There’s no hiding it – people don’t book fishing trips the same way they did 10 years ago.
Now, most traveling anglers find fishing guides on their smartphones, relying on reviews and photos to decide which trip is best for them. Word of mouth and reputation are as important as ever, but supplementing this with online advertising is becoming vital for maintaining a successful business. But how do you stand out in the ever more crowded online marketplace?
We put together a complete guide to getting booked on FishingBooker in 2021 to help you find out.
In this guide you’ll learn:
- How to stand out from the crowd with online rankings
- What type of visuals and content customers react to the best
- How to turn a casual customer into a repeat customer
- Lots more
Show up in Searches
Once you publish and verify your listing, customers can see it and, potentially, book with you. But how can you make sure they’ll actually find it?
Getting found on FishingBooker all comes down to appearing in the right place for what customers are looking for.
Where do customers see my listing?
For most FishingBooker customers, the journey to booking a trip starts at the specific page for the destination they’re searching for. Then, they’ll usually end up at what we call a “search results” page.
Here, they see listings grouped by their city or town, or by their state, country, or region. Then, they can use filters to narrow down what they’re looking for, clicking through to look at the listings in detail.
Tips for showing up in search:
- Make sure your listing’s departure location is set to the dock where you will meet your guests. We’ll make sure people looking for nearby cities will see you.
- Check that your listing is up to date with all the species you target and the types of fishing you do. This will help customers find you when they use filters.
How can I improve my visibility?
FishingBooker focuses on helping customers find the best charters, easily. That means, the better the experience you provide, the more visibility you’ll have on the search results pages and the higher you’ll rank.
There are lots of things that come into improving your FishingBooker ranking. One of the most important is what we call your reliability score. This is based on how likely it is that you will honor the commitment you make to customers, according to your past bookings.
Declining or canceling bookings because of something avoidable, such as outdated availability, decreases your reliability score as well as your listing’s ranking.
Regularly accept trips and don’t cancel them unless it’s unsafe to fish, and your ranking will increase.
Verified reviews from our customers also play a big part in rankings. When we know that a lot of our customers have recommended a captain in the past, we feel confident in promoting them on the search pages.
Provide a great service and encourage your customers to review you after the trip to increase your reviews and grow your visibility.
Of course, commission comes into rankings, too. While this is not the most important ranking factor, it certainly makes a difference. You can set your commission anywhere between 10% and 30%, and a higher commission gives you an extra boost. You’re free to change your commission at any time.
Choose a higher commission for an extra boost in search results.
Learn how to do so HERE.
Making life easier for customers will make ranking easier for you, too. Instant Book is a big part of this and will make a noticeable difference in how well you rank. But be careful – this feature relies on you keeping your calendar up to date. If you cancel four Instantly Booked trips, you will no longer be able to use it.
Enable Instant Book to be more attractive to customers and rank higher.
Learn how to do so HERE.
Good to know: Advertising trips at a higher price on FishingBooker than on your own website will drop you significantly in the rankings. If we can’t get through to you to match your prices, we will have to stop promoting your business.
Advertise your regular prices to avoid getting penalized in search.
It can take time to rank higher on FishingBooker – don’t worry if it doesn’t happen overnight. Provide a consistently good service and keep your calendar up to date so you can accept trips that come your way, and you’ll start to see your listing moving up.
Collect and manage reviews
As well as affecting how well you rank, reviews are key to building trust with your customers.
If you’re about to spend hundreds of dollars and go out into the middle of the ocean, you want to know that you’re going to be safe and have a good time.
Customers respect FishingBooker because it shows them an unbiased overview of what real anglers think about fishing guides. Which is good news for you!
Once you finish a trip with a FishingBooker customer, we’ll send them an email with a link where they can leave you a review. We’ll follow up a few times to help you build your review collection. Usually, the sooner they review you after the trip, the better.
You don’t need to wait until you get your first trip before you start collecting reviews, though. Your previous customers can also recommend your services if you invite them via our email tool.
What if I get a bad review?
Sometimes things don’t go to plan. And that’s completely understandable. Customers may have unrealistic expectations, or they could be upset by something that’s not under your control – like the weather, or whether or not the fish are biting.
