Growvember is officially over, and the whole Peek team is excited to see how you take the learnings and apply them to your business. It’s time to put these tips into action! We hope you enjoyed the content from all eight of our incredible speakers - don’t forget, if you missed any of the sessions, or just want to rewatch, you can find links to all of the recordings right here. Don’t know what Growvember is? Where have you been?! Growvember brought some of the top minds in the tour and activity industry together to deliver some top-notch workshops to operators like you. All for free! Pretty amazing, right? We highly recommend you watch all of the sessions in full to get the most out of this awesome free content. But for those of you in a hurry, here are eight of our favorite learnings from across the two days. Enjoy!
Collaborate with your competitors!
In Douglas Quinby’s session, Top Travel Trends for 2019 andBeyond, he goes over why activities are the fastest-growing sector in the industry right now. So why are they?Activities are the why of travel. Travellers may be booking flights and reserving hotels like never before, but tours and activities are the things that really make a trip special. The research that Douglas and his team at Arival has done backs this up. From a survey of over 4000 travellers from the U.S., U.K., France and Germany they found that on average, travellers will engage in around 7activities while on their trip!Let’s take a look at the breakdown of that:
Source: Arival, 2018
So why is this important, and how can you use this information to your advantage? One word: collaboration.Why see other operators in your area as your competition? With so many different types of activities on offer, this is a great opportunity for you to partner up with some other local attractions and cross-sell their experiences. Is there a hop-on, hop-off bus tour in your area that could promote your tour to guests? Could you partner with a fellow operator and offer mutual discounts to encourage higher bookings? Douglas says that more and more travellers are making purchasing decisions in-destination - so make sure you’re creating a strong on-the-ground presence for yourself and have a plan to sell people while they’re in the area. Why not explore the options in your area, talk to local attractions and other activity providers and see if you can find a mutually beneficial partnership! This is an easy and immediately effective to spread the word even more about your tour or activity to travellers who are already in the area. Want to learn more from Douglas? Watch his full session here.
Protect yourself from the dreaded cancellation
Next up we heard from Delamon Rego, COO of tour operator marketing/software heavyweight TOMIS. During his session on how to boost your 2019 revenue, here’s something that caught our eye…Cancellation insurance.Do you have it? If not, Delamon tells us why it’s something worth considering: Cancellation policies are often tricky waters to navigate for many tour operators. When guests cancel their tour after the allowed time, you don’t want to be losing money or ending up with empty seats that you don’t have time to fill. On the other hand, when you enforce your policy, you worry about seeming like the bad guy and damaging your reputation - even if the policy is clear as day. Delamon suggests that cancellation insurance could be the answer to your troubles.Giving customers the option to purchase this insurance during the checkout process means that those customers who were going to cancel anyway are likely to purchase it. It also helps you to enforce your cancellation policy without seeming like the bad guy. It seems way more reasonable when you say you tried to run their refund, but the system says no cancellation insurance was purchased - your hands are tied.The other great bonus to this feature is it can actually start to make you money, with any unused cancellation insurance going right into your bottom line.As a general rule, Delamon recommends charging 12-15% of your ticket price for cancellation insurance, which you can adjust if you have particularly low or high ticket prices. Want to find out other ways to boost that revenue in 2019? Check out Delamon’s session here!
Post that job - even when you’re not hiring
Kelsey Tonner is your one-stop-shop for everything tour guide education. A former guide himself, he now provides amazing training for tour guides and leaders across the world, helping you to create incredible experiences. In his session, How to Recruit and Train Extraordinary Leaders, he gives some awesome tips for those who have to hire tour guides for their business. We think this little nugget is worth doing right now!Create a permanent job profile on your website.You may only hire a few times a year, but you could be getting hits on your website from potential candidates every day! Why not wet their appetite and let them register their interest by creating a job profile page for them to check out! Why is this such a great idea? For one thing, when the time to hire comes around, this page will already be indexed by Google, hopefully giving your chances of finding someone great a boost! Not only that, but by allowing interested candidates to enter their email in a form on this page throughout the year, you start to build a relationship before your search has even begun. They can get to know you and hear about what you’re up to, and this will hopefully make them even more passionate about working for you! Be sure to include a detailed job description, include responsibilities, and highlight any awesome perks that come with the job! Why not also build up an FAQ section, adding questions as they come in from potential hires? By allowing your website visitors to register their interest in working for you all through the year, what happens when it comes to hiring season? Boom. Your life just got a whole lot easier. Need some more hiring tips? Check out Kelsey’s full session!
