As a travel and tourism company, it can sometimes feel like there is always a new marketing tactic you should be trying. We admit our part in this: we encourage you to try out alternative marketing strategies, and this article itself is a round-up of different tactics you should be using!
But as you read through this blog post, don't feel like you have to attempt everything. Instead of spreading your efforts too thin, it's more effective to think about where your focus is best placed.
Perhaps you want more people to be aware of your tours, or you might need to double down on maximising conversions on your website. Here's how to look at your customer journey as a whole and align your marketing efforts for maximum impact.
Start by considering the core stages of your customer decision journey, or the stages your customer passes through before and after becoming your customer.
In the marketing world, this often consists of Awareness – Consideration – Conversion – Loyalty – Advocacy.
However, we prefer Google's outline of the "micro-moments" that exist in travel:
- I-want-to-get-away moments (dreaming moments)
- Time-to-make-a-plan moments (planning moments)
- Let's-book-it moments (booking moments)
- Can't-wait-to-explore moments (experiencing moments)
Source: How Micro-Moments are Reshaping the Travel Customer Journey (Think With Google)
We will also add "sharing moments" on the end, or the crucial moment when your guests become brand ambassadors and generate word-of-mouth for you.
So, here's how a customer might experience these five moments with your company...
A prospective customer starts dreaming about a trip to your destination and gets inspired by the tours and activities they could find and book.
The customer becomes aware of your company when researching tours and activities in your destination. They ponder how your experience might fit their needs compared to other options on TripAdvisor, and imagine how it will make them feel.
The customer chooses your company! You have been able to convince them to book your tour or activity instead of the competition, and they're now excited for the experience ahead.
You provide awesome customer service before, during, and after your tour or activity and exceed your customer's expectations. Because of this, they might well become a repeat customer.
Your customer had such a positive experience that they tell their friends about you. You now have a brand ambassador to provide you with free word of mouth marketing.
Next, think about where your strengths are and where you want to get more results. Ask yourself:
- Do I want more people to be aware of my tours and activities? (Dreaming)
- Do I lose too many potential customers to competitors? (Planning)
- Do tourists consider my company, but find it too difficult to book and pay and go elsewhere? (Booking)
- Do I want to get more repeat bookings from loyal customers? (Experiencing)
- Do I want to build more word of mouth from happy customers? (Sharing)
Once you know where you could benefit from channeling your efforts, here's a visual of tactics to apply across your customer journey:
1. Start more dreaming moments
Do: Try to be visible in the places where your target customers are
Don't: Attempt to be active on every social network and distribution channel!
Start a blog to increase the chances of your website being found by people searching on Google.
Create a social media strategy to reach people researching your destination on social media.
Make some SEO tweaks to your website to get more organic traffic from search engines.
Sell your tours through leading OTAs such as Viator or Musement.
Set aside a small budget for social media advertising, perhaps starting with Facebook.
Give PPC advertising a go with Google AdWords to target people researching your destination.
Build a partner network and let agents and partners sell your tours for you.
Generate more word of mouth advertising for your business by building local partnerships.
Have a good stash of print advertising materials, such as brochures and business cards, to hand out to prospective customers and give to your partners to distribute.
2. Create more planning moments
Do: Show the human side of your company to help you stay top-of-mind
Don't: Forget that the most powerful marketing tool is an exceptional customer experience
Answer common queries about your tour or activity on your website to minimise barriers to booking.
Use your blog to show off the most exciting aspects of your tours and activities and encourage readers to consider booking.
Improve your rankings on review sites such as TripAdvisor to increase your credibility and the chance of people choosing your company over competitors.
Use email marketing to stay in touch with people who share their email with you (e.g. by downloading a city guide PDF on your website) but haven't yet booked anything.
3. Motivate more booking moments
Do: Use "book now" buttons to make it as easy as possible to book your tours, using software such as TrekkSoft
Don't: Make it overly complex for customers to book, or take them off your site to pay
Have a sales-optimized website that makes it easy for customers to navigate, book, and pay.
Display "book now" buttons on your website using TrekkSoft and speed up conversions.
Let agents and partners sell your tours and make it easier for tourists to book with you at other stages of their trip (e.g. during a visit to your local tourism office).
Use the TrekkSoft Point of Sale Desk to provide your agents with a user-friendly interface to sell your tours and activities on any device.
4. Provide better experiencing moments
Do: Treat every customer like they will review you online to an audience of five million
Don't: Expect customers to be loyal if you didn't provide an outstanding experience on your tour
Schedule automated post-trip emails to thank your guests and provide a positive ending to their time in your destination.
Give voucher and discount codes to your customer and motivate them to book another tour or activity with you.
Take pride in providing exceptional customer service to every guest.
Offer free add-ons to your customers to exceed their expectations and build loyalty.
5. Encourage more sharing moments
Do: Let guests know that reviews contribute a lot to your business's success
Don't: Bribe guests or ask for reviews excessively at the expense of their experience
Remind guests to review you on TripAdvisor and other review sites by setting up automated post-trip emails.
Get higher quality and more frequent reviews by ticking off everything on our TripAdvisor Checklist.
Stay in touch with customers through email by sending an occasional newsletter of company news, milestones, and updates.
Build social media advocacy by encouraging guests to share their photos on social media and tag your company.