increase in subscribers to your own page, shares, views and of course, bookings.

    You can create a unique link or promo code for your influencer to share, then dig into Google Analytics and look for referrals from that link or from their blog site.

  • Work together for the best results. Spending time generating ideas, discussing branding goals and sharing content with your influencer will always lead to better results. Both you and the influencer you work with will benefit from treating the gig as a true partnership.

Main takeaway:

When it comes to influencer marketing, it’s all about selecting the right partner for your unique business.

Because you’re trusting them with your brand, it’s incredibly important that you partner with someone you align with. Someone that just gets it.

As they relay their experience to their community, it’ll be through their own lens. It’s both what makes influencer marketing so intimidating—and so effective. Embrace this fully by doing diligent research before you make your choice and working closely with whoever you partner with.

If you’re still feeling nervous about taking the dive into influencer marketing, start slow! Practice partnering with people in your local neighborhood, offering discounts or free swag for sharing their experience on social media and tagging your business or using your hashtag.

After all, with 68% of social media users between the ages of 18 and 24 reporting that they’re more likely to make a purchase after seeing a product on a friend’s post, truly anyone can be an influencer.

Kilauea Volcano Eruption: Yes, The Hawaiian Islands Are Still Safe For Travel

With so many of our partners and friends located in Hawaii, it’s hard for us to sit back and let the news of the Big Island’s Kilauea volcano go unedited.

Instead of relying on a Google search or newscaster to update us on the status of Hawaii tourism, we decided to get the perspective of those that know it best: local tour and activity operators.

What we found is that their opinion matches that of the Hawaii Tourism Board; the Hawaiian Islands are just as safe (and wonderful) as ever.

The only major change the eruption has brought travelers? Lower prices and fewer crowds. Get the whole story below.

Is it safe to travel to Hawaii?

Waipio Valley Big Island Hawaii

As a tourist visiting any island in Hawaii, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Apart from the area in immediate proximity to the volcano, flights are operating as normal, air quality is largely unchanged and tourism infrastructure is solidly in place.

In other words; unless your plans explicitly included a visit the Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, which has been closed until further notice, your travel plans will be entirely unaffected by the current events.

Big Island—things to know:

  • On May 17th, the Hawaii Tourism Board stated that “There is absolutely no reason for visitors planning a trip to the Hawaiian Islands to change or alter their leisure or business travel plans.”
  • The USGS has issued a red alert for aircraft flying into or out of the immediate area, cautioning them to pay attention to hazardous ash and rock debris emerging from the caldera. Air quality surrounding the caldera can be hazardous due to ash plumes and gaseous emissions.
  • The USGS anticipates more activity. Be aware that there may be more volcanic activity, although any resulting hazards will be contained to the immediate area surrounding the caldera.

The alerts issued by the USGS are relevant only to the areas directly surrounding the caldera. Towns as close as neighboring Kona, a popular tourist destination on the opposite side of the Big Island, remain unaffected by the recent volcanic activity.

With all of this taken into account, the Hawaii Tourism Board encourages travelers to follow through with their travel plans. In fact, supporting Hawaii tourism—an industry that so many local families and businesses depend on—is the best thing you can do for those affected.

And it might not be a bad choice for your budget either.

As Chris of Kailani Tours Hawaii pointed out, “There are some incredible deals to be had right now. Lines are shorter, traffic is better, restaurants have availability and I’m sure everyone is willing to make a deal right now.

There couldn’t be a better time to take advantage of everything there is to see on our beautiful island!”

Even for Kailani Tours Hawaii, which is known for their volcano and lava tours, there’s still plenty to show off. They’re taking travelers to visit Hawaii Island’s famous lookouts, valleys, and waterfalls. And their “expert guides are really having fun exploring the island with smaller groups and creating more personal experiences with our guests.”

