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When shopping for tech management and marketing solutions, who do you trust the most? The sales guy, or the customer who has already used the service?
Remember back in the day, when everyone called a travel agent to plan their vacation? It's not like that anymore. It hasn't been like that in a long time. But Amazon Adventures was leading the industry back then, and they're still a leading travel agent today.
Amazon Adventures is one of the best travel agencies around, and it's based right here in Central Texas. Jim and Teresa McDaniel have evolved their startup into a specialized niche—selling adventures in South and Central America.
Amazon Adventures has typical, well-known tours in popular destinations as well as exciting options that you just won't find anywhere else. These include off-the-beaten path places that haven't become mainstream destinations yet.
Why has Amazon Adventures survived while others have failed? Jim says he offers personal service and expertise. He opens the door to South America for people in Central Texas. The big travel sites just can't promise that..
"When you contact most agencies, you talk to someone who is new or has only worked there for a few years - there is a big turnover in the business. But when you contact us, you deal with someone who has specialized in these countries for over 15 years."
In the early years, the McDaniels knew they could use technology to promote their business and attract new customers. Jim learned some HTML and built his own business website, gradually growing the business "with me working the business before and after my day job and Teresa manning the desk while I was gone."
Jim started using Dreamweaver to improve the website, which allowed him to be a little more creative. Eventually, through word of mouth and through the valuable contacts they made abroad, they established themselves as respected travel industry leaders. Their business has been featured in National Geographic Adventures, Fodors, USA Today and Frommers, among others.
The new and improved Amazon Adventures site went live In January and became one of Coolhead Tech's earliest big success stories of 2013. Within two months, results included:
76% Increase in Conversions
30% Increase in Page Views per Visitor
45% Increase in Visit Duration
10% Decrease in Bounce Rate
Jim came to Coolhead Tech with a high-volume site that was already filled with a wealth of great information. He had run into a few problems with some previous developers and there were some black-hat “SEO tricks” to correct. Jim was still maintaining his site using Dreamweaver. On top of running the business, he was juggling blogs, social media and other interactions manually. He knew he needed to implement an automated solution so he could get back to the things he does best—running his business.
Jim knew effective inbound marketing would convert site visitors into leads and customers. His bounce rate was too high, and managing leads was a daunting task.
"We started exploring website redesign, architecture, social media, etc.," Jim says. "Then we started investigating Hubspot."
"Approaching a high volume and successful site like Amazon Adventures with a complete redevelop was equally challenging," says Chris at Coolhead Tech. He knew a HubSpot redesign was just what Amazon Adventures needed, but he was concerned that building the site over would mean forfeiting the site rankings the McDaniels had earned over the years.
Successful sites are impossible without owner involvement. Regular strategy and help sessions provided feedback regarding look and feel of the site’s user interface as well as content focus and readability.
Site changes, especially major changes to a new platform, require a watchful eye. Coolhead Tech set monitors based on the project’s goals as well as any trends that would affect traffic and sales. Hubspot’s content tools allowed Chris and Jim to address issues and site refinements in real time.
"As the site continues to grow, we’re using Hubspot tools to further automate workflows and personalize content for site visitors," Chris says.
"With Hubspot, the website now has a modern, fresh look," Jim says. "I can look at the stats to see what people are looking for and then make changes to try to increase leads and conversions."
After 20 years, Amazon Adventures has ramped up, hit its stride, and become a highly-visible powerhouse in the travel industry. Which puts Jim and Teresa McDaniel right back where they need to be—setting up tours and leaving the marketing to HubSpot and CoolHead Tech.