If there’s one thing I love the most about Europe, it would have to be the way that Europeans understand Christmas and how they celebrate it. Winter is one of the prettiest seasons of the year, with generous dustings of snow over buildings, mulled wine (or gluhwein as it is more affectionately known in Switzerland), beautiful light displays and of course, Christmas markets.Christmas markets have a special charm to them. Families and friends come together to explore the market, have some food and soak in the short moment of bliss before someone accidentally spills over their mulled wine.
But what does this mean for tour and activity companies who are operating over the Christmas season? Here are 5 ways to make a trip to your local Christmas market the best thing to do this festive season.
1. Carefully structure your Christmas market tour
Modern travellers want to experience the local culture, not read about it off Lonely Planet’s website or observe it from an arm’s length. They want to be immersed in it. What better way to do this than to bring your guests to your local Christmas market?
Think about the best way to structure your Christmas market tour: how can you provide your guests with the most intimate and heart warming experience, without overwhelming locals with the presence of too many visitors? To get this balance right, I would suggest keeping tour groups small, with no more than 15 people per tour.
2. Be extremely picky about the local vendors you partner with
It’s always a thrill when someone is introduced to a new experience, may it be sampling the local cheeses or a free go at one of the most popular rides. Therefore, find a vendor that can help you deliver and enhance the experience that you are hoping to provide.
Look for someone who is just as enthusiastic as you are about introducing your culture to others and someone who will go above and beyond to make guests feel welcomed. There’s nothing worse than introducing guests to someone who is unfriendly and cold.
Once you’ve found a few great partners who share your vision, don’t forget to give them a percentage of the profits they deserve.
3. Provide guests with great recommendations that really show off the local culture
Christmas markets can often be a little crowded and busy with many stalls for guests to visit. If your local market happens to be a pretty large one, provide guests with some recommendations to guide them through.
Use your previous experiences from other tours to build a list of good recommendations for food, beverages and souvenirs to offer guests on your tour. You could even print out leaflets with names and descriptions of “must try” items for your guests to take away at the end of your tour.
If there are performances or shows at the Christmas market, feel free to add them to your leaflets too.
4. Offer exclusive discounts with your partners
Another thing your company could do is to cross-sell products with other partners and offer discounts to your guests as an incentive. You could work with partners at the Christmas market or other restaurants, hostels or tour and activity companies to boost holiday sales and make the most out of the festive season.
Guests could receive a leaflet as mentioned earlier and present it upon payment to receive a discount. For restaurants, you could arrange for guests to receive a free drink or a free dessert if they have the leaflet. For online transactions, you could include a discount code that guests can use as they check out.
Here's a more in-depth look at how you can increase your sales by partnering with others.
5. Tell the world about your unique Christmas market tour
A quick search on Google will show you that there are quite a few Christmas market tours available throughout Europe. This means that you need to do everything possible to promote your Christmas tours online to cut through the crowd and stand out.
If your company targets a younger market, make sure that you’re regularly engaging with your audience on all the main social media platforms - Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if your main clientele aren’t young hipsters, you should still invest some time and effort on social media as it is another avenue for you to inexpensively promote your tours. Read this post about some practical social media tips.
You could post pictures of people setting up their stalls at the market, you could start a series on the different kinds of local foods to try or even post up pictures of your office all beautifully decorated for the Christmas season.
My favourite thing tour and activity companies do is share live updates as they bring their guests around. Check this post out if you’d like to know how to integrate social media into your tours.
Lastly, don’t forget about your website. It is important that it’s kept up to date and responsive. Read this article for a list of things that your website should have to ensure a delightful customer experience, online and offline.
Why not learn about how TrekkSoft can help your tour or activity business this Christmas season?
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.