For Big Island tour operators whose tours don’t intersect with the volcano, it’s just another day in paradise. Jim Redekopp of the Hawaii Vanilla Company, which sits just an hour drive away from the volcano, says “We are still full speed ahead. The Big Island is huge, so we’re still open for business and looking forward to spoiling you when you arrive.”

The Hawaii we all dream of is still in session. Warm water, long stretches of beach, colorful reefs, canopy ziplines, ATV rides—all of it open for business.

The breakdown on Kilauea

hawaii kilauea volcano

After weeks of seismic activity, new fissures and lava flow, the Kilauea volcano erupted on the morning of May 17th, releasing a massive ash plume that rose 30,000 feet above the summit.

Photos of the massive plume served as a dramatic reminder of Hawaii’s roots as an island chain formed by a volcanic hot spot. And as a result, businesses on every island were hit with mass cancellations as tourists canceled their plans to visit the Aloha State.

Yet for most locals, Kilauea’s awakening is just a part of life in Hawaii. After all, Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and has been erupting continuously since 1983.

How has the volcano affected Hawaii locals?

Napali Coast Kauai

While the Hawaiian Island are unarguably safe for travelers, the recent events have been difficult for those located at the heart of the affected areas.

However, the USGS has been anticipating the eruption, and thus been very meticulous with safety precautions. As a result, all residing in close perimeter to the volcano were safely evacuated, and no deaths or major injuries are tied to the recent eruption.

Coincidentally, for the Big Island of Hawaii, the effect of media reports has proved more damaging than the actual physical eruption of the Kilauea volcano.

As mentioned by Chris Paterson, “Sensational media reports a few weeks ago all the way up to today painted a very inaccurate picture of what’s happening on the Big Island.

Only 10+ of 4000 square miles were impacted by flowing lava.”

He mentioned that “as a tour operator, we see this as a local issue whereas the media took it as an international incident. I suppose it depends on your perspective.”

Still, Chris and his team are staying positive, using the downtime “to take stock, recharge and spend time with friends and family. We know that a busy summer is ahead so we’ll be well-rested for when the busy season cranks up again.”

And for the rest of Hawaii? The state as a whole is largely unshaken by Kilauea, meaning your island trip demands the same safety advice as always: be cautious, be respectful and enjoy all the Aloha that Hawaii has to offer.

Keyword Basics: Finding And Using The Right Keywords

For many of you, the busiest time of year is just around the corner. While you prep crew and inventory for the upcoming season, the travelers you’re getting ready for will be busy browsing the internet for “things to do” on their Summer trip.

Make sure your business is the one their search lands on by investing some time into your keywords. No matter what your digital marketing strategy, discovering and utilizing the right keywords is essential to capturing search traffic.

What are keywords?

Google keyword search Keywords are the equivalent of an elevator pitch. In a broad sense, they’re the ideas that define your business—words that are essential to who you are and what you do.

In the world of SEO, keywords are the words or phrases that people enter into search engines. Commonly referred to as “search queries,” keywords are what searchers use to find answers on the Internet.

As a business owner, keywords are an important part of attracting online visitors to your site.

When the keywords you use on your website match the terms people use on search engines, your content will appear in their search results. This, of course, results in more traffic to your website and more opportunities to convert that traffic into paying customers.

Types of keywords

As you begin your keyword research, you’ll find that the search queries you can target are limitless. You can target single, generic words, highly detailed phrases or anything in-between. With so many options, finding the right keywords can be a challenge. Here’s a breakdown of the three main types of keywords you’ll encounter:

Generic Keywords
Generic keywords are generally single word terms that represent a broad subject, but offer little insight into the searcher’s intent. Searches like “kayaks” or “ziplines” fall into this category.

These keywords tend to be extremely competitive and difficult to rank for because there are so many sites that could be relevant to these broad, generic terms. The searcher might be looking for photos of people kayaking, looking for a type of kayak to purchase, or of course, browsing for kayak rentals or tours nearby. All related sites will be competing for this search query.

