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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?

Local Search: How To Rank In “Near Me” Searches

In the ever-quickening shift towards mobile search, location matters more than ever. Consumers are now relying on their smartphones to make last-minute, location-based purchasing decisions.

Dubbed a micro-moment by Google, the “near me” search is characteristic of a customer that’s looking to buy, right then and there.

As a business owner, these micro-moments are great. They’re the perfect opportunity to reach your target audience. To help you get these micro-moments right, we’ve put together a few tips:

1. Deliver a seamless, mobile-optimized user experience

near me search google

With any micro-moment, you already know the customer is on their mobile device. Use this to your advantage.

Anticipate the questions your customers might have before booking, then answer them on an easy-to-use, mobile-responsive site. Here’s a guide to all the basic q’s:

  • Where is this business? Sure, it’s “near me”—but is the distance walkable or a car ride away? Your customers will want to know. Make sure your business address is clearly written on your website and social media pages.
  • When can I go? Keep clear tour times and business hours available on all sites.
  • How do I book? Provide a quick and simple call-to-action. Make sure your ‘Book Now’ button is mobile-friendly and that your phone number is easy to find.
  • Why this company? When it comes to online purchases, customers crave trust and credibility. Give them a reason to trust your business by getting your website SSL certified and adding in reviews or awards.

2. Put your Google+ page to work

We know, we know. Google+ is pretty much the last network that comes to mind when you think about social media. So why invest valuable time in optimizing your page? It’s all in the name; Google owns it.

Your Google+ profile will integrate across all of Google’s entities. This includes:

  • Maps
  • Search
  • Earth
  • Mobile

This makes Google+ a key player when it comes to getting noticed by the search engine giant, and the perfect tool for landing those crucial “near me” searches.

Once you’ve created a Google+ page, you’ll need to run through the listed information and make sure important details like contact information, address and opening hours are up-to-date. Then, treat Google+ like you would any other social media page and feed it consistent updates to photos and review responses.

Tip: You can help Google Maps recognize your business location by creating a “Local” page. You can find a detailed guide on how to create one here.

3. Get On Facebook’s “Nearby Places”

facebook nearby places

“Nearby Places” is Facebook’s very own geolocation feature. It helps Facebook app users search for local businesses from their mobile devices in the same way as a “Near Me” search.

For your business to appear in the Facebook Places directory, you’ll need to set the category of your business page to “Local Business.” This will allow your business to appear in “Nearby Places,” as well as allow visitors to check-in to your location.

Encourage your customers to check-in to your business on Facebook by offering a discount or freebie.

The more check-in’s you collect, the more likely Facebook is to recommend your business on Nearby Places. Plus, it’s a great way to get customers to share their amazing, five-star experience with friends and family.

4. Localize your content

The rest of your website can help too. Every page is an opportunity to promote your business in local search.

Scatter location-specific keywords into the content on your site, and you’ll be a contender for coveted long-tail keywords like “best things to do in new orleans” or “fun outdoor experiences near asheville.” We’ll get you started with a few ideas:

  • Write blog posts that focus on your local area and speak to your target audience. For example, if your business offers whale watching tours, you could write a post titled “5 Best Places To View Wildlife in Monterey Bay.”
  • Give site images a boost by localizing the file name, alt text and caption you add to your photo. For example, an image title of “river kayak tour” would be even stronger as “river kayaking in Vail.”
  • Put great reviews to use by adding reviews that mention your location to your site. A perfect example would be: “This was the best thing we did during our weekend in Seattle!” Adding content like this helps Google recognize where you are( and how great you are!).

5. Polish up your local business listings

yellow pages

Google likes to be accurate, so it is more likely to suggest your business address when it knows for certain it’s got it right. Encourage confidence by building up an arsenal of local listings with an accurate and up-to-date NAP (name, address and phone number).

This applies to pages of your website, your social media pages, even listings that live on other websites like a guest blog post or Chamber of Commerce listing.

Take it a step further and register your business with more obscure local directories like: Yellowpages, Whitepages, CitySearch, Merchant Circle. The list goes on and on.


Now that one-third of mobile searches are location based, mastering these micro-moments can have a huge impact on your business. It’s just about getting the right information to the customer, at the right time.

