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I’ve shared a lot of theory so far on this blog, so today, we’re going to mix it up a bit. This is a new series at Tourism Tiger where we will be taking a look at how tour operators all around the world can improve their own websites. I want to give you an idea of exactly how we approach each site so that you can use the same tools to review your own site. Want a review? Just find me on Twitter(opens in a new tab), and I’ll choose the ones that I feel will add the most value on this blog. The older and shaggier your site, the better.

Today, I’m going to review the website of VantigoSF(opens in a new tab), a highly rated VW minivan tour company from San Francisco. Vantigo is a cool name with a secret hidden meaning for Spanish speakers (Vantigo means ‘Van with you’). I like that kind of thing.

It’s a truly beautiful website – not old and shaggy at all – and I have to give some respect there. That being said, there are still some improvements to be made, as you will see.


This is a sexy website, there’s no denying it. From the very first look, you just want to click, explore and hang around. It’s ‘STICKY’ – the holy grail of web design.

They have an Instagram feed on their home page which looks great. It shows the company is active and keeps their site fresh with no extra effort:

The posts have fairly detailed descriptions which are great, and there’s a link right there to book with Vantigo using Peek(opens in a new tab)‘s booking engine.


Before I start with this, I want to emphasize once more what a good job Vantigo has done.

I’m going to use three methods to show what improvements can be made.

1) The five seconds principle

2) The B.E.T.T.E.R method to writing tour descriptions

3) The Know-Like-Trust principle

Let’s look at the three areas of the site we saw above:

The five seconds principle dictates that we have just five seconds from the time someone clicks to our site to convince them to hang around.

In the first five seconds, your site needs to answer two basic questions: what you do and why you. Note that who are you is not part of this.

Let’s use that to look at this home page.

Too much emphasis on the logo: Remember that at this stage ‘who are you’ doesn’t matter, so logos need to be small and out of the way. In this case, the logo would be better placed in the top left.

Vantigo does a great job at showing what they do, however. Just by looking at this page, it’s fairly obvious that they do retro-style minivan tours in San Francisco. The headline combined with photos makes this clear.

Not enough ‘why’: Vantigo communicates their ‘why’ in two ways. First, the headline – ‘An Unconventional San Francisco Adventure’ – which is quite good. Second, the photos make it look like a fun experience. But unfortunately, there’s just not enough. The ‘why’ needs to be based in proof.

Ideally, the headline needs to be much bigger, occupying the now-vacant space where the logo was. With the free space, they can put a sub-headline underneath it, which demonstrates their why. Vantigo has the #1 rating on TripAdvisor right now, so that’s an easy one.

‘TripAdvisor’s #1 Rated San Francisco Tour’

Boom. Ok. Now that’s a fact which illustrates why people should trust you.

Not enough trust is being built: Following on from the previous point, not enough trust is being built. According to the Know-Like-Trust principle, you need to take as many opportunities to build trust as possible. You do this by emphasizing your amazing reviews, showing photos of people having fun, demonstrating your experience, qualifications and awards.

Vantigo’s website lacks in this. They’re #1 on TripAdvisor, and you’d have no idea by looking at their site.

This means that Vantigo is depending on TripAdvisor and Yelp to do the trust-building for them. This is nice, but what about visitors who don’t arrive via these sites?

Take the Instagram feed. It’s great looking, sure, but it’s not focused enough on building trust. Out of all the photos scrolling through on the home page of their site, only one shows guests having fun. They should be upping this figure to 50%. Photos and videos of people having fun on your tours is excellent social proof which you can generate just by whipping out your smartphone.

Let’s look at their 7×7 tour(opens in a new tab) using the B.E.T.T.E.R. method.

  • Basic Breakdown. Each tour has a great summary along with bullet points. Vantigo nails this.
  • Exhibit the Experience. I’d give Vantigo a 4/5 for this. They give a lot of bullet points, but there could be a little more detail. The one thing I want to see more of an emphasis on is photos. They have just one space for a photo, and it’s not immediately obvious that this is scrollable.
  • Tick Their Boxes. Vantigo does this brilliantly. They make sure to list out every. single. place. that they are visiting so that if anyone has a special need, they know that this will be met. The description also mentions that free water and light snacks are included, which is important.
  • Testimonials. Unfortunately, there’s no testimonials. The closest thing to a sort-of testimonial would be a couple of the photos used in the tour of people having fun, but you have to wait a little while for them to show up. Vantigo would be well-advised to quote a couple of their excellent TripAdvisor reviews and link to them.
  • Expertise. How do I know that the owner/company has expertise? I don’t unless I go to the “About” page. In the description, it’s important to demonstrate what makes YOU special compared to others without making the user click around. This is when people are starting to care about the ‘who are you’ factor.
  • Reservation. It’s great that Vantigo has a call-to-action booking button. That’s about where it stops, unfortunately. Booking buttons need to be a completely different color than the rest of the site, but the one right here is red. It doesn’t pop or stand out. There’s also a lack of a convincing ‘why’. The booking button needs to convey a sense of urgency and give people comfort.The button below from our customer in a new tab) achieves the things that I’m talking about.


In 2015, visitors on mobile devices will surpass 50% of all visitors, so this space is important.

Unfortunately, the website is a bit of a turtle on mobile devices, which would be mostly fixed by optimizing the images to be smaller. Click here(opens in a new tab) to check your own website speed.

It IS quite usable, which is the main thing. They’re employing ‘responsive design’, which means the site automatically resizes itself depending on the device. That’s how it should be done and is how we do it too.

One Final Word of Praise

Vantigo is responding to all of their TripAdvisors, just as we advocate.

You may remember – if you’ve read my book (opens in a new tab) – that the perfect review response is short, informal and personal.

Bravo Vantigo for creating what looks like a truly excellent experience in San Francisco.

If you’re looking to upgrade your website but can’t afford a new site, consider our branding package to solidify your identity across platforms. Or get in contact with us and we can talk about what’s possible.

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