Nonetheless, generic keywords are still an important part of your keyword strategy. Use these as the frame for your keyword strategy, adding them throughout your website.

Long-Tail Keywords
Long-tail keywords are highly specific search queries that generally appear as phrases or sentences, like “kayaking in monterey with young kids” or “what to wear ziplining in Maui.” Unlike single keywords, long-tail keywords have a very specific focus and give a clear picture of the searcher’s intent.

Since these keywords generate significantly less traffic, they’re also less competitive. This makes long-tail keywords a great opportunity to rank for searches that are highly relevant to your business. Long-tail keywords should be your go-to when creating blog content with the goal of driving customers to your site.

Broad Keywords
Broad keywords fall somewhere in between generic and long-tail keywords, as short phrases that are neither incredibly generic nor specific. This category includes terms like “kayaking in monterey” and “maui zipline tours.”

As you strengthen your SEO, these will become the bread-and-butter of your keyword strategy. Broad keywords are ideal for your homepage copy, in headlines and indexable content.

Keyword Do’s and Don’ts

Google Keyword Planner

DO! Spend time researching your keywords. Getting searchers to your site won’t help much if they’re not the right searchers. There are several tools out there to help you make an educated decision about what keywords matter for your business. Visit one (or all!) to help narrow down your keyword list:
Google’s Keyword Planner
Ubersuggest
SEMrush
KWFinder
– Your own Google Analytics data!

DON’T! Don’t incorporate keywords based on gut feeling alone. The tools mentioned above will help you select keywords that make sense for your unique business, by offering data like search volume and the level of competition for the keyword. Ask friends, family, and Google for keyword ideas, then narrow down your list using the tools listed above.

DO! Work keywords into every part of your webpage. This includes title tags, meta descriptions, headings, alt text and URLs. Remember, keywords are meant to get Google’s attention, so you need to pay just as much attention to indexable content (the HTML text you can assign to images and non-text content) as the content you write for users to search and see.

DO! Use your blog to create thoughtful and informative content around your top keywords. Your content should be evergreen—meaning always relevant— and written on a topic that you’re knowledgeable about and can write about naturally. You can find a lot of great tips on blogging here.

DON’T! Don’t overuse your keywords. Packing too many of your keywords into your content is called “keyword stuffing,” and will actually work against you in search rankings. Content should be written with your keywords in mind but keywords should never be overused.

DO! Create an excel sheet that lists your keywords in order of priority. Turn to this when you need blog inspiration, when you’re updating tour descriptions or creating new AdWords campaigns.


As you research keywords and develop your strategy, remember that the key is finding a balance between writing for the user and writing for the search engine. Keyword nirvana is hidden somewhere between the two.

Use Google Analytics Data To Take Your Business To New Heights

Post by Kristin Rooke, Senior Account Manager

How do you make decisions when it comes to your online business? Do you base them on a gut feeling or on conversations that you have with your customers?

While there’s a lot to be said for instinct and customer feedback, if you’re not looking at your website data then you’re missing out on a wealth of opportunities to grow your business.

Are You Using Google Analytics?

We’ll go over the basics and some industry-specific tools but before we get there, here’s a quick rundown:

Google Analytics is a freemium (free and premium) website analytics tool that tells you how well your website is performing. You can track:

  • the number of users that visit your site
  • how they find you
  • what device they’re using
  • where customers drop off when exploring your site

In short, it provides incredibly valuable information about what’s working and what isn’t when it comes to your online business. When you know your strengths and weaknesses, you can optimize your site to more effectively convert your users (get more customers to buy your experiences, making you more money).

Getting Started With Google Analytics

Before we dive into a few Analytics reports, let’s first address a critical question—do you have a Google Analytics account?

If the answer is no, then your first step is to set up an account and install your unique tracking code on your website.

