A digital nomad’s guide to Guadalajara

Almost three months ago we moved our nomadic HQ to the beautiful city of Guadalajara, Mexico. The largest city, second only to Mexico City, Guadalajara had a lot to see. After spending these three months exploring the city, learning about the culture, the cuisine and the unique marketing trends taking hold, it’s time for our quarterly guide for other digital nomads that are looking for their next remote work destination and want to make sure that Guadalajara is the right place for them!

Like the last time, we’ll discuss all aspects that digital nomads need to know before travelling to this beautiful new city. We will share our experience with you so you won’t have any doubt that Guadalajara deserves a spot on your travel list! Let’s begin.

Free WiFi and internet speed

Every guide for digital nomads has to start with the resource that fuels our lifestyle, the availability of a reliable internet connection. Access to free WiFi is the first thing you need to ensure before moving to a different city if you want to keep enjoying the digital nomad lifestyle (and your job). Guadalajara’s city council keeps a list of Zonas WiFi where you can get access to a good internet connection.

Apart from the zones on that list, you can access reliable WiFi from hotels, restaurants, and our favourite, coffee shops. Our go-to work space was Starbucks, and the WiFi is always reliable there. If you use Airbnb for your accommodation, 90% of places have WiFi available. Always double check before booking just to be safe.

The average internet speed in Guadalajara is around 16mps, it’s not the fastest internet but it was enough for us to get our projects done on time, so we can’t complain too much! Unless you need to send huge files in seconds regularly, you shouldn’t have any problem to do your work and enjoy other online activities like binge-watching that new season of your favourite Netflix show to reward yourself for that empty to-do list.

Safety in Guadalajara

Overall, we didn’t have any issues with safety during our time in the city. While there are hotspots to avoid and certain times of the day to avoid wandering around, normal safety precautions are enough to keep you out of harm’s way. In general travellers can walk around the city without feeling unsafe as long as they act with common sense and keep an eye on their belongings, especially expensive electronics like mobile devices and laptops. Stick to the main streets and populated areas, especially at night.

If you avoid dangerous neighbourhoods like the outskirts of Tomalá and the east of downtown and keep an eye on your gear you shouldn’t have any problem here. From a health perspective, don’t drink tap water and protect yourself from mosquitoes. It’s also good to know that travel health insurance covers most travellers during any length of stay in Mexico.

Coworking spaces

There are many coworking spaces available for you to work comfortably in Guadalajara. You can find WeWork offices and other options like the local Hospicio Coworking, Metta Coworking, Regus MX and Epicnest. Local coworking spaces offer all the amenities you need to feel focused, comfortable and ready to meet those deadlines. You will have high-speed internet, all the coffee you need to stay awake, phone booths, access to conference rooms, bilingual staff if your Spanish is a bit rusty and, in some cases, playrooms, popcorn and even a massage. The per day rate usually costs a little more than $10USD and monthly subscriptions are around $120USD.

AC Hotel Guadalajara by Marriot (www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/gdlac-ac-hotel-guadalajara-mexico/)

Where to stay

There are plenty of beautiful hotels in Guadalajara in all price ranges, many of them with their own restaurants to enjoy a nice dinner after a long day of exploring the city. Some famous examples include Hotel Riu Plaza and El Tapatío Hotel & Resort, and lower budget options like Hotel Dalí Plaza and Hotel Castilla y Leon. Apart from the many hotel options, you can find a lot of rooms available on Airbnb in Guadalajara. Keep your budget in mind and read the reviews. Take it from us, there are some great and some really not so great Airbnb options in the city. Take your time to search for the one that suits you best.

The digital nomad community

Cocohub is a decentralised coworking and coliving community of digital nomads and remote workers that aims to start local communities for location independent workers in many cities around the world, and Guadalajara has its own remote work neighbourhood associated with the Cocohub community. You can join their WhatsApp group, find a room in the neighbourhood and join other nomads. They can help you to know the city better, have a great time together, and even meet great business contacts in the process.

Low cost of living

As in all cities, you can find different price ranges across Guadalajara, but on average it isn’t very expensive. For a stay of around three months, staying in an affordable hotel, and eating out three times a day you can expect to spend around $1,100USD per month. The average Airbnb room costs around $22USD per night, and you can get a good dinner for $10USD.

Getting around

Uber has helped us a great deal. You will see many buses travelling around the city, but we have had many times where we got on a bus with the correct number only to find out after going somewhere very different to our destination that there are two or three with the same number. Be careful and don’t be afraid to ask someone at the bus stop if you are going to venture a journey on public transportation. With Uber, once your driver arrives, always check the license plate and ask who is the driver picking up. As we said in the safety section, you don’t have to feel unsafe in Guadalajara, but crime is a factor in all big cities.

Local Opportunities

Some people consider Guadalajara to be Latin America’s Silicon Valley. This is thanks to its growing technology and electronics industry. Not only is the government working on projects to increase this sector, opening spaces dedicated entirely to its growth, but international giants as well as startups are turning their eyes on the city with the aim of opening new offices. Technology isn’t the only industry that is growing in the city, there are many professional opportunities in the city for you, even if finding a full-time job isn’t why you’re travelling, being informed about the business landscape of the city you’re in is always useful.

Puerto Vallarta

Lifestyle and Tourism

Guadalajara is full of tourist attractions of all types, and we were sure to enjoy as many as we could during our three month stay. The few day trips we managed let us see Lake Chapala and Ajijic, the circular pyramids of Guachimontones and the beach towns of Sayulita and Puerto Vallarta. If you miss the beach and you can take a trip, Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Nayarit is only a five hour bus ride away. It might not be as internationally known as other Mexican beach towns like Cancun and Playa del Carmen, but it is definitely worth a visit. The nightlife, surfing and overall relaxed vibe are big draws for tourists.

But you don’t have to leave Guadalajara’s to enjoy culture and good nightlife. Chapultepec and Zapopan are two main centres for this. There is a lot more than partying, there are many cafes, shopping, cultural events like those held at the Teatro Degollado.

Takeaways from our three months

After three amazing months of exploring the great city of Guadalajara, it’s time to move to our next nomadic HQ. With good WiFi, amazing sights and flavours, and a good community of travellers it was definitely a good choice to visit Guadalajara. We couldn’t leave before telling you all the reasons why Jalisco’s capital needs to be on your list. This city has a lot to offer digital nomads and remote workers. Just a few more days for us in the city, but while we are leaving, we strongly recommend you start making plans for your own visit to Guadalajara.

We’ll see you in our next nomadic HQ. London here we come!

Vacation rental marketing, what do you need to know

According to a study made by TurnKey Vacation Rentals, 2020 will be the year that the vacation rental industry will surpass the hotel industry in bookings. It is still early in the year to take the reins and be part of this historic shift, but how can you achieve that? What can you do to increase your bookings in 2020?

We have your answer. We put together a list of tactics and marketing tips you can implement to be found by more potential guests and convert them into happy customers that will share their experience with other potential guests. Add these to your marketing strategy as you see fit and by the end of the year you’ll be celebrating with even more guests next year.

Tripadvisor and vacation rental listing sites

This part is so essential that you can hardly call it a “tip”. Research from Google shows that the vast majority of customers plan everything about their vacations after an online search. Your target audience isn’t only searching for places to go and where to stay, they are analysing everything about their trip. They will search for reviews, attractions close to your property, restaurants nearby, the weather, tweets of angry guests, everything.

And if that wasn’t enough, your competitors are all on these sites, and your potential guests are seeing all their photos as well as their 5-stars reviews. So, you need to be there and show them that your rental property has everything they want and more.

There are many sites dedicated to listing vacation rental properties, but when it comes to trips and vacations, Tripadvisor is your best bet. They are the biggest travel site in the world and receive millions of visitors every month searching for the best places to stay, food to eat, and experiences to enjoy. So it goes without saying that you should get listed in Tripadvisor as soon as possible. There are two ways to do that, you either do it yourself by clicking on the “Get listed now” button just below the search box, or you claim an existing listing made by a customer who left a review.

Once you have your listing, add high quality pictures, keep all the information updated, and answer all reviews. You can use this to identify trends and potential problems that you need to fix before they leave a mark on future reviews.

Tripadvisor isn’t the only site you should consider, when it comes to property listings there are many platforms and OTAs (online travel agencies) that can bring you the guests you want. An extremely popular example is Airbnb. With traffic increasing every year, it already surpassed the strongest competitors in its market. You can also try Homeaway, Airbnb, VRBO and Flipkey.

Competing against other properties once you get your listing is a topic that deserves its own article, but for now, let’s move to the next step!

Help them find you with search engine optimisation

Even when sites like Tripadvisor receive massive amounts of traffic and Airbnb is skyrocketing, there’s also a growing trend among travellers to prefer booking directly on the property’s website. This has a big advantage for you when it comes to increasing your margins, you don’t have to give a percentage to anyone and offer discounts to compete, but the problem is, how will renters find you?