FareHarbor At The Expedia Partner Conference

We’re heading back to Las Vegas for the Expedia Partner Conference! On December 6-7, we’ll be joining some of the biggest names in travel to celebrate the future of the industry. From consumer trends to travel marketing tools to emerging technologies, it’s going to be two full days of all things travel. And we. can’t. wait.

As a Silver Sponsor, we’ll have a booth at the conference. Make sure you find us there! Stop by the booth to spend a little time with our team, learn more about our product and swoop up some FareHarbor swag.

We’ll also be available for meetings all throughout the conference. If you’d like to set up a meeting with our team, email us at expediaconference@fareharbor.com.

We’ll see you there!

Last Minute Black Friday Tips

You’re not too late! We promise. You can still grab a little extra business over the Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. And with 7 in 10 consumers predicted to shop over Black Friday weekend and a forecasted 47% increase in spending from 2016, you have a lot of reasons to get involved.

Our last-minute Black Friday tips are so simple, you can get them in motion before the day’s end. And if you’re already a FareHarbor client, we’re here to help make it happen.

1. Attract customers with promo codes. Promo Codes

Unlike major retail brands, tours and activities enjoy far less competition when it comes to promoting their Black Friday deals. While many in retail have taken to advertising their promotions as soon as the day after Halloween, you still have time to get your promotions up and running.

The most simple and common of which is the promo code. As the king of holiday promotions, promo codes are both simple and useful in driving customers to a specific purchase.

  • Use promo codes to pinpoint certain areas of your business. For example, if you just started offering a new tour that hasn’t gained traction, create a promo code that offers a discount for that specific tour. A special deal might be the incentive your customer needs to try something new.
  • Get customers to opt for a slightly higher price point by bundling two items together. Create a promo code for bundled items, like a kayak tour and a bike rental. You get the upsell, they get the deal. It’s a win-win.
  • Use valid or blackout dates to customize how your promo codes are used. You can even put this strategy to use to create a promotion that lasts from Black Friday to Cyber Monday by creating a separate offer for each day of the weekend, each with its own promo code. If you’re a FareHarbor client, we’d be happy to help you set this up.

As a FareHarbor client, you can create and manage promo codes directly through your Dashboard. Watch our detailed tutorial video to set up promo codes on your own, or reach out to our Technical Product Specialists and they’ll walk you through it.

2. Boost sales with digital gift cards. Gift Cards

The use of digital gift cards (and all things digital!) is on the rise. In fact, it’s predicted that digital gift cards will see a $14 billion dollar market in 2017. Adding digital gift cards to your website gives both you and your customers an advantage. Customers are able to purchase and send gift cards from any device at any time, and you’re able to secure future bookings.

Plus, if you run a seasonal operation or cut back on your availabilities during the winter months, it’s a simple way to guarantee future bookings as things slow down.

  • Customers tend to spend more than the card value. Especially if the card was received as a gift, it makes sense to the recipient to add a little of their own money on top of the gift card value (for, say, a photo package) since the experience costs them nothing otherwise.
  • Combine your gift card sales with a promotion. Instead of dealing with both promo codes and gift cards, try discounting your gift cards so customers purchase, say, a gift card with the value of $100 for $80.
  • Appeal to holiday shoppers by marketing digital gift cards as a package deal. Advertise a free hat or t-shirt with the purchase of a gift card—say one with more than a $50 or $100 value—so customers have a physical gift to pair with the digital purchase. Everyone loves unwrapping presents, after all.

If you’re a FareHarbor client wanting to try out digital gift cards for the first time, just get in touch and we’ll help you add them to your site. If you want to change or manage your gift cards, visit our help center for more info.

3. Now promote those promotions!

Once your promotions are in place, it’s time to get the word out. This is a great time to pull email lists of customers that have booked with you in the past, and of course, to put your social media sites to work. If you’re a FareHarbor client, you can use the Contacts report to view and download customers’ information as a CSV that can be uploaded to your favorite email marketing platform.


If you’re looking for more marketing tips to carry you all the way through the season, check out this blog post! There’s still plenty of time to ramp up your holiday marketing efforts.

How Chardonnay Sailing Charters Makes The Most Of FareHarbor

When it comes to FareHarbor, online booking software is just the tip of the iceberg.

We understand that a ‘booking’ is really just another word for ‘customer’, and customers are the lifeline of any tour and activity business.

And while the customer experience might start with an online booking, there’s still a lot that needs to happen before the experience is complete. We’re here to help with that part too.

