Category Archives: Tourism - Page 2

How does TripAdvisor’s newest feature affect you and your customers?

Last month I wrote about how sexy Trip Advisor’s newly-launched search and book functionality is which is already proving popular with the travellers. This month they have announced yet another new feature – it is called TripAdvisor Connect.

At Tomahawk, we are thrilled that our booking engine ResBook is one of the chosen booking engines that TripAdvisor will be including in their initial Trip Advisor Connect launch. 210 booking engines from 48 countries worldwide were chosen for the the initial launch.


TripAdvisor Connect allows properties to have their own booking engine button on their listing page instead of just the Online Travel Agents (OTA) big fat buttons which lure bookings to their own sites. But before you jump to the conclusion that this is the answer you have been waiting for, there is some small print to read.

What does Trip Advisor Connect mean for accommodation providers?tripadvisor blogpost

Accommodations are tiring of the Online Travel Agents getting the bookings from their listing page.

TripAdvisor has heard properties plea to have their own booking engines displayed and have created an API so the accommodation’s chosen booking engine can be added on their listing page.

But this new feature is not all about TripAdvisor hearing their customers’ pleas and benevolently fulfilling the request. TripAdvisor Connect also means another new revenue stream for them.

First, every property will need a business listing on TripAdvisor. Then, like AdWords, accommodations will “bid” to have their own booking engine placed on their listing. But be warned – the OTAs can bid too, and the property’s own booking engine button could be one amongst the others.

Some travellers will still click through to their preferred OTAs site to book for a variety of reasons; they may have an account with the OTA so it auto-populates their information and credit card details or they may have a sexy app that meets all their travel needs. Other travellers will obviously want to click through to the accommodation provider’s site to book directly with the property.

How does a property ensure the traveller books directly with them is key and a subject worthy of a an article or two of its own so watch for that next month.

What does it mean for Online Travel Agents?

It will be interesting to watch how the new TripAdvisor Connect is adopted by travellers and how it may change the cost of sale for OTAs. Will the OTAs keep bidding to be on a busy property’s listing if the percentage of bookings is leaning towards the hotel? Will the hotel continue to have an account with an OTA that outbids them on their TripAdvisor listing?

The power and influence of TripAdvisor seems to be growing every month. It is important – no, more than that, it is vital for every property to keep those excellent guest ratings coming and to watch TripAdvisor developments.

With TripAdvisor perfecting the Google multi-billion revenue-generating AdWords model with this new initiative, I can guarantee you that Google is watching them too!

TripAdvisor just got sexy!

So the race is on.

Will Google’s new Hotel Finder or TripAdvisor’s recently upgraded rate comparison metasearch be the ultimate travel search and book website?

In my humble opinion, TripAdvisor’s is certainly the current winner. Their new functionality is just damn sexy and makes the customer experience enjoyable while giving the confidence to book appropriately.

Why I love it

TripAdvisor offers superior functionality that allows you to search not only on existing customer reviews but also on price and type of travel, for example business travel, family or romance.

And then it gets even better and makes the experience personal with their integrated TripAdvisor Friends functionality. Throughout your search it allows you to see if any of your Facebook friends have visited the destination and accommodation.  A recommendation from a friend is the booking ‘golden ticket’ and worth ten reviews from people you don’t know.

Another reason for my current TripAdvisor infatuation is because in New Zealand, we love staying in holiday homes, and this new functionality includes holiday rentals listed on FlipKey.

“We can do it too!”

TripAdvisor has taken a leaf out of Google’s book and is offering properties the option of pay-per-click advertising around rate comparison. With TripAdvisor being the number one travel website in the world, it will be interesting to watch where properties will be spending their online dollars in the future.

The downside

Small operators who are not distributing on OTAs (online travel agents like and Expedia) could potentially be left behind.

Both Google Hotel Finder and TripAdvisor’s meta search functionality pull the rates and availability from OTAs. Many small properties can’t afford or still haven’t come to terms with the need for an online booking system and Channel Management. This may see their online bookings drop as bookings are being driven to properties that distribute on OTAs.

The winners

So as Google and TripAdvisor battle each other to create the best customer experience it ultimately means the winners are the travellers. They benefit from better functionality, more relevant and personal data enabling them (us) to book with the assurance that they got the price, quality and style desired to ensure a great holiday.

How to Impress Google & Rise to Page One

…It all begins with understanding Google’s purpose.

Google’s Purpose: To make the web a better place for the user

The team at Tomahawk want to help you get on Google’s good side. If you impress Google, your business’s website can be on page one when someone searches for your relevant keywords.

