Blog: Tomahawk, Tourism and all things Web

 

#Hashtags101: What is a hashtag and how do I use one?


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What is a hashtag?

Hashtags are now an integral part of how we communicate and market online. Originating with Twitter, they are now included in most social networks. They can be used ironically (#sorrynotsorry) to punctuate a message, but the true purpose of the hashtag is much more important!

Hashtags are, quite simply, a search tool. It’s a tag, similar to organising a product on a shelf, with the hash symbol in front of it. (Tagged with a hash symbol = hash-tag.) Adding this to a post makes it searchable for anyone with an interest in your business or topic. When a user clicks on a hashtag or enters it in the search field, they find all content that includes the term. Hashtags can be used within Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to help target your audience and collect data.
 

Anatomy of a Hashtag

They can be made up of several words, but must not include spaces or punctuation marks. It is not case sensitive but capitalisation can be included to separate multi-word hashtags. Example: #nzmustdo vs #NZMustDo will have the same category but different visual impact in your marketing.

Multiple hashtags can be used on the same post. It’s good practice to always use your established business hashtag, and then add categories from there. Try searching for relevant concepts to your business, and see if other users are including these terms.

If you’re a vineyard called John Smith Winery, you could tag your posts with #JohnSmithWinery, #winelover and #wineoclock. The first is unique to your business, but the second two are popular with wine enthusiasts and will include your posts in their searches. The wine tags help new customers and fans discover you, while allowing you to track and collect all of your posts uniquely with the business name tag.

 

Hashtag Photo Campaigns - #Winning

Chasing User Generated Content (UGC) can be tricky, but one of the best ways to kick-start this is with a hashtag photo contest. You will need a prize incentive, but it can be a valuable social media marketing tool.

A unique hashtag-inclusive post can be collected digitally to track and understand your online reach and engagement for the campaign. If you try to use a non-unique tag like #travel as your campaign hashtag, you will find every post tagged with #travel (millions around the world) when you collect the data. Try typing your hashtag concept into the twitter search bar to see if the hashtag is already being used, or if it is unique.

Top tip: Incorporate your business name (or an abbreviation of it) into the hashtag term
Once you have your unique campaign hashtag, make sure it is included in all communications about your campaign, use it in every post and require people to tag their photos with it for a chance to win.


 

Beyond the Screen

To ensure the success of your business hashtag in your community, make sure to include it on all print marketing as well. Add it to business cards, brochures, stickers, print ads and any places you touch base with your customers. It is as important to your online identity as a logo.


Tomahawk provides marketing consultation to help tourism businesses succeed online: get in touch.

Good bots, bad bots and ghost spam


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When looking at your web analytics lately, you may have noticed that there has been an increasing amount of odd-looking referral websites. This is known as "referrer spam".
 

(No, not that spam.)

Whilst spam traffic doesn’t normally harm your website, it can skew your data because it often has very poor quality, i.e. a low visit duration and high bounce rate (yuk!).

There are three types of spam traffic - here’s what it is about and how to deal with it in Google Analytics. Maybe grab a cuppa tea first because, let’s be honest, this isn’t the most exciting thing you’ll ever read.


1. Well behaved bots 

A "bot" is an automated computer programme that visits your website to gather information, e.g. a search engine bot crawls your site to understand how to rank it in results.

Many of these bots – aka “spiders” (because of the word “crawl”… get it?) – are so well behaved, they won’t noticeably show in your analytics. Google helps prevent this further with their “Bot Filtering” option. To turn this on, go into Admin (at the top) and click on View Settings:


2. Creepy Crawlers

Unfortunately, there are other bots that don’t behave so well, and they will continue to show up in your reports.

Semalt is one such pesky bot that we see all the time, but you can request for them to avoid you.

Other bots are hitting your site purely to show up on your reports and get you to visit their websites. Here they may try to solicit your business, or even worse, give you a computer virus. Don’t give them the pleasure!

Here’s some common culprits we’ve been noticing:

You could ask your web development company to block each of these from visiting your website using code, but there's new ones constantly appearing.

Instead, we would suggest you use what’s called an “Advanced Segment” (Google’s fancy name for filter) to remove them.

"How do I do this?" you ask. Download our guide on: Adding an “Advanced Segment”


3. Ghost Spam

This is the worst type of spam, as there is often little we can do to predict or prevent it. Often it comes in the form of Direct Traffic.

The main sign of this happening is that your bounce rate is much higher for this Channel, e.g.:

Often when you then apply an Advanced Segment to only show Direct Traffic, you realise the ghost spam is specifically coming from one country.

In this case, it's the USA with the ridiculously high bounce rate:

In theory, we could use this information to exclude Direct Traffic from USA in the data, but doing this also excludes genuine non-spam.

So in these situations, it’s often best to grit your teeth and wait until it goes away. A handy tip is to add an annotation in Google Analytics to record it happened.


In conclusion, hopefully one day Google might evolve to be able to hide all the spam for us, but in the meantime it's worth learning to filter out their junk.
 

If everything sounds double dutch, don't despair - get in touch and we'll be happy to give you a hand. And whilst waiting, you can watch the very sketch that gave spam it's name.
 

Tomahawk Receives Investors in People Silver Award


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Tomahawk is the first digital marketing company in New Zealand to receive the highly coveted Investors in People Silver Standard award. The award was presented 16th April, 2015.

The Investors in People Standard is a framework of best practice, awarded to well-run organisations that meet set criteria in areas including learning and development, leadership skills as well as recognition and reward.

This was Tomahawk’s first year applying for the award. It represents a huge achievement and reflects the hard work that goes into making Tomahawk a fantastic place to work.