For example, communicating with your customer about where to meet or what to bring, quickly checking in big groups or multiple activities and staying organized so you can focus on what you do best – providing a memorable experience.

To give you a better idea of how an online booking software can be more of an everything software, we spoke to our friends at Chardonnay Sailing Charters. Each department at Chardonnay uses FareHarbor in their day-to-day workflow and each of them in an entirely different way.

Office Manager on reporting

FareHarbor’s customizable reporting section has drastically cut down the amount of time I spend on reconciling our income on a daily and monthly basis. Having all of our company’s financial reporting readily available within any given search range has been extremely beneficial within many aspects of accounting. I couldn’t be happier with the reporting options that FareHarbor provides.”

  • Allison Green, Office Manager

Vessel Manager on scheduling maintenance

“Having access to our online sailing schedule has made it much easier for me to plan out when our vessels are available for maintenance. Prior to using FareHarbor, I would need to touch base with office staff on a daily basis to check in on boat availability. Now I can schedule my maintenance team in the click of a button.

  • Adam Koch, Vessel Manager

Operations Manager on managing crew schedules

“Before FareHarbor, I would have to go through a paper copy of our monthly sailing schedule and pencil in crew members for each day, then give each crew member a paper copy of their schedule. Since our schedule is always changing, it was very challenging to keep the crew updated on all of the changes to their schedules on a day to day basis.

Now with FareHarbor, I am able to see a digital copy of each month’s sailing schedule and enter in crew with a click of a button. The best part about making the switch to FareHarbor is that our crew members now have 24/7 access to their schedules on any device and can see any changes in real time. I enjoy how efficient and dependable FareHarbor’s customer service department is when you need them.”

  • Courtney Scruggs, Operations Manager

Website Design Manager on customization

“I absolutely love how customizable FareHarbor is! Our old system would not allow us to customize anything. It was a cookie-cutter template, and did not allow our company to run as efficiently as it could because we were having to work around our reservation system.

Now with FareHarbor, we can customize the booking software to fit our company, and not have to customize our company fit a software that wasn’t made for it.

  • Breanna Stremple, Website Design and Maintenance

Anonymous customer on online booking

“With the introduction of the new booking system, I have noticed that buying tickets and even gift certificates, has gotten much easier. I now can buy my family gift certificates through their online purchasing system and I don’t even need to call their office anymore. It is quick and very easy!”


From the first click on your website to the final reports of the year, FareHarbor can help with it all. Curious about what else we offer? We’d love to show you!

Optimize Your Online Conversion Rate With The Clear Path Test

Conversion rate: in a nutshell

You offer a great activity. People love it. You get a ton of people to your website. But only around 1% of people book online with you. Why?

At FareHarbor we are laser-focused on your website’s “online conversion rate.” So what is a conversion rate? In simple terms, if 100 people visit your website, and one person completes a booking, you have “converted” 1% of online visitors into paying customers. And thus you have a 1% conversion rate.

Now let’s break down how we optimize your conversion rate. When you think about conversion rate optimization, start by imagining all the people who visit your website. Now put them into three categories:

1) People who book,
2) People who don’t book but should have,
3) People who don’t book and shouldn’t have.

We don’t need to worry about #1. Similarly, we don’t care about #3. If you offer an activity for adventure seekers and someone looking for knitting needles lands on your website, there’s nothing your website can do to change the fact that they’re not there to book (that’s a different blog post on SEO).

We care a lot, however, about #2. People who are a perfect fit for your activity and didn’t book. Figuring out to motivate them to book is not so much a science as it is an artform that is judged by data.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes

You need to get into the head of the customer from group #2. Who are they? What kept them from booking?

The best conversion rate optimizers that I know are essentially method actors, pretending to be your target demographic while analyzing a conversion flow. You have to have a hypothesis before you prove or disprove it with data. Successful conversion rate optimizers tend to be incredibly empathetic; they’re able to put themselves in the online visitors’ shoes.

Getting a customer to convert online is very difficult. There are a multitude of factors. The most important of which are “Trust” and “Ease of Checkout.”

Trust:

This is the easy one. Does your website appear trustworthy? Hi-res images, no typos, etc? Does your website feel like a place of commerce? A place where one could complete a booking online and have the confidence that they can show up at your activity location and you will know their name and be expecting them? Be skeptical and honest with yourself when looking at the “trust factor” of your website.

