When it comes to marketing your tours or activities, you can build your social media presence, set aside a budget for paid search, or work on some print marketing. But at the core of your marketing efforts should be one overriding goal: generating word of mouth advertising.
We took a look at some of the tourism companies doing a great job of generating word of mouth. Here's what we found they have in common.
1. Build a close-knit social media community
At the centre of your social media community should be a small network of individuals that you can count on for engagement.
When you're just starting out, it doesn't matter if these are friends and family - what counts is that you're getting support. As your business and your networks grow, you can add happy customers to your close-knit community by exceeding their expectations on your tours or activities.
2. Be generous
A little generosity goes a long way, and in the case of tour operators and activity providers, it can be the difference between a decent tour and an unforgettable one.
Think about your own encounters with memorable brands. Perhaps you'll remember an airline that offered you extra leg room for no extra cost, or a generous return and refund policy from your favourite shoe shop. Cultivate a similar experience for your customers: go out of your way to help them and they'll remember you for it.
3. Pay attention to what your customers like - and do more of it
Do customers continually praise you on certain aspects of your tour or activity? Are there common themes in the positive reviews you receive on TripAdvisor? Take note of what your customers like, do more of it, and generate more customer happiness as a result.
4. Put effort and heart into your content creation
Readers can tell when you put genuine effort into your content, be it a blog post or tweet. Set aside time to really focus on what you're writing, think through your ideas before you get started, and don't churn out content just because someone told you to. To get started, check out the free writing handbook we've published for you:
5. It's easier if you have a good founding story
If you can give customers an engaging story of how your business started, it makes it a whole lot easier to generate word of mouth. After all, when people recommend a company to friends, they often explain its background or a personal connection they have to it. Think about your own brand's story, how to tell it in a compelling way, and how to encourage people to recommend you.
6. Treat customers like gold
Sometimes it's easy to get caught up with finding new customers and you forget about the ones already coming your way. During a tour or activity, focus on delighting your customers, and afterwards, provide them with all the follow-up appreciation you can.
This might be an automated follow-up email if they booked online, or an individual thank you to each customer as they leave. You could hand them a business card or a discount code, and personally let them know that they will receive special treatment in future, or if they send a friend your way.
7. Make a name for yourself locally
It's often easiest to generate word of mouth advertising in your local area. Make sure that your neighbours know about your tour or activity, and that you integrate with your community by attending events and putting in the effort socially.
Ultimately, you want it to be as easy as possible for people to recommend your tour or activity when asked for recommendations of local things to do.
8. If you have a team, celebrate them
Happy employees provide the best customer service! Hire wisely, focus on your team's strengths and achievements, and keep up group morale.
9. Excel at what you do
As in all aspects of business, word of mouth is generated when you exceed a customer's expectations. Make an effort to excel at what you do and constantly improve your tour or activity. This could be by learning more about your area, reading up on local history, or remembering fun trivia to share with your customers.
Put in the effort to provide the best possible customer experience you can, and see each moment of customer contact as a chance to develop your interpersonal skills and strengthen your customer experience.
Written by Lucy Fuggle
Lucy is Head of Content Marketing at TrekkSoft. She tries to read a book a week, travel solo every month, and share ideas on lucyfuggle.com. You can usually find her in Switzerland's Berner Oberland.