How a Small Travel Agency Increased The Number of Bookings on Their Website With The Help of SEO
Krevatin and Hexis
Krevatin Tours is a small, family-run, but nevertheless, a successful travel agency based in Novigrad, Istria. It has been in business catering to domestic and foreign customers for over 20 years. Their offer is primarily focused on tourist accommodation in the town of Novigrad and the surrounding area.
Novigrad is a small town, so the offer is smaller compared to other, better known Istrian localities. Historically, this has set limits on the agency’s turnover, especially to online website traffic, irrespective of the effort to make it attractive. The key issues with a website are its looks, how many visitors access it, whether they are satisfied with what they see, and ultimately, how many of the visits materialize in actual bookings.
In 2018 Hexis got the contract of Krevatin Tours to redesign their website on the domain istriatravel.net, and implemented their booking software – Goldfish, which the agency was very pleased with.
Before this overhaul, most of the agency’s traffic was due to recommendations and external partners. This means that they depended heavily on other entities and had to pay commissions which was harmful for the business in the long run. Therefore, the goal was to skip intermediaries and do business more independently, that is, directly with interested clients (tourists) through their digital channels of choice (websites, social networks, emails, etc.).
Some of the ways of how to skip the intermediaries are Google AdWords, Facebook advertising, Newsletter, etc. These are all great platforms and tools, but unfortunately, they only have an effect as long as you pay for them. Under these circumstances, after talking to Hexis, the Krevatin agency adopted an additional approach as a long-term solution – quality website optimization – SEO. Of course, this approach is coordinated with other digital channels owned by the agency.
Concrete cooperation between Krevatin Tours and Hexis on implementing the SEO process started in February 2018. Before introducing any changes, the thing to do was a detailed OnPage analysis of the client’s website (amount and type of text, images, structure, URLs, links, etc.), its presence on the target markets (Croatia, Germany, Italy, worldwide) and evaluating current positions or indexing on Google. This was followed by an OffPage analysis (branding, backlinks, social networks and other) and optimization of existing channels (Facebook, Google My Business, Instagram, etc.).
Another important thing Hexis did for this client was market research, covering primarily Germany, followed by Italy and finally Croatia as the domestic market.
To complete the analysis we researched keywords, i.e. the type, manner, and quantity of queries, phrases, and words specific to each language or country from which the potential guests may come.
Having done the analysis, we were able to start with the optimization. The list of the key interventions (the full number is greater) we made is given below.
● Purchasing new country domains for each language and redirecting traffic from the multi-language site to the new domains
● Registering each domain on the Search Console and receiving an account on Google Analytics
● Significantly increasing the total amount of text which we designed, tagged, and edited in line with the keyword and market analysis – especially on the front page
● Adding a block of testimonials
● Introducing an added block for blog posts
● Changing H tags
● Changing URL structure
● Optimizing the image size
● Adding internal links
● Optimizing page descriptions
● Optimizing page titles
● Facebook Business Page Optimization
● Google My Business Account Optimization
● Adding, updating, and controlling required documents to the Search Console – robots.txt, sitemap.xml
In addition to all of the above, we introduced a schedule of regular (weekly) publication of news, promotions, and general posts on the website, as well as on all other digital channels, especially on social networks.
Results obtained by SEO
Our experience in optimization told us that in cases such as this particular client presented, Google needs at least three months to adequately spot and index certain changes, while the real shift is usually visible after 6 to 12 months. It is only after this period of time that concrete results can be seen. As the optimization process takes a lot of work and Google, as we mentioned, is not very “fast”, it is necessary to prioritize optimization tasks by importance in order to see the changes as quickly as possible on search results.
All of the above-listed interventions (plus those not on the list) resulted in excellent results, illustrated by the following facts:
When we compare the first year of optimization – that is 1st February 2018 to 1st February 2019 – to the same period before optimization started – that is 1st February 2017 to 1st February 2018 we arrived at the conclusion that organic website traffic increased by 204%.
SEO during the pandemic
What we will show the next best illustrates why SEO is probably the most profitable investment for an online business. Last summer (2019) was a record year in the tourist sector, so an even greater growth was expected this year. In Croatia, and especially in Istria, tourist traffic has been growing steadily for 20 years in a row. Such a trend was expected to continue this summer as well. The agency made a jump in traffic by over 200% just in the first year and for this year the expectations ran high. We noticed better indexing and better ranking of keywords on Google and the number of queries on the page was growing…
However, it was just at that time that the pandemic struck.
Interest in travel declined dramatically… Arrivals from Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, and other countries have been more than halved. In this situation, many businesses failed to survive. By rough estimates, the decline in tourist traffic in Croatia in the summer of 2020 was 50% compared to the summer of 2019.
What about Krevatin Tours in this year of crisis?
Initial Croatian National Tourist Board estimates projected a decline between 40 and 60%. However, for our client, that did not happen.
As a matter of fact, from the most important market (Germany), we saw organic traffic grow by 6.60% during the summer. This figure may seem small, and numerically it is, but under the circumstances, this result is very good, which our client agrees with.
Most importantly, the number of inquiries and bookings increased by 400%!
Is SEO worth it?
Remember the challenging question from the beginning of this case study – how to generate as much traffic as possible through your website and not depend on big players in tourism? When we started doing SEO for the Krevatin agency, only 975 visits from Google were made on their website in the first 10 months of 2017. Now, could you possibly guess how much has been accomplished in the first 10 months of 2020, in the year of the pandemic which has given Croatia the worst tourist season in the past 20 years? The figure stands at 4082, which gives us an increase of 318.6%!
No need to tell us that these traffic figures are extremely small in the view of big tourist operators, but for this client of ours they represent serious growth. Moreover, traffic figures are not the only measure of success, because optimization is not a goal for itself – the goal of a website like this is to make a profit, so we keep the best news for the last:
The client confirmed that this season (compared to all the previous ones) they had the greatest number of bookings through their website.
We can only speculate on how much traffic would have been generated if the pandemic had not struck…
This case, however modest it may be, encourages us to continue doing SEO for others, too… to help them embrace the coming season of 2021…
If you wish to reach your desired audience, increase traffic to your website, prepare it for quality advertising, contact us for a free assessment!