For last three years i've been working on my internet project, platform to sell local tours tickets (localtours.shop).
From the beggining of this year it was my full-time job (or even 24/7 job). I was trying to find some ways to gather audience to my web-site and convert them info ticket sales.
But for now, after one year of invsting my money i think i ran out of my life fuel (sound like a typical failed start-up owner problem). I'm web-programing expert and fast-learning person, so i thought that i am able to learn on how internet marketing and seo works. But at the moment i think that it will be no way for me to figure out what to do to grow my odea in a accepted time period. That is why i would like to ask you what do you think should i do next?
What i have done so far?
- build complex system for online ticket reservation (which is automaticly booking tickets at the suppliers systems)
- contacted with more than 50 companies and about 80% said, that they wanted to cooperate
- invested in google adwords for three main local tours from cracow but it didnt work out (in the best scenerio i've got what i've putted there)
- analysing web traffic and rebuild sales path for customer (first one was terrible)
- build blog to increase the level of interesting content (seo)
- trying to use internet
- know how many tickets/day means break-even
What are my questions?
1. What should i be focusing on now? I'm focusing on seo but maybe that is wrong?
2. Should i find co-founder or a person with who i will share the idea? For sure i need someone who is seo and internet marketing ninja (perfect situation for me would be me resposible for it and second person responsible for selling)?
3. What kind of tools should i use to analyze site/market/directions i shoud take?
4. Where to find people with same problems? Maybe some podcasts or other knowledge sources?
... so moreless as i mentioned before..
5. what should i do next?
Thank you for any answers and advices in advance!
Harsh reality. If i hit your site search for the pre-populated city, date - first I got a 404 page, then i got the tour results. Site is not very clear, copy is poorly written.
But lets be positive.
So if I google your city search page's title to see who else is trying to sell tours
for example i tap in google: AUSCHWITZ & BIRKENAU TOUR
There are I guess... hundreds of sites some major players + many google ads for the same tours and they are selling 10$ cheaper.
So, I don't know your business plan, or angle on what your site offers. Reality it looks like an over crowded market place.
With any business idea, building a site, writing some code, maybe getting deals to sell someone else's product (who would not want you to sell there product) does not make a business.
What makes a business is the thing you have found out is the hardest part, how to attract users, buyers and money. If anyone can do those 3 things they will bring the revenue to build a site, write some code, make some deals.
To have a business you don't need a unique idea. The fact so many sites are selling local tours could define a big market.
But you do need an "angle" for example "tours for disabled or mobility travellers"
By doing that you stand a chance of standing out to those niche customers as the best place to help them find tours.
Then you can define other niches
Local tours for travellers with pets. (ha ha)
Heck I think I am landing on $$ niches already. But I am just guessing - you can find niches using search keyword tools like ubersuggest.com.
Once you have a sales pitch, and angle the SEO will almost solve its own issue.
A while ago I spent a couple of years in Prague renting out holiday apartments before the days of airbnb, so have a rough idea what it's like. A quick look at your site shows that you have no backlinks. You can compare to one of your competitors.
There are lots of businesses renting out apartments from one-man-bands to larger companies, and none of them particularly enjoy paying commission to airbnb and booking.com, so if they can get direct bookings it's more money in their pocket. Therefore:
Tip No. 1
Get in contact with apartment owners and swap links - you put a link to them on their website, and ask them to put a link from their website to theirs. You can even pay them a referral fee if you like . This can both generate traffic and improve SEO. When I was there it was quite a friendly and cooperative community.
I haven't read the copy but the images leave it feeling a bit impersonal. Therefore:
Tip No. 2
Go out with the tour guides and take pictures of them, maybe a little bio to go with it, and pictures of customers enjoying the experience + some quotes from them.
As suggested in one of the other replies - social media is important so...
Tip No. 3
Do more with your instagram account. There are some nice images but see Tip No. 2. Go out regularly with different tour guides, post pics of customers enjoying themselves, make it a bit goofy, follow each other, follow other travel accounts and so on.
Finally, put your price up, go the extra mile, do something a bit different (I dunno, pickup from hotel in gangster limo or some other daft idea).
, re-positioning.. Go-To-Market . ... .
I haven't replied to one of these in a while, Charlie, but it seems like you really invested some effort. Couple of ideas. Maybe try a social media campaign, but focus on the customer experience. (I assume you are a customer-facing business, not B2B.) Profile some happy customers for a testimonial, for example, "I booked this awesome tour on localtours.shop." Shoot a little iPhone video for this, and ask for the customer to share a few pictures. The video will give you better results on FB, as well as more insightful analytics. Also, I think your location is great. There are so many nearby tourist hubs (Prague, Vienna, Budapest) that are basically a day trip from you. Perhaps selling some tours in one of those markets could help you expand your audience.
Charlie, I'm sorry to hear you're frustrated, but it's clear why this happened. Too late to avoid it now, but you did what a lot of entrepreneurs do, start with your product/service and then try to figure out how to sell it. This frequently turns into a problem where you're chasing an audience that isn't interested in what you built, at least not enough to sustain your business. It's understandable you start with the skills you have and hope to build the skills you don't, even if that's the wrong approach.
Because your marketing strategy should have come first and informed you what your product/service SHOULD have looked like, we have to go back to this step and perhaps correct your product. Here's what you can spend your time doing now. 1) make a list of all of your assumptions about your audience and your product and behaviors, making sure you only have one assumption per line, not combining factors 2) test those assumptions to determine which are true and which need to be modified 3) evaluate what you need to do to adjust your offering so it conforms with the validated situation, 4) go through the same 3-step process with marketing strategy so you know what is and is not going to attract attention and persuade viewers to consider and then buy your product.
I'm sure your product is something you were excited about, but if you spent time doing any research before starting, you ought to have encountered a very negative outlook for that industry and lots of discussion about why niche providers have survived. Go find those articles now and compare to what you're doing.
Good luck with revisions. It will take time to put yourself back on a productive path. More advertising is not the solution to a wrong product offering.
Thank you for your answers! I will consider all of them.
Could you please show me where did you meet the 404 error page exactly?
Hi from Atlanta, GA, USA I think your website could be more successful if you offered a more robust list of destinations and touring options. Building out additional web pages and services offerings is easier said than done, right? But with a diverse, international list of tours, with their own tagged and keyworded page, you can boost your google placement and extend your reach to more customers. Another tip would be to utilize social media and influencers for a marketing campaign that is sponsored by the company offering the tours. I'm assuming you are making money off the commission in the middle right? You can do that to scale and get other companies to pay for it if you outline a smart campaign that will drive business their way. I'd launch contests and/or sweepstakes that encourage promoting the brand on social and that captures user data like emails, travel preferences etc.