There’s no such thing as a free lunch though! Your website won’t receive love from Google simply by virtue of existing.

Optimising your website for search engines (also known as SEO) involves a number of tasks and processes. The best thing is you can do SEO yourself, it just takes a little bit of understanding and your time.

Here are the 5 ways you can DIY SEO!

#1: Impress Google with Keywords – Choosing and Using Them.

  • Decide on which keywords you would like your business to be found for BEFORE you write any copy for your website or blog.
  • What’s a keyword, you ask? Put yourself into your customers’ shoes and imagine what words or phrases they might use when searching for your product or service. If you are targeting local people, you might consider using city or town specific keywords. If you’re targeting international people, include country specific keywords. Google goes loco for location.
  • Once you have an idea about what keywords you want to use, do some research on how competitive your keywords are, and how likely they are to be searched. You can do this by Googling “google keyword tool”. It is an easy and free tool that provides great insight into search terms.
  • Make sure the content (any text, images, or videos) across your website aligns with and includes these keywords. That being said, please don’t stuff your content with keywords – it has to read well too, or Google will blacklist it. A perfect example of what not to do:

#2: Make your website attractive to both humans and search engines.

Incorporating the same keywords you’ve used in your content also in your Title, Description Tags, and your website URLs across your website helps Google to confirm that your website’s relevance to the search “trumpets in New Zealand”. You can edit all three properties (Title, Description, URL) in your website’s Content Management System.

  • Ensure your website is tested before it goes live – you need to find and fix little errors such as a broken link, the domain name, the loading speed of a webpage, browser compatibility, and formatting issues. User-friendly websites are favoured by Google.
  • Structure information on your website so that Google (and your website visitors) can easily locate information which is relevant to them. Include a site map in your website – this cuts down navigation time, increases accessibility, and keeps both Google and your visitors happy. Google doesn’t like it when you make your visitors think too hard.
  • If this section seems all too technical to you, find a reliable web partner to help you out!

#3: Quality original website content which is regularly updated.

  • Believe it or not, readers will leave your website if they read content that is constantly misspelt or uses poor grammar. If you’re not confident with your language proficiency, please employ a copywriter to help you generate quality, engaging writing.
  • Don’t plagiarise. Google is all-seeing, and knows when you have copied content straight from another webiste, or good ol’ Wikipedia.
  • Update your website content regularly so that your visitors will have fresh material to read when they revisit. This shows Google that you are the authority on your product and you care about your customers.

#4: Building a brilliant reputation.

  • Use blogs to tell people about your news, your products, your services. Writing a blog shows Google fresh content, and each blogs registers as another page – Google loves lots of relevant page content. Bonus points if your blog gets forwarded or shared! Don’t forget to include relevant keywords in your Tags.
  • Build your reputation through social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, TripAdvisor, YouTube.
    • Start engaging conversations with your followers on Facebook and Twitter.
    • Ask them to share your website with others.
    • Encourage testimonials/ review of their experience on relevant review sites
    • Incoming links power up your site – think of them like a list of references on your CV. They need to be from both relevant and authoritative sites like, other accommodation listing sites, activity providers and other related businesses. This tells Google that you are recognised as an expert. Oh – and producing press releases and news releases are a great way to get links from influential, respected sites like the New Zealand Herald or Tourism websites.

#5: Monitoring, Responding, Fine-Tuning.

  • Take the time to read and digest the monthly reports the Tomahawk Marketing Team generates for you. Use the information we provide to update your website appropriately, and let us know if you have any questions or need assistance.
  • Keep on top of industry updates so that you can adjust your keywords if a keyword related to your industry suddenly becomes extremely popular.
    • For example: From “waikato tours” to “middle earth new zealand tours”

Final Thoughts

  • SEO is an ongoing process – you won’t be able to see overnight results, but if you persevere, your website will certainly make gains.
  • The Tomahawk marketing team are 100% behind you in this process – drop us an email if you want to find out more about the craft of SEO.
  • Please note that SEO is not the same as Search Engine Marketing (paid Internet advertising such as Facebook Ads or Google AdWords). SEO improves your organic search results – which can’t be bought, while Google AdWords is a paid service (see below).

Questions everyone wants to know about Tomahawk…

Tomahawk Infographic

Facebook Offers for Tourism Businesses: Must-Have, or Fad?

Facebook Offers highly recommended tourism businesses – not only does it present a fantastic opportunity for you to spotlight your business, it also has simple-to-use yet powerful targeting features. Through Facebook Offers, you can build brand awareness amongst new visitors (through existing fans ‘sharing’ the post), and entice dormant fans to return for your products and/or services.


