With continued uncertainty over vaccine rollout plans and unequal distribution of vaccines across the globe, the Economist's Intelligence Unit expects mass COVID-19 immunisation to happen only in 2024. This would not only impact the global economy, but also severely limit people's abilities to travel to far and distant destinations.
In the coming months, tour operators and activity providers would be better off pivoting to a local market, and to markets within its travel bubble.
Which domestic market segment will you go after?
In our webinar with Joshua Oakes from The Sunshine Tribe, he highlighted different domestic market segments that tour operators can appeal to.
Here are some markets you could consider:
- Local businesses - Many businesses continue to put aside a small budget for team building activities to boost morale during. You could run a scavenger hunt in your town, or a trip to local wineries.
- Families with young kids - Working from home while having kids home schooled can put a strain on parents. Offering activities that can be fun for young families can be a great way to give everyone a break.
- Couples only - There will always be lovebirds looking to get some time away from the kids or from the stresses of daily life. Offering romantic getaways outside the city could be appealing to this segment.
- Bachelor or bachelorette groups - Promoting your services for bachelor or bachelorette weekends could be a great way to put a spin on things.
- Specialty clubs/groups/societies - If your experiences cater to a specific niche whether it's a medieval history tour or a beer tasting session, you could market your experiences to local groups who share similar interests.
Develop your customer personas to determine what products and services would appeal most to them, and what marketing messages are most likely to attract their attention.
Update your website and booking channels
Adjust your website and marketing assets to speak to your domestic market segments, just like you do when appealing to specific international market segments.
In your marketing messages, highlight:
- Health and safety measures as outlined by your local governments
- Reopening dates (if your region is still under lockdown)
- Flexible re-scheduling options and how long bookings are valid for (Check out this post on how to reduce cancellations and manage cashflows)
- Shorter lead times required for a booking to be processed
Own the customer relationship from start to finish
Now more than ever operators will need to stretch every single cent and make it count, a 30% commission is becoming harder and harder to swallow. Invest time and energy into developing your marketing and sales channels, and take ownership for lead generation, sales conversion and delivering a great experience.
Refresh social media profiles and listings
Work on your company's online presence, starting with low hanging fruit like updating your social media profiles and listings on review sites. Google My Business will also play an important role when it comes to promoting your experiences to locals.
Build your lead generation
If you have more time on your hands, invest in lead generation activities like creating more engaging content on social media or sharing free destination guides online in exchange for an email address.
For more targeted advertising, consider paid advertising on Google or social media platforms. The ability to target users by location, demographics and interests can greatly improve your visibility online. Facebook also has tools to retarget users who have previously visited your website but might not have completed a purchase.
Your website is your best sales tool
When it comes to closing a sale, your website is your best sales tool. A booking system with your most updated schedules and products will be important. If you have a compelling tour or activity, travellers will book with you as soon as they can, but your sales process needs to be ready for it.
Want more tour operator insights for 2021?