The travel industry is upping its game and customers are developing more sophisticated expectations for what they want from a tour company. With this much competition, it can be hard to keep your travel brand relevant. If you let things slide, you can quickly find your company buried under an avalanche of competitors' slick ads and targeted marketing efforts. Meanwhile, the old tried and true methods of advertising are no longer as effective as they used to be.
What's the solution? You need a new strategy to bring attention to what your company can offer. That's why we've come up with this guide for how tour operators can stay on track in a changing market. Here are five strategies to rise to the top:
1. Narrow Your Focus and Purpose
It's easy to lose a lot of money and not get far if your advertising efforts are too broad. The key to effective marketing is to hone in on which strategies are most cost effective (with an emphasis on effective). To do this, you need to build a clear picture on who your target audience is and what you can offer them.
2. Know Your Customers
Tailor your approach to customers by first learning as much as you can about them. Spend some time researching their demographics. Look for information like:
- age range
- marital status
- hobbies and interests
- previous travel destinations
- how they find tour companies
This last item is very important. You need to figure out if tour customers are finding their companies through Google, social media, word of mouth, and so on.
3. Give Your Customers Choices
At the end of the day, all of your information-gathering efforts will be surpassed by one source: the clients themselves. They know what kind of tour experience they want better than you. That's why you can gain a huge advantage in this competitive market by offering clients a wide variety of choices. They can select the options they want, hand-crafting their ideal vacation experience. Here are some suggestions:
- flexibility of booking
- multiple tour time-slots
- a schedule of opt-in, opt-out activities
- activities of seasonal interest, i.e attending a local yearly festival
4. Stay Tech Savvy
It wasn't that long ago that smartphones were a novelty. Now they're an essential part of the customer experience. You need to stay ahead of the game here or you'll quickly be left behind. Do you have an appealing and easy-to-navigate website that works just as well on a mobile device as on a computer? If not, it's time to hire a professional web designer to keep your site up to date. This investment will pay you back generously.
While you're at it, make sure your business is easy for potential customers to reach. List several ways to contact you on your website, social media and all mailing list correspondence. These can include your phone number, email address, and social media information.
5. Embrace Social Media
Don't underestimate the importance of social media. This is often the best way for you to establish a direct relationship with customers. It also helps you raise your company to a global scale by connecting with travelers around the world.
An active social media presence will keep your tour company's name at the forefront of everyone's mind. This makes them more likely to remember you, not a competing tour operator, when planning their next vacation.
Also, you can develop a relationship with social media influencers. These people can help promote your brand to their followers, increasing your marketing reach.
Social media is clearly important, but there are so many platforms available. Where do you start? In the spirit of point number one in this article, you should narrow your focus. It's better to do well at a few platforms than have a scattershot approach with a dozen of them. In general, you should lean toward sites you're comfortable with. This affinity will shine through, making your interactions there more relaxed. However, keep in mind that travel related industries are a natural match for image-heavy platforms like Instagram and Facebook.
A Pro Tour Operator Stays Proactive
The travel industry is competitive and at any given moment, there could be dozens of other companies reaching out to the same client base. This poses a challenge for any tour operator. However, the tech revolution that has increased market competition also gives you so many more tools for learning about your client base, gaining their attention, and giving them the best possible experience.
How do you stay competitive? It starts by researching your clients so you clearly understand what they want and how they like to be contacted. Next, put the power in their hands by giving them a wide array of choices so they can, if they want, handcraft a personalized tour experience. Finally, it's time to make sure you're at the forefront of tech and web presence. Create a sleek, professional website for clients to look at, and protectively reach out to them on a few, carefully chosen social media platforms.