As a tour or activity operator, it's good to know that you have bookings in advance. This is particularly so for activities such as paragliding or skydiving. You need to know how many clients you're going to take to the sky!
Regardless of your service, by guaranteeing advance bookings you know you won't be wasting your time, money, or effort.
So, how can you make it easier to accept advance bookings? Here are some of our best tips...
1. Enabling online bookings is fundamentalMore and more of your customers are organising travel plans online, and you need to keep up. Ensure you have a fully-functional online booking system that's both responsive and mobile-optimized.
2. Ensure your availability is always up-to-date
If you want your customers to book ahead of time, you need to be sure of your future plans too. Being forced to cancel booked-up tours and activities won't benefit your online or offline reputation.
If you know you have future commitments, make sure to update your availability as soon as possible. It also helps to have a booking system with a real-time calendar that can quickly update across all devices. TrekkSoft can provide you with this.
3. Mobile is key
Can a customer book your rafting trip, walking tour, or anything in-between in five minutes on a mobile device? If not, set a goal to make your website responsive and you'll soon notice the impact.
4. Think about your restrictions or requirements for advance bookings
Are drop-outs an issue for you? Think about your answer when setting requirements for down payments or deposits. More relaxed booking options may promote higher bookings, but it may not always guarantee attendance.
5. Check your web content
Does your website's content emphasize early booking as a way to plan ahead, pay online, and save time? If not, perhaps re-word a few things. You can also download our free writing handbook to help you get started:
After doing the groundwork, how can I encourage online bookings?
6. Provide incentives
Can you offer discounts or other incentives for early bookings? With online booking software, you can also enable the use of voucher and discount codes, and perhaps distribute these in your online and offline marketing.
7. Make social media a priority
Schedule a steady stream of content to promote your tours on social media, perhaps using a tool such as Buffer or Hootsuite. You can also take a look at our ten social media tips (plus ten more!) for some tailored advice from our resident expert, Colm Hanratty.
8. Use paid search and online advertising ahead of time
Get your business promoted on Facebook and Twitter before the season heats up and target your ideal customers in advance. You can also consider starting a Google AdWords campaign - here's our AdWords ebook to help you along the way.
9. Get a head start on marketing before peak season
Create content for your website and social media, work on SEO, and consider any offline marketing material that needs preparing. Here are ten more ways you can drive bookings during the off-season.
10. Partner up
Consider partnering with your tourism board or other local tour and activity providers, perhaps through TrekkSoft's Partner Network. Let them know that customers can book your tours or activities in advance and you'll increase your selling manpower.
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.