Four Strategy Questions For Tour Operators

tour guide

image courtesy of tripadvisor.com

The tours and activities sector has grown to be the third largest segment of the travel industry after airfare and accommodations. As tour operators consolidate, hotels up their game as local experts with help from platforms like the new Arrivedo and big names like Viator.com change the competitive landscape, the marketing strategy for tour operators is also evolving. Are you ready? Armed with insights from Skift, we pose four questions for tour operators to think about right now:

  1. What’s your online strategy? Skift research suggests that the tour and activity sector remains one of the digital travel industry’s “greatest untapped markets.” Although a majority of operators report that their own website is the most effective booking channel, not all tour operators take bookings online or even have websites. Travelers are handily booking flights and accommodations online, and they will expect the same experience to book tours. See how Airbnb, which only entered the tours and activities market a year ago, enhances the authenticity and credibility of its “Experiences” with a polished online presence.
  2. Have you prioritized your mobile strategy? Blame it on consumer behavior and their comfort with “on demand” booking services like Uber, but more travelers are waiting until they reach their destination before booking tours and activities—and it’s only going to get worse. Don’t give away that last-minute business due to financial and technological restraints. If you can’t beat them, join them—as a supplier. A smart mobile marketing strategy for tour operators may be working with online tour marketplaces like GetYourGuide, Viator, GoBe and Peek (which recently acquired Zozi).
  3. Do you have a local strategy? Depending on the tours and activities you offer, in-destination customers may offer year-round opportunities. After all, locals crave food, history and cultural tours, as well as unique experiences. While travelers are likely to visit TripAdvisor for ideas on tours and activities, locals are more apt to check review platforms like Yelp and Google. You may need to nurture this category with some discounts to get it going and adjust your distribution efforts, but it can really pay off. Tours make great gifts and offer a fun way to celebrate a birthday or anniversary.
  4. What’s your strategy for reviews? A TripAdvisor study found that 42% of travelers worldwide are “connected travelers,” using their smartphones to book or plan their trips. And 67% and 64% of these connected travelers, respectively, use their smartphone at their destinations to find things to do or read reviews. And boy do those reviews influence bookings! Rezdy, which provides online booking software for tour operators, estimates that about 70% of travelers check out reviews before booking a tour or activity. Be sure to monitor your reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google, and respond appropriately and promptly.

Got more questions? Need answers? Contact Lynn Kaniper at lkaniper@danacommunications.com or 609.466.9187, ext. 117 today.

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