Digital marketing has transformed the travel industry. Sharing travel experiences has become a lot more sophisticated than back in the old days when you had old paper guidebooks stacked up on shelves in bookstores.
In order to get more competitive advantages, tourism professionals are always looking for the newest ways to reach their travellers. As digital marketing is becoming more dynamic, if you can’t keep up the pace, you risk being left behind.
That is why tour operators who focus on the right digital practices create long-term value.
In this blog post, we’ll dive into the top marketing tips for tour business and cover all relevant marketing channels and ideas.
9 Top Marketing tips for tour business, you need to know
1. Content Is and Will Be The King
Content is still a top priority for a good reason. Quality content will bring you a lot of natural backlinks.
Focus on creating content which brings value to your customers.
For example, use infographics, videos, authentic photos, give out various travel advice in an easy-to-read format such as checklists. Post the content on your website and other relevant and high authority sites from your niche.
With quality content (images, videos) that give value, you build trust and hold people’s attention. That way customers will keep returning for more useful content.
If the content is good customers will share it on their social media and consequently raise awareness about your tours.
Top marketing tips for tour business content in 2017 include ephemeral or disappearing, visual content.
Ephemeral means “lasting for a very short time”. Ephemeral marketing defines the content or messages that are visible for a limited period after which they disappear.
Snapchat started this trend. Social media networks like Instagram have embraced this new way of promotion as well.
For example, ephemeral content on Snapchat and Instagram is a great way to showcase the “behind the scenes” of your tour business. Customers will face authentic, unscripted and unpolished content.
Here are a few more ideas for tour business for ephemeral stories:
- Behind-the-scenes tour – show how you are preparing for the tour
- Contests and giveaways – give away a free tour
- Interviews with travelers or tour guides
- Live events – if you are attending festivals in your city, show your audience the atmosphere there
2. Strong Presence on Social Media
First, consider where your customers already spend time on social media. Try to engage with them on those networks.
Remember, on social media, everyone is a potential ambassador of your tour business.
Comments and reviews of your tours on social media and the way you handle it will make you distinguishable.
Surely, you cannot expect that all of your customers will always be satisfied.
Hiding negative reviews isn’t going to help either. In fact, it’s more likely going to hurt. You have to learn how to handle them effectively.
Additionally, responding to all reviews will help you attract other positive reviews. Your customers will see how important their opinion is to you.
Embracing reviews – positive and negative – helps you make your tour business and service even better. You get to know exactly what to work on in the future!
3. Messaging Apps
Why are messaging apps one of the marketing tips for tour business, you wonder?
Messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and WeChat are used by 4 billion users worldwide.
Thus, here is an opportunity to use messaging apps to communicate one-on-one with the customers. These apps provide a faster and easier way for customers to get the support they need.
4. Online Marketing Automation
To reach more of your potential customers you could use helpful online service like booking software.
Do your research and find out which one is the most suitable for your business. If you are a small tour company start with easy to use and affordable software.
Online marketing automation comes as a feature in state-of-the-art online tour booking software. Also, they make the whole procedure for online marketing automatic.
All you need to do is set up the content you want to promote. Push a button and you will be amazed how the rest works out. This way, you save your resources and have the time to focus on what you enjoy – creating an incredible experience for travelers.
5. E-mail Marketing for Tour Business
Almost, 33% of the population worldwide use email to communicate. From a marketing standpoint, that means email can be an invaluable tool for connecting with your customers.
As a result, properly designed e-mail campaigns can generate an impressive number of leads (around 25% of Black Friday sales in 2015 were through email).
Here are several email marketing ideas tour and activity providers should apply:
- Send an email with a specific purpose in mind
- Use email automation software
- Always personalize your emails
- Ensure your emails are easy to read on mobile devices
- Track your emails and check progress
6. Live Streaming Video
One reason why live streaming video is so huge is that customers can engage with your streams.
Looking ahead to 2018, streaming a video will be a preferred tactic in marketing, influence, and connectivity.
A good enough reason to keep up to date with video trends.
To help you out, here are five creative marketing ideas you can use live-streaming for:
- Introducing a new tour or activity
- Live-stream for customer service issues
- Real-time feedback on the new tour and activity
- Connecting with influencers or other tour guides
- “Behind the scenes” for a new tour or activity
7. Virtual Reality & Augmented Reality
Augmented and virtual reality finds its way into marketing. The future of using the virtual and augmented reality as a marketing tool is now.
Where can you apply VR/AR?
One way is to inspire your customers by showing them new tours and activities you created or new destinations you can take them to.
This technology takes travelers on virtual journeys, and that being said – it is a powerful selling tool. Namely, because it is visual.
Travelers are always seeking new experiences and with VR/AR, we are entering a new era of content. Tour operators who put in place VR/AR strategy will stand out.
8. Mobile Optimization
Google has started testing its mobile-first index.
What does this mean for a tour business?
Mobile bookings in travel have grown by 1700% between 2011 and 2015, moving from 1% to 18% of online revenues. Also to keep in mind, 31% of consumers will search their next trip from a mobile device.
So, if you have been slow in joining the “mobile revolution”, now is the time to take some action.
Having a responsive site is not enough.
Here are a few steps to get you started with mobile optimization:
- Conduct qualitative and quantitative research to better understand the behavior of mobile customers – pay close attention to the mobile customers’ behavior through Google Analytics – the pages they viewed, devices used, bounce rate, conversion rate, search terms and the funnel they go through.
- Focus on messaging, calls to action and chatbots – customers want to be able to make a booking with a few taps on their phone. If your call-to-action button is small in size, customers will struggle to click the call-to-action using a touchscreen. And if it is not a verb precisely suggesting an action your customer should take, your CTA won’t work either.
- Test your mobile site from a UX perspective and design a custom mobile conversion funnel – make your site easy to navigate, with large buttons, concise copy, visible search function, etc.
Every detail matters and any optimization made from a perspective of a mobile customer’s mindset can increase conversions dramatically.
9. Influencer marketing
Influencer marketing is a type of marketing that focuses on using key thought leaders (bloggers, celebrities, athletes locally or regionally followed by people) to drive your brand’s message to the larger market.
These people are ‘influencers’ because they have the power to influence other people’s choices and behavior. Such as, make them see how amazing your tours or activities are. If a large group of audience who admire your influencer sees him or her enjoying your tours and activities, many of them will copy this behavior.
Rather than promoting directly to a large group of travelers, try to inspire or pay influencers to get the word out about your tours and activities.
That’s what you want, right? More people noticing your tour business.
Lately, the focus shifts from bloggers and influencers with a large number of followers to micro-influencers.
Connecting with influencers
Tour and activity providers should connect with a micro-influencer who already has the attention of your target audience.
A smaller niche with a smaller number of followers allows influencer to respond quickly to followers’ needs. For tour operators that is the way to go.
- Find micro-influencers in the travel industry who could be a fit for your brand.
- Invite them for a free tour or activity you organize and ask them to write about their experience afterward.
In return, a few thousands of their followers will hear about your awesome tour or activity.
Keep in mind, that with a successful marketing strategy your tour business will raise awareness, attract new customers and finally get more bookings.
Hope you find these 9 marketing tips for tour business useful. Also, we would love to hear from you! What are the biggest struggles tour operators have when creating a successful marketing strategy?
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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