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Friday Features: Permissions, Manifest Filters, Campaign Blackout Dates, & More

Happy spring! Check out what’s new at FareHarbor these last few months with the return of Friday Features.

Fine-grained control over what your users can do

Custom user permissions In March we released custom user permission groups, which allow you to control what your users can see and do in the Dashboard.

Permission groups can control both what your company staff can do, as well as your affiliates who might also be using FareHarbor. This means that different users will only have access to what’s relevant to them, keeping your information more secure and your company more efficient and accurate.

Groups are customizable to fit your needs; just let us know if you need a new group added or an existing one changed.

Filter manifests and calendars

https://fh-sites.imgix.net/sites/278/2016/04/15180436/filter-manifests.jpg You can now filter manifests, making it easy to narrow down the list of bookings to only the ones you need. Filter by contact name, check-in status, number of customers, amount due, even custom fields.

We also added a new filter menu to the Bookings calendar. In addition to all the old options, there’s now the option to filter your view to only availabilities with a certain number of spaces left. It’s great for quickly finding open availabilities for larger groups: New filter menu Plus, all of these new filter options can be saved with your custom manifest or calendar, so you can come back to them any time.

Campaign blackout and valid dates

campaign blackout and valid dates We also added options to include valid or blackout dates for promotional and discount codes. This is especially helpful if you only want codes to be redeemable within a certain date range, or if you want to exclude certain dates like holidays. You can even make a code valid or invalid dynamically based on a number of days before a tour starts.

Check out the help page to learn more about how valid and blackout dates work.

And more

As always, we’ve made a lot of smaller fixes and improvements, as well as ongoing work on some big new projects. (More info on those coming soon.) Here are some of the smaller things we added lately:

  • A new item embed so you can put a grid of any of your FareHarbor items directly on your website. Let us know if you’d like to use it on your site and we’ll help you with the integration. New item embed

  • See a preview of what you can book from the flyout on the Bookings calendar. The numbers on the right (“12” in this example) show the maximum number of each customer type that you could book directly. flyout preview

  • Easily upload images or files when sending email

  • Large photos are now automatically resized in emails
  • Faster month, day, and agenda views if you have a lot of items
  • Faster access to your Affiliates list in Settings
  • Better messaging about overusing using campaign codes when signed in
  • Filter by availabilities with a certain headline when using the mass availability updater
  • Much more

15 Essential SEO Tips For Tourism Businesses

Tour and activity business owners, operators and marketers want to know more about a tiny little word that’s thrown around often: SEO.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the practice of setting up your website to gain better visibility on search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo. The goal is to earn your website one of the top spots on Google and other popular search engines.

Done correctly, SEO can significantly increase your web traffic. But without fully understanding the process, it’s likely to produce little more than a headache. That’s why we’re here to give you the skinny on this packed word.

Main Takeaways:

  • Focus on high quality content – that’s the way to win.
  • Earn high quality links from authoritative sites linking to your company’s website.
  • Build a better website and book form experience. You want user time on site, book form conversions and organic search traffic to climb, and bounce rate to fall.

SEO Tips:

1. Submit your site to Google Search Console

A submission of your website through Google Search Console isn’t a necessary step to be seen in Google search, but a brand new site or a site with big changes can submit its URL directly to help the Googlebot quickly add your website to Google’s index.

2. Prove you’re secure with a https site

Having a secure https site, rather than an http site, is important for SEO. It’s a lightweight signal for now, but Google is only going to put more emphasis on the importance of having a secure website in the future.

Work with your website developer and your website hosting platform to make this happen.

3. Measure success with Google Analytics

SEO isn’t all about ranking. A better way to measure SEO success is to look at your Google Analytics account and see if organic traffic from search is increasing, and making you money. (PS – here’s how to automatically track sales sources and conversion metrics in Google Analytics from online bookings with FareHarbor.)

