Maximizing Your Charter Bus Website

UMA Expo Seminar Maximizing Your Website Notes

Moscone Center North
Room 121
San Francisco, CA
2pm to 3pm, 1/17/08

 

1. Maximizing Your Website

2. Overview

– Making Sure Your Website is an Effective Marketing Tool
– Driving Traffic to Your Website
– Selling Via Email – A New Sales Approach the Works

 

3. Internet Growth

* 71% of North Americans use the Internet (Up 119% since 2000)
* Printed Yellow Page usage is decreasing
* Search Engines are the most popular
– 26.62% of Internet users visit Google
– 0.07% of Internet users visit yellowpages.com
* There are over 1.8 million bus-related searches per month on Google .
* Having a website is critical

 

4. Getting Up to Speed

* 18% of bus companies do not have a website
– (Freewebs.com is the largest free build-your-own website on the internet. 243rd highest-traffic in the world.)
* 57% of bus companies do not have a professional email domain (john@smithcharter.com is more professional than smithcharters@aol.com)

 

5. Two Common Content Mistakes

– The #1 issue with most websites is that they do not have enough pictures
i. Buses interior and exterior
ii. Facility
iii. Staff (Including uniformed drivers)
– The 2nd is that content is subjective
i. For example “We have great drivers” is commonly written instead “Feature – Advantage – Benefit” (FAB) statements such as, “Our drivers have over 5 years of experience so they know how to ensure your trip will go smoothly”

 

6. Let Your Website do the Selling

– Post your DOT number and link to your registration page under your company name
– Search other websites for ideas

 

7. Bringing Traffic to Your Site

– Search engines are the root source of a majority of the traffic on the internet
– There are 3 ways to capture this traffic
i. Directly through Organic Placement
ii. Directly through Paid Placement
iii. Indirectly through high-ranking directories

 

8. Organic Placement

– Pro: Free
– Con: Takes a long time to develop
i. There are only 10 slots on the first page
ii. Not all companies can come up on the first page
iii. You have nothing to lose by trying

 

9. Organic Placement – Tips and resources

– Exchange Links to build your Google Page Rank
i. Download the Google toolbar into your browser
– Change/Update your site every 5 days
– Traffic appears to be a factor
– Visit www.seochat.com
– Include keywords in your content

 

10. Top 10 Keywords

Rank Top 10 Keywords
1 bus charter
2 coach bus
3 bus rental
4 bus companies
5 bus service
6 bus transportation
7 tour bus
8 bus travel
9 charter buses
10 bus line

 

11. Paid Placement

– Pro: Immediate Results
– Con: Extremely Expensive
i. Limited slots cause a bidding war
ii. Top slots go for over $3 per click
iii. Low conversion – 3% of our paid traffic fills out a quote request

 

12. Placing on High-Ranking Directories

– Pros:
i. Immediate results
ii. Develops organic potential by building links and Google Page Rank (PR)

– Con:
i. Must research and evaluate each one (value varies)

 

13. Placing on High-Ranking Directories – Tips and Resources

– Download the Alexa Toolbar from Alexa.com to evaluate traffic levels
– Comb the search engines for high-traffic directories
– Search one keyword and city at a time
– Search Google, Yahoo and MSN

 

14. Converting Traffic into Bookings

– Internet customers will contact you via email just as frequently as by phone
– Selling via email was met with little success in the beginning (2004), but most bus companies report some level of success today

 

15. Sales Scenarios

Sales Senario Likeliness of Booking
In Person More Likely
They call you ^
You call them v
By email Less Likely

 

16. Tips for Converting Emailed Leads

– Do not reply with just a price. This is as good as throwing the lead away.
– Write up an email template that gives a company overview. Focus on factual selling points that can be converted into benefits. Show the customer you have put some time into their quote to earn their business.
– Set up your auto-reply email through your email host
– One saleswoman reports booking 90% of her emailed leads. Her approach entails:
i. Sending a personal email
ii. Includes options
iii. General information about the company
iv. Attaches photos of the bus
v. Attaches promotional information
vi. Responds within 4 hours if not immediately
vii. Says a large part of her success is the lack of response from other bus companies (her customers tell her)

 