The process of adding the tracking code to your website varies depending on the type of content management system (CMS) you’re using. The list below includes the most common CMS’s and a link to step-by-step instructions on how to add the Google Analytics tag for each:

If you’re a FareHarbor client and you’d like help adding your tracking code to your website the correct way, or if you’re using a different type of CMS, reach out to our Support Team and we can install Google Analytics on your site for you.

5 Essential Google Analytics Reports To Assess Website Performance

After you add your Google Analytics tag to your website, it can take between 24-72 hours to start collecting user data. Even after you begin seeing data in your account, you’ll probably want to wait until you have at least 1-3 months of information before making any conclusions.

Once you’ve collected a few month’s worth of data, you can start digging into your reports to identify trends. These five reports give you a basic rundown of what your site is doing well, and what needs to be optimized.

1. Audience Overview

audience-overview

The Audience Overview report gives you a broad look at overall website performance. This report shows you things like:

  • how many people visit your website per day
  • the number of new versus returning users
  • and your average website bounce rate for the specified period of time

Let’s explore two key numbers here:

Website Traffic

Before talking numbers, there are two key terms you should understand—users and sessions.

A website user is a unique person that visited your website. A user is considered “new” when they’re visiting your site for the first time. Returning users have visited your site before.

When a user visits your website they trigger a session, which is the duration of time they spend clicking on and navigating around your site. By default, sessions will time out after 30 minutes of inactivity. If the user clicks something else on your site after being inactive for 30 minutes, it starts a new session.

So, one user can have multiple sessions on your site.

In the example above, we’re looking at website data from February 1, 2018 – March 7, 2018. If you hover over a point on the line graph, you’ll see the total number of website users on that day. In this case, you can see that 127 people visited the site on February 15th.

Depending on your domain and page authority, overall SEO, and social and digital marketing strategy, you might have more or fewer daily visitors to your site.

FareHarbor client? If you’re concerned about your website traffic and want to strategize ways to increase the number of users visiting your site per day, get in touch with us. We can assess your current website SEO and user engagement strategy.

Bounce Rate

A “bounce” is when a user visits your website and takes no additional action before leaving your site. For example, a user lands on your homepage and leaves without clicking on any other pages or buttons.

How does your bounce rate compare to other businesses? Let’s break it down:

  • Bounce rate of 0-15%: Usually a sign of bad data.

    Very low bounce rates often mean that your Google Analytics tag is improperly implemented on your website and that you’re not collecting accurate user data. Definitely check to make sure that your tag has been added to your site correctly.

  • Bounce rate of 16-40%: Excellent bounce rates.

    The users visiting your site are high-quality leads and are interested in your tours and activities.

  • Bounce rate of 41-60%: Average bounce rates.

    Your website is performing well for you but bounce rates closer to 60% indicate there’s room for improvement.

  • Bounce rate of 61-90%: Poor bounce rates.

Your website could use some serious optimization. Is your site mobile-friendly? Is it easy for the user to navigate? How many clicks does it take to make a booking? Do you have too much or too little website content?

If you look at the report above, the average bounce rate for the website is 30.24%. This is an excellent bounce rate, so we can assume that overall the website is attracting high-quality leads.

Now that we have a basic understanding of this website’s bounce rate, let’s dig a little deeper by looking at bounce rates across devices.

2. Mobile Overview

mobile-overview

The Mobile Overview report breaks down how your website is performing on different devices — specifically desktop, mobile, and tablet.

Why is this valuable? Because your website might do well on desktop but not on mobile (or vice versa). In a world that is becoming increasingly mobile-dependent, having a mobile-friendly website is essential.

If you take a look at the data above, what observations can you make? Here are a few big takeaways:

  • Most users visiting the site are on desktop (63.11% of traffic). Mobile users are second, followed closely by tablet users.

  • The bounce rate is lower for desktop users (27.90%), and much higher for mobile users (39.58%).

  • Desktop users have the highest Ecommerce Conversion Rate (9.59%), whereas mobile users have the lowest Ecommerce Conversion Rate (1.64%).