Ooh, I’m listening…I want to learn more about Facebook Offers!

Facebook Offers are a fairly new feature on Facebook. These work in a similar way to voucher sites like Groupon, Groupy, TreatMe, and others, except Facebook Offers are only available within Facebook. Facebook Offers require a budget to go live. The extent of reach (how many people see the offer) is based on how much you pay.


By posting discounts or freebies on your Facebook Page’s news feed, you encourage your fans to visit your business to redeem their offer. Additionally, your fans may share your offer with their Facebook friends, generating a wider scope of social promotion.


Facebook Offers are unlike Facebook Ads, in that they don’t appear on the right hand column of the page as a Facebook ad would. Research has shown that fans are 6 times more likely to engage with an Offer on their news feed than a conventional Facebook Marketplace Ad.


Additionally, Facebook Offers makes hyper-targeting available – you can make sure you’re reaching the right audience with this feature, and avoid blowing money on users who are less likely to convert.


Furthermore, as soon as a user clicks on your Facebook Offer, an email containing that offer is sent directly to their personal email account. When the email is opened, they will see a link to your website (or whichever relevant promotional page you’ve chosen to use)…and voila! It’s a win-win situation for both parties.


One of the best advantages of using Facebook Offers is its simplicity – offers can be set up from your Facebook Page instead of having to fiddle around with the fairly confusing Ads Dashboard.

Google: Your Silent Business Partner

As a tourism operator, you may have been advised that in addition to giving the best possible service to your customers and ensuring that you love up your agents, you also need to ensure your online presence is attractive to both your clientele and Google. Just how important Google is to most businesses is interesting, a bit scary and is about to become even more significant.

An accommodation provider has a long to-do list to promote themselves online.

  1. Get an attractive website that guests like and ensure it is properly built to please Google.
  2. Add an online booking engine and integrated channel management to ensure that you are listed on major OTAs.
  3. Spend time on your website each month to optimise it so Google ranks you well.
  4. Set up a blog on your website to keep the content fresh because Google loves lots of relevant, new content
  5. Set your business up on Google Maps to be found for location search and Google Places
  6. Start a Google Adword campaign to increase website traffic and get on page one

Then in your free time, be attentive to your TripAdvisor posts and don’t forget your Facebook page, as engaging with your past and prospective clients is vital and there is evidence that Google’s latest algorithm takes into consideration your social media interaction, so again, better do it to keep Google happy.

Google has now created another consideration for your business building on, and dependent on everything else you have done online to promote your business. It is called Google Hotel Finder.

Now, when you do a search for a “Hotel in Auckland” or “Motel in Auckland” (not lodge or B&B yet but this won’t be far off) you will first get 1-3 paid Google Adwords listings then you may get a couple of OTA listing ( or even Trip Advisor) followed by “Google Hotel Finder” with the best deals available followed by Google Maps entries followed lastly by the organic search results.

In order to appear in Google Hotel Finder, a property has to have a booking engine, be connected to a number of OTAs, be registered on Google Places and now also has to be sure they have Google + account too.

And lastly, as you may have already guessed, Google has created a whole new revenue stream on Hotel Finder by creating Hotel Price Ads. These are like Adwords, but with a twist. They are similar to Adwords where by impressions are free but you pay per click.  The twist with Hotel Price Ads are you can choose a traditional pay-per-click model ($2.00 a click) or a percentage of average room night value.

So keeping up with Google’s latest developments is important, ignore Google at your own peril. You can choose to consider Google an important business partner or an annoying business competitor. Whichever your opinion, it is also imperative to know your partners and competitors and to best be prepared for them.

Pinterest: Open for Business

Finally, businesses are catered for on the popular image-based social media site, Pinterest!

Pinterest for Tourism Businesse

Pinterest’s premise is to provide an online space where users can curate their own pin boards of things they love, places that inspire, destinations they want to go – anything that’s important to them that they want to share.

For the tourism business, this is great news.  As a tourism product is experiential, images and video are what inspire and resonate with potential guests.

Some of the specific features for businesses which have been released previously include “pin it” buttons, which you can add to your website allowing people to “pin” their favourite content from your site – awesome tours, stunning destinations and beautiful accommodations can all be pinned from your site to pinboards so users can bookmark and share your experience with their networks.

Newly released are widgets for your websites (we love widgets!) which mean you can install a bit of code and display your recent pins, or favourite boards on your website.   This is all helpful to create an integrated experience across the places you’re found online, and make your content and business more discoverable.