4. Optimize meta descriptions and titles

Meta descriptions and titles don’t have an impact on search ranking, but they do affect your site indirectly. Use them to entice a searcher to click through to your page’s results instead of elsewhere. And, guess what: click through rate is Google’s #1 ranking factor in 2015.

5. Value intent over exact matches

The days of filling your website with exact match keywords are long gone. Instead of matching keywords typed into the search bar, Google now matches the searcher’s intent with the general intent of your page.

Google looks for synonyms related to your target keywords. By using synonyms and related terms, it matches your end goal to the searcher’s end goal. If it finds your page to have relevant and quality content, Google will send the searcher to you.

6. Write clear, succinct headlines

Write a stellar headline – somewhere between 4-9 words – to inform people, not search engines. Present your most important concepts upfront and close to the top of the page. Remember, you’re optimizing your page for users first and foremost, which means that you want to tell them ASAP on what your page is about through a clear headline.

7. Stay away from keyword stuffing

Keyword stuffing is the practice of filling a webpage with as many keywords and meta tags as possible. While this technique worked in the early stages of SEO, it’s now a prohibited practice and will negatively affect your SEO.

8. Stick to the basics on your homepage

Your homepage doesn’t need a lot of content, but it does need some. Your homepage content should be lengthy enough to clarify who you are, what you do, where you’re located, your value proposition, and what visitors should do next (book a tour!).

Visitors should leave satisfied, not overwhelmed or underwhelmed — and definitely not confused.

9. Focus on the quality of pages, not quantity

You don’t need a whole bunch of web pages. That’s not necessarily better. Focus on the quality of pages, not quantity of pages.

10. Think critically about user experience

Good user experience is a requirement. Google uses website engagement as a part of their ranking algorithm. Use your Google Analytics to ensure your site has a fast page load time and an average of at least 2.5 page views per visit.

11. Utilize alt text for all your site’s images

Optimize your images using alt text and descriptive image file names to boost your page relevance.

12. Make sure it’s mobile-ready

This one’s a no-brainer. You must have a mobile optimized site. Websites that aren’t mobile optimized saw an average of 5% decline in organic traffic in 2015. Work with a website developer to make sure your site is mobile-ready.

Off Site SEO Tips:

13. Create a solid Google My Business account

Local SEO is a new player in the game. Verify and optimize a Google My Business Account with a brand and location page. Looking forward, Google will continue to take steps to show the best local content in search results.

14. Network with influencers in your industry

Backlinks are important. Link building with quality sites is still one of the top 5 most important ranking factors. Never pay for links. Connect with people in your area or in your space, organically requesting they add a link to their site about you on their partner page or in a blog post.

15. Keep your backlinks clean

Google knows if you have suspicious sites linking to you. Get rid of them, or you will see a drop in rankings. Monitor your backlinks in Google Search Console, then disavow any suspicious links pointing to your site.

SEO affects all corners of your marketing strategy, from website content and technical site makeup, to user experience and influencer marketing. But in the end, it’s about the overall experience for a searcher, and that experience starts the moment they enter a search query.

The better their experience with you – from your Search Engine Results Page (SERP) listing and the quality of your content, to the user experience of your site and book form — the better your organic search traffic will be.


Many of these tips were inspired by a great article on SEO myths demystified for 2016.

FareHarbor Claims A Fast Rise As A Reservations Tool For Tours And Activities

September 08, 2015 From its start in early 2013, FareHarbor, which sells reservation software to tours and activities suppliers, chose not to be an aggregator or to have a direct-to-consumer offering… Read more from Tnooz

Understanding Your AdWords Quality Score

What is a Quality Score?

Your AdWords Quality Score is a 1 – 10 number given to each keyword in your ad campaign. It’s Google’s way of telling you how well it expects your ad to perform, and how likely it is to display your ad.

Each keyword’s quality score is calculated by estimating the expected clickthrough rate, ad relevancy and landing page relevancy. The more likely a searcher is to find the information they’re looking for by clicking on your ad, the higher your score will be.

Remember: Google is looking out for their customers, and only want to show the best, most helpful ads they can.

