When creating a multi-day tour, it is so easy to get stuck on the small details of the tour. From the logistics and the planning, to the individual customer's experience, to remembering facts and figures about historical and cultural sites, it really is a difficult task to pull off.
However, if tour operators only focused on the details, you risk turning a multi-day tour into "just another packaged tour" that lacks authenticity and moments of inspiration. This is why it is important to focus on the bigger picture, that is to view the experience as a whole.
Here are 10 tips to help you organise a fantastic multi-day tour.
1. Turn your tours into an immersive experience
Nowadays, the term "authentic experience" seems to be used on every other travel-related article or blog post. But what does that actually mean and how does one go about creating and replicating it again and again?
In this report by Skift, an authentic experience is said to most likely be found when travellers get to immerse themselves in the destination and experience it like a local. The report also highlights that this trend cuts across all generations and that Gen Xers and Baby Boomers also want such experiences, not just the Millennials.
What does this mean for you? This could include arranging a cooking lesson on traditional cuisine or bringing your guests to a local market on a Sunday morning (or night if you operate in South East Asia). Perhaps there's a very popular salsa night where your friends dance the night away, why not bring your guests along?
The options are endless. You just need to think about what makes your destination truly unique and figure out the best way to show it off.
2. Build a positive culture within your team
I tend to emphasise the importance of a good team a lot, and that's because your company is only as good as your people. Furthermore, the actions and behaviours of your team members are usually guided by your company's culture.
A company's culture "consists of group norms of behavior and the underlying shared values that help keep those norms in place". It therefore guides the behaviour and mindsets of your employees, and you would obviously want positive behaviours to repeated.
In this article from the Harvard Business Review, the authors highlight the importance of your company's culture aligning with your customers' perception of your company. They talk about tying incentives (monetary and non-monetary) to reinforcing certain behaviours to drive a specific culture.
For tour operators, this means prioritising and defining excellent customer service at all customer touch points, as part of the company's culture. A positive culture is likely to seep into your tours and create an environment where your customers feel welcomed, relaxed and excited for the experiences to come.
3. Partner with the right people
Just like how you need to employ the right people into your company, you also need to be selective about who you work with.
Do they carry themselves in the same way you would like your guides to? Is their quality of service on par with yours? Will they be able to engage with your customers the same way you do? And more importantly, are they just as excited as you are to show off your local culture, heritage and customs?
You need to partner with someone who captures the same vision as you do, and someone who is willing to also go above and beyond to provide the best experience for your customers.
To create a win-win relationship with the right partners, you can also cross-sell each others' products to provide customers with more options to experience everything your destination has to offer.
4. Get the right mode of transport for your guests
Part of my research for this article included going through multiple reviews on multi-day tours on TripAdvisor. One of the main aspect of the tour that was often mentioned was the comfort level of the coach, van or car that was used to bring guests around.
Another aspect to consider is the safety of the vehicle you choose and the competence of your drivers. You want your guests to feel comfortable and assured that they will be able to explore your destination safely.
5. Punctuality is key
Another frequently mentioned aspect of multi-day tours is the punctuality of drivers and guides. I'm sure you already know how important this is but here's a friendly reminder: be punctual.
A friendly reminder never hurt anyone.
6. Give your customers the flexibility to customise their tours
Another way to make your multi-day tours stand out from the crowd is by allowing customers to determine how they would like to spend their vacation time. Today's travellers want experiences tailored and personalised and would happily pay more for it too.
You could give your customers the option of customising their travel itinerary or the type of accommodation they would like to stay in. This could also be a source of competitive advantage over your competitors.
7. Take the time to learn about your customers' needs and requirements
Along the lines of tailoring your tours to your customers needs and wants, your guides should also take the time to learn about the people they will be spending the next few days with. They should take note of important things like health issues or dietary requirements.
You could also go the extra mile and send them a simple questionnaire to figure out their likes and dislikes, and take that into account when planning out their itinerary.
8. Surprise your customers to delight them
To satisfy your customers, you should always provide the experience you promised them. To delight them, on the other hand, requires a little more effort.
To delight them, you need to surprise them with something special. For example, you could bring a basket filled with local foods and fruits for breakfast, and deliver it to the rooms of your customers. Going on a hike and know a great look out point that's not on the itinerary? Why not bring your guests along?
In summary, go the extra step.
9. Be prepared to think on your feet
Just like any line of work that involves human beings organising and planning things, be prepared for mistakes and hiccups. In such events, your guides need to be given the autonomy and have the initiative to act as they see fit to ensure that your customers still get an unforgettable holiday.
There should also be Plan Bs for when the Mother Nature decides to rain down on your parade (pardon the pun). It could be as simple as finding a nearby pub with great food and drink or an art gallery that customers can explore while waiting for the rain to stop.
10. Don't forget to follow up
Once the tour is over, remember to follow up with your guests. It would be brilliant if your guides wrote personal notes to your customers, especially on customised private tours. Alternatively, you could also send out follow-up emails thanking your guests for joining your tours and wishing them well.
This is also the perfect opportunity to ask for feedback about the tour or to get your customers to write a review of your tour on TripAdvisor. You could also include discount codes that they could use should they decide to book another tour with you or to share with their friends.
Do you have any other great tips for creating a multi-day tour?
Would you like to sign up for a demonstration of TrekkSoft? It was created for tour and activity operators like you.
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.