The simple answer to this question is, Google. Everyone uses Google’s search engine to find anything, that includes properties to rent. This comes with another question, how do you appear among the search results when someone searches for a short-term rental in your area? The answer is SEO (search engine optimisation).

SEO includes all the things you can do to tell a search engine that your site is relevant to a specific search query or keyword. They want to show the best possible results to their users, so you need to prove that your website will answer all these questions and offer a good user experience. One of the first things you need to check is your site’s loading time. The faster the site, the higher it will rank. Once you optimise this, you can use a keyword search tool like Clearscope to find the exact terms your potential customers are using to find businesses like yours. Make a list of keywords that have low competition and high search volumes, and use these keywords in your titles, descriptions, copy and image alt text.

Be careful not to fill your website with keywords that don’t make it an easy read. Simply having keywords with no flow to the text might be good on grading for keywords, but it won’t be good for your actual website visitors. Keep your copy relevant, useful and easy to read. You don’t even have to use exact phrases. After years of improvements, Google learned to identify keywords in different orders and using synonyms, so you can keep your writing conversational without affecting your rankings.

The last step is telling search engines that your site is the best option to show to their users by earning links from websites with a good reputation. This part is a bit more tricky considering it is not completely in your control. Our suggestion is to leverage partnerships with local businesses or organisations, list your property on Google My Business and write content that can be linked from other sites (more on this later so keep reading!).

Increase your conversions with A/B testing

We have already talked about how customers may prefer booking on your own website and how search engines will take your customers there, but once you achieve that, you’ll find yourself asking another question. How can I increase the percentage of people that make a booking after visiting my website? Well, there is actually something you can do!

Conversion rate optimisation allows you to get more bookings by analysing what is causing your visitors to leave before booking. The main way to do this is by A/B testing different parts of your website to determine what changes cause an improvement. A/B testing consists of comparing two different versions of the same page. One is the base version and the other has a single difference. For example, a bigger button or a Call To Action in a different location. Both versions are shown to your visitors for a while and the one that gets more conversions can stay.

After some time doing this, the increments will pile up and you’ll enjoy more conversions without needing to increase traffic.

Give your customers a voice with social media

It is almost impossible to talk about digital marketing without mentioning social media. Your customers will use platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share their experience with their friends. With every guest’s posts comes the chance to find more customers.

It makes sense for you to be there to participate in the conversation, answer tweets and make sure there are high quality pictures and videos of your property. Also, you can provide a space for your customers to express themselves and share their opinion, and you can be there to act fast on any online complaints.

Social media opens the door to contests, influencer marketing and you can even include it as part of your loyalty program to expand your reach to an even bigger audience of potential customers.

Email marketing to keep them engaged

Your customers can find you using search engines, and you improved your conversion rates using A/B testing. But, no matter how good your website is, some people just aren’t ready to make a booking when they visit your site. Sometimes people are just researching trip ideas or just looking at nice locations to dream. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do something to capture this traffic, they might not be ready to book now, but here is where email marketing can help you.

Even if someone isn’t ready or interested in making a booking, they might be interested in receiving news, content or special offers from you. You can give them the option to subscribe to an email list to nurture the lead, keep them updated and send offers to eventually turn them into customers. For better chances of converting a visitor into a subscriber, offering them something in exchange for their email, checklists, guides and other forms of content they can download are great options.

You can use email marketing to increase your retention, keeping a list only for past guests to stay in their minds and turn them into loyal customers.

Paid advertising and retargeting

SEO, social media, and email marketing are effective to attract and convert customers, especially when used together, but they take time. You won’t rank in the first page overnight, it takes months of constant work. But you need more traffic now, and for that you can use paid advertising platforms. There are many platforms you can use to advertise your property on a pay per click basis. The most popular ones are Google Ads and Facebook, but you don’t have to limit yourself to these options.

You can consider using Instagram ads, or even Tripadvisor’s own ad platform to reach your target audience exactly when they are searching for a vacation rental. If you use Google’s platform, use keyword tools to search for the ones with higher volumes and lower cost per click. Keep your budget in mind to mark limits to your daily and monthly spending, and A/B testing your ads to increase your conversions since your returns will depend on getting more conversions with less clicks.

Keep in mind that the cost per click might change over time. Competition gets tighter and seasons influence search volumes, so don’t set it and forget it unless you want to waste your budget.

Retargeting is one of the wonders of online marketing. Sure, you can control the targeting settings of your ad campaign according to keywords, preferences, demographic data, etc., but on an individual level you don’t have control over who sees your ad. You don’t know if they have clicked before, and you can’t do anything for them to click again. This is when retargeting shows its main advantage. You can mark your website visitors with a special cookie and show ads specifically to those with that cookie. You know that they know you, you know that they’ve been searching for rental properties in your location, but for some reason they didn’t book or subscribe. Now you can keep nurturing them and get them to come back.

Even if they subscribed before, you can also use retargeting to recover cold leads from your email list, and use it to support other strategies.

Blog content to showcase your property

In the SEO section, we mentioned that you can write content that can be linked from relevant websites and attract visitors from search engines. Well, with a blog you can do this on a weekly basis while you also increase your website’s reputation and get subscribers. Use keyword research tools to find relevant topics (even if they aren’t necessarily commercial topics) that your target audience might be interested in. You could write about tourist attractions around your location one week, then about good restaurants the other. Keep your audience interests in mind when doing this. If you know your guests may be interested in outdoor activities, you can write about that trekking route not so far away from your property.

You can then reach out to other websites that would benefit from adding a link to your post, search for websites in similar areas that aren’t competing with you.

Airbnb’s strategy

As we said Airbnb has an entire decade of immense growth that has changed the online rental landscape in ways that no one expected. It has surpassed the biggest hotel chains and OTAs, and its growth hasn’t stopped. So we want to talk a bit about their marketing strategy and what we can learn from that.

The first thing we need to understand is that a difference between Airbnb and other listing sites is that users have a dynamic role in building the platform. Users aren’t limited to fixed positions as owners and renters, but they are both at the same time. Not only that, both interact on a personal level and trust becomes the force that drives the internal market of the site. After all, you are renting directly from people.

The opportunity of renting a room in your own house made it possible for a lot of people to turn their guest rooms into a successful rental business. In exchange, Airbnb received a vast amount of listings to offer to their renters all around the world for a fraction of the price of a hotel room, and the lower costs attracted the audience of travellers that didn’t want to spend their whole budget on accommodation.

To take this to the next level, Airbnb dedicated a lot of effort to conversion rate optimisation. Their site is carefully designed to increase conversions on all levels of their sales funnels.

Takeaways for vacation rental owners

The vacation rental industry is growing year by year. It has its own challenges when it comes to using digital marketing tactics, but knowing the resources you have at your disposal to stay on top of the competition and in front of your potential guests will help you to enjoy this growth. Paid ads, blogs, email marketing and good old SEO will increase your bookings and you will have more guests leaving great reviews about your property.

Just remember to be present where they search for properties to rent, whether that is Tripadvisor, Airbnb, your website or social media. Answering comments and reviews, testing ideas and comparing the results, you will see those numbers going up or at least you will find what exactly is keeping them from growing. And, if you need a hand, don’t hesitate to contact us!

How to write engaging social media content

We all want a prolific social media presence. Huge conversion rates, tons of likes and clicks to send everyone to our website to fill our sales funnel and share our valuable content. Brand awareness is everything is key after all. But, most of your social media posts get just a few likes, an occasional share/retweet and not a single click except for that single click with a 100% bounce rate.

This makes you believe that no one is actually reading your posts, and you might be right. Attention is the currency of the internet, and in a landscape as crowded as any social media network, everyone is fighting for a minute of your time. Users don’t read all the posts they see. They scan their feeds and read when something captures their attention long enough for them to scan twice and, even then, they’ll likely look at the picture, read a sentence, and move on.

There is of course more to it than copywriting, considering visual content and video get the vast majority of engagement, but if your writing fails to keep their attention, then they will leave anyway. Do you want to improve your writing to increase and retain engagement levels on your social media accounts? Then keep reading!

The social media marketing strategy

First, you need to know what exactly you want to get from this. A social media strategy will outline your goals, like increasing brand awareness, solving problems for your customers, or supporting a content marketing strategy. Once you have a clear outline of your goals, you can decide what tactics you are going to implement to achieve those goals.

This is relevant because, if you are going to put in the extra effort, you need to direct that effort into what will bring the best results.

Choosing the right social network

Each channel is different, so the way to your followers is also different. You may think that at this time you know everything you need to know about each social media network because you’re a user yourself, right? But that isn’t necessarily the case. The way you use them is unique to you and what you consider engaging could be different than what your audience considers engaging.

Take your time to study successful profiles of businesses like yours, How frequently do they post? What types of content? How long is their copy on average? What do they talk about? Do they write in a formal tone or is it more playful? Check for things like format, structure, frequency, theme and tone to find patterns and identify what your audience expects from you on each channel.

