The travel and tourism industry is in constant change - and so are the ways in which tours and activities are being found and booked.
As we kicked off 2019 with the two webinars - The future of consumer travel booking and How to increase tour booking in 2019 - we found that many of you had questions on the impact and best practices of tour booking in the digital era.
In this blog we have summarised and answered the most popular tour operator questions asked during the two webinars.
Marketing & distribution
Q: Any recommended marketing tools like Google ads, Facebook ads, Instagram, LinkedIn? How effective and fast will we get results? What’s the minimum effective budget for a new company?
Google search ads and Bing search ads are the two best channel to acquire new customers through PPC.
If you have a limited budget, Facebook and Instagram should only be used for remarketing campaigns. You should primarily focus on bottom of funnel visitors, if you are able to reach these comfortably you can expand your audience.
Google and Bing are search engines, therefore they can pick up the precise intent of the user. Facebook and Instagram can not detect if the intent of the user is to travel to a specific destination, therefore it is not a good place to invest into PPC to reach top of funnel prospects.
It's best to start with a minimum budget of around €450 for Google search ads and €150 for Facebook and Instagram remarketing ads.
Q: Do you find a difference in booking behaviours between day tours and multi-day tours? Is the customer behavior different (i.e. do they want to book immediately for shorter tours, do they prefer to talk to someone before booking multi-day experiences etc.)?
Our data suggests that multi-day tours are booked on average 13 days prior to departure. To better facilitate this process, you want to make sure that guests can book a trip with you remotely. Common bookings channels include your own website, OTAs or through your destination’s local website where guests might browse for inspiration. As bookings might come from abroad, you should also consider using a payment system that lets guests pay in their preferred currency.
In contrast, day tours (lasting 1-3 hours) are more likely to be booked more spontaneously, either in-destination or very shortly prior to arrival. To process a last-minute booking, it is important to provide live availability on your website and across your local network of re-sellers, such as hotel concierge, hostels and local tourist offices. As people tend to rely only on their smartphones whilst travelling, it is also a good idea to optimise your website for mobile devices.
Along with duration, we also know that the complexity of the tour also has an influence. Customised and personalised tours often require preparation from both the organiser and the guest, which might affect the point at which the booking occurs. For these tours we recommend a detailed description and enquiry forms on your website to collect as much information from the guest from the very start.
Q: Do you notice that mailing lists should shift more towards WhatsApp broadcasts as it is more direct and personal?
From our perspective email is still one of the major communication channels, especially if you want to keep your customers up-to-date with a newsletter, inform about promotions and new offers.
However, WhatsApp broadcast lists are a good way of using an additional channel to communicate with your customers, especially when most of your customers are using WhatsApp and see it as their preferred way to communicate with you.
For tour & activity providers WhatsApp is a useful tool for direct & urgent communication with customers, for instance, last minute change of the meeting point, etc.
How to use TrekkSoft
Q: How much work/time is necessary to convert my current website with existing booking system to Trekksoft? And once a client has booked and paid will the money be directly transferred to me or does it take a few days?
Changing over to TrekkSoft shouldn’t take too long if you’re able to dedicate the resources to setting up the booking system. Some of our clients take a week, others take more than a month so it really depends on your requirements. I would suggest you give us a call to get a better understanding of the system and the onboarding process.
When it comes to payouts, the first 3 payouts will be made on a monthly basis due to security reasons. Afterwards, payouts can be made on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.
Q: What are some of the creative ways tour operators use the point-of-sale (POS) desk?
The POS desk was designed to be used on a tablet so we’ve seen many operators grant access to their re-sellers, making it easy for them to take a booking and payment when they’re out of the office.
This tool has also been used by tourist information centers to resell products from multiple suppliers in the region. TrekkSoft’s Partner Network allows TrekkSoft’s customers to connect with one another and cross-sell each others’ products. So for the sales agent, all they have to do is log in to the POS desk to access all the tours in the region, and the latest availabilities, schedules and prices for each and every tour.
Q: Once your tour is active in Trekksoft, is it automatically added and resold to all connected OTAs? Is setting up that connection a "one-click” thing?
TrekkSoft has no influence on whether a tour operator is accepted or rejected by an OTA. While we’re connected to some of the top marketplaces in the world, you will not be able to sell your products via these OTAs unless they have approved your application. There will be times when we run special initiatives with these OTAs to recommend suppliers and fast-track their applications, these opportunities are few and far between.
Once an operator has been accepted, you will need to setup your products with the OTA and “map” your schedules and prices. This process entails matching the schedules and prices of your activities from TrekkSoft to the pre-set schedules and prices on the OTA (this varies across OTAs).
After setting up, bookings from multiple OTAs will automatically be added to your TrekkSoft dashboard, giving you a clear overview of your latest bookings. Your latest availabilities will also be updated and synced across all your sales channels.
Got more questions? Click below to get in touch with our booking solution experts: