Tomahawk Tourism Blog

Google's Warning to Non Mobile Friendly Websites

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We've been telling our clients this for some time now: you must invest in a mobile-friendly (ideally responsive) website if you are to succeed online. And now even Google is sending their own warning via Webmaster Tools.

As the warning confirms, Google will stop displaying non-mobile friendly websites in mobile search results. 

Last year eMarketer predicted that the majority of digital travel researchers will be mobile by this yearWith more and more consumers using smartphones to book, both before and during travel, tourism businesses simply cannot afford to be missing out.


Quick Tomahawk Case Study

We recently built a responsive website for an unnamed client (not the above example) whose site previously wasn't mobile-friendly. This is what happened to their mobile visits compared to the previous year:

This is a consistent result we see across our responsive websites one month after they have gone live.

Want more information? Get in touch.

Would it Benefit Me to Buy Other Domains?

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We are often asked by clients whether additional domains would benefit their website and/or SEO.
For example, say you run a motel in Auckland and your website is "" but you also wonder about registering "", or even "".


There are only ever 3 reasons to register additional domains.

1. To protect your brand. In other words, stop someone else like a competitor from getting to it first. Alternatively, your company name might be easily misspelled and you want to catch those users who mistype it.
(Side note: If protecting your brand is your main concern, you should also register social media accounts under your company name ASAP, even if you don’t plan on posting anything just yet. Use Namechk as a handy tool to find out whether your brand name is available across multiple platforms.)

2. To assist with advertising – a different domain might be easier to remember or more relevant for promotional material, such as a campaign poster. You should redirect such traffic to a relevant landing page.

3. You are renaming your company - and require your domain to match (for more details, see the final question below).

Will extra domains help with my SEO?

The short answer here is no.

It is important that you don't have 2 or more domains displaying the same website as this is duplicate content and has a negative impact on search engine optimisation. Instead, the content should sit on one domain and any additional domains redirect to it.

What’s better:, .nz, .co, .kiwi or .com?

Personally I think choosing domains has become a little too much like shopping for birthday cards – there are far too many options!

If you are targeting an international audience then .com is recommended. If your audience is within New Zealand, then opt for, as that is what most web users are comfortable with.

If you can afford to, register all the common versions and redirect them to your website.

Can I move my website to a new domain?

Yes, but it should be for good reasons and done carefully so that it doesn't harm your SEO.

When switching domains, it is important for search rankings that you follow a strict process as recommended by Google - so the move should be entrusted to your web company who know what they are doing.

A great example from one of our own clients is Marlborough Tour Company who were formerly known as Marlborough Travel. Their website domain changed from to to match their new brand.

We would normally not recommend moving your domain for SEO reasons alone - so ask your SEO consultant before making such a decision.

Got further questions?

Leave a comment below or get in touch with Tomahawk's marketing team.

How does Social Media affect your Search Rankings?

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The majority of businesses we work with recognise the importance of search engine optimisation, the art of getting your website ranked higher with search engines such as Google. However, many are surprised when one of our first SEO recommendations is to improve their social media presence.

Here’s 5 reasons why it’s so important.

1. Improved Linking Strategy

Firstly let’s be clear, having lots of likes or followers on Facebook, Twitter and other social media channels won’t improve your SEO. Google has said themselves that they do not use this as a signal.

However, when your article or website is shared, it creates increased brand exposure. This attention may lead to others including you in their own online profiles, blogs and websites. Google places value on mentions and links to your website from other quality websites, so this positively impacts on your SEO.

2. Popularity

The increased brand exposure from social media will lead to more people searching for your brand online. It will also result in a higher volume of traffic to your website, a factor that Google considers in its search algorithm.

Therefore, Google will recognise this increase in popularity and place you higher in search rankings as a result.

3. Personalisation

It is natural to value recommendations given to you by friends over those from strangers. With this in mind, activity and reviews from Google+ (Google’s own social media channel) are used by them to personalise search results when a user is signed in.