Ease of Checkout:

There are an infinite number of tools that we use at FareHarbor to ensure our client websites have a smooth, easy checkout and incredibly high performance. While most of them are a part of a larger conversation (with your FareHarbor Account Manager or marketing consultant) there are a few quick, simple and powerful conversion ‘tests’ that anyone can use to see how their website is working.

Our favorite test and its simple variations have been used to identify major business-boosting improvements. We have seen companies go 2.5x their conversion rate – one client did $1.8MM online in the 12 months prior to working with FareHarbor, and $4.5MM in the first 12 months of their partnership FareHarbor. The Clear Path Test, along with careful analysis from our conversion experts, contributed to this success.

The Clear Path Test

Imagine you are a specific demographic segment from your client base, then navigate through your website checking for a clear choice at every page.

  • Start with Mr. Midnight We have this character named Mr. Midnight who we imagine is trying to book with a company in the middle of the night. Let’s use “ABC Kayaks” for this example. So Mr. Midnight is on abckayaks.com because his brother said he “had to do ABC Kayaks when he was in town!”

    Imagine Mr. Midnight’s dog is barking, and his wife, Mrs. Midnight is upset with him because their flight leaves in the morning and he was supposed to book this last week. ABC Kayaks offers 10 different activities but he doesn’t know what he wants to do (nor does he care).

    Mr. Midnight already has an incredible glowing review of ABC Kayaks. He really just wants to book as quickly as possible. What’s the most popular option? Does your website guide Mr. Midnight at every stage of your website? Is there a clear call to action so that Mr. Midnight can checkout in under a minute to go take to dog out and diffuse the situation?

    I know it seems unorthodox, but optimizing for Mr. Midnight is a great way to start thinking about your website. I love Mr. Midnight because he’s not going to call you. It’s the middle of the night. He’s either making that booking in 60 seconds, or he’s not coming with you at all.

Other ideas:

  • Families with children (of different quantities and ages)
  • Honeymooners
  • Bachelor/ette Parties
  • A group of 4 friends

And you can get as specific as you want. Look at your actual customers:

  • Two sisters who enjoy drinking wine outside
  • A husband booking ANY activity that will be good for 12 people at once
  • A family of four with nut allergies

You get the point. Once you’ve ran through every imaginable demographic, try the following add-ons/variations to The Clear Path Test:

The Zombie Test a.k.a. “The Blurry Eye Test”

  • Blur your eyes and make sure that the buttons and pages on your site that are most visible or prominent will lead any demographic through the checkout.

The Hold Your Breath Test

  • Do the Clear Path Test while holding your breath. You should be able to run through the entire checkout before you exhale.

The key is that we need to focus on group #2. People who would have a great time on your activity… but end up not booking. If you can pass The Clear Path Test again and again for ech different demographic, you will undoubtedly experience conversion rate growth in your direct channel.


Once you’ve passed these tests, talk to us about optimizing even further! All 180 employees at FareHarbor are strong conversion rate optimizers. It’s is in our DNA. The perfect team is a FareHarbor Account Manager working in tandem with a dedicated marketing or web team from your activity company (whether that’s in house or a 3rd party web marking firm).

Remember, Tours & Activities is not a zero sum game. There aren’t a finite amount of people going to activities each day. They’re deciding between doing an activity… and just going to the beach… or going out to lunch. By understanding the minds of our customers we can grow the global Tour & Activity industry.

Post written by Max Valverde, President and COO of FareHarbor.

Creative Holiday Marketing Ideas For Tour Operators

It’s official. We’ve made it to the first week of October, which means the holiday season is just around the corner. To help you get in the spirit, we’ve put together a list of our top holiday marketing tips.

Make no mistake, these aren’t just any marketing tips. Different from other “Best Holiday Marketing Ideas” articles and blog posts you’ll find on the internet, these tips are specific to the tour and activity industry. Because we know there’s a big difference between selling picture frames and a photo-worthy experience. So tour operators, this one’s for you.

1. Embrace the holiday spirit.

The best marketing campaigns create an authentic, emotional bond with consumers. During the holidays, when feelings of togetherness and camaraderie are at their highest, building them into your marketing plan is a must.

Plus, as a tour operator, this is where you actually have an advantage over retailers. Consumers, especially millennials, are beginning to prioritize experiences over material goods. And what better than a family snowmobile trip or river rafting experience to encourage togetherness? Use this to your advantage.

