If you run a city tour, chances are that there are hundreds of other companies doing different variations of the exact same tour. In London, there are more than 600 tours listed on TripAdvisor that focus on bringing tourists around London on foot, by bike, in a fancy vehicle or by bus. This figure hovers around 400 to 500 in other big cities like Paris, New York, Beijing and New Delhi. Talk about a seriously competitive market.
To survive, you're going to need to seriously work on your marketing strategy to stand out from the crowd. Here's how.
1. Spruce up your TripAdvisor page
I spend a lot on time on TripAdvisor when researching a new destination to visit and I know that I'm not alone. In fact, their Android app has been downloaded more than 100 million times all over the world and 230 new reviews are posted every minute.
The chances of someone finding you on TripAdvisor before they find you on any other platform is incredibly high. When a customer discovers your tours on TripAdvisor, they read your reviews to assess if you are worth spending their hard-earned money and precious free time on. Are you?
If you are, prove it with great pictures, professional responses to queries and complaints and updated details about your company (i.e. phone number, email address and office address).
Download our Ultimate Mobile Photography Guide to learn how to turn your iPhone or Android into a visual content machine.
2. Get reviewed online
Apart from getting the basics settled on TripAdvisor, you need to work on getting reviews too. Personally, I rarely book with a company who has 5 star reviews from only 5 people. The more reviews you get, the more credible your company will seem, even if your overall score is 3 stars.
Ask them to leave you a review at the end of the tour or wear a shirt with all your social media and TripAdvisor details printed on at the back. You could also send post-trip emails to customers with a link to your profile on TripAdvisor or Yelp or social media. Tell them that it means a lot to you and helps your business get more customers.
Here are more ways to get more customer reviews for your tourism business.
3. Get noticed by locals
In the midst of current economic uncertainty, there's been a growth in the "staycation" trend. As more and more people value experiences but lack the capital to do it, they're opting for budget friendly experiences they can afford in their own neighbourhoods.
Locals are also the first point of contact for travellers visiting your city. They are likely to ask a local for a recommendation compared to the tourist information office because it is perceived to be an "insider's recommendation". This is also the case for travellers living in Airbnb accommodations or Couchsurfers.
Get covered in the local papers. You could also collaborate with a trendy cafe or another tourism business to draw more attention to your tours. Print fliers and hand them out on the high street or downtown. The more interest you generate, the better.
4. Get your own website
If you're serious about growing your business, you need to own your own space on the internet. Take the time to build your website so that interested customers can find out what your business is about and learn more about the tours you offer.
Prioritise quality content and make an effort to write great product descriptions.Let your customers know a little bit about the destination to excite them, but don't give it all away. On the other hand, be as detailed as you can about logistical details to include pick-up points, meet-up points and directions on how to get there.
Use high-quality photographs to depict your tours. If you have spare time and money, invest in making a short YouTube video to show the experience you want to deliver. These days, you really don't need to be a professional photographer to take good pictures. Having a smartphone with a decent camera can get you far enough.
Do you have any other tips on how to market city tours? Let us know in the comments below!
Interested in building your own website, why not schedule a demo with our team to learn about TrekkSoft's all-in-one solution for tour and activity companies?
Written by Nicole Kow
Having graduated from the UK, Nicole travelled around Europe before joining TrekkSoft's marketing team. She is now based in KL and regularly blogs about her travels at Next Train Out.