There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for what your travel website should include. Because it should be as unique as your business. (Which is a good reason to avoid template-based, cookie-cutter, do-it-yourself website builders.)
When thinking about what to include on your travel website, consider who your customers are and what you want them to do. After all, the needs of a hotel that wants to accept bookings online are completely different from a travel blog hawking merch. (The former needs to include a booking engine, possibly with GDS integration; whereas, the latter needs an ecommerce app.)
Having said that, there are some must-haves that will make any travel website more successful.
Travel website must-have #1: Customer-centric copywriting
When writing for your website, bear in mind that customers don’t actually care what you do. They only care what you can do for them. This is sometimes referred to as selling benefits, not features.
As a business owner, you spend your days immersed in the minutiae of what it takes to bring travel experiences to life. And it’s only natural to want to talk about that on your website. But the key to travel copywriting is to put yourself in the customers’ shoes, and write from their perspective. Your job is to help your audience envision themselves going on an amazing journey.
Instead of “We curate unique travel itineraries that blend our knowledge with your wishes.”
Write “It’s time to turn your dream vacation into a reality. Your adventure is limited only by your imagination.”
Instead of “We cater to discerning travelers who desire a quiet, remote getaway.”
Write “Luxuriate in the sounds of silence at a remote mountain top villa or secluded beach cabana. Explore the places that tourists never go.”
Travel website must-have #2: Compelling photography
When it comes to travel marketing, a picture really is worth a thousand words. Images of rolling landscapes, adorable wildlife, iconic landmarks, and smiling people all evoke a sense of longing and desire that motivates people to buy.
Whenever possible, use images that are unique to your brand: pictures of your location, your team, your tours, etc. However, stock photography can work in a pinch.
Choose photos that are well-composed and attractive, but low resolution and optimized for the web (because high res photos will slow down your website). And the subject matter should give people a sense of what their experience traveling with you would be like.
Travel website must-have #3: Mobile-friendly design
Travelers are more and more comfortable booking travel on their phones—particularly if they’re booking at the last minute. If your website isn’t ready to capture mobile sales, then you’re missing out.
What makes a site mobile-friendly? Images and text that are easy to view and read on smaller screens. Buttons that are large and spaced out so they can easily be tapped with a finger or thumb. And forms that are simplified to avoid typing on a tiny keyboard.
The easiest way to achieve mobile-friendly design is to use a responsive website theme—one that adjusts automatically to fit the user’s screen size.
Travel website must-have #4: A blog
Adding a travel blog to your business website is one of the best things you can do for your marketing. A blog is a multi-functional tool that can be used to educate customers, bolster your social media efforts, provide content for your newsletter, and increase your opportunities to rank in search.
What you write about in your blog is up to you, but it should be designed to promote and enhance your overall brand. So if your niche is ecotourism, you might provide sustainable travel tips. Whereas, if you run walking tours of your city, you might include photos and facts about prominent landmarks.
Travel website must-have #5: Calls to action
Ultimately the purpose of your travel website is to do business. So you can’t be shy about asking customers to take the next step.
A call to action (CTA) is a simple, clear instruction for what you want websites visitors to do. This might take the form of a book now button, a chatbot, or a click to call feature...anything that encourages customers to move further down the sales funnel.
Your call to action should be prominently placed on your web pages and stand out from everything else. It might appear in the page header, as a floating button, or as a popup. It’s best to limit your CTAs to one per page, though having one primary and one secondary CTA is also acceptable.
Your CTA should also be contextual and relevant to the page. For example, if the page is a blog post about coral reefs, you might include a CTA to book a private snorkeling tour.
Travel website must-have #6: A reason to join your mailing list
Since most of the people who visit your website probably aren’t ready to buy just yet, you’ll want to stay in touch with them until they are. And while getting them to follow you on social media is nice, getting their email address is far more valuable.
A simple “join our newsletter” form is a good start, but the vast majority of website visitors won’t give up their contact information unless they're getting something in return. That “something” is what we call a lead magnet.
A lead magnet can take the form of a downloadable guide, a coupon code, a webinar link, or a sweepstakes entry. Anything that can be delivered via email can be used as a lead magnet.
The most effective lead magnets are highly targeted to appeal to your ideal customer. For example, if you offer bird-watching tours, your lead magnet might be a downloadable guide about migratory birds that visit your region.