Make friends with your local hotel concierge
Former tour operator and founder of The Sunshine Tribe, Josh Oakes, had some truly awesome advice for us on the important of selling through offline channels. Here’s our favorite tip of his from that session - get ready to use this one right away! As Josh was starting out with his tour company, he needed to find some channels that were going to start boosting his revenue right away.What was the solution? Hotel concierges.Josh took the time to “pound the pavement”, hitting up local hotels in the area and building some great relationships with local concierge desks. He then made sure he was revisiting them, following up with phone calls, and keeping himself front of mind. This way, Josh was able to work his way up to the top of many concierge’s lists, and started to see those phone calls rolling in. The best part about this tactic? It doesn’t cost anything but your time.Most hotels take very low or even zero commissions; so by taking a little time to build some solid relationships, you can open up a whole new market and become the go-to operator for hotels in your area! This one sounds like a winner to us. Hear about more ways to sell through offline channels by watching Josh’s talk here.
Use video to sell yourself - and your destination
Digital marketing expert and director of Tourism Marketing Agency Chris Torres kicked off day 2 of Growvember this year. He gave us an info-filled session on using video to market your tours - and how to do it on any budget. Here’s just one of his tips that you should bear in mind if (or better yet, when!) you create your next marketing video…Don’t forget to showcase your destination - not just your tour or activity. Chris gave us some pretty mind-boggling stats on video - like how an average user watches 32 videos a month (!), and how 79% of travellers will search Youtube for ideas before they book their trip. But that’s not all. Of those travellers, a huge 67% still haven’t decided on a destination for their trip. So you shouldn’t only be selling yourself; why not include some beauty spots, local businesses and people from your area in the video? Make your video about the magic of where you’re located, with your tour or activity at the heart of it. That way, you might just persuade those indecisive viewers to choose your destination over their other options -- and book your experience in the process!Get some great tips on how to achieve great videos on all types of budgets from Chris here.
Use Facebook to target in-destination travelers in the best way
Tourism marketing extraordinaire and founder of Blend Marketing Jeremiah Calvino brought us an incredible talk on the importance of “At Home vs In Destination Marketing”. These tips are so important for operators who need to focus their ad spends and target customers as wisely as possible. Here’s one of our favorite tips from Jeremiah’s session that is SO easy to implement…Facebook lets you target those who are already traveling in your area. Sounds obvious, right? Well, think about it. Almost every marketing platform out there lets you target specific locations for advertising. But what about all of those people who live in your destination? If you’re a tourist attraction or you primarily serve travelers from outside the region, your ad spend may be wasted on those people who live in your town or city. Thankfully, Facebook has broken down their users in a way that lets you filter your audience but are currently there.Take a look:
This is an awesome tool to use when running a Facebook ad campaign. Make sure you’re targeting the right kind of people and seeing some great returns on whatever your marketing budget is! To hear more on this and a bunch of other awesome location-based marketing tips, check out Jeremiah’s presentation here!
Make a clear CTA your top website priority
Andy Mott knows what he’s talking about when it comes to websites for tour and activity operators. As Head of TigerCare at TourismTiger, a top industry website provider, his session was full of tips and tricks to supercharge your website. Here is one of our favourites…Make sure a clear call to action is the main focus of your website.Will your visitors know what they need to do when they arrive at your site? Don’t underestimate the power of simple, clear messaging. Not only this, but make a strong call to action your best friend. Not sure what a call to action is? It’s essentially a button - a button which shows the user what they need to do and takes them where they need to be. Let’s see one of Andy’s examples in action. Before TourismTiger gave their website an overhaul, this operator’s homepage looked like this:
Attractive? Sure! But imagine a visitor had no idea what this company does before they visited the website. Where is the instruction to show them what to do next? Take a look at the after result:
Okay, now we can see exactly what our options are. These buttons, or CTAs, guide the user to make a choice and hit that button. So - don’t assume your visitors will know that they need to book, or how to do it. Let a CTA guide them to where they need to be - your booking page! Get some more great website tips from Andy by checking out his presentation right here.
Don’t be afraid to ask for phone reservations
Rounding off our Growvember event was the great Dustin Hoyman of Outdoor Adventure Marketing. Dustin gave us insights into a topic that is still so important in the tour and activity industry: phone calls. While online booking is certainly gaining more importance as we change the way we book, plenty of tour operators still take many of their bookings over the phone.In his workshop, Dustin gives a few great tips on how to make the most of those incoming calls. But here is our personal favorite - it’s so simple, and yet could have a major impact on your business.Don’t be afraid to ask for a reservation on every phone call.Remember, a lot of people call because they want more information - but ultimately, their goal is to book your experience! If they’ve taken the time to pick up the phone, you know they’re interested. Instead of treating the call as a simple question and answer session, why not add those magic words to the end of your call: “Are you ready to book?”If they say yes, that’s a sale made! If they say no, now you have an opportunity to find out why. Ask them if there’s anything they’re looking for that you may not have mentioned. If they talk about cost, weigh up whether it’s worth negotiating to make that sale. Whatever their answer, you are now armed with as much information as possible to try and make that sale. So make sure you’re including this question in every phone call that comes in. We told you it was simple, right?! Check out more of Dustin’s tricks to winning over those phone customers here!There you have it. Just a tiny amount of the wealth of knowledge we gained from all of our incredible Growvember speakers. Be sure to check out all of the full sessions to really get the most out of this amazing, free event! We’re pumped for next year!