Of course, there are some general rules regarding each platform. Social media channels like Twitter require you to post frequently, depending on your audience you’ll have to be ready to send from 1 to 10 tweets per day. Also, a tweet can be 280 words long, but the ideal tweet for better engagement on average is from 71 to 100 characters. On Linkedin, people expect a professional tone, while Facebook and Instagram are better for emotional content and storytelling. You don’t need an account on all platforms, if you can’t find many businesses like yours with a major presence on a specific channel you probably won’t need one either.

Learning about your target audience

Now that you’ve been studying how businesses in your industry write on each social media platform, it’s time to learn about your customers. If you limit yourself to imitate what other businesses are doing you will find it hard to position your own brand, and your specific audience is likely to be different than theirs. Start with your current customers, if you haven’t made customer personas then it’s a great time to start, ask them about their needs, expectations, what they like, their favourite social channels, and more, but keep it relevant.

Now it’s time to go back to social media. Check the interests of your followers, especially if some of them are already customers, spend some time looking at the followers of your competitors and find trends. Pay special attention to the problems they might face, people respond quicker to relieving pain than to receiving pleasure. If you own a cafe in a commercial building and your customers are mostly busy executives, what will capture their attention better? “Come taste our amazing coffee” or “Meeting in an hour? Enjoy a quick recharge with our potent espresso”? The latter speaks directly to their needs and problems, and in consequence, is more likely to capture the attention of a reader and turn them into a customer.

Finding your brand’s voice

Finding your brand’s voice and tone deserves a full article (or even a full book) and we’ll discuss it in depth in a future post, but for now let’s give you some tips to make it easier for you to understand why you should care about brand voice and how to find one that works for you and your customers.

In many ways a brand online works just like a person would. They have a personality, a voice, a style, values, and they can interact with individuals just like any other user. Of course, you want your brand to be friendly to other users, but it doesn’t stop being a business, and businesses need to sell to stay alive. Knowing that those interactions can be the difference between getting a new customer or not, you want to use the voice and personality that works best for your business.

First, brainstorm some personality traits that you associate with your audience and your business. Remember the previous step and use your buyer personas to guide you. Now ask employees about their opinion, especially the ones that have the most experience interacting with your customers. Ask them to vote which one of those traits they associate with your audience and your business, and if they think about one that you haven’t listed, add it too.

Once you have a list of traits with a considerable amount of votes, focus on those and expand a bit. If your business is “playful” think about what that means for you. What kind of things does a “playful” person do? How do they participate in conversations? How do they react to comments? Make a list of sample comments, answers to typical questions, and expressions for each trait, and then try to connect two or three of them to expand your list even more. Keep your values and goals in mind, your business can have a snarky personality like Wendy’s but there’s a difference between that and pissing your customers off on purpose.

After all this, you should have internalised your brand’s personality and voice. Keep the list as a guide for you and your writers to help them use your brand’s voice properly. We help brands in the food & travel industries to define a branding strategy and find their brand’s voice and personality. Let us help you discover the best way to interact with your customers to maximise engagement, contact us now!

Types of content that limit your copy

Copywriting is a means to an end. The goal of every line is to get your readers to read the next one. In social media, most of the time, you want to direct those readers to a piece of content on your website or a landing page. But sometimes you want all their attention on the post you’re writing. For example, when you’re offering a promotion or want them to participate in a give away to get more followers.

Depending on the type of content you’re using, the length of copy you can write varies, but the more concise you can be the better. No matter how good your copy is, your followers don’t have time to waste and you don’t want your copy to distract them from taking action. A social media content strategy will help you to plan the best way to communicate, but here are some tips based on the typical types of content you might use:

Data-heavy content: When posting things like infographics, don’t waste your reader’s time repeating all the facts in the image, select the most interesting one and use it as a quick introduction. Here there are two things working in your favour. You can appeal to your audience’s curiosity if these are just interesting facts, or you can help them solve a problem if the information you present is relevant.

Video: Videos usually take time, so your copy needs to be short to compensate but still make clear the value of the video. Think of the reasons why it would be beneficial for them to spend several minutes watching it. What is in it for them? Then, use that in your copy.

Ads: Ad copy needs to convert. You might be tempted to add a lot of details to increase the chances of making a sale, but an ad isn’t a landing page. Choose a pain point your business can solve and use that with a call to action.

Understanding trends and hashtags

You don’t have to turn your profile into a news feed to take advantage of social media trends. They will help you to know what your audience is talking about and what they want to read. Use this to help you write something they are interested in. Tools like Buzzsumo and Keyhole are great to track trends and hashtags, but you can do a lot just by following influencers your audience follow and paying attention to what your competition is doing.

Keeping your audience engaged

Earning your audience’s attention isn’t something you do once. If you want to keep them engaged you need to build the expectation that your content is consistently good. They will read your copy if they are used to liking what you write.

To achieve this, you need to achieve two things, a stable frequency, and consistent quality. A content calendar can help you with both. You can plan great content ahead of time and ensure it is posted on time. Choose the frequency according to each channel, and keep reading to learn how to improve your quality over time.

Checking your progress

Now that you’ve done all of this, it’s time to measure your progress. You won’t improve your copywriting skills overnight, so it’s important to keep an eye on some KPIs (key performance indicators are stats you check to know if you’re doing well). Likes and new followers are still important to measure your progress, but if you want to see how successful your copy is, you need to remember its main goal.

You write copy to direct your readers to perform a certain action, so you will want to measure clicks. No one will waste time clicking on your content if you didn’t at least attract their curiosity. Compare it with the number of impressions to know what percentage of the people that saw your content actually paid attention to it.

You should also check meaningful comments. People can’t talk about something they haven’t read, and it will give you a lot of valuable insight about their opinions.

Takeaways for creating engaging social media content

Copywriting for social media is a skill that works best with consistent planning and analysis, but if you put the focus on your audience’s needs and pain points and offer a relief, you’ll start seeing a difference soon enough. Take your time to learn about your audience to see how you can help them, and prepare your content to deliver new posts on a regular basis. Don’t forget to track the results to see the engagement rates you desire. Always make sure you are working efficiently.

If you don’t think your writing is up to the challenge, there are always copywriters out there to help you catch your audience’s attention. Why not let Forager Media’s copywriters help you. Contact us for a free quote today.

Why graphic designers are important for travel brands

We rely on our eyes to understand the world around us. And, thanks to art, writing, photography and digital media, we use our sight to transmit more than just a simple sense of survival. We are constantly being shown images, whether intentionally or unintentionally, that are meant to sell us something. Graphic designers have spent time planning the feelings they want us to have towards their work, and what memories or emotions to associate with their brands.

In the travel industry, this is the way to turn a general concept into a whole experience. Your potential customers can let their imaginations run wild while they navigate your website. The graphic designer takes your travel brand and makes it a must see. Let’s talk about the specific ways this benefits your business.

A design to set your brand identity

Good design work starts with a thorough understanding of your brand identity. After all, the brand is meant to showcase everything the business wants its potential customers to know in order to fall in love with it and spend their money. Any visual communication needs to have this in mind, and needs to keep with the personality that the brand is trying to develop.

In the travel industry, branding is what will set you apart from the tens, hundreds, or even thousands of competitors that are selling the same product as you. Take tour operators in Sydney, Australia. You can bet that most of them will be using a similar photo of the key points of interest for the city. The same can be said for hotel in New York City. How many of them will list the same attractions as being “nearby”?

Good branding requires more than graphic design, it requires strategy, market research and a deep knowledge of your target audience. The visuals that come out of this background knowledge are responsible for connecting all that work with your potential customers.

The main visual products that come out of brand identity are the following:

Logo design

The goal of a logo is to serve as a full-time team member. It is quite literally the face of your brand. It will live in your customers’ minds and help them to associate all the positive aspects of choosing you every time they see that design. Your customers already love travelling, so they need to associate those emotions or that destination with your brand, and think about it every time they want to feel like that.

Typography

Even if typography isn’t as “exclusive” as your logo, the fonts and styles you use affect the perception your customers have of you and the message you send. The typography should be selected and paired carefully to serve its purpose, taking into consideration the brand’s story, industry, target audience, goals, and more practical factors like advertising materials used and legibility.

Colour palette

All brands, and even whole industries, have colour palettes they identify with. These colours palettes aren’t just a preference, the factors that designers and branding specialists consider before choosing a set of colours for your brand go from colour theory to psychology. Some colour combinations trigger certain emotions and, after centuries of brands taking advantage of this, now people associate certain colours with certain types of businesses. One of the best examples of this is red and yellow. We can all think of at least a dozen restaurants that use these colours in their logos and marketing materials. These colours evoke a hunger response in people, and restaurants capitalise on this.

It’s a designer’s job to understand this and help the brand choose the right palette. And then, like an art director, ensure that all materials use the right palette, usually offering alternatives when the regular palette won’t have the desired effect, for example light backgrounds vs dark backgrounds.

If you haven’t set these styles up, Forager’s design team can help give your brand the visual personality it needs to attract the right customers. Get in touch!