Where can I find it?

You can find your Quality Score by heading to the ‘Keywords’ tab on your AdWords dashboard. To get there, first go to the ‘Campaign’ tab, then click on ‘Keywords.’ Locate the ‘Status’ column, and hover above or click on the white speech bubble next to each keyword.

It’ll list your Quality Score, as well as your expected clickthrough rate, ad relevance and landing page experience. Each of these will be rated as either Below Average, Average or Above Average.

Why is it important?

Your final ad rank on Google’s search page will weigh your Quality Score against factors like the amount you bid, geographic performance and device targeting.

While your score isn’t the only factor that goes into your ranking, it can still affect anything from your ad position to your cost-per-click. The higher your score, the better your chances of your ad landing on the top of the search results page. In fact, a high Quality Score can land you on the top of the Google search page, even if your bid is slightly lower than the competition. Google will always choose a more relevant ad over any other option.

How do I improve my score?

Even top marketers struggle to achieve ‘Above Average’ ratings – but that doesn’t mean a high Quality Score is out of your reach. Here’s what you can do:

Tightly segment keywords within your ad groups.

Create ad groups that focus on three or less keywords. Identify a keyword that’s important to your business, then build an ad, an ad group, and any ad extensions around that specific word or phrase.

Use that keyword while creating your ad – in the headline, in the description lines, even in the display URL. Having your keyword exactly match the text within your ad will instantly boost your ad relevancy. Although it can be tedious, creating new ads for each unique keyword is the only way to consistently earn a high ad relevancy rating.

Match your keywords to the content on your landing page.

Make sure each ad group has its own unique landing page. Always use specific landing pages when you have the option. If your website has dedicated pages for each separate tour or activity you offer, you should never send an ad back to your homepage. Always direct it to the page that would be most relevant to the searcher.

For example, if your business runs whale watching tours by both boat and by kayak, you should create two separate ad groups, with two distinct ads and two unique landing pages.

Revist, restructure, repeat.

Your Quality Score can change over time based on your ad’s performance. While it’s tempting to set it and forget it, it’s important that you check back on your ad groups to audit their success. If you have keywords that aren’t performing, don’t be afraid to make changes or stop bidding on them altogether.

The bottom line:

When it comes to building your AdWords campaign, think quality, not quantity. While bidding on more keywords may seem like the shortest route to more customers, more conversions, and more revenue, it can actually slow you down. Create specific ads that link to relevant landing pages, and your Quality Score and ROI will start to increase.

Looking for more AdWords help? Check out our experts’ advice here.

FareHarbor’s CEO on Company Culture: “Do Whatever It Takes”

02/04/2016 04:24 pm ET Whether a start-up or an established company, all businesses struggle with the best ways to create a productive and fulfilling environment for their employees. How does a business instill the right culture that gets results?

FareHarbor, which provides software that simplifies online bookings for U.S. and international tour and activity companies, has done just that. In fact, Entrepreneur magazine ranked it #4 for mid-sized company culture, basing its award on… Read more from The Huffington Post

Faces of FareHarbor: Jane

Jane Feiereisel: Director of Customer Support


Jane Feiereisel

This is Jane. She hails from Chicago but has been a proud Coloradan for 8 years now (Go Buffs!). She loves the outdoors, but her real happiness comes from the company of anything furry and with a tail. Other serious passions include biking, ice cream, and managing the best customer support team in the industry!

What do you love to do when you’re not at work? Exploring the Denver restaurant scene or getting out to the mountains, whether I’m hiking, biking, camping, or snowboarding. If I’m not doing that, you’ll find me planning my next trip!

What’s the best vacation you’ve ever taken? The best vacation I ever took was my most recent one to Colombia. Everything about that country is amazing- the people, the food, the diverse geography. It is still relatively undiscovered by tourists so there is an amazing opportunity to get a genuine sense of their culture, and how their history has shaped the country today. I’m happy to make recommendations next time you get me on a support call. :)

Describe your perfect pizza. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a pizza that wasn’t perfect! I love pizza, and would be happy if it was the only thing I ever ate. The most perfect pizza I’ve ever had though is my brother’s homemade deep dish Chicago style pizza. Cheese please!