This means that if one of your Google+ connections has shared a page, it may be ranked higher on the search results page, with a comment underneath that your connection has shared it.

Google+ posts also come up as results themselves:

4. Better Search Real Estate

Another added benefit from good social media is being able to take up more space in search results for your brand keywords. This means less chance for your competitors to sneak on in there.

Check out what happens when we search for “Lorde”.


Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram all rank higher than Lorde’s own website, further evidence of how much emphasis Google is placing on social media.

5. Search happens outside of Google

Whilst Google has roughly 65% of the online search market, it is important to consider that users also search for brands and products within the social media channels.

YouTube is the internet’s second biggest search engine, processing 3 billion searches a month. Pinterest has become very popular (particularly with women) as a way to gain inspiration for things like travel, fashion and home decoration. Facebook has just released its new Places directory which is starting to compete against TripAdvisor for online reviews.

How to Get Started

Social media doesn’t need to be scary. Get in touch with Tomahawk to talk about your social media strategy and ideas on how to manage it.

Online VS Offline Purchase Patterns

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In a recent report, Google ventured outside of their current online domain and did a study to compare online travel purchase patterns to offline travel purchase patterns. The number of similarities between the two types of buyers provides compelling information that every tourism business owner should know.

Getting right to one of the most amazing facts derived from the study: 90% of both online bookers and offline bookers do their research online. You read that right, 90% of travellers do their research online before booking whether they purchase online or walk into an agency to book in person. Understanding the full value of a travel business's online presence has never been demonstrated so definitively.

Research starts on average 70 days prior to purchase. Both types of buyers use search engines to do most of their research. Naturally, the time spent searching and number of sites visited do vary, as these averages below demonstrate.

Online Buyers:

  • Number of search sessions - 16.7
  • Overall time spent - 129 minutes
  • Number of sites visited - 32.5

Offline Buyers:

  • Number of search sessions - 11.9
  • Overall time spent - 94 minutes
  • Number of sites visited - 22.5

Offline Bookers


Google's Sun, Sea, Sand and Search Report Oct 2013

Looking at the demographic differences between the two types of bookers;

  • 42% of the online bookers are under the age of 34 whereas,
  • 85% of offline buyers are over 34 with nearly half (48%) having children and being retired (48%).

Travel agents are still the preferred channel for offline bookers seeking packaged tours. No real surprises in those numbers. But what is most surprising is that travel research on mobile phones is growing 66% year on year. Google claims this to be the number one take away from the study; "More than ever, travel related businesses need to be accessible on whatever screens consumers are using".

Online Bookersblog1

Google's Sun, Sea, Sand and Search Report Oct 2013

As a tourism supplier, whether your model depends on agency business or you desire more direct bookings, understanding the impact that your online presence, especially on a mobile device has to ALL potential customers is vital to the growth of your business.

Combine Two Great Forces

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Connecting your TripAdvisor reviews to your Facebook page.


Now, in just three easy steps, you can combine these two great forces so your Facebook followers can click on a tab and quickly and easily see your great TripAdvisor reviews right on your Facebook page. So you have worked hard to exceed your customer's expectations and earned yourself great TripAdvisor reviews, fantastic! And in all of your copious spare time, you have also been engaging with your Facebook followers, promoting your posts and increasing your Facebook Likes. tripadvisor facebook





To add the TripAdvisor Widget to your facebook business page you simply go to:

tripadvisor1 1.


2. Enter your business name, choose your business

3. Choose one of the Facebook widget offered to you.


The chosen widget will automatically be added to your business page and your reviews easily available for your followers to see!

How the Internet Influences the Luxury Traveller

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Although the majority of top-end luxury travellers may make their bookings with an agent, it is their friends and family, search engine results, online videos and loyalty programs that inspire and influence their choices.


The results are just in from a report commissioned by Google to help them better understand the affluent US traveller and the role that online resources play in their choice of airline, cruise, lodging, car rental and holiday packages.


