Much has been written by leading experts on the things companies need to do to get through this crisis - cutting costs, reducing hours, eliminating wasteful spending and so on. Many tough decisions have been taken and have yet to be taken depending on how things unfold over the coming weeks.
Yet, in this time of so much uncertainty, there is one thing you can be certain of and that is this: It will end. It might be two, four or even six months, but it will end.
We have all heard the analogies: After every storm, comes the calm; after the harshest of winters, spring will always follow. So we can say with confidence, this too will pass. The question for many business owners and managers is will you be able to take advantage of the upturn when it starts?
Everyone has a theory as to how the recovery will happen, but the following is what we see and our recommendations on how to take advantage of it.
- Domestic travel will recover first as people will still be nervous about going abroad.
- Airlines and cruise companies will offer huge incentives to get people moving (for those of you who were in travel post 9/11, remember the patterns).
- Human beings by nature are a resilient bunch… and we love a bargain. As soon as it is deemed safe and deals appear, we will start moving with gusto after being cooped up for months.
- Once things start moving, it will be slow to begin but momentum will happen quickly.
7 ways to get your business ready for recovery
Dig into your business’ data
Do you know which tours were not just the most popular, but the most profitable? Use this time to truly understand your business. Here are some ways to analyse your business:
- Get granular detail on your online presence (more on this below)
- Where did your customers come from?
- How far in advance did they book?
- Did different nationalities travel in different seasons?
- Which booking channels delivered volume and the best margin?
Many of us are so busy that we rarely get the chance to dig deep into the numbers. Now is your time to do it. This will be time well spent and you will ultimately end up with a more focussed business.
Work on your website
Overlooked Fact: Your online presence isn’t just about your website, but how you appear everywhere online across all channels.
When people say understand your website - what does that actually mean? Whole books have been written on this subject, but in very simple terms, you need to understand the following points.
- How does your site perform for organic search?
- How well do you convert site visitors into bookers?
- Are there clear calls to action?
- What are your most visited pages?
- What is your bounce rate?
- Do you have your site localised into different languages or is it just available in your native language?
- Do you have reviews on your site? (Check out Feefo and Trust Pilot, tools that can help you embed reviews to your website.)
If any of these are under performing or not performing at all, you need to get the issues addressed.
Your website is your shop window to the world and your most important sales channel. The customer journey on your site is something that you must understand if you want visitors to give you their credit card.
Read more: The basics to building a great tour and activity operator website
Build your SEO strategy
All good SEO begins with understanding your customers’ intent. In other words, why do people search for what they search for?
Take for example “best tour in Dublin” or “good restaurants in London”, these are known as keywords or key phrases. I highly recommend SEMRush for keyword research to help you understand what your customers are looking for and to build the basic foundation of all online marketing.
Armed with the understanding of your customer intent, you can generate stories for your blog and social media to secure inbound links from industry partners. And if you do all of this well, you should rank well in the google rankings. If this is an area that you are unsure of, here is a good straight forward book to read on the topic “How to get to the top of Google”.
Read more: Top 5 tactics for tour and activity operators
Optimise for mobile
Above all else, is your website mobile friendly? Most tours are now booked on mobile devices, mobile travellers spend more and they leave more reviews.
According to Tourscanner 50% of mobile bookings happen within two days of taking a booking. In 2018 TrekkSoft saw 57% of bookings processed via mobile devices, while Klook saw 75%!
As an operator, if you do not make it easy for customers to book on their phone, you are effectively putting money into the pockets of your competition. Instead, let your competitors put money in your pocket.
It is no longer a question of whether you can afford to make your website mobile friendly; it is not the case that you cannot afford to ignore it.
Know your Customers
Seems like an obvious statement, but not everyone truly does. These days knowing your customers is not just saying they come from the UK or Germany or China, it’s about collecting richer data about your customers. It’s about knowing what time of the year certain markets travel, where they access information, what websites they book on, their average price point, and what makes for a good experience for them.
Once you know this, how do you take advantage of that information? Here are some ideas:
- Provide website content in different languages (ExperienceBank offers translation services for Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.)
- Consider running your tours in different languages too.
- Should you cater for guests with disabilities?
Laser in on your target audience and deliver what they truly want in a meaningful and valuable way.
Read more: Beyond customer personas: How How proper customer segmentation can increase revenues
No company wants to depend on only one channel for its business, whether that is your own website or a partner. While your own direct bookings will give you the best margin, you could find your sales drop dramatically if Google changes an algorithm and you very quickly lose your top spot. So, a diversified distribution strategy where you are not wholly dependent on any one platform is the safest way to protect your long term future.
This is what we typically recommend our clients to do:
1. Connect to the world's biggest OTAs
With TrekkConnect, connect to the world’s top OTAs through one single connection. If you can provide content in local languages, it will greatly aid your distribution as well, especially in Asia.
2. Simplify contract management with Central Contracts
Take advantage of our Central Contracts solution which will further enhance your connection options. OTAs will give you first exposure to international visitors who won’t know your brand and who are more likely to book well in advance.
3. Don’t neglect your local channels either
- Connect with local DMOs and make sure to have your tours present at local tourist offices, airports, cruise terminals, bus and train stations.
- Local hotels can also be a great avenue to distribute your products to tourists who are already in-destination.
- Build relationships with inbound tour operators who are often responsible for marketing the destination to the rest of the world.
- Collaborate with other local operators to create interesting packages for your guests.
Read more: Pros and cons of working with OTAs for distribution
Stay in touch with your local network
How quickly can you get your business operational again?
Though you may have had to put good staff on reduced working hours or made them redundant for now, it is so important to stay in contact. It is not only considered a general act of kindness, but for your business, this is a good thing as you might be in a position to rehire your staff once this is over. People are more likely to return to companies that cared for them even in difficult circumstances.
It is also a fact that some businesses will not reopen, but do stay in touch with fellow operators in your area. Out of chaos, new opportunities will appear.
Stay in touch with your local tourist boards. National funding will be delivered in many countries to kick start economies. Be aware of what is happening both nationally and internationally through these sources.
This information will help you form your ‘Return to Business’ strategy for the season ahead.
Final words of advice...
Do not wait for the recovery to start as you will be at the back of the queue. Take actions now to ensure when the recovery starts you are ready to reap the rewards.
Would you like to learn about TrekkSoft's channel manager? Get in touch with our team.