Of course, measurement is important and you’ll be able to find out what people are pinning from your website or blog using the new business features.  That’s a great way to find out what images connect and inspire your potential customers!

If you already have a Pinterest page, you’ll find it’s really simple to convert it into a business page and get your website verified and linkto it from your Pinterest page.  For new businesses, you can sign up quickly and start using the features that help you engage with your community by integrating across Pinterest and your website.

As they say over on Pinterest, happy pinning!

The best Facebook apps for your tourism business

More and more tourism businesses are coming to grips with the reality that Social Media is an important component of their brand and customer engagement.

One of the best ways to do this is using Facebook and adding “apps” to your page which showcase products and get people talking about your brand.

Two handy Facebook apps for the tourism business:

Tour Radar

If you run a tour company, this great Aussie-born App is ideal. Tour Radar provides the ability to sell tours, offers a platform for travellers to meet each other prior to the tour starting and share qualified reviews – all on your Facebook page.  Another very attractive feature of Tour Radar is the all-important Facebook Competition.  Tour Radar has a competition component that can dramatically increase your audience.



Tour Radar for Tourism Businesses on Facebook

Using Tour Radar is a great way to show off your tours on Facebook, and grow your audience using a competition

Easy Promos

One of the quickest ways to increase your audience and to reward your loyal followers is to offer a competition (All competitions on Facebook must use a Facebook App as per their guidelines).

There are many apps available like our famous Kiwi creation, Wildfire, but many are cost prohibitive for the small to medium sized tourism business.  Easy Promos offers the first competition for free and subsequent competitions are affordable – and it is easy to use.


Easy Promo App for Tourism Businesses on Facebook

Easy Promo App is an affordable way to run competitions and is perfect for those who are just starting out on Facebook.

Although Facebook has an App store that lists tens of thousands of apps, you can get lost or discouraged quite easily trying to separate the gimmicks from the good stuff. To make finding apps easier, visit the App Bistro – You can find apps that will let you list FAQs, create a mobile based giveaway, add live chat and many apps to build your fan base.

App Bistro also offer ‘bulk’ purchasing to help ease the cost of this important form of marketing, so you can experiment Facebook apps without it costing the earth.

Five Things to know about the Chinese Market for your Small- to Medium-sized tourism business

For the last two years, Tourism New Zealand (TNZ) has been leading the parade celebrating the emerging markets for tourism businesses.  Of these new markets, the spotlight is brightly shining on the Chinese traveller.

Marketing to China for New Zealand Tourism businessesAt numerous conferences and AGMs, a speaker will tell us what we need to do to prepare – including cooking Congee, preparing special teas, creating a Chinese website and being active on the Chinese social network, Weibo.  They tell us that without creating a suitable environment for Chinese tourists to book and experience New Zealand, we’ll miss out on the “golden goose of tourism”.

Last week, I attended Tourism New Zealand’s all day workshop on the Chinese and Halal market along with two others from the Tomahawk Team.

Our mission was to get the facts about current arrivals, get a better understanding of TNZ’s plans and outlook for the tourism industry –and most importantly, ask the straight-shooter questions regarding the reality of this market for the small to medium sized tourism operator.

Here are the top five things we believe you need to know about the Chinese Market:

1. The Numbers

Currently the average stay for the Chinese visitor is three days. These visits are usually shopping focussed bus tours which are combined with a trip to Australia. TNZ’s goal is to increase the average length of stay to 8 days in the next 3 years.

Currently there are only 500 top end free and independent Chinese visitors to New Zealand per year.

2. The Agents

The New Zealand and Chinese governments have created what is called the “Approved Destination Status” (ADS) which is a code of conduct.  Any inbound agent that would like to work with the Chinese visitor must apply and be approved. Currently, there are 27 ADS inbound agents – the list is available on

One of your best chances to gain business from the Chinese market is to work with one of these accredited agents.

3. The Potential

I don’t think anyone can doubt the future potential of the Chinese market. The size and the great wealth found in this market means that in time the New Zealand tourism industry in general will benefit greatly from the Chinese visitor.

4. The Preparation

The Chinese market has unique needs, so preparation is necessary. Having the appropriate food, especially breakfast is important. We all like to have something familiar for breakfast – after all!  Learning correct greetings and etiquette of gift giving, the concept of Guan Xi, having slippers in the room, providing Union Pay credit card facilities and other services are necessary….in time.

5. The Last Point

In my opinion, it will be 3-5 years before the FIT Chinese market begins to make a difference that will be felt by most owner operated tourism operators in New Zealand.  In the meantime, keep reading and learning so you can be ready when the time comes to host the Chinese traveller.

