With 2017 just around the corner, it's time for every tour and activity company to be thinking about how they're going to kick-start the year in the best way possible. Keep reading for a rundown of the most important travel trends for 2017, all you need to know about preparing your distribution channels, and a few productivity tips too!
1. Reflect on 2016 and recognise your company's strengths
To move forwards, start by looking back. What did 2016 look like for your tour company?
December to January is the time for you to look back and define where your strengths, successes and areas for improvement were in the past year. Which markets and distribution channels brought you the majority of your bookings in 2016? What was your most popular offering? And your least popular? Where were you gaining profit and losing it?
While you shouldn't get too set in your ways, it's always valuable to know where you're getting results – as well as what the logical next step forwards could be.
2. Understand which trends will be driving the travel industry in 2017
To be ready for a brilliant 2017, you need a good idea of what the travel and tourism landscape currently looks like. Within the next few days, we'll be publishing our round-up of what's worth knowing in our Travel Report 2017.
Our Trend Report 2016 was read and talked about by thousands of tourism professionals, so we're really excited to launch this 2017 edition.
The extensive report will cover fifteen of the most important travel trends, including which generations will be booking your tours in 2017, the rise of digital nomadism, wellness travel, and experiential travel, as well as online and offline booking trends.
Those of you subscribed to our biweekly newsletter, Your Tourism Success Guide, will receive the report as soon as it's released. We'll also announce it here on the blog!
3. Define which distribution channels you'll be focusing on growing
You have a well-defined business model and happy customers who sing your praises after a tour. You know that you focus on a well-defined niche. But that still doesn't mean you can expect your tours to distribute themselves.
Put yourself in the best possible position by creating a balanced distribution network. Why balanced? Because it makes your business more sustainable in a rapidly-changing industry.
This means a balance between online and offline distribution channels, different source markets, and high and zero commission rates.
Know where your focuses will be in 2017 and make sure these channels are ready. Is your website ready to accept online bookings? Do you have agents selling your tours for you? Are you working with online travel agents such as Viator and GetYourGuide?
4. Have your tour booking engine ready to work its magic
When it comes to distributing tours and activities, it can be detrimental to spread your attention across too many different channels at once. For example: you don't need to be using every OTA out there – according to our research, 3-4 are sufficient for the majority of operators.
Yet there are some distribution channels that you shouldn't neglect. Your website is one of them. Nowadays, customers want to book online when it suits them and get immediate confirmation. If you haven't yet got set up with a booking system, our team can talk you through the process in a personal demo call.
There's high season and then there's low season. However, there are certain ways you can minimise seasonality and keep your business going strong all-year-round.
Here's some recommended reading to help you get ahead:
- How to make the most out of low season
- Your ultimate game plan to make this season the best ever
- [Checklist] 25 Steps to Prepare for High Season
6. Look ahead to the events and conferences you wish to attend
Now is a good time to be thinking about the events you'd like to attend in the year ahead. Which events do you always attend? Which events did you wish you had attended in 2016?
Some of the biggest and best are World Travel Market London (6-8 Nov 2017) and ITB Berlin (8-12 Mar 2017). For adventure operators, the ATTA World Summit in Salta, Argentina (16-19 Oct 2017) is looking like another great pick.
Here are some of our key takeaways from WTM London 2016 to give you an idea of the event. The TrekkSoft team will also be at ITB Berlin in March.
7. Consider how you can run your business more efficiently than in 2016
As well as getting more bookings, one of your main goals might be making your company more efficient.
That could include reducing admin, being able to update bookings, guides, and availability on-the-go, and using a booking engine with resource manager to avoid overbooking.
Could 2017 be your year to get ahead with this? Here's our advice on avoiding headaches in your tour business management.
8. What's the one big thing you'll be focusing on?
A valuable business read is The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan. The key message behind the book is to keep asking yourself this question for each key area of your life and work:
“What's the ONE Thing you can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
What's your one big thing for your business in 2017? This could be accepting 25,000 online bookings, partnering up with three local operators, or becoming the go-to tour or activity recommendation for five accommodation providers in your region.
You know what's most important to your business and what's achievable. Define your goal and make sure it's actionable, measurable, and has a fixed time frame.
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.