A design for you social channels

Social media platforms are fast-paced channels where you compete for the attention of your target audience against thousands of your competitors at the same time. If you want to be heard amongst the noise, you need to publish high quality visuals with your posts. Graphic designers can create the visual materials you need to keep your audience engaged and clicking. Ensuring every post fits your brand’s personality and shows the same quality as your products or services is important.

Apart from the posts, you need to showcase your brand identity all over your profile. You need your profile picture, cover photos and other aspects to have the right dimensions and the right quality. With a designer on your team or with the help of an agency’s designer, you will save yourself more than one headache trying to make everything look perfect.

A design for the best user interface

One of the main interactions your potential customers will have with your brand is through your website. This is a great area to let your brand identity fly. Graphic and web designers work together to deliver the best possible experience for your visitors. Your website should leave a lasting impression that will keep your customers coming back. Also, with the help of a marketing specialist, these designers can create a high converting website design to keep your visitors moving through your sales funnel.

Use design to connect with your customers

A graphic designer can help build a connection between your business and your customers. By using their skills, you can create a unique personality that your customers enjoy interacting with. They don’t want a faceless corporation when it comes to their holidays. They want to know they are going somewhere comfortable and somewhere that they can enjoy their hard earned time off. There are a lot of factors involved in this process like trends, technology and psychology, and your competition is working as hard as you (or even more) to get the attention of the same audience.

This goes way beyond your online presence, good design work will make the difference for every contact point you have with your potential customers. Gaining people’s attention during trade shows and travel fairs, or increasing the chances of a call after handing someone a business card is made all the easier with a good design.

Keep your customers informed

Last but not least, for many people it is a lot easier to understand and retain information when it is presented in a visual format. Take a moment to search for infographics on platforms like Pinterest, and compare that to reading a 2,000 word blog post about the same subject. In this business, you need to keep your audience informed of special announcements, and you need to sell them on the desire to take their holiday with you. Your graphic designer will be able to tackle this and make it easier to digest the information you need to get across.

Design can take your brand to new levels

In the age of digital media, design has become essential for virtually all industries. As the need for an expert designer increases in most aspects of your business, the need for someone that understands our business and understands the industry becomes more and more important. Find a designer to take your holiday destination and turn it into something that inspires new customers. Your customers want to enjoy themselves on their holiday, so take that first step and let them enjoy your brand before they even arrive.

A good designer will take your brand and create its personality. That way, no matter where they interact with it, your customers will carry that same feeling with them. Many people think that they can save money and quickly put together something for their marketing or website. While it might be possible, without the help of someone that is trained in graphic design, you run the risk of letting your brand down by making your customers feel that the quality of your brand is not what they thought it would be. Good designers will do more than create pretty images for you, they will analyse your audience, business and industry to give you the best design possible according to your specific situation.

If you want a team of experienced designers in the travel industry, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Keys to communication for remote work and travel

Freedom is one of the main reasons why someone chooses to work as a freelancer. The freedom to choose their own schedule, set their own rules, work their own way, etc. Sometimes freelancers and people with remote jobs want to take this one step further and they start using their freedom to become what we call Digital Nomads. A Digital Nomad is someone that travels the world while doing remote work. You may have a part-time job, but like many other ways of living, the digital nomad lifestyle requires a full-time commitment.

One of the challenges that you face when travelling while working is communicating effectively with your team or clients. They need to be able to trust you, so you need to be there for them and ready to answer when a situation requires it.

In this post, we’ll give you some advice to help you improve your long-distance communications without keeping you from enjoying your travel to its fullest. Don’t expect a list of tools, but best practices and things to keep in mind to avoid future problems.

Get used to different time zones

If you are travelling the world while remote working, you’ll likely be in a different time zone from the rest of your team or clients. This already adds some complications but, usually, when working as part of a remote team or with more than one client, you’ll have to learn to work with multiple time zones at the same time while you keep changing yours every few months.

Tools like Slack will tell you the local hour of your teammates, but you won’t always be using Slack, so try to keep a general understanding of everyone’s time zones to plan accordingly. If you’re in Bali, Indonesia and you need to talk with your co-worker in Medellin, Colombia about a deadline that’s getting close then you’ll have to wake up early in the morning or stay after 8:00 pm to catch them. It is a small concession to give you the opportunity to live this lifestyle.

If you’re freelancing, and one of your clients is in Lisbon, Portugal; the other one in Cape Town, South Africa; and another in New York City, US; you’ll have to be very careful of your deadlines and the work that needs to be done for each one because we’re talking about three completely different times of the day. Clients are concerned with their deadlines, not with your sleep habits. If you don’t want all that to turn your travel experience into a mess, keep a general awareness of everyone’s time zone and plan accordingly.

Find a coworking space

Ok, the majority of us became remote workers or started freelancing because we didn’t want to be near a cubicle. But, having a stable place you can work from will become necessary sooner rather than later. The act of going to a workplace triggers healthy work habits that will help you to stay connected and stay productive.

In coworking spaces, you’ll have everything you need to work comfortably and you can find them in most cities around the world. Also, you can find like-minded people that prefer remote working. Talk with them and they can share tips with you and maybe even a new destination to check out.

Illustration from slack website (https://slack.com/intl/en-mx/)

Direct communication: Slack and its alternatives

For remote workers, having a direct communication channel is essential. You’ll use it to plan and work on projects, send files, ask questions, ask for help when you need it, or send memes during breaks (or during a meeting). Usually, you won’t give a lot of thought to choosing the best method or platform to use. You might even try to just use WhatsApp or another instant messaging app, this might work in some cases… But, in general, it is a terrible idea.

What could go wrong?

If you work with more than one client or you are part of a team, you’ll notice very quickly how these apps lack the features you need to keep effective communication channels without losing your mind. You need to be able to categorise communications, search for information quickly, send and receive files, keep track of multiple conversations at the same time, and depending on the kind of work you do this list could be bigger.

Trying this on WhatsApp can be tricky. Switching from a personal account to a business account can help keep things more organised if you prefer this type of communication. You can categorise by client, by work type and by team. And, as we have found, many phone plans have WhatsApp as a free service, not deducting from data plans. This means no matter how many messages or files shared there are no extra charges at the end of the month. It doesn’t have a solution for every communication problem, so there are some alternatives to consider.

What platform to use

As of now, the quintessential solution to apps like WhatsApp, whether you’re a freelancer or a remote worker, are Slack and its alternatives. Skype is useful for calls, but that is pretty much it. Whatever tool you decide to use, just remember to keep in mind what features you need to keep everything organised and easy to find. Here is a quick list of things that an effective tool should provide you with:

  • Organised conversations with groups and individuals
  • Quick access to previous messages, search-ability
  • File management
  • Native integration with other tools you use (or at least allow you to integrate through Zapier/IFTTT)
  • A mobile app, preferably
  • A way to turn it off when you won’t be available

Ok, I found a tool I like, now what?

Now, these tools are only useful if you keep effective communication habits. Check your messages in a timely manner, but don’t let them interrupt your work, especially if maintaining focus isn’t easy for you. Try to stay aware of the general state of each project you’re working on to know if you should be expecting messages that require your immediate attention. If that’s the case, you should be checking all new messages as they come, but avoid answering immediately if it isn’t necessary. If there aren’t any emergencies right now, just take small breaks from work every few minutes to send and answer messages. Communication is important, but you can be absorbed by chats easily if you don’t set priorities.

Asynchronous communication

You don’t always have to answer in real time to keep effective communication with your team or clients. Frequently, your first conversation will happen through email. This gives you a few hours to answer without causing any trouble. In some cases, this is the most effective way to communicate, for example company announcements, general reminders, weekly status updates if teams are too big, etc.

Email is the most common option, but it’ll get messy sooner or later, so what many remote teams use is a specialised tool like Fridayapp or Twist for specific purposes and then they allow email notifications. A CRM is a great way to keep everyone on the same page regarding any activity with a lead or client.

For this type of communication, you should set apart specific times a day to check new messages and update everyone. This type of communication is designed to add structure to establish workflows and reduce distractions from matters that don’t need an immediate input from you, but you still need to participate.

Work-life balance for digital nomads

Travelling the world, enjoying the benefits of a remote job, can be a liberating experience, especially if you have trouble managing your work-life balance. But even though the digital nomad lifestyle can free you from many of those problems, it comes with its own set of issues for your healthy work-life balance. If you’re going to be travelling frequently, you need to consider the time you’ll spend searching for accommodation, a new place to work, food, and all the activities you plan to do. This is time your availability could be limited, and you can’t wait to the last minute to let everyone know that you will be busy for a week.

You don’t want your work to become an obstacle to enjoy your travels, but you don’t want your travels to become an obstacle to getting your work done. The best way to keep that from happening is getting your work done on time, communicating frequently, and setting clear boundaries. Letting your messages and work pile up will make a mess of your schedule and take time away from you that you could have been spent going on that tour you planned for next weekend.

Always think about WiFi

Being a digital nomad, your work depends on your internet connection, so let everyone know if you’re going to be away from a reliable WiFi source. In many cases being away from notifications will give you time to rest and recharge your batteries, but if it’s not your day off it can make you anxious, especially if you couldn’t notify anyone that you’ll be away. This won’t help you enjoy your lifestyle and it surely won’t help your performance at work, so keep it in mind when planning your days. It is always best to be open with your clients if you think you might lose signal for a bit.

If you want to scout out public WiFi, there are some handy apps to use. Check your app store to see which work for the areas you are travelling. Depending on where you are, you could easily find a coffee shop with free WiFi.

Remote communication takeaways

Communication is a key element of any aspect of life, but when it comes to keeping a remote job as a digital nomad it has its own challenges and ways to approach it. You will rarely have the chance to have a face to face conversation with any of your clients, so you need to use the tools available to keep everyone on the same page. Keep in mind your specific needs and be aware of the challenges of each situation to choose the right tools and develop habits that help you to be as present as any in-person employee.

How Guadalajara is Taking Tourism to the Next Level

We have already mentioned how Guadalajara, Mexico’s second largest city and our current nomadic HQ, has turned into a preferred destination for business travel due to its position as a technology hub as well as a meeting point for many industries in the area.

That, combined with a local culture that exudes authenticity, their contributions to Mexican culture overall, and their unique approach to tourism has helped turn Guadalajara into one of the most popular destinations in Mexico and Latin America.

As we have been exploring the city, we have more detailed insights into what sets Guadalajara apart from other popular tourist destinations in Mexico like Mexico City. There are definitely amazing attractions in the city that are helping to contribute to its tourism strategy.

First, let’s talk a bit about what makes this city different in terms of tourism!

Guadalajara’s Approach to Tourism

There’s something you’ll start to recognise after spending some time exploring the streets of Guadalajara (or GDL how the locals call it), especially around the most traditional touristic areas, and that is the way in which the locals make you participate. Interactive is the keyword here. Many places allow visitors to do more than stand, take photos and buy their products. Locals try to involve you in the process, making you an active part of the experience.

Why limit yourself to buy local delicacies when you can also help to make them? Often visitors will walk into shops to find the owners preparing something and, instead of asking them to wait or stopping what they are doing, the shop owner will begin introducing what they are working on and how it is made. This way there isn’t a disconnect between the purchaser and the product. Getting a chance to know what makes the product special and the effort put into it, makes each visitor have more of a connection with it.

With this focus on authenticity and warm experiences, visitors get a deeper connection with the place itself, differentiating Guadalajara from other cities. For many tourists, this feels fresh and unique and leaves a lasting impression that follows them back home.

Cultural Roots and Authenticity

One of the many things that sets Guadalajara apart from other big cities in Mexico is the way it remains close to its cultural roots on almost all aspects. It has grown to a large metropolis, but the city’s urban landscape has stayed in harmony with its roots. It grows and evolves, but Guadalajara remains Guadalajara.

Many businesses and institutions make local traditions a part of their own branding, helping to expand the city’s identity across all commercial sectors as they grow. This creates a rich environment that tourists can enjoy without sacrificing their comfort or the authenticity of the experience.

Photo by CliNKer on flickr

Combining Work and Play

We have established that Guadalajara is one of the most popular regional cities for business travel because of the IT and electronics industries, the constant investment in development, and the number of event centres like Expo Guadalajara, but even business travellers need to sit back and relax for a bit when they are somewhere new.

Business travellers may start their days in meetings or conference rooms, but after work you’ll find them exploring the whole city. Attending a concert in the Teatro Degollado, listening to mariachi music in the plaza or eating tacos and tortas ahogadas just like the rest of the visitors to the city.

As soon as everyone leaves the city, they’ll be planning their next trip. Next time they will take that tour through the local distilleries they missed, attend a convention for mariachi bands, explore Lake Chapala and visiting Tlaquepaque or the Hospicio Cabañas building to watch José Clemente Orozco’s murals (declared world heritage site by Unesco in 1997).

Photo by Nuestros Dulces

Nuestros Talleres, rescuing traditional Mexican sweets

The main goal of Nuestros Talleres is to rescue and protect the traditional sweets and chocolate of Jalisco. The brand lets you participate in the making and tasting of various sweet delicacies like rompope, cajeta, marzapan and local chocolate. You can also buy a lot of traditional sweets and tequila because Nuestros Talleres’ owner also owns Nuestros Dulces, a local company dedicated to producing and distributing typical Mexican sweets.

What makes Nuestros Talleres unique?

Nuestros Talleres is located in a 150 year old house in the centre of Tlaquepaque, away from the metropolitan area. With the help of Sayula Etiqueta Naranja, Cajeta Lugo, and chef Cristina Taylor from Chocolatería Artesanal, Nuestros Talleres keeps the sweet flavour of Guadalajara, Jalisco and Mexico alive while providing you with an opportunity to connect with their history and culture.

What marketing tactics are they using?

Nuestros Talleres takes advantage of the marketing efforts of tour operators that bring groups of tourists to the area throughout the year. The business creates an experience that is authentic and unique. That leads to many customer referrals and testimonials, giving them authority online for a good tour. Press are always looking for something interesting and unique to write about for new digital stories, so by having a creative hook, Nuestros Talleres garners good coverage.

Jose Cuervo Express, a journey through the land of tequila

Tequila, the iconic Mexican spirit that fills the shot glasses of the world was born in Jalisco, and as you would expect is one of the biggest tourist attractions of the region. Among the many tours dedicated exclusively to tequila and its history, the Jose Cuervo Express stands out. Every Saturday you can take a train trip to the blue agave fields and the La Rojeña distillery, one of the oldest distilleries on the continent and the place where Jose Cuervo produces its famous tequila.

What makes Jose Cuervo Express unique?

Mundo Cuervo, the hospitality and tourism branch of Jose Cuervo, offers other attractions that add to the tequila experience. The Solar de las Animas and Villa Tequila hotels, Hacienda el Centenario, and beautiful gardens, typical Mexican patios, and the biggest bar in Latin America are all there to add extra layers to each visitor’s experience. They turn an iconic product like tequila into a bigger experience, sending their customers on a journey through time and space to witness the story of the nation, the town and the brand.

What marketing tactics are they using?

They leverage their brand to uncover opportunities. Jose Cuervo is mainly a tequila brand, but they expanded by creating a whole division dedicated to hospitality. Hotels, guided tours, their own train and even a cultural centre let them sell more than just a drink. By leveraging the history of the area and the global reach of Jose Cuervo tequila, the hospitality branch is able to draw in guests that want a more in-depth experience with the brand other than just a quick stop at duty-free on the way home. They market online through travel agencies, platforms like Airbnb and through their own site. Each one of these areas has its own marketing channel but all of them are connected, each one targets different segments of their audience and then sends them to their other offerings while connecting all of them to their brand and their main product.

Tour Street Art GDL, exploring the colours of the city

Guadalajara is filled with many galleries, but the city itself is a gallery. From the historic centre and the many street art installations, there has popped up a small industry of walking tours that let visitors enjoy the artistry of the state of Jalisco. Tour Street Art GDL takes visitors through the public art galleries that many streets have become. There are many different iterations of these tours, all vying for top spot with tourists.

What makes Tour Street Art GDL unique?

You don’t need to be an art connoisseur to enjoy this tour, just keep your mind open to the stories that surround the city as guide, Karen Mora, walks you along the colourful streets. This tour doesn’t just leave the art on the walls like others, it let’s participants make their very own street art and takes their experience to a different level by making each customer a part of the tour.

What marketing tactics are they using?

Tour Street Art GDL utilises many different avenues for its marketing. Important for tourism brands is to get in front of as many different potential customers as possible. Listings on larger sites like Airbnb, Expedia and Viator take advantage of those site’s marketing power and piggyback their efforts. But, as with many tourism brands, Tour Street Art GDL takes full advantage of social media, crafting engaging visual content to inspire potential customers to join in.

What tourism trends we learned

Guadalajara is a metropolis and each of its surrounding suburbs, Zapopan and Tlaquepaque being the main ones, offers tourists a vast array of touring options. The villages of Jalisco offer up great day trips as well. But, for each of the tour operators that want to attract their potential customers, they take advantage of the marketing power of other businesses as a main source of their ticket sales. Nuestros Talleres and Jose Cuervo both use the history and culture of the region to build up a unique experience for their visitors. Their offerings, like Tour Street Art GDL, include the visitor into the tour and make each feel like they are a part of the experience, not just watching.

Being able to use other online services that leverage huge visitor counts lets these brands reach a larger number of potential customers than they would be able to if they tried to work solely from their own website. Platforms like Viator, Expedia and even Airbnb are bringing in millions of monthly visitors, and by listing on these sites, tour operators in Jalisco are able to have increased reservations without having to spend as much on advertising. There is strength in working together with larger brands when it comes to selling tickets. Let the bigger brand do the hard work and just focus on providing an exceptional experience to beat out the competition.

Web Design Trends for Travel Websites

Nowadays, businesses in all industries acknowledge the need for a properly designed website. The travel industry and the different business categories it encompasses are no exception. There are many reasons for this, for starters travel agencies, hotels and tour operators want to deliver the best service to their customers, and in order to do that they need to keep their website in the best conditions.

Another reason to be up to date with web design trends is competition. The travel and tourism industry is highly competitive and is always finding ways to improve, so businesses are always searching for the best travel website design inspiration to be one step (or more) ahead of their competition.

There are many topics to consider for your travel site, and here is where we explore some of those topics for you. Whether you are tackling it in-house or looking for help from an agency like Forager Media Group, it is always good to have best practices in mind.

Image taken from Vidanta’s website (https://www.vidanta.com/)

Branding for travel agencies and tour operators

Branding is the first aspect a tourism website needs to consider and it can be a bit tricky. You want your visitors to connect with your business and your brand, but you also want them to focus on the travel experience and the amazing destination you are located. Sometimes even beautiful design can be a distraction, and you don’t want your potential customers to get distracted before they book. You need to remember that in this case travel and tourism are your products and services. There’s no reason you can’t associate the experiences your customers will enjoy when they travel with your own brand, especially if your business adds to the experience.

Competition is another aspect of branding that can be hard for a travel business. After all, how are you supposed to compete with a business that covers the same places that you do? Well, differentiation here is key. You need to keep in mind that it isn’t about the tours and destinations, it is about the people that visit them. Keeping in mind the wants and needs of your potential customers makes the process of differentiating your travel business from the competition more straightforward.

The same applies when you’re designing your new travel site. If your key differentiator is comfort for example, your web design should reflect that from the moment your visitors first see your homepage. Other aspects of branding like consistent visual appearance are still essential for tourism websites. Arguably even more than for other industries because your customers can visit the same places when buying from the competition, so you need to be sure that they remember you.

If you are needing help with branding, you can always let Forager give you a hand. Our branding specialists have years of experience working with businesses in the travel industry to deliver effective branding and marketing strategies.

Keep your travel website user-friendly

Traveling is amazing, you enjoy new experiences, relax, learn new things, meet new people and collect a lot of new memories to share with your loved ones and treasure forever. But, planning a trip can also be a scary experience for some people. It might be the first time they do it in a while and want everything to be perfect, maybe they’re worried that the airbnb listing they chose ends up being a scam, or maybe they are full of work and don’t have the time to plan properly.

That, among many other reasons, is why you should never ignore user experience when you’re working on your website design. If you want travellers to choose you instead of your competition, start by creating a user-friendly website instead of a clumsy website full of clutter that makes it difficult and confusing to make a booking. In many cases, customers won’t choose the best option, they will stick with the best website and avoid the others.

Image taken from RCI’s website (https://www.rci.com/pre-rci-en_US/index.page)

The homepage for travel and tourism sites

Talking about user experience and keeping your site user-friendly, the homepage is frequently the first encounter your customers will have with your business. You need to seize the opportunity to capture their attention immediately. All elements of your branding should be present to welcome your new visitors immediately. All the functions they expect from a business like yours should be there. You need to research what your customers are expecting from you. A common trend in travel and tourism websites is to add a very small form over the fold asking about desired destinations and preferred dates to allow customers to find an available service in a matter of seconds.

The best web designs include all the expected functions and information without causing the homepage to look cluttered. Finding the right balance could be difficult sometimes but your effort will be rewarded with conversions and loyal customers.

Include a travel blog

This is one of those pieces of advice that have been repeated over and over again for years, but there’s a good reason for that. A travel blog is the best way to bring attention to the details that make the experiences you sell a great investment. It is an opportunity to attract new visitors interested in more specific topics and communicate directly with them through your content.

Most importantly, a travel blog is a way to turn your travel website into a lead generation machine. No matter how much effort you put optimising your web design, the majority of your visitors will most likely leave before making a booking and if that happens you won’t have a way to contact them. But, with a blog you can increase the chances of a subscription to a newsletter or other type of mailing list, keeping an active channel to contact your visitors and increase the chances of a future sale.

High-quality photography is a must

When the service you offer is connected to a travel experience, whether you provide your customers with a guided tour or a hotel to stay, you need to help your potential customers imagine what it is like to book with you. Photography is the most typical and useful way to achieve this, accompanied by great copy and video. The mental picture they’ll get will be as good as the photo you choose, so make sure that the one you use is a high-quality photo that reflects the experience in the best way possible. Aim for natural, well-illuminated photos showing people enjoying the service you offer.

E-commerce trends and the travel industry

Adding online booking to your site is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to applying e-commerce principles to a travel business. Travel agencies, hotels, tours, airlines and car rental service providers are all evolving to capture the attention of travellers that desire for more information, simpler processes and better experiences. Studies suggest the global online travel market to exceed $1 billion by 2022. Your travel business needs to be ready for that.

Tourism website design needs to stay ahead of the changes in consumer behaviour and new technologies that affect it. One of the improvements that all tourism websites need to apply as soon as possible is making every bit of the website mobile-friendly. Currently, around 28% of the market’s revenue comes from bookings on smartphones, and that doesn’t include all the research customers do before booking. This number is expected to grow as trust in mobile payments increase.

Getting Google’s attention

Last but not least, your travel site will be competing against thousands of others, but only ten will appear on the first page of Google’s search results. SEO is more effective when planned from the beginning. Making a good website is easier than fixing a bad one. Search engines are the first tools travellers use to research destinations and offers. They often check what travel bloggers have to say about them. So, appearing on the first page of search results will give you a great advantage and send many more visitors to your site.

On the web design side, the first thing you need to check is performance. Visitors expect your website to load in two seconds or less, and Google expects it to be ready by the half-second mark. Bad design can lead to a slow website and a slow website can lead to poor rankings. This translates to a lot less bookings. Good design helps to reduce bounce rate and keep your visitors exploring your website. This gets you points with Google’s algorithm and helps you to earn and keep your rankings.

Travel web design takeaways

Each business is different. Web design tends to follow some general principles, but every industry has its own challenges and needs and you need to adapt to the requirements of your business. In the travel industry, you need to adapt quickly to the changes in consumer behaviour and new technologies or else your competition will surpass you during the busy seasons. Keep in mind the aspects we mentioned here and do your own research using analytics or tools like surveys and social media listening to understand your own target audience better and use the data you collect to test new ideas and improve the performance of your website week by week.

10 Tips to Market Your Hotel on Instagram

By now we have talked a lot about digital marketing for the food industry, especially for restaurants. We have published a lot of tips to get the best out of a restaurant’s social media and other digital marketing efforts, but now, we’re going to look into how hotel marketing can make the most out of their Instagram feeds. Hotels, like food brands, have something very visual they can share with potential customers. That makes Instagram a great place to reach their audience.

In this post we will showcase our top 10 tips to get the best results when using Instagram to promote a hotel. Though there are basic aspects of social media marketing that are usually valid to all industries, we’re going to pay special attention to the challenges for hotel marketing strategies to be successful on Instagram.

Why is Instagram good for hotel marketing?

There are many social channels to choose from, and depending on resources and a hotel’s target market, one of the most interactive and inspiring for a destination-specific business like a hotel to use is Instagram. The magic of Instagram is that it is the perfect platform for visual storytelling. Its platform is focused on high quality photography and video content with both short and long form copy, so it’s perfect to appeal directly to your potential guests looking to let their imagination fly.

Apart from that, Instagram provides all the essential tools needed to convert followers into bookings and customers, allowing contact information and buttons to be added so that the marketing team can track all clicks. Instagram is the perfect addition to any content marketing plan.

And speaking of tracking, Instagram provides you with actionable data about the performance of your posts and stories. These insights are priceless if you want to have control and understanding of the growth of your profile and how it translates into sales.

Now, let’s take a look at some tips that will help your hotel’s online marketing take advantage of Instagram better!

1. Have a strong marketing strategy

Avoid going in blind. The first step to success in social media and all marketing channels is knowing the newest marketing trends and knowing what your competitors are doing. Being prepared means you know what goals you’re aiming to achieve and, specifically, how Instagram makes them happen? What steps are you going to take to ensure this final result? What are you going to do if it doesn’t work?

Apart from these questions, you need to know who your ideal hotel guests are and have clearly defined roles for everyone involved in each marketing campaign. Don’t rush the process. Take time to write a detailed social media plan to ensure you won’t be wasting time or money, or even better, let our marketing specialists take care of that for you!

2. Research and write customer personas

Making customer personas is part of what makes a successful marketing plan. This is true for Instagram too. In order to really know your customers, you need to stop guessing and gather real, verified data about them. This includes anything from demographic information to behavioural data. You need to know who they are, what they like, do they use a computer or a smartphone, where are they from, and do they use platforms like TripAdvisor to make decisions on where to book.

A great place to start is right from your current hotel website. If you have Google Analytics set up then you will be able to access a lot of that data already.

Customer personas are semi-fictional profiles of your ideal customer and the result of that research process. Collecting this data is a bit easier for the hotel industry because direct contact with customers is a constant occurrence. By giving quick surveys to guests, you can gather quite a lot of information used to formulate the best marketing strategy.

3. Customers want a story, give them one

When a person travels, they aren’t just thinking about moving from point A to point B, they’re already imagining all the things they will do when they arrive. Even business travellers put some thought into how to enjoy the hotel and the destination. Putting your storytelling skills to work becomes essential to an effective communication between your hotel and your guests.

Focus on the experience and the emotions that your guests associate with it to post visual stories they can connect with, and don’t forget the power of user generated content. The good thing about Instagram is you can share content from other profiles. If a guest posts an online review, share it. If they post a photo of their stay, share it.

4. Quality over quantity

It might be tempting to post 4 different photos of the hotel every day with 8 stories of people jumping into the pool, people love that right? Sure, they probably do. But they also love the 20 recipes, 150 baby pictures, and 2000 cat videos they find every hour scrolling down their Instagram feed.

Your goal here should be to differentiate your content from the crowd. Aim to publish one high-quality post instead of four mediocre ones. This way your content can become a breath of fresh air to relax from an overcrowded feed.

5. Work with influencers, but do it wisely

Influencer marketing is an excellent way to reach wider audiences, increase brand awareness and get more customers. But not all influencers will get the expected results for all businesses. It depends on both of your audiences and current goals. Check your customer personas again and compare them to the influencers you find. Does it make sense that your audience and their audience overlap?

Do your homework with influencers because we have all heard horror stories of influencers that aren’t really all they claim to be. Check their followers, their engagement levels and their content for suspicious characteristics. A big following is great but it isn’t necessarily a sign that it will get you more followers, you need to pay attention to their posts and the engagement rate from the past 14 days.

6. Leverage trends and seasons

This one goes without saying, seasonality is essential to all businesses in the travel industry. Local businesses know their on and off seasons, and you can use this to predict customer behaviour and adapt accordingly. This should include your Instagram profile.

The same goes for social media trends and hashtags, pay attention to what your audience is doing and with your customer persona at hand participate in social media trends in a way that makes sense to both your brand and audience. Loyalty programs, for example, can easily be utilised to draw in more followers.

7. Stand out with video content

Video content is being used more and more, and there are good reasons for this. Video is an effective format to capture the attention of your audience and many marketers agree that it produces the best ROI (return on investment) compared to other common formats like images or pure text. Check out software like Lumen5 for easy ways to make video content.

Video is a great way to tell a story, and you have plenty of options to try. Use Insta Stories to share brief moments, and IGTV to use longer videos to tell a more detailed story. Feel free to get creative as long as it makes sense. You spent a lot of time coming up with a branded look to your website design, so make sure your videos don’t stray from your brand image.

8. Be ready to invest in ad campaigns

Getting new followers and increasing your reach on Instagram by organic means is still possible. Just like word of mouth still works for promotion of a brand, organic growth is still a powerful tool. But to reach as many people as possible, paid ad campaigns are still the best. Instagram gives you different formats and options to use their ad platform to expand your reach and convert customers.

You don’t have to spend thousands on ads, but be aware that for some things like special promotions, you might need to keep a good balance between organic and paid efforts to get the conversions you want.

9. Listen carefully

Social listening consists of observing the conversations and mentions around your market through social media channels. This can be how you are mentioned in relation to local tourism and local events. It is a convenient way to gather priceless information about what your target audience perceives as interesting. It also shows how they perceive your brand.

It’s useful to prevent a crisis, expand your reach, develop a positive image, improve your service, find influencers and gather ideas. Use social listening tools and keep an eye open to the conversations people are having about your hotel, then you can use your discoveries to improve your Instagram strategy.

10. Measure and optimise

Last but not least, one of the most important things you can do on a regular basis is tracking all your activity to have an in depth understanding of how everything you do is bringing you closer to (or keeping you away from) your goals.

Use Instagram analytics or a third party app to find trends, monitor progress, measure performance, fix problems on time, and uncover opportunities. If you don’t have the experience to analyse all the data, let Forager help you.

Every hotel business is different, and it’s up to your creativity, your goals and your knowledge about your audience to know what is the best way to use your Instagram profile. Whether you are a boutique hotel or an international hotelier, following a few basic tips will give you a good starting point. Remember to track your activity and really understand your hotel needs to be able to experiment and improve week by week. Eventually you will discover what works best for you and your audience.

If you want more help, feel free to get in contact with one of our marketing specialists.

We have a new Mexican home!

Our new nomadic HQ:

Guadalajara, Mexico

As you know, Forager is a team of food and travel lovers who enjoy the digital nomad lifestyle. We aim to travel to as many different parts of the globe as possible, exploring new cultures and learning new trends to help our clients be more competitive. One way we ensure this is by choosing a new nomadic headquarters each quarter. Of course we still love Cork, Ireland where Forager Media Group is permanently based, but we are excited to be calling Guadalajara, Mexico our new nomadic HQ for the first three months of 2020!

We packed up in Vancouver and headed south to sunny Mexico. Vancouver was an amazing city for digital nomads and entrepreneurs, full of delicious food and sustainable businesses. And though we love Vancouver, especially Forager’s founder, Bryce Mathew Watts who was born there, it was time to go to our new destination, and that is Mexico’s second city, the beautiful city of Guadalajara!

“Man of Fire” mural by José Clemente Orozco in the Instituto Cultural Cabañas, Guadalajara, Mexico

The second largest city, but not second best!

Guadalajara, or GDL to locals, is considered the archetypical Mexican city. The capital of the state of Jalisco, it is home to some of the most iconic Mexican cultural emblems: tequila, mariachi music and charreria (a Mexican-style of rodeo).

Second only to Mexico City, Guadalajara is a huge metropolis. It has an historic centre stretching back almost 500 years, which is home to the Palacio de Gobierno, the beautiful Guadalajara cathedral and the mesmerising maze of Mercado San Juan de Dios. The artisan district, Tlaquepaque, to the east is where visitors can find the best art and handicrafts from Jalisco and beyond. Each of the neighbourhoods, or colonias as they are known, have a unique characteristic and make each part of the city a new adventure.

Its biggest suburb, Zapopan, is where many larger companies are based, including Expo Guadalajara and the World Trade Centre, and it is also where Forager Media Group is setting up for our three month stay.

The city carries the title of being Latin America’s Silicon Valley. Although many cities are fighting hard to be considered as such, Guadalajara’s technology and electronics industry have a history that can be traced all the way back to the 1960’s, which means it is packing quite a punch in order to keep its rival cities at bay.

Usually a business destination, many people travel to Guadalajara for work, but from the moment they put a foot in this colourful city, the flavours and the people make it difficult to distinguish it from a leisure trip full of experiences to remember and repeat.

Colourful umbrellas giving shade to artists and travellers alike on Andador Independencia in Tlaquepaque, Mexico

Guadalajara: The colourful

Arriving in Guadalajara one of the first things you’ll notice are all the different colours. It is a bright and lively city, with free concerts, cultural events, street markets and lots of traditional handicrafts spread out across the many colonias. The city is a perfect combination of everything the Forager team loves to find when travelling.

But the decorations aren’t the only thing that makes Guadalajara diverse. Previously known as one of the most conservative cities in the whole country, Guadalajara has evolved into an increasingly progressive city. Now, it has become so progressive that it is considered to be the gay capital of Mexico. And because of its large business sector, it is attracting talent from all over the world.

A delicious torta ahogada at one of the many take aways in Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara: The flavourful

Tapatíos (the name locals give themselves) are very proud of their food, so much so that you can’t go a few metres without coming across another delicious food venue. There are many local delicacies to try here, but not being from Mexico, our team thought tacos might be a bit of a cliche. We were wrong, tacos are mandatory and cheap as chips! All conversations lead to food in Guadalajara. Their rich gastronomic culture is a source of pride and with such strong flavours and colourful lates, we will be quite busy these months.

Some of the most popular dishes include Birria which, to many, is the most iconic plate of the city. Made of goat with a blend of tomatoes and spices, it is accompanied by corn tortillas and fresh lime. Don’t forget to try tortas ahogadas as well. It is a pork sandwich in a crispy baguette that is unique to the city. Torta ahogada literally means “drowned sandwich”, once made it is covered in a tomato sauce similar to a beef dip except no au jus, just tomato. With every food in Mexico, all we can say is ask how spicy things are before you pour too much on. Similar colours, but with VERY different heat levels.

Photo taken from Wework website (wework.com/buildings/punto-sur–guadalajara)

Guadalajara for digital nomads

Guadalajara has a lot to offer digital nomads. There are loads of options for co-working spaces like WeWork, Regus and the local company Nevermind. Internet speeds are fast and ready for your daily remote working without problems.

Life is affordable in the city and there are some nice remote work-friendly opportunities thanks to the current growth of the technology industry and others from local companies and international giants that expand to the region. As so often we find ourselves working from a local cafe, you won’t be without options here in Guadalajara. There is the standard and reliable Starbucks, but there are a whole host of other small cafes to choose from. Take a stroll down Avenida Chapultepec, one of the trendy centres filled with boutiques, or the high-end Providencia, or even the restaurant hub that is Chapalita. There will be plenty of places to park your laptop and log a few billable hours.

There are very few obstacles to do business in Guadalajara. You may find it difficult to communicate without at least a basic understanding of Spanish, but locals are friendly and will try to help with sign language if needed.

And when it comes to safety, if you’re used to relatively crime-free cities (like the case of our previous HQ, Vancouver) you’ll notice a difference in Guadalajara. It isn’t by any means a very dangerous city, but crime does happen here. Muggings do happen, so it is always a good idea to stick to walking around during the day and to not leave anything unattended. With a little common sense and good planning, you won’t feel any less safe than in other major cities. Just make yourself familiar with the places you should avoid and develop basic safety habits like keeping valuable objects with you or at home.

The famous circular pyramid at Guachimontones in the mountains of Jalisco, Mexico

What to do in Guadalajara

Now let’s talk about fun things to do in the city other than work. Starting outdoors, for those who love to spend time in nature the charming park of La Barranca de Huentitán is perfect to take a relaxing walk, or a run along its cobbled path like the locals. At the end of the park, you’ll find thermal baths where you can relax after all that exercise but beware, there aren’t changing facilities so if you plan to get in the water go wearing your swimsuit and be ready to go back with damp clothes.

Keeping with the nature theme, there are plenty of day trips out of the city, like visiting the pyramids of Guachimontones or heading to Lake Chapala. And who could say no to a little stop over at the beach after a hard week of working. Well you are in luck, Puerto Vallarta is just a short bus trip away. Rest up on the beaches and have a drink or two to recharge for more work and exploration.

For the foodies, Guadalajara hosts many food festivals with local and international food for you to enjoy, and the history lovers will be delighted by all the tours across all the vestiges of the last 500 years.

The iconic blue agave fields of Jalisco are how we get Tequila

Tequila!

Of course, being the capital of Jalisco, the state where the iconic Mexican spirit was born, we need to dedicate an entire section to the amazing liquor made from the blue agave.

Tequila is made by a special process of fermentation of the nectar from the blue agave. It is a succulent (a plant that holds moisture in thick leaves) native to Mexico and the southern United States with a long list of other uses and benefits apart from making Tequila. It is also used to produce a number of other spirits, including Mexican mezcal and Venezuelan cocuy.

Guadalajara and the surrounding towns are very proud of their tequila, especially the town bearing the same name. It is so important to local identity that the United Nations has designated it a World Heritage Site, and there are many tours that will take you directly through the many distilleries.

The beautiful skyline of Zapopan at sunset

A three month adventure awaits

We are looking forward to exploring Guadalajara and Jalisco state over the course of our time here. Every cafe we can find, each restaurant we visit and every tour we go on will help us feed our sense of adventure, understand our industry better and harvest the best new trends for our clients. We will be sharing our experiences and shedding light on how Tapatios go about promoting themselves and their businesses!

A Digital Nomad’s Guide to Vancouver, Canada

Working full time as a remote worker has been gaining popularity over the last decade. Freelancers are embracing the trend and enjoying the advantages of the digital nomad lifestyle. Being a digital nomad in Vancouver, Canada can be a nice adventure from the usual work schedule. A nice change of scenery is exactly what draws many digital nomads to this type of work. Freelancers enjoy better working conditions that adapt to different needs and life expectations, and companies experience real cost savings for their office needs.

As a result, digital nomadism has become a popular lifestyle for professionals, especially those in the “knowledge industry”, and a goal for people new to the labour market and entrepreneurs. What better way to explore the world than by still being able to make an income while doing it.

Digital nomads typically spend a lot of time travelling the world, and that is exactly what the Forager team does. Since we launched our Digital Nomadic HQ program, we wanted to find the best city to start off. Over the course of these past three months, we have been exploring the beautiful city of Vancouver. Exploring the region, sampling new foods and learning about the local culture, both in and out of the marketing industry. Armed with our laptops, smartphones and a great international calling plan, we set off to explore our new nomadic home in British Columbia.

As with any new city, Vancouver comes with its own challenges that any established or aspiring digital nomad needs to consider before embarking on this journey. After three months here, we have come to find some great things about this city we wanted to share with you.

Overall, Vancouver is an amazing city, and any digital nomad looking for their next stop would do well to add it to their list. Below, we have put together some of our takeaways from this Canadian nomadic HQ.

Free WiFi

For any digital nomad, the first thing to be aware of is the availability of WiFi. Vancouver is one of the tech hubs of North America, so it is no wonder why it has so many great spots for free WiFi. In the downtown core, you can find plenty of work space to use at venues like the Central Library. There are also plenty of cafes with WiFi that can be utilised for the cost of a coffee (from $2.50CAD). The neighbourhood Forager set itself up, Gastown, has plenty of options.

Our only suggestion when visiting an independent cafe would be to check if the internet is working. We have purchased a wonderful cup of coffee or tea, sadly without any way to get online. Apart from that, you can find a more typical Starbucks if you want to stick with what you know.

Vancouver Public Central Library

WiFi at home is standard as well, so no matter if you are staying in a hotel or an Airbnb, there will be a good connection for those times when you just can’t sleep until you get just one more thing done.

Safety

Taking measures to ensure you are safe is essential for digital nomads, especially when travelling to places you aren’t familiar with. Vancouver is virtually a crime-free city. Petty crime can occur, so it is still important to pay attention to your surroundings and never leave valuables unattended on the table at the cafe. Crimes against travellers however, are very rare so you can feel safe as you walk around the city. Whether enjoying the nightlife or going for a run along the seawall, there is no need to feel unsafe.

Hot Desking and Co-Working

For many, a coffee shop or Starbucks is more than enough, but the comfort of using a space specifically designed for productivity and getting work done is what gives others the fresh start they need. Vancouver has a whole host of co-working spaces to park yourself for a few hours or days. You can find different WeWork options, Regus options, and some local ones too. We checked out HiVE because of its social impact focus.

Photo taken from Wework website (www.wework.com/buildings/station-square–vancouver)

If you prefer a dedicated working spot to be able to separate your day, then check out some of those options. And remember your old friend Google if you need to switch it up from time to time. There are many other providers you can choose from like L’Atelier Vancouver, VanCubers and Pavillion Cowork.

Local Opportunities

Even when you’re travelling the world as you work, it is always a good idea to check on local opportunities and build new contacts, find more clients and even a new job. For those interested in the tech industry, it is the perfect city as tech giants like Microsoft are opening new offices, and that entrepreneurial atmosphere brings new opportunities.

The local food industry has a lot of opportunities to offer (apart from unique flavours you won’t find anywhere else) and the film and television industry is quite active too. You can find plenty of local opportunities if you are searching for a new professional adventure.

Lifestyle

Of course, not everything in the life of a digital nomad is about working. We love this lifestyle because it allows us to enjoy all the things we love about travelling the world while still sustaining our careers. There is no need to sacrifice one thing for the other.

So, let’s talk about the fun part! Enjoying your new destination will keep you motivated to continue this career choice. Vancouver has a prolific food scene that you won’t be able to enjoy in a single trip. There are just too many things to try and places to visit and if you’re a foodie like us believe me, you’ll want to try everything. We even made a post about the local food scene, go check it out!

Water Street Cafe

Food isn’t the only thing waiting for you. Vancouver has a lot of events happening each week. Check out websites like Meetup to see what is going on in and around the city. There are plenty of concerts, theatrical shows, music festivals, film festivals and sports for you to enjoy.

If spending time in nature is your thing, don’t forget to take any of the local tours like the Sea to the Sky Gondola or just go for a hike in a local forest. You can’t miss the opportunity to go out and gather your own food from the woods if that’s not common in your city (or if you miss it) but before doing that, research the local rules and make sure you know how to do it safely!

Transportation

As a digital nomad you need to know how you are getting from one place to another. Luckily Vancouver has a great public transport system. The entire city is blanketed with plenty of bus lines, and if you are needing to go farther out, there is the SkyTrain. Tickets cost anywhere between $3.00-$5.75CAD per trip. And don’t miss out taking the SeaBus from downtown Vancouver across the inlet towards North Vancouver.

Taxis aren’t easy to find, and cost around $3.50CAD + $1.89CAD per kilometre. Car-sharing services like Car2Go, Modo and Zipcar are popular among locals and travellers, costing around $0.41CAD per minute or $13.00CAD per hour.

Farewell Vancouver

Vancouver, one of the greenest cities in the world, is an amazing place to visit and explore new experiences. We enjoyed our three months in the city. It has incredible food, great events, beautiful landscapes and, on top of all that, it’s completely remote work friendly. Digital nomads can enjoy their stay in a safe place with many opportunities to offer as they keep up their productivity without worry.

Don’t forget to do your research before travelling to a new destination and plan according to your needs, that will save you from more than a headache in the future! If you need inspiration, don’t miss any of our blogs on working remotely. Every three months we are exploring a new city.