What can you conclude from this data? This website could benefit from improving the mobile experience. If it increases its mobile-friendliness, it could generate more revenue from users on mobile devices.

3. Acquisition Overview

acquisition-overview

Do you know where most of your website traffic is coming from? Do most of your users find you via organic search or are they finding you through social media?

The Acquisition Overview report answers all of these questions. In looking at this report, you can see that there are four primary channels driving traffic — organic search, direct, referral, and social. If you’re doing search or display advertising, you’ll see those show up as channels here too.

What are each of these channels?

  • Organic Search: When users find your website by typing keywords into Google (or a different browser).

  • Direct: The user types your domain into the browser bar to get to your website or uses bookmarks.

    Keep in mind, if Google Analytics can’t recognize the traffic source of a visit, it will categorize it as direct traffic. So as much as 60% of direct traffic is usually organic search or referral. This is known as “Dark Traffic” since its true source is veiled.

  • Referral: When users find your website by clicking a link on a different website. For example, if a customer clicks your website link on Yelp, then Yelp is the source of the referral.

  • Social: When users find your website from a social media page, such as Facebook.

Your top traffic channels are also influenced by your Domain and Page Authority, overall SEO, and your social media or digital marketing engagement strategy. When your website has solid authority and good SEO, your top channel will probably be organic search.

In the example above, you can see that referral is driving the most traffic to this website. The site could probably benefit from improving their website SEO to drive more organic search traffic.

4. Behavior Flow

behavior-flow

Want to know how users are flowing through your website? The Behavior Flow report shows you where users land on your site and which pages they visit during their session. The starting pages are the pages that users land on and each interaction thereafter is the next page along their journey.

Ideally, we like to see customers enter the booking funnel within 1-3 clicks.

If you’re using FareHarbor, you can tell when a customer enters the FareHarbor book form by the URL strings that include /embeds/.

If you take a look at the Behavior Flow above, you can see that the top landing page is the homepage. This is normal and usually the ideal case scenario from a conversions perspective.

You can also tell that customers are entering the booking funnel within the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd interactions on the site. This means that the user experience on this site is pretty clean and users are finding the information they’re looking for.

Take a look at your own analytics. How many clicks does it take for your users to enter the book form?

5. Ecommerce Overview

ecommerce-overview

The Ecommerce Overview report is where you can view and track your website performance from a conversion standpoint. First, let’s chat about what your Ecommerce Conversion Rate is.

Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate is the percentage of total website traffic that completes a purchase. So if 100 people visit your site today and 5 people book something, your Ecommerce Conversion Rate for the day is 5%.

The average Ecommerce Conversion Rate for the travel and activity industry is 2.4%. Your Ecommerce Conversion Rate might be different depending on your company type, tour/activity options, and ticket prices. But 2.4% is a good goal to aim for.

If your Ecommerce Conversion Rate is higher than 2.4%, your website is converting very well for you. If it’s lower, you could use the information from the four other reports we’ve explored up to this point to determine the best ways to improve your website and grow your business.

How FareHarbor Can Help

When you work with FareHarbor, you gain unlimited access to our Account Management team.

Trained for your industry, they can help you read and understand your data in Google Analytics, and work with you to identify the top areas of optimization on your website.

FareHarbor’s goal is to help you improve the user experience on your website and increase your conversions.

Our team can take a look at your Google Analytics data, provide you with a website SEO audit, and assess your Dashboard setup to ensure that your booking flow is performing as best as possible.

If you’re already a FareHarbor client, reach out to our team to get the conversation started. If you’re not currently a client, but are interested in what FareHarbor can do for your business, get it touch here!

And, as we say in the office, keep ripping!

All the information found in this post was first shared in our Google Analytics webinar. Exclusive for FareHarbor clients, our webinars go in-depth on topics ranging from Google Analytics to perfecting your website copy.

If you’re already using FareHarbor, stay tuned for the next webinar! If you’re not, what are you waiting for?