You can reply to any FishingBooker review you get, and this will be publicly visible to anyone who looks at your page. A reasonable reply to a bad review can increase your credibility more than just collecting high scores, so use the opportunity to share your point of view professionally and clearly.
Spread the word
Reviews don’t just help your FishingBooker listing get more visibility. They can also give you a boost elsewhere online.
Everyone with a FishingBooker listing can link their reviews up with their own website by using our tailor-made website widgets. Showing people that other, unbiased customers value your service in this way increases their trust and likelihood to book with you!
Make your listing stand out
The content on your listing tells your customers whether or not your trips are the right ones for them.
As the marketplace is getting more crowded, standing out online is more important than ever in 2020. Here’s how to go about it.
Photos and videos
Photos are key for attracting new customers online. Right from the first impression in the search pages up to the decision to book, they guide people through your entire offer.
Photos are most effective if they:
- Are diverse. Show customers a mixture of photos, sharing snaps of happy people catching fish as well as your boat and amenities. If your boat has a toilet or other facilities, make sure to include a photo of this, too!
- Are clear (but don’t look fake). Take photos with a modern phone or camera and follow our basic guidelines for composition. You don’t need to be a pro – in fact, using too many effects and filters will make your listing look less genuine.
If a picture’s worth a thousand words, then a video must be worth a million.
On average, listings with videos get booked twice as often as those without, and it’s no surprise. It’s only through video that customers in another city can really get an understanding of who their captain is and what they offer.
Not all videos improve your chances of getting booked, though – sometimes, they can simply be hard to watch! Read our guide and learn how to shoot and format your video in a way that looks good on FishingBooker and shows your service in its best light.
Learn how to add photos and videos to your listing HERE.
FishingBooker has a dedicated team that writes unique descriptions for every listing. But there’s still a huge difference between how successful these listings are.
Why? The amount of information you share with us determines how well we can make your charter stand out. Tell us why your service is different to others in the area, and we can make your description shine.
The best descriptions state the main “selling point” of the listing, backing this up with specific, unique information.
In the example above, “a true local experience” is the listing’s main focus. This is backed up by the captain’s local background, his approach, and the additional benefits he offers (sharing local recipes).
Make sure to check your description once we’ve worked on it. How well does it illustrate your focus? Is it up to date? Is there any other information you think we should include?
If you want to make any changes, get in touch! We have a dedicated team of writers who will work with you individually to get it just right.
Stay Relevant and Up to Date
Investing time and effort into something always pays off. Promoting your charter online is no exception.
We think regularly updating your listing will be a deciding factor in getting more bookings in 2020. After all, no one wants to book with someone who hasn’t been seen or heard from for five years!
But not all changes are equal. Here are the top things that you should update regularly to increase your chances of getting booked:
Listings in the United States can’t become visible to customers until we verify that they’re operating legitimately. And once you’re verified, you will want to keep it that way!
It should go without saying that if you’re taking customers fishing, your licenses and qualifications must be up to date. But it’s surprisingly common that people forget to update this information on their FishingBooker listing, too.
When you submit your verification documents, we take note of their expiration date. A month before they’re due to expire, we’ll get in touch.
Upload your latest documents as soon as you renew them, or we’ll have to un-verify your listing – and, eventually, unpublish it.
How often has the word “special” caught your eye when you’ve been shopping around? We’ll bet it’s been more than a few times! Your customers are no different.
Snagging a “special” offer makes people feel special too – they’ve found a good deal and their search has paid off.
Add special seasonal trips to make customers excited about booking with you. These can involve something you don’t usually include in your regular packages, or they can be a time-limited price freeze for one package only. The key is to make sure the customer gets something different to your regular service, if they book within a certain time window.
Watch out: adding seasonal packages to your listing shows that you’re active and keeping up to date, but keeping them up after they expire has the opposite effect! Check in regularly to make sure everything in your offer is still available and delete or change the things that are not.
Finally, make sure to keep your prices up to date. Telling your customers that your prices are higher than what they booked is a sure-fire way to lose their business!
Here’s something we don’t share every day. Every year, more and more customers are arriving at their fishing charter from fishing report pages – bypassing ranking and search results altogether.