What makes FareHarbor different from any other company you’ve worked at? The team! I’m so lucky to be surrounded by the smartest, most dedicated team in the industry. Whether we’re pulling all nighters to get a new company live or sending boxes of cookies to our clients, we’re always looking to go above and beyond for each other and our clients.

The energy around our office on a daily basis is unreal; we all love what we’re doing and want to share that with our clients.

What’s your favorite FareHarbor stoke story? For me it’s the positive feedback we hear from clients everyday that gets me the most stoked on FareHarbor. I love when clients tell me that FareHarbor has grown their business, or that they’re able to spend time out and about because they’re not tied to the phone all day taking reservations.

Describe your job at FareHarbor in three four words. Can’t stop won’t stop!

AdWords Tips For Tourism Businesses

Our Client Strategy & Marketing Team loves AdWords. Like really, really loves AdWords. So much so, that they recently took things to the next level and became Certified Google Partners. This means they’re officially recognized by Google as AdWords experts, having proven they have the experience and know-how to advise on successful marketing campaigns for tourism businesses.

Jenny Hadden

Need help reaching AdWords nirvana? Our experts are offering their favorite tips and tricks. Let’s dive in:

Putting time and work into your website to make it attractive, readable, and navigable is one of the best things you can do to improve conversions and rank better on search.

Many business owners want to jump into paid advertising, but it’s more vital that your website has a great user experience first before you move on to advertising. If it’s too difficult to find info or even the ‘Book Now’ button on your website, then 70% or more of your visitors will bounce off even if you brought qualified people to your site who might have been a good candidate to buy!

Work on having a quality, mobile-optimized website first, then launch targeted and retargeted paid advertising campaigns to receive qualified leads who will be ready to buy when they land on your site!

Jenny Hadden, Lead Marketing Analytics Associate, Client Strategy & Marketing Team


Ali Gourley

When starting your first AdWords campaign, it’s important to choose relevant and specific keywords. One of the most helpful tricks I have learned, is to keep this table in my back pocket when creating AdWords campaigns. The table describes the modifiers you can add to keywords to increase your reach or make your keywords more specific.

I recommend that clients start specific so that they can ensure their ads are relevant to the search terms potential customers are looking for. After data is gained about these specific keywords, you can broaden your search terms and continue testing. It’s important to track how your keywords are doing and make changes appropriately.

Leveraging Keywords

Ali Gourley, Project Coordinator, Client Strategy & Marketing Team


Charlie Dunn

Tip #1 – Utilize Ad Extensions

When advertising on the Google Search Network be sure to utilize Ad Extensions to increase click-through rate and in many cases ROI.

Here’s a tid bit from Google about this:

If two competing ads have the same bid and quality, the ad with greater expected impact from extensions will generally appear in a higher ad position than the other.

For the tourism industry, particularly effective ad extensions include location extensions, review extensions, site link extensions, and callout extensions. (All image examples below are from Google).

Location Extension

Location Extension

Review Extension

Review Extension

Sitelink Extension

Sitelink Extension

Callout Extension

Callout Extension

Ad extensions can be included at no extra cost to the advertiser. You are charged the same cpc for extension clicks as if someone were to click on the headline of your ad with no extensions.

Tip #2 – Utilize Bid Adjustments

Taking advantage of your analytics data and leveraging bid adjustments is a great way to increase ROI. Bid adjustments allow you to show your ad more or less often depending on when visitors are likely to convert.

Bid adjustments can be set for dimensions like time of day, device type, or geographic location. Google recommends starting with bid adjustments around +25% of the max cost per click, however each advertiser will need to evaluate their own budget to determine what bid adjustment is appropriate.

– Charlie Dunn, Project Coordinator, Client Strategy & Marketing Team

We’re Google Certified To Bring You AdWords Success!