Trip Inspiration & Research

One of the most significant pieces of information revealed is that friends or family and the Internet are both equally influential as the number one source for inspiring a trip. Moreover, when it comes to planning and researching for a holiday, the premier sector turns to the Internet 87% of the time.

About 50% plan to spend more time researching because getting value-for-money product is important. They continue to comparison shop for all components of travel, especially accommodation.

Although the luxury traveller still favours luxury hotels, the boutique and holiday home rental is increasing in interest at double the rate of two years ago.

Trip Inspiration

How the Luxury Traveller Engages Online

80% of the premier sector in the US will research online for their upcoming trip. When researching, two (2) out of three (3) read travel reviews and one (1) out of three (3) watches a travel video with an astonishing 90% of affluent travellers taking some type of action after viewing an online travel video.

Online Travel activity


source travel activity

OTAs and DMO sites

The affluent traveller still relies on a brand's website for planning, up 5% from last year, as opposed to reliance on DMO sites, which dropped 8% from last year. Branded sites, searching and OTAs are still consistently the top sources for planning.

Multi-Device Influence on Trip Planning

More than half of affluent travellers (55%) access travel information on their smartphones or tablets for planning. Convenience is the top reason that affluent travellers book on smartphones using both browsers and apps in near equal frequency. They use all devices to engage in travel-related activities from planning through to booking.

Travel Activies done on devices

Loyalty Program's Importance to the Luxury Traveller



96% of the affluent travellers in the US belong to a loyalty program and are increasingly likely to book base



Using email to advise of benefits is the preferred method of getting updates with social media creeping up to 8% as a communication source for benefits.d on membership perks and financial benefits. 



Reasons for joining loyalty

The need for a multi-channel, multi device online strategy is no longer optional for the luxury provider but a definitive requirement to keep up in the competitive luxury market. From inspiration to planning and decision-making, the Internet, whether viewed on a smartphone or computer, is where the luxury traveller is looking.

For a copy of the full report click here

Buying TripAdvisor reviews to boost your ranking

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There are a number of email campaigns going around claiming they can boost your TripAdvisor rankings, some even blatantly advising that you can buy 'genuine' reviews.


We often get asked how to boost your TripAdvisor rankings and our advice is always the same: "Give the better service than the guest expects".

We also often get asked if we think buying reviews is a good investment and our advice is always the same: "No, don't do it."

Today another email campaign made the rounds, it looked like this:

As a TripAdvisor Premium Connect Partner, we immediately reported this to them and they promptly responded with the following:

Hi Gina

Thank you for sending this on - I’ll get this to the attention of our content integrity team who will investigate.

There is a helpful section in the Help Center on TripAdvisor for Owners with several links with regards to Fraud and Organised Boosting:

Help Center Link to Fraud information and helpful links:


What is organized boosting?:

What is TripAdvisor’s policy on organized boosting?

How do you detect fraud?:

What will happen if a business is found to have fraudulent reviews?:

Thanks again for sending the specific details of this company along, this will be reported immediately to our content integrity team for immediate action.

Thanks Avril

If you are a ResBook client, using the automated ‘welcome home’ email to thank your guests for staying and asking if they would kindly give a review is an approved method for receiving genuine TripAdvisor reviews and is a nice way to make it easy for your guests to let you know how happy they are!

Online tourism promotion today

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online travel purchasing and distribution trends

Today, travellers are empowered by instant access to information, at any time and on any device be it computer, tablet or on a mobile phone, and while at work or waiting in line for a coffee. So it is easy to understand why over 78% of travel research is now done online.

And it is not just about research but inspiration; 29% of Facebook users claim they have been motivated to book a trip based on a posting they saw.

Internet travel booking revenue has grown by more than 73% over the past five years providing over 50% of a businesses' bookings. A company's online presence can make or break them. But you don't have to take our word for it, see the latest statics from June 2013 about online travel sales


So what does this mean to your business?

  • Can your website be viewed on desktops, laptops, iPads, tablets and smart phones?
  • Is your website up to date with the purchasing style of today which is picture rich, engaging and customer focused?
  • Are you providing information to your customers that is targeted to their needs so they easily and confidently book with you directly or easily share your website with their agent so the agent can book you?
  • Are you on the first page of Google for your most desired keywords?
  • Are your rates and inventory dynamically updated across all platforms match up across all platforms online and offline (agents)?
  • Are you receiving bright stars on Trip Advisor and interacting to your reviews?
  • Is your social media inspiring, engaging and educating? Are you using the most popular platforms for travel like Facebook, Instagram and You Tube? And if you are interested in China, you need to be on Weibo too.



Traditional Distribution Model



Traditional Distribution Model


Now the importance for integrated channel management offering dynamic pricing across multiple channels (both online and direct with agents) is imperative.

Online Travel Agents (OTAs) like, Expedia, Viator and local promotional sites play an important role in a tourism products promotion and distribution. Whether it is to generate bookings from the sites, use them as 'online brochures' to drive bookings to your site or to assist with search engine optimisation (listing sites that permit website links).


New Distribution Model




But this simplified model doesn't include the new big player in the game, Social Media.

A social media campaign that inspires across a seemingly growing number of platforms is necessary as You Tube, Instagram and Facebook become the voice and conduit for travel inspiration and conversation.

And the powerful voice of the traveller means that customer service and an experience that exceeds expectation is vital as social media, Trip Advisor and Yelp can make or break a business. And if this sounds over dramatised, remember that Trip Advisor is the number one travel site in the world with over 260 million visits a month.

New Travel Purchase Model





Agents and suppliers alike need to ensure that what their customers find online when researching and/or booking effectively and genuinely promotes their product.

Researching travel is considered part of the journey of a trip. So whether a traveller is booking directly with suppliers or through an agent, travel requires more online research than other online purchases as research from Google last year shows.


google research


*Google:Beyond last click: Understanding your consumers´┐Ż online path to purchase

In the same research done by Google, a typical travel purchase is shared below:




This is a classic example of how social media works within the buying process. It is all about reassurance, quality control, weeding out the negatives.

Understanding how the distribution model has changed and the online travel purchasing process has morphed into a multifaceted procedure is vital for tourism operators to maximise their revenue potential.

How are your relationships?

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Relationship advice in an online marketing article? Absolutely. Today, having a website, a brochure and working with your agents is no longer enough. You put time and effort into ensure the agents you work with are happy with your product and that you are romancing them but what about your online relationships?

facebook-experiments-with-star-ratingsSocial media and review sites like Trip Advisor can make or break a business. An online distribution strategy based on paying commissions to Online Travel Agents (Expedia, is mono dimensional and eats away at margins. Having a Relationship Strategy can serve your agents, increase your online reputation to give potential guests assurance, build customer loyalty and thus increase bookings.

Sucking Eggs

So I am not trying to teach your grandmother to suck eggs here, but it all begins and ends with customer service. The effects of one really good or one really bad customer experience can dramatically effect a tourism operation in today's connected market. Review sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp and Online Travel Agent's own verified reviews leave the customer with the last word. With 93% of global travellers claiming that their booking decisions are influenced by online reviews and 53% of travellers say they won't book a hotel that doesn't have online review the vital role these reviews play in a tourism operator's business is obvious.

One situation not handled correctly, can affect the bottom line, just ask Hotel Quebec. They had one 'Bed Bug' experience that was poorly handled by a staff member resulting in a scathing Trip Advisor review and a corresponding dramatic dip in bookings and revenue. So much so that the hotel sued Trip Advisor for damages and loss of earnings. They lost the case and gained even more publicity on the issue in the process.


Could the horrible situation of being eaten by bed bugs (which was videotaped live by the guest) been turned into a positive and actually made that customer an ambassador for the hotel? Possibly. Could Hotel Quebec have handled the online review better. Absolutely!

The review went live April 2013 and they still haven't responded to it online. Responding to negative reviews is just as important as basking in positive reviews when it comes to a relationship strategy. Expressing concern over the situation raised, that corrections have been made or kindly requesting the reviewer to make personal contact with a manager to learn more are all ways to create a better online relationship.