  • Put a best selling, family-friendly, all ages, group activity at the front of your holiday marketing plan.
  • Create a friends and family or couples discount to promote group ticket purchases.
  • Sweeten the deal! Add a holiday bonus to any tour or activity. For example, you could offer guests a free photo package with any purchase made in the month of December.

2. Take advantage of Cyber Monday.

Togetherness may be the reason for the season, but there’s still a little thing called Black Friday. Between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, millions of Americans will be hovering over their desktop and mobile devices, scanning the internet for – you guessed it – deals! In fact, last year, 108 million people shopped online over the course of the weekend.

Even a slight discount or extra offering is enough to draw in deal-minded customers. This is a great opportunity to capture consumers early on in the sales funnel, as the limited time offering and increased value ramp up the pressure to buy.

  • Elevate your weekend sale by using a website like Canva to create free, themed graphics for email banners, social media posts or Facebook advertisements. The added visual element makes customers more likely to click, share and purchase.
  • Promote engagement on your social media sites by allowing customers to unlock deals on Cyber Monday by liking your Facebook page, or reposting an Instagram post with a custom hashtag.
  • Or, take note from companies like REI, that fly the white flag over Black Friday weekend and promote anti-consumerism by means of the great outdoors. Challenge customers to #OptOutside or create your own fun hashtag for the cause.

3. Ramp up customer communication.

The holiday season is notorious for bringing a flood of marketing emails to your inbox. And while no one wants their business to fade into the noise, the truth of the matter is this: you have to be proactive if you want to get noticed. You might want to double or even triple the frequency in which you contact customers. Put those email lists to use, and get your tour, activity or attraction in front of excited holiday shoppers.

  • Work with local businesses to create a holiday gift guide. Include other experiences in the area, local artisans, even restaurants or events with holiday promotions. You’ll gain the sharing power of the included businesses and get major bonus points for hitting on togetherness again.
  • No promotions? No problem. Send some holiday cheer in the form of a ‘Happy Holidays from our team to you’ email. A little customer appreciation goes a long way.
  • Use data from last year’s holiday promotions to find what worked best for your unique business. Dig into Google Analytics to help decide if email, social media or advertising deserves your focus.

4. Use geotargeting to attract the right customer.

If you aren’t already familiar with it, geotargeting refers to delivering content or advertisements based on a user’s geographic location. This is an incredibly useful and productive tool for getting in front of the right person at the right time. Both Facebook and Google offer geotargeting in their ad platforms.

  • Read through this guide on location based marketing in Facebook, or study up on AdWords geotargeting with this guide.
  • Target people that live in your area or surrounding towns for things like gift cards that are less time sensitive and can be used well into the future. (FareHarbor clients: Message us about setting up digital gift cards!)
  • Facebook ads can target people traveling in your area too. Whether it’s to visit family or take a holiday vacation, they’re prime candidates for a fun, local experience. Go get ‘em!

Before you launch into any of these holiday marketing ideas, make sure your website’s user experience is dialed in. While good marketing will get the right customer onto your website, they still have to navigate to and through the booking process in order to make a purchase.Take this opportunity to make sure that your website is fully optimized for the ultimate user experience. And whatever you do, don’t forget – it’s the most wonderful time of the year.

Fast and Effective Ways To Boost Your Search Engine Ranking

There’s a lot of hype around what it takes to have great SEO. And while the tips and tricks you can find around the web might be true, it can really be as simple as good content and consistent delivery. To prove it to you, we’ve broken down three of the easiest, most user-friendly ways to improve your search engine ranking.

1. Build that blog.

A blog is a solid, market-tested way to bring in more business. Google and other search engines love websites that put out fresh unique content regularly.

The key word here is regular content. Blogs are not one-and-done ventures. While writing a single mind-blowing post might score you some serious social kudos and an increase in visits for a few days, the positive effects will wear off – and more quickly than you might expect.

To achieve sustained benefits, you should aim to include a new piece of content on your website at least once a week, preferably every day. This means more writing, which means fresh ideas for content.

Let the creative juices flow

Coming up with content ideas can be tricky without the proper tools. Which is why we’re letting you the ultimate blogger’s secret. A free and easy-to-use tool called Übersuggest.

ubersuggest-example

Let’s pretend you just opened a snowmobile tour company in town. You’re excited about making sure the locals, as well as international visitors, choose your tours for their adrenaline fix. But you’re so busy running the new tours that you barely sleep, let alone have time to constantly whip up the ideas you need for your blog.

