Over the years, we've been able to learn a lot about what businesses do to get more bookings. That's why we decided to compile a list of ways tour and activity operators can grow their business.
From networking to keeping a happy headquarters, here are 100 ways that tour and activity providers can grow their business:
There is a lot you can do to improve your business. But we believe that everything starts with a happy customer. Here are some ideas to help build up your customer communications.
- Be friendly. First and foremost, your attitude towards customers should always be positive and friendly.
- Personalize emails to customers - always address them by their first names.
- Share pictures from the tour or activity with your customers via email.
- Follow up on every lead. Remember that guy you talked to at a barbecue last weekend? He said he wanted to book a tour. Get in touch with him! Maybe it'll work out, maybe it won't, but don't forget to follow up every time.
- Rent out your equipment.
- Send post-trip emails to ask customers for feedback on your tour. You'd be amazed how willing customers are to communicate their feedback to you, especially when you've reached out to them directly.
- Ask for testimonials. With the email feedback, ask your customer if it would be alright to use their positive words as a testimonial on your website or promotional material.
- Create a useful email signature. Link to your website and social media channels in your signature.
- Try to get a few video testimonials from customers. A good review on TripAdvisor is great, but video testimonials really sell the entire experience.
- Send exclusive offers to your customers. Do something to sweeten the deal for customers - whether it's a loyalty program or a special newsletter list.
Self ImprovementA great starting point for improvement comes from the things you're able to do for yourself. That includes planning, organizing, and education. Here are a few ideas you can implement to improve your own efforts.
- Attend a conference relevant to your business.
- Sign up for a webinar to help you market, sell, or create better tours.
- Organize your schedule to prepare for your busiest season.
- Download a free ebook for tour and activity operators that will brush up your marketing skills.
- Sign up for a tour or activity run by your competitor and take notes.
- Meet up with the head of a similar company and learn from each other.
- Write up a marketing strategy.
- Look into a mentoring program.
- Work on crafting better content.
Creative projectsNot everything in your business has to do with socializing and crunching numbers. There are a lot of ways your creative skills can help you market and run your business more efficiently.
- Create free destination guides to give out to customers.
- Bring in a professional photographer to take pictures of the highlights of your tour or activity for your website.
- Offer your own photography services. If you're not ready to hire a photographer, work on your own skills and take the images yourself. We've created a free photography guide to help you polish up your photo skills.
- Offer exclusive videos from each tour.
- Redesign your website.
- Find your niche. Maybe you're a kayaking tour, but have you engaged much with the communities who are looking for that? Try to engage in some adventure travel forums and other established communities.
- Create a series of infographics. Have fun with them, building them around fun facts about your tour or activity.
- Create a slideshow to host on your website.
Third party websites and partnerships
- Advertise your business on blogs. Look for influential travel bloggers that are connected to your niche.
- List yourself properly on TripAdvisor.
- Remind customers to leave a review on TripAdvisor.
- Work with a niche OTA to reach targets.
- Work with your local or regional DMOs or DMCs to increase exposure.
- Partner with local shops and stores. Have them hand out discount vouchers for your tours and free guides.
- Partner with a travel blogger. Work with them to create a bespoke once-in-a-lifetime travel experience.
- Remind customers to leave a review on Yelp.
Social mediaSocial media is the best place to promote your business today. Nearly everyone has an account, you can speak to customers directly, reach hundreds of thousands of people with one post, and it's free. There are plenty of ways to get more involved on social networks, but here are a few to get you started.
- Your business has a Facebook page, right? If not, here's your friendly reminder to go sign up.
- If you haven't already, sign up for Twitter.
- Search relevant tourism hashtags and join the conversations there.
- If you haven't already, sign up for Instagram. That's where all the action happens for tourism companies.
- Sign up for Pinterest. Use beautiful images of your destination and tours to help bring attention to your website.
- Follow relevant accounts and share their posts with your followers.
- Try to start conversations on Twitter with influential accounts. This will bring awareness to your page.
- Another great network to look into is Tumblr. You can build a community there and your posts can be shared easily.
- Integrate your social media channels onto your website and into your marketing plan.
- Create a hashtag for your company.
- Use that hashtag along with other relevant ones.
- Geo-tag your posts on social media.
- Encourage customers to share pictures on social media.
- Host a photo contest on your Instagram. Offer a free tour to the winner.
Your websiteYour website is often where customers make their first impressions. Build a good one that is full of relevant information, creative content, and a way for customers to book their trips.
- Build a new website.
- Simplify administration with a booking system that does all the administration for you.
- Update the content on your site.
- Look into other websites for inspiration.
- Start writing a blog.
- Make sure your website is easy to use on cell phones and other mobile devices.
- Translate your website content.
