When training to become a raft or kayak guide, it’s all about learning the river. But as your business grows, you need to get to grips with some marketing and sales skills too.
You may be planning to expand your business, or you might even have allocations that you need to fill, meaning you need a steady flow of customers to avoid losing money.
Here are some of our best tips to get more people hearing about your kayaking and rafting trips and out on the water.
1. Use your website to show what you love about rafting or kayaking
There’s a great article titled “So you want my job: whitewater rafting” on The Art of Manliness, in which raft guide (and chemist) Joe Cope describes his love for the job:
“It took a while to learn the river, but once I did, it felt like I had done it my whole life. That’s when I knew that the Ocoee River was my home, or I guess more of a retreat. When I’m out there, I’m in a state of flow. Even a bad day on the river is better than a good day in most other places. I realized this about halfway through my first summer. That’s when I knew.”
Think about why you love it. Next, make this come through in your marketing. When you go on your website, it should make you–and customers–want to get straight on the raft. Do this with action-packed videos, photos, and text.
2. If you have the best guides in the area, show them off
A key component of a successful rafting company is finding the best guides and holding onto them. These are the guys and girls out on the raft not because they like the allure of not being in an office, but because they love the job–and love sharing the thrill with others.
You might have a team page on your website with a photo of each guide plus a bit of text about them. You could include why they got into rafting or kayaking, their background or experience, or even their favourite part of the job or place on the river.
As with all businesses, customers like putting a face to the name. And in your business, cultivating trust is always a plus.
3. It’s all about the experience
If there’s one key takeaway from this article, it’s this: by providing the best rafting or kayaking trips possible, your business will market yourself. And your happy customers will, too. Focus on the client’s entertainment, treat each trip as a unique experience, and make every trip as enjoyable as you can.
Word-of-mouth couldn’t be more powerful, but it can go either way. That's why it’s crucial to make sure that a customer leaves the trip with positive impression. You know the drill: focus foremost on safety, then entertainment. Get customers shouting about how great rafting is to everyone and anyone.
4. Give potential customers a sneak-peek of the experience
If a potential customer is thinking of booking one of your trips, help them imagine what it’s going to be like. Include high-quality videos of past trips on your website and social media, as well as photos that really sell the experience throughout your online and offline marketing. We like what our Swiss neighbour Outdoor Interlaken does on their website.
5. Let customers talk about you (and be a part of the conversation)
Once you’re providing customers with rafting and kayaking trips worth shouting about, make it easy for them to talk about you.
Be active on social media, let customers know this, and encourage them to mention you in their posts and reviews. It’s always better to focus your attention on one or two social networks, say Facebook and Twitter, than spreading yourself too thin with five.
When someone mentions your business, respond. Nurture conversations and make customers want to recommend your trips to friends, or even book again for themselves.
6. Seek your niche in the adventure activity marketplace
Like you, your competitors want to provide customers with an adrenaline-packed and memorable experience on the water. To distingish yourself, you need to work out what makes your rafting trips unique.
Find your niche or unique selling point and promote this in all aspects of your marketing. By doing so effectively, your trips will stand out to those looking for the best choice for their first experience. It will also provide those who have rafted before with an extra incentive to book again.
7. Speed up your booking process
If someone's made you their first choice for rafting or kayaking, don’t make booking a hassle and force them go elsewhere.
A simple solution is to use online booking software. After browsing options online, or getting to your website through TripAdvisor, people will be encouraged when they see a “book now” button on your homepage. It means they can instantly finalise their plans, and won’t have to pick up a phone or wait until your office is open to book.
Remove barriers to booking and payment using a system such as TrekkSoft’s, and see the amount of customers coming your way surge.
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.