Regularly uploading fishing reports helps you in two ways:
- It gives you more visibility, directing more people towards your listing;
- It shows people who are already on your listing that you’re fishing regularly, making them feel more confident about booking with you.
Fishing reports don’t need to be super long. They just need to outline what you’ve been catching recently, by describing recent trips and sharing your top successes. Make sure to attach some attractive photos – these speak louder than words.
Learn how to add a fishing report HERE.
Be Easy to Book
Once you’ve put all that work into making your listing look good for customers, you really don’t want to lose them.
Every year, more people are getting accustomed to being able to do things at the click of a button. And if they can’t? Short attention spans mean they’ll go with someone who offers an easier booking experience. In 2020, this is going to be the case more than ever.
Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
Keep your availability up to date
Keeping your calendar up to date and accepting trips will not only help you rank better, it will also help you guide customers directly from looking at your listing to making a booking with you.
There are two ways to make sure you only get trips you can accept:
Set up your notice settings and booking window
Can’t take trips out at the last minute? Not able to guarantee availability more than a few months in advance? No worries.
Your availability settings let you customize when you do – and don’t – get bookings. Located in your listing’s settings, these let you set your minimum short-notice period for bookings, as well as the maximum time frame you’re happy to allow people to book.
Learn how to update your availability settings HERE.
Block out the dates you’re unavailable
Once you’ve updated your availability settings, all that’s left to do is to block out any dates in your calendar that you’re busy. Once everything’s logged on FishingBooker, you’re all set – we’ll only send you bookings on dates you can accept them!
See how to update your calendar HERE.
Get in on FishingBooker’s extra features
Still haven’t enabled Instant Book? You could be missing out on a big chunk of traffic this year. This simple feature makes life easier for you as well as for your customers – and makes you more likely to get booked.
As well as giving you a ranking boost, Instant Book appeals to customers who like to plan their vacation quickly and easily. It lets them know that their trip is secured right away and they don’t need to worry any more. You can see why this feature is so appealing!
If you’re based in the US, you can also up your game with our new Online Payments option. This allows customers to pay the full amount of their trip right away. As more transactions are taking place online every year, we predict that this is going to make a big difference this high season.
Not in the US? We’re actively working on enabling this feature in other countries. Watch this space!
Provide a Great Service Online
Good old customer service will never go out of fashion. As more people are listing their services online, this is the number-one way to stand out.
Treating people right and showing them a good time in 2020 will be key for everything we’ve mentioned so far: reviews, rankings and, ultimately, numbers of returning customers.
What’s different these days is that customer service starts online, not at the dock. And this means it can be surprisingly easy to leave a bad impression – completely by mistake!
Here’s how to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Keep on top of messaging
About twice as many people use Instant Messaging for planning and booking their fishing trip now than they did just a year ago. That means it’s crucial to keep connected. This way, you’ll be able to stand out even while customers are still deciding which captain to fish with.
When you get a message, respond as soon as you can and suggest custom packages where appropriate. This shows the customer that you’re approachable and ready to go the extra mile. It makes a great first impression, meaning they’ll come to the boat already feeling positive about their experience – making your work much easier!
Set expectations properly
When someone books online, it can be hard to get a feel for their experience level and expectations. And it can be very hard to build rapport with them on the boat if their expectations don’t match up with yours. If this happens, your review can stay mediocre and it can get really hard to grow your business online.
There’s an easy way to get around this. Once someone books with you, simply reach out to say hi and learn more about what they want from their trip. This is a simple step that will not only help you prepare for the trip properly, but will also make them feel more confident and positive. It will also help you avoid any unpleasant surprises!
Heads up: customers pay a lot of attention to the boat and service they’re booking online. If you can’t take them out on the boat they booked, make sure you let them – and us – know in plenty of time! Even if the boat is an upgrade, receiving something other than what they were expecting is concerning for a lot of customers and is unlikely to lead to a good trip or good reviews.
Get out on the water
Now it’s down to you to do what you do best. Be courteous and show people a good time – and good fishing – and you’ll be well equipped to grow your customer base for years to come. Good luck!