“Prior to receiving this award, only 50 companies outside the United Kingdom had achieved Silver status. We are all so proud to say that Tomahawk achieved this and is one of the prestigious few. We are also chuffed that we are the first tourism company in New Zealand to be awarded accreditation,” says Gina Paladini, Marketing Director.

“We’ve worked very hard over the last 6 months to engage with staff on our strategy development, provide personal coaching and ensuring there is plenty of fun in the office. It’s really paid off resulting in not just a great work environment but also us being in an incredibly strong market position with an even stronger team.”

The review process involved numerous members of the Tomahawk team being picked at random for an interview with the assessor, in which they were asked how they felt about the Company, the Tomahawk approach to work-life balance and each person’s professional future. The assessment saw the motivation and enthusiasm of the Tomahawk team shine through, acknowledging the hard work and dedication of the company.

Tomahawk Investors In People Award

How to Reduce Double Bookings with Channel Management


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Channel managers claim to be 95-97% accurate, depending on which one you talk to. So as channel management becomes the norm, with one of the busiest seasons in years in NZ, a number of double bookings are an unavoidable part of distribution. But don’t despair, there are ways to minimise them.
 

1. Education is Power

It is vital that you spend time to learn how your channel manager works. There will be a learning curve but much stress and frustration can be mitigated by putting in the groundwork and time to understand the system.

2. Pesky Pop-ups

Be sure to have pop-ups turned on for your chosen browser. We have a guide on how to do this here.

3. Rooms Listed in Categories

If you have any of your rooms in ResBook listed in "categories" (e.g. you have three identical rooms so you sell them as "Standard Deluxe" category) then there could be an increased chance of double bookings. To minimize this risk you can leave one of your stock/inventory units in the classification opted out from the availability update. This can be done by making the unit hidden within the Stock Configuration --> Stock Units in your ResBook settings.

4. Virtual Linking

If you have “virtual linking” (e.g. two rooms can connect and be sold as a two bedroom suite) then there could be an increased chance of double bookings. To minimize this risk you can stop sell one of the units on your channels. The virtual stock unit control is not supported by any channel or Channel Managers. Therefore all the units you list with a channel will be processed as a booking and thereby allow a guest to select virtually connected units together within the channel at the same time. These reservations will be allowed until the point it reaches your ResBook and then as only one unit can be made bookable at a given time this will create an error and also indicate a double booking.

5. Ongoing Maintenance

Using channel managers is a continuous process - updating rates, inventory and any other information regularly to match seasonal demands is required.

Resbook

6. “Check your face”

Make it a practice to check the channels once a month that you are distributing / listed on to ensure you have your "best face" showing. This includes your images, rates, inventory and descriptions.

7. Strategy

You may choose to leave a room or two off the channels to keep for direct bookings and/or minimise double bookings.

8. Spring Clean

Revisit your Channel Manager "settings" at the onset of each season to check everything is still valid and up to date.

9. Delays in rates or inventory update?

When in doubt, or concerned of any delays in updates, then close rooms or stop sell the units in your ResOnline > Yearly Deals page or manually push an immediate update from the ResOnline > Settings page > “Update inventory to ResOnline now” of your ResBook. This will avoid any delays, which can occur as there is 4% likelihood for internet glitches anywhere in the world.


Understanding channel management and how it works ultimately means less stress with double bookings - and the pleasure of increased bookings! Talk to us today to find out more.

Google's Warning to Non Mobile Friendly Websites


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All we seem to be reading about at the moment is the Google Mobile "Armageddon", the premise that on the 21 April if you are not mobile-friendly your website will be surreptitiously wiped off the face of search.

But it’s not quite all that dramatic. Let’s look at what is actually involved and whether you should be panicking just yet.


WHAT’S SO BIG ABOUT MOBILE?

We've been telling our tourism clients this for some time now: you must invest in a mobile-friendly (ideally responsive) website to succeed online. It’s no longer a “nice-to-have” - it’s a must-have.

  • There are 1.08 billion smartphones in the world
  • 50% of local search is done on a mobile device
  • Nearly half of consumers say they won’t return to a website if it doesn’t load well on mobile

Last year eMarketer predicted that the majority of online travel researchers will be mobile by this year. There is an increasing amount of consumers using smartphones to research, book and share travel plans – so businesses simply cannot afford to miss out.

ENTER GOOGLE

The recent “Armageddon” hype has come from Google announcing that non-mobile friendly sites will be ranked lower in mobile search. They have been sending their own warning via Webmaster Tools.

What does this really mean?

Here are the facts:

  • Non-mobile search (i.e. searches done on desktop and tablet) will not be affected by this change. So if the majority of your traffic is already coming from desktop search, you might not notice a sudden change.* 
  • It affects rankings on a page-by-page basis, not whole websites.
  • Whether or not a webpage is mobile-friendly will be one of many other ranking factors used by Google. So this means it might not disappear altogether from mobile search, but slip down a few places. Google hasn’t really given an indication of how many places that could be.
  • Google actually has already been penalising sites that offer a bad mobile experience for a couple of years now, and a few months ago started highlighting those that were mobile-friendly.


* Nevertheless, this is not an excuse: you really shouldn’t be missing out on all that mobile traffic.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you are not mobile-ready you may see some drop in search rankings and a subsequent drop in traffic, but it may not necessarily be a dramatic one.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be looking at going mobile – it is imperative you should be accessible across all devices or you risk losing out to your competitors.

 

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 "www.imaginarymotel.com" but you also wonder about registering "www.imaginarymotel.co.nz", or even "http://auckland.imaginarymotel.com".

Answer?

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: .co.nz, .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 .co.nz, 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 www.marlboroughtravel.co.nz to www.marlboroughtourcompany.co.nz 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

blog

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

 

 

tripadvisor2

 

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

tripadvisor1 1. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Widgets.

 

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