- Make sure all your links work.
- Upgrade your website.
- Be original on your 404-page. Sometimes things don't work as planned. Instead of leaving potential customers with a boring page, this is an opportunity to do something memorable. Be funny, be interesting, be informative, but above all, be original. Here's some great 404-page inspiration.
Networking events are a perfect way to get your company name out there. You have the opportunity to make strong connections with your local community and create good press for your business. Here are a few ideas that can get your company to be more social.
- Offer discounts to local business owners and their family members.
- Work with a charity auction. You can donate a few free passes to your tour or activity to a charity auction. Not only will you be helping raise money for a good cause, you'll create some positive buzz in the community.
- Organize a barbecue one weekend and invite past customers to show your appreciation.
- Or throw a party and invite everyone! It could become the talk of the town and build up word of mouth.
- Teach a class or a workshop. Do you have an eye for travel photography? Are you an expert with the financial side of business? Then hold a workshop or teach a class! You can do this locally or even online through a site like CreativeLive.
- Attend some networking events. Both online and in person.
- Sponsor a local sports team. From junior football to a high school basketball team, there's bound to be a few community or school sports teams that you can help sponsor for a season. Donate money to their uniforms or equipment and they'll promote your company's name all season long.
- Sponsor a local awards ceremony. In addition to the sports team, you can sponsor an awards ceremony. Especially one that is closely associate with recreation and the travel industry.
- Attend a conference. You can go as a visitor or set up shop as an exhibitor. We attend ITB and WTM each year and make incredible connections every time.
- Speak at a local school. Do you remember how many guest speakers there were at your university or trade school? There's a reason. Schools like to keep a strong link with businesses, so consider offering yourself as a speaker.
- Host a holiday event.
Rewarding your customersCustomers love it when they feel appreciated. There are plenty of little things you can do to make sure they know how much their business means to you.
- Give discount codes to customers to share with their friends, like Uber does.
- Hand out free bottles of water. Make sure they're printed with your company logo on them.
- Give them exclusive offers in advance.
- Send them handwritten 'thank you' cards.
- Create a referral program for customers. Offer a free tour or activity for those who recommend your business to a friend.
- Organize discounts for partnership businesses.
- Send Christmas/holiday gifts.
- Give away free merchandise to random customers.
- Give out free rentals to past customers as a seasonal promotion.
- Offer a free picnic during an outdoor event.
Rewarding your employeesHaving friendly, knowledgeable guides is a key part of running an efficient tour business. They work hard to keep customers happy and make your company look good. Here are some thoughtful ways to reward them for the time and effort they put in.
- Host company events, like a Team Week where everyone comes together to have fun and make memories as a team. Give them free passes to an exciting activity, host a few lunches or dinners, and encourage everybody to get involved.
- Reward your guides with the occasional beer after work.
- Serve tea and coffee in the office.
- Offer employees growth opportunities. It shows them you value their time and efforts for your company. Ask them if there's any specific opportunity they'd like to pursue on the job this year. This will look different for every company, depending on size and resources available.
- Offer snacks and other refreshments during working hours.
- Write positive LinkedIn referrals for your employees.
- Make a point to mention their highlights. It shows the entire team that their efforts are noticed and appreciated.
- Pay your guides fairly and on time.
- Give them personal time off.
- Have regular check-ins with how their tours are going.
Press and promotion
- Create a press kit. Your business needs a proper press kit that includes information about your business and yourself for journalists.
- Place an advertisement in your local newspaper.
- Use Facebook advertising.
- T-shirts. You've gotta have t-shirts.
- Create a newsletter. Use it to inform readers of any interesting things happening with the company and to share promotional updates.
- Write a guest post on a relevant website (like this one by our Spanish content writer María Eugenia Coppola)
- Keep business cards with you at all times. You never know who you'll meet or the random connections there are to be made in daily life. Never be caught without something that can easily be share with others about your business.
- Start a podcast. This could be about your business, or it could just be something fun and travel-themed. The choice is yours!
- Connect in online groups. There are loads of Facebook, LinkedIn and even Reddit groups where people are free to promote their tours and activities. Why not drop into a few forums today?
- Write for a travel publication.
Ultimately, the best way to grow your business is to create a great experience for your customers!
Examine your business and look for the areas where you're doing well, and what could use some work. From learning about your offers to coming home after their trip, figure out where you're missing something.
We hope this list has been helpful and has given you a lot of inspiration. Find out more about how TrekkSoft can help grow your business:
Written by Sara Napier Burkhard
Sara is a writer from the American West Coast. In recent years, she's written for companies like Hipmunk, iTourMobile and Mylikes. She now resides in Zurich, Switzerland where she finds new adventures and attempts to speak German with minimal success.