Make Loyalty Royalty

Generating bookings online through your chosen Online Travel Agents is an important revenue stream for most tourism operators today. But creating an on-going relationship with those visitors once they have been delighted with your product or service, so they become loyal customers should be your ultimate goal.

OMS-31mar2011-RelationshipMarketing-d-picLike a seven year marriage, you need to create ways to keep the relationship alive and make them feel special. Email marketing, loyalty specials announced on Facebook and 'loyalty login' pages on your website for benefits and incentives are all ways to keep visitors interested and encourage them to talk to others about you.

As the saying goes, 'Relationships take a lot of work and commitment,'both offline and online.

Measurable Marketing

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Marketing is considered by many as a game of guessing, hoping, finger crossing and watching to see if there is a result, never really ever knowing what the return on investment truly is. The good news is, as the online pay per click model is being adopted by more and more channels, ROI for both intuitive and intentional marketing can well and truly finally be measured. Let's look at how to measure the returns and where the opportunities lie.

Search Engine Marketing or Price Per Click

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a very simple model where by you pay per click (PPC) for a set of keywords/search terms and the price per click is determined by how popular the search term is that you are targeting. A per day and per month budget can be set.

Now a days it is a stretch to call it SEM as the PPC model has now spread onto other arenas like Facebook and TripAdvisor. But no matter which channel you choose to do your PPC marketing, it is important to know how to measure the results.Screen-Shot-2014-02-07-at-9.21.38-AM

We all know how to calculate return on investment but in the PPC world there are a couple of other measurements that are important; Conversion Rate and Cost per Lead.

Begin by knowing how to calculate your conversation rate; take the number of conversions (bookings) divide by the number of clicks and it equals your conversation rate. So for example if you got 29 clicks which resulted in 2 bookings your conversation rate is 2 divided by 29 x 100% = 6.9%.

The tourism industry has the lowest conversation rates as compared to other industries with an average of 1.45% whereby Internet/Telcos were top with 6.27% as per WordStream's recent report released in November 2013. Wordstream suggests that an average of 2% - 5% is considered a good result for competitive industries like tourism.

Next you need to know your 'cost per lead.' Take the average cost per click you are paying for an ad and divide it by your current conversion rate and you will arrive at your cost per lead. If your ad's cost per click is $1.00 and the conversion rate for that ad is 5%, then your cost per lead is $1/.05 which equals $20 per lead.

It is not enough to know that you spent $100 on PPC marketing and it resulted in $180 in bookings. Knowing your cost per lead allows you to know how to allocate your marketing budget best.

A few PPC marketing options

As Google is the number one search engine and they have perfected the PPC model with rebust reporting too, it is an obvious choice for intentional marketing. Do your research for the most appropriate search terms for your business, not the obvious two word terms like Auckland Accommodation but suitable long tail terms like Auckland accommodations for families with small children.

tripConnect-premium-partner-logoWith TripAdvisor recently launching their TripConnect option, they have studied what Google Adwords does and laser focused intent marketing by offering the PPC model on their review site for accommodations.

Facebook offers the PPC model for those that want to play in the intuitive marketing arena where by you focus on the specific types of people you want to suggest your product to (newly engaged Australians living in or near Sydney) using Facebook Ads. With Facebook's recently released ads in the newsfeed, the results for marketing within Facebook has shown dramatic results.

Nanigans released a study in October of 2013 which highlights retailers advertising on Facebook saw a 375% explosion in click-through rates from Q3 2012 to Q3 2013. The study also indicated that newsfeed ads had massive click through rates while the right hand side ads had the better conversation rate. The study only looked at retailers but many are using the results a generalisation across industries.

So in summary, the pay per click space is becoming popular and with good reason, it works. But as with all good things you need to understand what you're wanting to achieve, have a clear budget and learn the metrics that allow you to succeed with a solid ROI. Happy Marketing!