Do you have a paper brochure for a walking tour? or barn quilt tour? or driving tour? Here are seven ways to take that same tour, reach new potential visitors, and make your tourism website easier to find in searches.
See, different types of people visit different places online. So every different way you can post your information gets you in front of different types of people. And with each of these postings you get another chance to link back to your main site and to include your description, both making the search engines happy. Then, you can put links to each post or format you create on your website’s tour page. That way, people can pick the format that works best for them.
Seven ways to reach more potential visitors with your existing tours:
1. Create and post a PDF of your tour brochure.
Example with an impressive selection of different seasons: Routes on the Red
I think most places take this step of posting a PDF, although I’m constantly surprised to find websites that mention a tour, but only give one option: “stop in and pick up a copy.” You don’t gain anything by keeping the tour to yourself.
2. Make a set of photos of the stops on Flickr.
Example: Richland Creek Greenway, by Rex Hammock. Visuals are great to give the impression of a place. Flickr also lets you place your photos on a map, which gives you another way to be found.
Bonus points: create a slideshow of the photos. You can use PowerPoint and share the file on SlideShare, then embed the slideshow on your own website. You can also use the photos with a service like Animoto or Slidely to create a video you can share on YouTube or any other video sharing site. You can also embed the video in your own website.
3. Create a map of the route and stops on Google Maps.
Examples: Richland Creek Greenway, by Rex Hammock, and walking tour of Guysborough, Nova Scotia. You do want people to find their way around, and a map helps. Once again, you can embed the results in your own website.
4. Shoot a video along the tour and post it to YouTube.
Example: King County Elections video tour. So what if it’s not something you’re likely to drive to visit? It’s a very well put together example to learn from.
You can take your video camera or smart phone out and shoot short video clips along your tour route. It’s another way to give people a taste of the tour before they go.
5. Record some audio of your best guide giving the tour.
Example: Henry Ford Museum audio tour. Possibly the most extensive online audio tour I’ve run in to.
6. Put the content of the tour on a blog, like Tumblr, WordPress or Blogger
Here’s what I think makes a good blog post tour: an introduction page with links to all the stops, individual pages with photos and stories and links to the next page plus a link back to the table of contents. Using WordPress means you can easily set up a mobile-friendly version, though it takes a little extra work. With Blogger or Tumblr, you automatically get a mobile-friendly version so people can view it on their phones right on the spot.
Separate stops example: This Jersey City Art Walking Tour has great individual pages for individual stops, but doesn’t have an easy way to navigate from page to page.
One long page example: Fall foliage tree tour of Washington Square Park
Another one long tour page, but well designed to be one screen-full at a time, plus it includes a google map: Winnipeg Louis Riel Walking Tour
When I saw the Tag Tour in Grand Rapids, I noticed the signs are posted on existing sign posts, with enough text explanation to make it easy for visitors to figure out what they are for. The QR code is scannable. An alternate URL is included for visitors who use mobile internet but not QR codes. The website that the QR code links to is mobile friendly, media-rich and actually interesting!
Already have tour signs? Just add the link. Use an Avery weather-proof label, if you can’t afford more specialized decals. You can post QR codes, but you can also just post a short link. It needs to be short because people are going to type it in using their thumbs.
The first bonus? You don’t have to create a new tour, or come up with some new set of information. You build off of the information you already have compiled.
The second bonus? No cash outlay. Zero. You don’t need an expert consultant, and you don’t pay anything for any of these services, sites or tools.
The third bonus? You don’t have to do it all yourself. Rex Hammock, who created two of the samples above, is what we call at Tourism Currents an Online Champion. These are enthusiastic locals, visitors, former locals, fans and others who like your destination. It’s in your best interest to find and support your Online Champions.
I don’t expect you to do all of these, but I hope it will make you think of some new ways to distribute info about your destination.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.