We have something shiny and new to show you!

PHOTO: Google Partner Badge

See that badge right there? We earned it. We are now officially a certified Google Partner.

The badge was awarded to our Client Strategy and Marketing team – a team dedicated entirely to (you guessed it!) enhancing our clients’ online marketing and digital strategy. The certification acts as an official stamp of approval from Google, demonstrating that we’re trusted to consult on AdWords advertising to increase online tour bookings and improve brand awareness.

How FareHarbor Earned Its Google Partner Status

PHOTO: Author Jenny Hadden (far right) with the Client Strategy & Marketing team

The badge cuts straight to the chase. It signifies we’re a Google business partner proven to have happy, healthy clients on the AdWords marketing channel. To qualify for the certification, we first needed to pass a series of tests and requirements to prove we had mastered the product. Google then performed an in-depth audit of our account, ultimately awarding us with an Above Average rating.

In addition, every member of the team passed the AdWords multi-test certification exam. We rocked advanced exams ranging from Fundamental, Display and Search to Video and Mobile Advertising. Going forward, we’ll be required to annually retake the tests to prove our continued knowledge.

The goal is keep us both relevant and innovative. Paid advertising requires both, as it’s an art and a science. Creative text and copy mix with real data to tell us what resonates with an audience. Understanding and using data better than any other tour booking company is what sets us apart.

AdWords Report Card

Here are some of the stats that helped us earn our status as an official partner:

• We’ve seen as much as a 300% return on ad spend (ROAS) in one month.

• A client who spends thousands on ads had an average click-through-rate (CTR – the ratio of people who clicked on an ad compared to the total number who saw it) grew from .97% to 4.43% after the first month of working with us. Their cost-per-click (CPC – the amount you pay for someone to click an ad) decreased by 13% in the same time period.

• Monthly we contribute to a combined $25,000+ in online revenue assisted by AdWords.

• A client, prior to working with our team, had been losing money on Adwords. We advised on how they could restructure their work and in 2 months, ROAS improved to 200%, CTR increased from 1.66% to 3.41% and their CPC decreased by 10%.

adwords_graph

And we’re just getting started!

A Guide to Upselling For Tourism Businesses

Mastering the art of upselling is a matter of offering something of true value to a customer already making a purchase. For tour operators and activity businesses, this poses a unique opportunity since in tourism, the product is the experience. The best opportunity to upsell is by offering an item – a branded glass, photo package or experiential add-on – that elevates the experience. Done right, you have the potential to both increase customer satisfaction and raise your bottom line. It’s really the gift that keeps on giving.

Stay Within The Check-out Flow

On average, eCommerce conversion rates in the travel industry hover between 2% – 4%. When you have a customer sitting in your check-out flow and committed to making a purchase, it’s essential that you make good use of their time. They have the credit card out, their mind is set. This is your best opportunity to enhance their purchase with an additional sale.

If you have merchandise you prefer to sell in-store, don’t neglect the online check-out. Offering guests a bundle package or discount on later purchases, much like Yazoo Brewing does with their $17 for $25 “Yazoo Swag Voucher,” is a great way to secure a future purchase. Strike while the iron’s hot, and seal in purchases on one single screen.

Keep It Relevant

The check-out flow should feel cohesive. Always align the product or add-on you’re looking to upsell to the customer’s initial purchase. If you’re selling multiple activities, offer a product that’s most relevant to the activity the customer is booking. Think critically about what would enhance their experience. While a photo package works great for a zipline course, it’s an unlikely option for someone going on a brewery tour.

Choose wisely. Remember that while the item needs to be relevant and exciting to the customer, it also needs to be cost effective for you as the business owner. Opt for popular items that are simple to distribute.

Limit Options

As the notorious jam study taught us, choice is fun, but it’s not lucrative. The study was simple. Psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper took jam samples to a local grocery store, setting up one table with 24 samples of jam, and the other with a limited selection of 6. While more people stopped to taste jam at the table with a larger selection, fewer people made a purchase. In the end, the limited selection drew in more paying customers.