For today, concentrate on giving the best customer experience possible to your current market, keep the testimonials flowing and enjoy sharing your unique tourism experience with each and every customer.

Marketing to Japan for the New Zealand Tourism Business

Welcoming Muslim/Halal tourism to the New Zealand market

A total of US$126 billion in outbound travel expenditure was recorded in 2011 for the Muslim market, which came to 12.3% of the total global tourism expenditure. Indeed, the Halal (or Muslim) market is growing in prominence by the day. Projected travel expenditure values are at US$195 million for 2020.

For those who find the terminology perplexing at best – Muslim refers to a practitioner of the Islamic faith, and halal is a term designating any object or an action which is permissible to use or engage in, according to Islamic law (known as Sharia).

Businesses and services hoping to enter the halal/Muslim market need to bear in mind a few non-negotiable requirements of the Islamic faith. But before we get into that, here are a few useful facts about the Muslim diaspora:

The Muslim diaspora is characterised by its diversity in geographical location and income levels, but also its shared values and lifestyle choices. Indonesia is currently home to the world’s largest Muslim population, followed by Pakistan, India, Bangaldesh and Egypt. Surprisingly, South and Southeast Asia are where the majority of Muslims are concentrated, but it is equally important to keep in mind the millions of Muslims that reside in Africa, Europe and the Americas. For example, there are an estimated 44 million European Muslims. Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Indonesia represent the largest outbound Muslim tourist markets respectively. Saudi Arabia injected USD$23.8 billion into global outbound tourism expenditure, based on 2011 data.

How can New Zealand tourism capture the expanding Muslim traveller market? It’s quite straightforward, really. Treat your guests with the same respect and hospitality you would offer to any traveller. But you already knew that – there is no other way to do business. Muslim travellers are similar to ‘conventional’ travellers in many ways.

That being said, the Sharia dictates that Muslims should strictly abide by a handful of moral and religious decrees. As a courtesy to your Muslim visitors, you need to offer a number of essential services.

The first, which most providers are aware of, is halal food.

It’s easier to describe what foods are haram (unlawful or prohibited according to Sharia) than foods that are halal, so here goes.

The food products mentioned below are considered haram, and all Muslims are prohibited from consuming these.

  • Swine/Pork and its by-products
  • Animals improperly slaughtered or dead before slaughtering
  • Alcoholic drinks and intoxicants
  • Carnivorous animals, birds of prey and certain other animals
  • Foods contaminated with ANY of the above products.

There are a number of halal-certified food suppliers throughout New Zealand. If you’re not sure whether the food your accommodation serves counts as halal, you can contact The Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) for further details.

Most vegetarian and vegan food options are by nature halal (with the exception of meals containing alcohol), but it is still advisable to check with authorities before making such claims.

Providing additional services such as halal toiletries will also set you in good stead with Muslim guests.

Central to the Islamic faith is prayer (salah/salat), which is mandatory and conducted five times daily, at prescribed times:

  1. At dawn to sunrise (Fajr)
  2. After midday, but before the afternoon prayer (Dhuhr)
  3. After the post-midday prayer, but before the sun sets (Asr)
  4. Just after sunset (Maghrib)
  5. Between dusk and dawn the following day (Isha)

Prayer can take place at any location and in any position, so long as the person faces the direction of the kabba in Mecca (qibla). Many luxury hotels offer qibla-orientation signage on their walls. A number of online apps are also available for this purpose. You might consider constructing a prayer room for Muslim (or religious guests of any other faith) guests who want to pray in private, undisturbed quarters.

Single-gender accommodation wards would be one other factor to take into consideration for catering to Muslim/Halal tourists travelling in groups.

Because the Muslim faith heavily stresses personal hygiene, Halal-friendly accommodation should also offer facilities that allow Muslims to effortlessly cleanse their extremities – feet, arms, face and hands, prior to prayer time. Bidets are acceptable for these occasions.

For those who are interested, the author believes that New Zealand is well-equipped to cater for a surge in Muslim tourism. Many food providers already engage in halal practices, and numbers of halal-certified establishments in New Zealand have grown over the past decade. Organic health and beauty products could prove to be a lucrative industry for New Zealand businesses hoping to capture the Muslim/Halal market – so long as the products are free of alcohol, predatory animals, and swine.

Hopefully this post has given you some insights as to what services your halal-friendly accommodation, restaurant, or tour could be providing to the Muslim/Halal market. This demographic is growing exponentially, and much of the population possesses high levels of liquidity. Jump on the bandwagon, and your efforts are sure to be rewarded.