Regardless of what part of the travel industry you’re in, or what part of the world, chances are you’ve got a high season and a low season. We all love the high season due to the high volumes of tour and activity customers, whereas low season is always a challenge.
If you’re looking for ways to keep those bookings coming through all year round, here are 10 suggestions…
1. Launch a campaign (or more specifically a contest)
Do you have an idea for a campaign that could set the internet alight? Or one that would generate pages and pages of PR coverage? If you do, save it for the off-season when you’re going to want people talking about you.
The most popular types are contests, but don’t simply give away some product on social media or via a third party – think out-of-the-box and offer something other than a free tour. And make sure your objectives are clear – set your KPIs and ensure the campaign is optimised to make sure you reach them.
2. Run a flash sale for early bookings
When bookings slow down, something that can be very welcome is a huge spike of bookings in a short space of time. One way to achieve this is by running a flash sale.
How they work is as so: you cut the prices of your product (or products) for a short space of time and via a particular channel – website, email or social (or all three). You then promote the sale prior to launch, then run the sale for a short space of time to encourage as many bookings as possible.
Read more about running a flash sale in our dedicated blog post.
3. Have a special offer on gift certificates
The winter is off-season for many tour and activity operators, especially those in the northern hemisphere. But winter is also when the holiday season is, and the holiday season is when people like to buy each other gift certificates as Christmas presents.
Take advantage of this and run an offer on gift certificates in the run up to the holiday season. Promote it via email, on your social channels, on any third party websites you have access to, and also onsite.
4. Run holiday offers
While flash sales and special offers for gift certificates are effective for driving sales later in the year, they don’t promote sales for the current season directly. Instead, run an offer specifically on your products that are more suited to the off-season. This way you’ll not only promote these tours, but you’ll sell more of them too.
5. Tweak your website to suit the season
Images of destinations with blue skies suit those months where the sun is splitting the stones, but not the duller ones. If your off-season is those colder months, your website should support this. During these times let tours that don’t depend on hot weather take the driving seat. Give them more exposure on your website and push them via other channels.
Read our blog post on how to optimise your website to suit the season here.
6. Run a Google AdWords campaign
Online marketing is key to the success of any business in any industry, but simply having a website won’t generate bookings. You’ll need to invest in some paid activity. One strategy worth considering is a Google AdWords campaign. When doing so you need to plan your keywords, run different ads and consider remarketing.
Read more about running a successful Google AdWords campaign in our here or download an in-depth ebook about it.
7. Partner with others who have a wide reach
A great way to reach a wide audience is via parthering with other companies in the same space that have a wider reach than you. These could be businesses with offerings that compliment your product or DMOs (Destination Marketing Organisations).
Prior to your off-season, approach companies you think will help bring your business to a wider audience. Remember to do so strategically – make sure you give them a proposal that will make it difficult to say no. Show the value in partnering with you.
8. Ramp up your social media activity
If you’re not at full capacity during the off-season, use the time to grow other aspects of your business such as your social media presence. Engage in travel Twitter chats, increase your activity on Instagram and build a social media strategy that will drive sales.
9. Create products that suit the season
Take a look at all the tours and activities you offer. Are they all suited to the one season? If so, then create one that’s aimed at your off-season. Once this is done, promote it heavily via your website and other channels to increase bookings for a period you didn’t previously have a product for.
10. Try to increase affiliate sales
Selling your own product on your own website is one way to generate revenue. Selling other business’s products is another. If you’re not already involved in affiliate marketing, the off-season could be a time to begin. Look at selling travel insurance, transport and other products that could complement your offering.
What do you have in your plans to promote your business in the off-season?
If you're looking to integrate a booking engine with your website, get in touch with our team in Switzerland:
Written by Colm Hanratty
Colm is Founder and Managing Director of digital marketing agency Sixtwo Digital. After running Hostelworld.com’s content and social media for almost 11 years he felt it was time to branch out on his own, using all his experience to educate others in the travel space.