Why? Because having to decide between 24 flavors is far more challenging than choosing between 6. This concept is alive and well when it comes to your online check-out. Minimize the friction of making a purchase by offering only one or two extras. The goal is to make sure the upsell is as simple as a single click.

Items without color, size or price variations make excellent add-ons. For example, if you’re running a distillery tour, forgo offering t-shirts and instead offer a one-click product like a branded glass.

Bonus: FareHarbor clients enjoy an added bonus when it comes to upselling. If the customer booked their experience online or was booked manually through the backend, their payment information is safely and securely encrypted in the PCI compliant cloud. At any time during the tour or activity, you’re able to accept payment for upgrades or extras by simply pulling up the customer’s information and adding the charge to their stored payment information. Accessible from any device, you can sell add-ons from anywhere with just a few simple clicks.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group

What’s the price tag for three days of hands-on training from coastal paramedics, professional big wave chargers and zonal specialists? There isn’t one. (Except, maybe, having the cajones to want to get in the water with 40-foot walls in the first place.)

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG Training

Started in 2011 by big wave surfers Danilo Couto and Kohl Christensen, the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group runs an annual three-day ocean safety summit on the North Shore of Oahu. The organization was founded after the devastating loss of the duo’s close friend and fellow big wave surfer, Sion Milosky, who suffered a fatal wipeout while chasing massive swell at Maverick’s.

For Danilo, it was an eye-opening loss. “I was there with him, and I knew there were ways we could have prevented that loss. There were things we could have changed to avoid it.” This conviction eventually grew into the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group – and a personal mission for Danilo.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_teaching

BWRAG’s first meeting took form as a modest training in a barn on Kohl’s farm, where they reviewed CPR and basic safety protocols. It was a solid start, but Danilo envisioned something greater. He wanted “to push it a little more, do a little more training into really radical life saving.” The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. This was all happening around the same time that big wave surfing began gaining real momentum, so pushing it to the next level felt natural. The surf community was stoked to have a venue to promote better communication and preparation in the water.

Fast forward five years, and BWRAG now hosts hundreds of surfers, connecting them with experts like Brian Keaulana, one of the pioneers of ocean safety in Hawaii, performance freedivers, paramedics and local professionals. Held this year at Turtle Bay Resort, the three-day summit offers extensive training in all forms of high risk management. They methodically break down potential risks and worst case scenarios, analyzing the mechanics of different breaks and how each reacts to powerful swell. From apnea training to wave forecasting, participants are educated on both preventative and emergency procedures so if the time comes, they’ll have the tools to save not only their own life, but someone else’s.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_CPR Training

Although the majority of the summit focuses on mental and physical training, participants are also briefed on the latest life saving equipment, from Jet Skis to inflatable vests. Industry experts come out to demonstrate how to efficiently use modern life-saving technologies, making it easier for participants to properly utilize them in tough conditions.

Danilo notes that, “Already a bunch of our friends have been saved by this movement. Everybody is starting to be more ready to react when things go wrong.” But despite all the positive feedback, he constantly feels like they could be doing more. BWRAG is always looking for opportunities to grow, working to offer a deeper education, more targeted trainings and larger summits that can reach more surfers. After all, the ultimate goal is to do more than run a successful summit. The dream is to create a full blown safety fever – a movement that brings a sense of risk responsibility to everyone involved in big wave surfing.

Big Wave Risk Assessment Group_BWRAG_apnea training

BWRAG doesn’t charge for the summit, they aren’t chasing money or recognition. They’re simply working to minimize risk in the sport they love. The best way to do that? Any of them will tell you. “Train hard and have all your equipment prepared. The only way you can feel ready and relaxed is to feel prepared.”

We’re honored to have partnered with the Big Wave Risk Assessment Group as a 2015 corporate sponsor. For more information on the organization, please visit BWRAG.ORG.