Look around you: the streets are full of festive lights, the air smells like cinnamon, and everyone is talking about gifts… Christmas is coming up fast; there’s no doubt about it!
As a tour and activity provider, this is an excellent opportunity to sell your experiences. Even if winter coincides with the off-season for your industry, you can still launch an “early bird” sale and get reservations for the following months.
While this has historically been a time for large companies to promote their offers, things are changing, and there is more and more space for smaller players to get the visibility they deserve and need, especially online. According to the latest statistics, a vast majority of shoppers (70% of the respondents to a Mint survey) are interested in buying from small businesses. Furthermore, there has been an increase in demand for brands that support social changes and have a positive impact on the local community.
It is important to keep in mind that consumers start looking for deals well in advance, so it’s never too early to start promoting your Christmas sale. Also, you don’t need to limit your marketing to Christmas Day alone. Instead, you can capitalize on this crucial commercial opportunity by offering promotions on your tours and activities throughout the whole Christmas season, which is the period that runs from Christmas Eve (December 24) to Epiphany (January 6) and includes Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.
Alternatively, you can take advantage of the holiday season to build awareness for your products rather than simply offering promotions. You can then focus on converting website visitors into customers closer to spring and summer.
While it may seem challenging to compete with big online travel agencies like Viator or GetYourGuide when it comes to holiday promotions, don’t despair! The increased consumer focus on small businesses combined with an uptick in demand for “experiences” means that even independent tour operators and activity providers can see a substantial increase in sales during Christmas by having and implementing a comprehensive, well-defined marketing strategy. Below you can find eight tips to help you make the most out of Christmas sales. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!
Define your promotions
The first thing you need to decide is what kind of promotions you want to run during Christmas. While you may initially consider running a flat discount on your tours as part of your holiday sale, adopting a more strategic approach pays off immensely. Do you want to focus on the products that are more expensive but have a higher profit margin? Or do you want to discount some of your lower-cost experiences to amplify your brand awareness and attract more customers? How long will you be running the promotion? During which period will people be able to book your discounted activities? Just during the low season or all year long? Once you have defined in detail the characteristics of your offers, you can create a multi-pronged digital marketing campaign using the strategies below to promote them!
Take advantage of your mailing list
Christmas has become one of the year’s most significant sales periods, and consumers today expect businesses to offer holiday deals. Hence, Christmas time also tends to be a period when people eagerly await to receive coupons and discount codes from their favorite companies via email, providing businesses of all sizes with opportunities to achieve some of the highest open and click-through rates of the entire year. By “open rate,” we refer to the percentage of email recipients that effectively opens a newsletter, while the “click-through rate” tells us the percentage of users that clicked at least one link in your email out of all the people that opened it. These are the two most important metrics to measure the success of an email marketing campaign.
According to Campaign Monitor, email marketing accounts for nearly 20% of website visits over the holiday season, and consumers who visit your website as a result of an email blast spend 138% more money compared to those that don’t receive promotional newsletters.
By now, most tour operators have realized the importance of email marketing (hopefully!). Plenty of experience providers have built up a targeted email list to inform past and future customers about new tours, promotions, and general information regarding the company. As you may imagine, Christmas offers tour and activity providers a perfect opportunity to reach consumers with a high intent to buy.
When creating your newsletters, it is essential to ensure that your messaging is consistent and that users can easily understand the terms of your promotion. It is also imperative to include a call to action. A call to action is a prompt — usually a short phrase — designed to invite users to perform a specific action. In this case, the CTA must direct users to your website so that they can browse your promotions. Ideally, you will make sure your email is linked to a landing page (a standalone page created specifically for this campaign) where visitors can check all the deals you’re offering and book their experience.
Make use of OTA sales
During the holiday period, many OTAs like Viator and GetYourGuide will offer special sales. Of course, their terms may differ from those you want to apply to the sales on your website, but your business too has an excellent opportunity to put great products in front of an enormous array of consumers from all over the world. Before you commit to taking part in any sale, make sure you know precisely what kind of discount you will offer or if there is a change in the standard commission percentage you will have to pay.
As the lead-up to Christmas begins, it is crucial to start promoting your products through your social media profiles. In 2022, 45% of people who discovered a new product via social networks purchased it as a gift, and interestingly, studies have shown that people are most likely to find new products when they buy them for someone else.
These statistics show just how important it is to showcase the right offers in the lead-up to the holiday season. This means you will want to promote your most “giftable” experiences, as this will help you increase brand awareness and drive sales. If you have a booking system like Regiondo — a web app that allows you to sell tickets online, manage reservations and connect with the leading OTAs — you can easily create gift vouchers and sell them directly from your website. Please consider that many other travel brands will be promoting their offers, so giving your promotions as much visibility as possible plays a vital role in ensuring the success of your strategy.
Improve your website
While newsletters, social media, and OTAs are great ways to promote your business, they are just one part of your marketing strategy. The most important thing is having (and constantly updating) a great website where you direct people so they can learn about your company and the experiences you offer. Websites should have high-quality photos, a compelling copy, and clearly show visitors what they need to do to book your experiences.
If you already have a website well-optimized for conversions, it’s a good idea to create a holiday-specific landing page. You can link it in any email blasts, paid ads, or social media posts. As explained above, the landing page should work as a standalone one, giving visitors all the information they need to decide whether or not to book your tours and activities. When designing your landing page, try to personalize it as much as possible and make sure to showcase relevant opportunities for up-selling and cross-selling. This way, you can increase your profit margins and the average customer spend.
Ramp up customer service
While a well-designed tour and activity website should already include all the answers to customers’ most common questions, some may still need to contact you directly to clarify their doubts. Similarly, some users may need to reschedule and/or modify a reservation they have already confirmed. Improving the customer experience is the best way to retain clients and increase their lifetime value for your business. For this reason, you must offer them top-notch customer support and handle all inquiries that may arise before and after the booking process. Another huge benefit is that you will reduce both the cancellation and cart abandonment rates, considering that uncertainty and confusion may push your users away.
Use a booking system
As we can see, Christmas is a critical sales period for tour operators and activity providers. If everything goes right — ironically — you can risk being overwhelmed by all the bookings you will receive. It may sound like a nice problem, but trust me, being flooded by administrative tasks can be an absolute nightmare.
Booking systems can make this job easier by allowing you to sell tickets online, connect with leading OTAs, and manage bookings. These applications can help you streamline your business so that you can focus on what is most important — providing a fantastic customer experience from start to finish!
Regiondo, the all-in-one solution for the leisure industry
With more than 7,000 customers around Europe, Regiondo is the leading booking system for tours, activities, and destinations. Regiondo gives you all the tools you need to grow your business faster. With our software, you can create your offers once and push them through 230+ sales channels without managing each listing individually. The integrated channel manager will show the correct availability on every platform in real time.
Schedule a demo today to learn more about how Regiondo can help you streamline your business, reduce overbookings, and sell more online.