17. Tips for Converting Emailed Leads

– Follow up every 7 days – 33% recapture rate
– Email their quote out as a ready-to-sign proposal
– Instead of replying by email, some companies report success by calling customers directly
– The online national broker’s Internet success can be attributed to assertive customer service:
i. replying to requests right away
ii. Emailing the customer a professional template email
iii. always answering their phone
iv. Professional website with high placement

 

18. Quote Reply Email Ideas

– General company info
i. Customer service
– Driver cell phones; 24/7 emergency lines; Office hours; Driver experience; Driver attire; On-time record; Movies; Hostess
ii. Equipment
– Amenities; Maintenance; Fleet
iii. Safety
– Insurance; Inspection record; Accident record; DOT compliance
– Association Memberships
– Certifications
– Photos of the Bus
– Promotional flyer PDFs
– Pricing Options
– Proposal

 

19. Build Value, Not a Bidding War

– Avoid selling on price
– Instead of answering the customer’s questions, show the customer what questions they should be asking.
i. Point them to your DOT Registration page
ii. Point them to you BBB record page

 

20. Conclusion

– Shared Success Stories and Ideas
– Questions

Strategic Partnership is Arranged Between UMA

February 1, 2008

SAN FRANCISCO – The United Motorcoach Association and BusRates.com have announced a strategic partnership that will allow UMA operator members to join BusRates.com at reduced rates.

The partnership is expected to help UMA members grow their businesses because of the proven lead generating capabilities of BusRates.com, while the deal will provide BusRates.com with additional resources that will help it achieve wider market and internet penetration.

The partnership was announced at the opening session of UMA Motorcoach Expo here late last month.

BusRates.com, which was founded four years ago by company president Mark Greer, strives to be the most current, complete and categorized database of charter bus companies available on the internet.

It is a leading resource for anyone needing to charter a bus but it is particularly valuable to the travel professional, offering help on all aspects motorcoach chartering.

Currently, upwards of 80,000 visitors and more than $20 million in potential charter work pass through the BusRates.com Website monthly.

“Partnering with BusRates.com will bring greater exposure to UMA operators, as well as help inform customers of the fact that UMA operators are typically higher in quality than other bus companies,” said UMA President and CEO Victor Parra.

“UMA operators that decide to post on the BusRates.com site should receive a windfall of new customers at a cost that could be considered a steal,” Parra added.

Aside from delivering more business to UMA-member bus companies, the partnership also should help advance the cause of making the bus chartering experience better for customers, said Greer.

“Increased reach on the internet, as well as increased consumer awareness will point more customers towards quality UMA operators and make the customers’ experience better for them,” he said.

And, from the bus owner’s perspective, “one way to reduce unpaid trips and increase communication with the customer is to work with your customers directly, and that is truly the underlying mutual goal of this partnership,” Greer added.

Working directly with customers is one of the hallmarks of BusRates.com. Unlike bus brokers, which frequently attempt to keep customers as far away from the bus operator as possible, BusRates.com directly links bus companies and potential customers. It is for that reason and others that BusRates.com is held in such high regard by hundreds of coach operators.

“The partnership creates an additional incentive for bus companies to join UMA,” said Greer. “Non-members that post on BusRates.com will want to be able to display the UMA membership logo to attract customers. Increased UMA membership will improve the association’s ability to represent the industry in Washington, as well as in the discovery of new ways to deliver better service.”

In the days following the announcement, Greer said he spoke with operators who had misgivings about the partnership. “So much for BusRates.com being a hidden gem,” one operator told Greer.

“There appears to be concern among currently posting members on BusRates.com that inviting the other members to join will dilute their current traffic levels. There is no reason for concern because as the number of advertisers increases, so does the amount of traffic.

“A random company in Atlanta that received 19 quote requests in September of 2007, received 13 the year before for the same month and 7 the year before that in 2005.

“More advertisers also makes the site more informative and useful to its visitors which would increase usage and return rates – another way to increase customers without paying for more traffic,” Greer explained.

“Partnering with UMA helps make BusRates.com the best site it can be for customers. It is also worth noting, that neither UMA nor BusRates.com is intended to create competition among bus owning companies. Rather it was created as a collaborative effort to work together.

“As a marketing alliance, together we can advertise head to head with national broker outfits on the internet, and get the word out to customers that the advertising slogans used by brokers — “At no cost to you” and “We are not brokers” — are completely false.”