Attracting new customers to your tours or activities is a crucial part of growing your business. As more and more people enter the travel market, businesses need to continue improving themselves to adapt to the needs of ever-changing customer desires.
Keeping up with the times does not mean forgoing local traditions or skipping out on historical attractions. Au contraire. It has become more and more about the history, culture and people of a place, but in a more active manner. Travellers don't want to merely observe, they want to take part in local activities and want to use technology to enhance the experience.
Here are 6 suggestions to adapt your tours to the 21st century traveller.
1. Get up close and personal
More and more travellers are viewing travel as an experiential journey. According to the Peak + Skift travel report, leading travel companies are now focusing on three things above all else: "inspiration, personalization and a path toward self-discovery".
"Today’s most savvy travelers of all ages want to experience that transformative journey in a way that is wholly their own. In the end we are all searching for something. We’re all seeking our monk, and experiential travel is becoming a preferred road to the monastery."
What does this really mean? It means that modern travellers want to see the good and the bad of your destination. Travellers want to meet people, learn new things and ultimately transform the way they look at life.
You can read more about how the rise of experiential travel impacts the tour and activity industry here.
2. Get online and be a part of the conversation
If there's one thing that sets 21st century travellers apart from previous generations, it's the way we communicate today. Thanks to the internet, we are able to reach people all over the world through our own website, via email, our social media channels, TripAdvisor and so much more.
Communication between a business and its customers has also changed a lot over the past decade. There are more and more people interested in two-way conversations rather than a one-way one, and more businesses are adopting a friendlier and more personal tone when interacting with their customers.
A customer's experience begins the moment they speak to you online, either by sending you an email or a message on social media or reading your reviews on TripAdvisor. Don't miss out on potential opportunities. Your business needs to get online and join in on the conversation that is already happening.
Not sure where to start? Download our free Ultimate Guide to Social Media to get you up to speed.
3. Enable card payments online and at point-of-sales
Apart from communication, the internet has also become a huge force that shapes the way people travel. From the research they do about a destination to the way they book and pay for accommodation, tours, and activities, the internet allows travellers to make plans and act on them instantly.
More and more people, especially in developed countries, prefer to pay online or with a credit card just because it's more convenient and a lot safer. To accommodate the changing behaviours of a modern traveller, consider enabling card payments online and at your point-of-sales. It makes your business look more professional and well-prepared.
If you're not sure where to start, head over to a previous article we wrote about choosing the perfect payment gateway for your business.
4. Take amazing photographs for your business and your customers
When we talk about visual images, there are 2 things that come to mind: 1) Selling your destination through incredible imagery and 2) Helping your customers take amazing photographs so that they can share it with their social circles.
For your business, visual images are important because it helps you better sell your experience, whether it be a tour or activity. At the end of the day, your product is an experience that is best captured through images of the highest quality. The best way to show people what they're buying is through pictures that excite and entice them.
For your customers, a travel experience is an expensive one, something they've worked hard to attain. 21st century travellers love taking pictures and sharing it on social media because they're giddy with excitement and want to share their experience ASAP. This form of user-generated content is an excellent form of word of mouth marketing in the digital stratosphere. Make the most of this by prioritising social media platforms like Instagram, and getting customers to use your company's hashtag, geo-tag the image, or tag your business in the photos.
5. Enable stable wifi
Modern day travellers are addicted to connectivity, whether you like it or not. Make sure that you provide free wifi in your office (so they can upload all those nice images you helped them capture) or make sure that the pit-stop you choose provides it.
Extra points if the place you pick is cosy enough for customers to chill and hang out at after the tour or activity is done.
6. Hang out with your customers after your tour or activity
A huge part of travelling involves meeting new people, learning from them and learning about them. "(Travellers) want to feel inspired by the places they visit and the people they meet, while pushing past preconceived notions of different cultures, both near and far, to become more dynamic and informed citizens", according to the report by Peak + Skift. As an avid solo-traveller, I couldn't agree more.
So, although this isn't an absolute must, it's an option that most tour guides seem to offer. A simple invite to lunch after a morning tour or a pint or two at a local pub can lead to great conversations that end up doing wonders for your business.
What did you think of this article? Do you have any other tips to share?
Want to know what else your customers are searching for? Download our 2016 trend report to find out.
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.