Latest posts by Barbara Črgar (see all)
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In today’s competitive marketplace, a small tour and activity businesses are struggling to stand out. There are some essential steps you have to take when starting a tour or activity business. Many of them are referring to how to get more online bookings.
First, you have to figure out the needs of your target customers. Then, you can shape your tours and activities in an innovative way. And, differentiate yourself from the competition. Second, you have to think of how to attract new customers.
To help real quick, we created a 20 sec video that sums it up how to start with the basics. But you must keep reading to get the full understanding.
Learn how to get more online bookings!
Get your Tour or Activity Business Online
Your first necessity is to get found! How to you do this? Get on the Internet. The Internet is the primary source for tours and activity search. Customers will search sites like Google.com, Yahoo.com, MSN.com and similar search sites. If your tour or activity business is not on the Internet, customers will not find it. Remember, building and launching an awesome tour operator website is a start. You have to be present on social media and platforms like TripAdvisor and Viator, as well.
Provide Direct Online Bookings
Let your customers make bookings directly on your website. Include a book now button on the website. With such a direct booking option on your website, you are closer to setting a deal – selling a tour or activity. With an online booking system that runs 24 hours every day, you avoid doing loss in sales due to customers trying to make a reservation outside of regular office hours. This is especially important if you’re aiming at attracting international customers.
The advantages of having online bookings enabled on your website:
- Available 24 hours a day
- You provide a more professional service
- Not needing to reply to each email to confirm each reservation saves your time
- It allows your customers to book directly with you at lower rates. Hence, shifting bookings from marketplaces to your own channel
- Turn every online customer enquiry into a sale with the instant booking “enquiry”
Be Present on Multiple Booking Platforms
The more booking platforms your tour or activity business is on, the more sales opportunities you’ll have. As a minimum, your customers should be able to make reservations from your own website and at least one other booking website ( Viator, GetYourGuide, Airbnb,..).
Have a Waitlist
Even if you are sold out, you want to hold on to potential customers in case another reservation gets canceled. Most airliners and many hotels practice overbooking. It’s a technique where the reservation system allows for more reservations than your capacities. The assumption is that a certain percent of the customers won’t show up.
A different approach is pending or unconfirmed reservations. With this approach, you put a customer on a pending list. And, you can confirm or reject the booking request depending on the final availability.
Optimize your Website to Get more Online Bookings
You want to rank high on search engines. But, if your website doesn’t provide the specific search keywords for a tour or activity, the search engines will not be able to pick up and categorize your website. And that will result in small reach and a decrease in online sales.
Tour and activity operators should pay attention to SEO. All content such as videos/images/local listings is shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. Remember to include your products or services, as well as your business location in the search keywords.
Define your Tours or Activities Clearly
The more information you provide about your business, the more customers you will get. Include information like why is your tour interesting, what other customers said about the tour or what gear your customers need to take on a tour.
Compare your website to your competitors and provide your customers with more useful information. You can include links to nearby attractions or business partners. It will encourage others to link to your site and improve the overall quality and experience of your site for your customers. Google will also love you more for a great website user experience.
Include Authentic and Other People’s Photos on your Website
Travelers will most likely click on your tour or activity offer if you provide visual content. Photos and videos of your tour or activity are the way to go. Include authentic photos from your tours. But, the most compelling way is to use travel-generated photos. They are your visual reviews. Other people photos inspire new bookings more than guest reviews do.
Send a Newsletter
Email can be an invaluable tool for connecting with your customers. So, once a month send them a newsletter. Share your new blog posts, new tour or activity offer or product. Don’t be spammy and selsey! Send personalized emails with a purpose!
Link with other Business Partners and Influencers
Work on your link building. The more quality links you have to your website, the higher search ranking you will get. Identify other relevant sites that you can link-partner with. You link to them and in return, they link to you.
Such a relationship needs to make business sense for both of you. You don’t want to offend Google by practicing gray or black SEO and start posting your web address to random places that make no sense.
Also, do not copy paste sentences from other websites. This is called plagiarism and is counterproductive. You’ll get yourself punished with lower website credibility and search rankings. Think quality and originality.
A good practice is to, for example, connect to travel influencers and bloggers. Inspire or pay influencers to get out the word about your tours and activities for you. They can drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Write useful articles for news portals that cover tours and activities. Be helpful to people who will read your them. Make a great impression by positioning yourself as an expert. Google loves relevant, useful, original.
Use free Internet Listings
All the major search engines are free and you can get listed on all of them with a few hours worth of work. Use the following links to get registered on the major search engines and booking systems:
Finally, the place “to be” is the Internet. Try not to forget that when starting or planning a new tour or activity. By following the steps I described, you can get more online bookings for tours or activities and increase sales!
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to contact us or share it right here! We’ll be happy to hear your thoughts 🙂
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