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Customer loyalty: a method to increase direct bookings

Customer loyalty: a method to increase direct bookings

Repeat business has become a hot topic in 2019. Not only do loyal customers bring a steady stream of revenue, their buying process also skips the - sometimes critical -discovery phase, where OTAs play a big role in providing browsing and comparison opportunities for the online customer.

Needless to say, as a tour operator looking to obtain a balanced and profitable distribution strategy, returning customers are crucial in order to maintain a healthy ratio of direct and charged upon 3rd-party bookings. 

In this blog, we list 3 top-tips on how to make your customers come back for more. 


1. Provide a good first experience

First things first. Before diving into the post-sales activities you need to make sure your tour or activity is worth re-experiencing and sharing with others.

By ensuring the customer has the best possible experiences all the way from the booking through to saying goodbye drop-off point, you have already come a long way.

Consider the following criteria when evaluating your offering:

  • Aim for a smooth booking journey. 
  • Make your tours memorable and focus on what makes your experiences unique.
  • Who are your tour guides? Being the "product" and face of the business, you want to ensure fit, passion and expertise. Here is a checklist of 10 qualities we think every tour guide should have.New call-to-action
  • Who is your target market and how well do you cater for their needs?
  • Are you keeping up with the travel trends? According to the Travel Trends Report 2019 and 65 Travel Statistics to know in 2019 the demand for once-in-a-lifetime experiences is on the rise and a majority of travellers intend to post pictures on Instagram when holidaying (photo opportunity!).

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2. Incentivise and reward

Reward customers who come back to you - both locally and in other destinations.  Depending on company size and type of experiences, recommending and offering discounts for related activities are a great way of staying on the customer's radar. 

Distributed on-site or in the thank-you email shortly after the trip (ideally both!), discount codes and vouchers are great resources for guests to keep for later or pass on to fellow travellers and friends. "30% off your second booking" or "2-for-1" are examples of discounts that can be issued for direct bookings on your company's website.

Related reading: How to design and optimise your "Book Now" buttons to drive bookings

For a more extensive product portfolio, a loyalty scheme is another great method to secure a series of future bookings. SANDEMANs NEW Europe COO Antony Lias shared in our recent webinar how they introduced a very successful loyalty card which incentives customers to visit their tour locations around the world. 

Speak to our booking solution experts about sales promotion tools for your business.


Watch the webinar recording How to keep customers coming back for more with SANDEMANs NEW Europe COO Antony Lias for more tips on creating customer loyalty.  


3. Spread the word

Customer loyalty comes with the benefit word-of-mouth marketing. Our 65 Travel Statistics to know in 2019 mentions that 80% of travelers leave reviews when requested. This is a huge difference to the otherwise expected outcome of 22% of guests leaving spontaneous reviews (PhocusWire, 2018).

Customer sentiments are immensely helpful in creating a strong brand reputation and can be rewarded with smaller souvenir items or discounts on repeat bookings.

In the webinar Rank better on TripAdvisor, Chris Torres, Founder of Tourism Marketing Agency, recommends adding a personal touch to the review gathering with focus on the local guide's individual performance.

Other forms of endorsement includes referrals, whereby both the new and returning customer get rewarded through discounts or free add-ons such as a meal or merchandise.

For more easy-to-implement advice on how to generate direct bookings:

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Johanna Messer
Posted by Johanna Messer
Johanna is part of TrekkSoft’s marketing team. Before joining our Interlaken HQ, she worked in marketing & communications for newspapers in Sweden and the UK. On weekends you will find her hiking up a mountain or planning her next adventure.
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