Übersuggest can help remedy your writer’s block by suggesting blog ideas based on just a few words. Follow these quick steps to try it out:

  1. Visit übersuggest.io.
  2. Type in your desired keyword(s) in the search bar.
  3. Press ‘Enter’ and bam! Your keyword search results appear. Pick a few and get to writing. Or, if you still can’t allot time to make this happen, hire a content writer or find a service that can help with this.

The anatomy of an SEO friendly blog post

Once you have a list of keywords you would like to target, you’ll want to structure your content for search engines and visitors.

  • URL: Try to include the most important keywords you are targeting in your blog post’s URL. Another tip? Minimize! Remove all numbers and symbols and stick to easy to read words. And check out this ultimate list of tips for search friendly URLs from our friends over at Moz.

  • Images: Make sure to name all of your images with keywords and add alt tags with keywords in them too. Learn more about alt tags.

  • Headlines/Titles: Even if your blog post is full of valuable content, a mediocre headline may deter readers from reading it in the first place. When crafting your headlines, use the keywords you are trying to target while catching the reader’s attention.

    Headlines that have numbers in them usually get shared more on Facebook and Twitter. A good example would be “The 5 Best Things to Do in Denver During The Winter”.

  • Meta descriptions: Google uses the meta description on your page as a snippet when people search for keywords that are relevant to your page. This snippet copy is what will determine whether or not you get clicks, no matter how highly you rank in the search results.

    meta description example

    For SEO purposes, the meta description should be 150 – 160 characters and usually appears like this in Google:

Have a FareHarbor site? Titles and meta descriptions are easy to set up in the Smart Crawl section of your site dashboard.

If you are not on a FareHarbor-built website, ask your web developer where to add this information. Depending on what CMS you use, you can find this information with a quick Google search.

  • Effective content: When writing your content, make sure you are including the keywords you are targeting, preferably within the first 100 words of the page. Try to also include the same keywords in the last paragraph as well. But don’t overuse keywords by trying to fit them in many times as you can. Instead, think of some other keyword variations you can sprinkle throughout your post.

  • Related links: Linking to other related pages on your site or other sites is not only great for user experience, it also strengthens your online presence. Linking out to other authority sites and pages is an indication that you value what other people create. Google will reward you for being in sync with their mission: organizing the world’s information and making it universally accessible.

2. Add your business to local directories.

Another great way to bring in traffic is to post your business in local directories. The most important thing here is to make sure your Name, Address and Phone Number (NAP) is exactly the same across all directories. MOZ local is a free tool that you can use to see how your business is listed online.

Check out this long list of directories that can help you rank locally:

  • Google My Business
  • Yellowpages.com
  • Yelp
  • SuperPages
  • CitySearch
  • Yahoo Local
  • Facebook
  • DexKnows
  • Manta
  • BBB.org
  • YouTube
  • City-Data
  • Yellowbook.com
  • Angieslist
  • MerchantCircle
  • ServiceMagic

You should also look for local directories specific to your city, like your local Chamber of Commerce.

3. Don’t underestimate your social media pages.

That’s right – social media can help with your SEO as well! While not a stand-alone SEO tactic, this is a great method to build Google’s confidence in your site. As your posts spread, it’ll lead to more people linking to you.

Over time, this will get more eyes on your content. Use hashtags to gain visibility for your initial rounds of syndication, and don’t hesitate to bring your content into existing threads and discussions. Doing so will improve your reputation as a leader in your industry, but more importantly, it will maximize your changes of being linked from other sources.

It’s also the perfect opportunity to involve yourself with your local community, sending location-specific authority signals to major search engines. Search Google for some local players, then try engaging with them on a regular basis.

You can share each other’s posts, get involved in each other’s discussions, or even post guest blogs on each other’s sites, and share them on your social channels.

Here’s a list of sites to keep your eye on:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Youtube
  • Reddit
  • Twitter
  • Linkedin
  • Meetup
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Google+

Improving your search engine ranking is the key to long-term business success. Increasingly, customers rely on desktop and mobile platforms to research and book their activities. Getting your business in front of those searches is bound to grow your business.

Just remember – SEO can be simple. Now go get to work on that blog post.