WRITTEN BY DR. DAVID URMANN, TOURISTLINK FOUNDER
Local travel agents in Africa often have a hard time reaching out to foreign travellers unless they have developed foreign business partnerships and every business can benefit from new approaches to market to local customers. Promoting one’s business online and via social networking is rapidly brining down these historical barriers and letting even the smallest travel business promote themselves on a global scale.
Touristlink, a new social network for travellers, lets travel businesses create free social profiles and get free leads either by responding to member travel requests which can be customised as per the profile of the traveller. Travelling members may add business members to their social network, providing invaluable marketing contacts and potential future clients.
Touristlink was launched public beta in October 2011 after seeing a need for a marketplace that lets travellers request the exact services they need and get multiple offers from travel providers. Travel businesses and organisations can create free social profiles and interact with travellers in a value-added environment, rich with relevant up-to-date content and targeted reviews.
Touristlink offers a suite of easy to use tools that give business owners the opportunity to highlight the destinations they serve and specific travel expertise. Members can interact with businesses and ask them questions about tours or activities before making a reservation.
The African travel market offers great opportunities for small businesses looking to promote themselves via company websites and through social networking. However it is not easy and every online business strategy must be well thought out and executed and the returns are usually promotional to the amount of effort that is put into the strategy. Unlike the European and US markets, the online segment in Africa is still in the developing phase and is yet to be dominated by large companies, so small companies who are willing to act can still get a foothold and develop an online presence.
Touristlink is founded by GotripIndia and works in close partnership with GotripAfrica which is based in Nairobi. The GotripAfrica office is available to help travel agents and tour guides with setting up profiles on Touristlink. By browsing through Touristlink, hopefully it is clear that it is much more than a transactional platform and is primarily a social network and destination guide.
Every Touristlink member is different and this is reflected in his online profile. We believe that the travel providers who will be most successful on the site will be able to take advantage of this and customise offers based on the members’ profiles.
As an avid traveller and guidebook author, having founded the website, I believe that a key part of the Touristlink strategy is making the site a place where travellers can build relationships with providers, ask questions and get advice even if the end result is not a sale. Business owners, whether marketing on Facebook or Touristlink should realise that hard sale tactics are not a good approach in a social environment and that each customer needs to be approached individually with services that their needs.
To find out more, visit Touristlink.com.
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