What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the word “tools”?
For me, it’s a hammer.
It’s mighty hard (not to mention painful) to beat a nail into a piece of wood using your fist.
So it’s easy to see why humans invented the hammer and countless other ways to make life better.
Since the internet came about, thousands if not millions of people have been working hard on building a different type of tools – ones that live entirely online.
And while we can’t touch or hold them like a hammer, they still make life and business much easier.
A few weeks ago, I asked a group of tour operators about the online tools they can’t live without. Today, I’m going to share the results with you.
Ready? Let’s go.
Tools for Customer Service and Sales
Tawk.to is a live chat software that is absolutely free.
And that’s not just at the beginning – there are no paid plans for using Tawk.to’s live chat tool.
Instead, they offer a $1/hour agent service so you always have someone replying to customers on your website – in case you need to.
But why would you have live chat at all?
Well, there’s the element of better and faster customer service. In fact, people prefer live chat over any other contact channel (according to this article).
In addition, live chat lets you boost your conversion rates when you use it as a sales channel. Here’s what Michael from Boutique Traveler says about Tawk.to:
“It’s great for customers who have a quick question and we’ve been able to convert a high percentage of inquiries.”
Tawk.to can be used on the web but it’s also available for Android and iOS so you never miss an opportunity.
Streak is a CRM system for Gmail – Google’s popular email client.
So if you’re using Gmail to communicate with customers, Streak will give you a built-in spreadsheet to manage your sales and customer service process directly from Gmail.
Of course, it comes with a number of other features that make email much better. Check this out:
- Track when people open your messages.
- Schedule messages so they send later.
- Save frequently used messages for faster customer service.
You can try Streak for free here.
Project Management Tools to Boost Team Productivity
Asana is one of the most popular task and project management apps for teams.
It lets you break down your projects and recurring operations into manageable tasks, each with their own due date, subtasks, assignees and other attributes.
This way, you can keep track of all your tour operations in one place instead of keeping things on paper, sticky notes, whiteboards and so on. In addition, you can adjust Asana and use it in a way that makes the most sense to you. As Marta from ForeverBarcelona Tours put it:
“I use Asana to keep track of my admin tasks and ticket reservations for each tour. I couldn’t live without it!”
With its Kanban boards, Asana is now even more flexible so you can organize your workflow in the most logical way for your business. Check it out in the video below:
You can sign up at Asana.com and use the tool free of charge for up to 15 team members. Certain advanced features are locked but you’ll have everything you need to get started on the free plan. There is also a mobile version available for Android and iOS to keep track of things on-the-go.
Similar to Asana, Trello is a platform for team project management.
However, its main focus is on kanban boards and ease of use.
Typical Trello board setup.
If you find Asana’s learning curve is too steep, then Trello is a good way to start organizing your team projects and tasks.
It allows creating boards, lists, cards and checklists next to each other so you can see the big picture in one place.
In fact, this is what we use at Regiondo to keep track of our work across the whole company. With over 50 employees, we use Trello to synchronize projects across different departments so we can efficiently build and deploy our online booking system.
OneNote is a Microsoft service for taking notes (doh) and organizing personal and team information.
Okay, “notes” is an understatement here.
You can clip web pages, take photos, attach audio files, draw directly on your screen – in addition to a host of other features.
You can use OneNote for managing your personal workload or invite your team to share ideas, plans and tasks.
You’ll need a Microsoft account to use OneNote but that’s free to create and you most likely have one if you’re a Windows user. Just head over to the Microsoft store and search for “OneNote” to get started (or use the web version here).
Slack stands for “Searchable Log of All Communication and Knowledge”.
It started off as a way to replace emailing between colleagues but now it’s a full-on team collaboration hub – complete with thousands of integrations and built-in productivity features.
In fact, it became the fastest growing enterprise software… ever.
With Slack, you can send private messages, create thematic channels, handle project discussions and much more. Su Sandi from Mira Travels says the whole team uses Slack to handle internal communication.
At Regiondo, we also use Slack to stay in sync across 8 countries in Europe and 3 different time zones.
You can try Slack for free on their official website.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you probably know about WhatsApp and even use it every day.
And while it’s mostly used to send text messages and make voice calls for free with friends and family, WhatsApp is a surprisingly good tool for business.
Similar to Slack, you can collaborate with your team and it’s probably an easier alternative. And due to WhatsApp’s reach, you can use it to talk to your customers as a tour operator. For example, here’s what Tung Do from XO Tours says about WhatsApp:
“We use WhatsApp to send tour assignments to our staff. Our tour leaders also provide a tour report through WhatsApp at the end of the tour. And many international customers contact us using WhatsApp.”
The free calling feature is a great way to avoid international rates so your customers feel more comfortable calling you directly.
WhatsApp is available for your Android or iOS phone but you can also use it on your computer. Just head over to WhatsApp.com and choose the version you’d like to download.
Marketing Tools for Tour Operators
If you have a website, my guess is you also have Google Analytics (GA) installed.
But are you making the most of it?
People tend to check GA every once in a while to see if they have a spike or a drop in traffic. That’s alright but there’s so much more to this free tool by Google.
Using GA is a big topic and there’s no way to cover everything in this article. However, I’m going to give you 3 tips that will get you ahead of most people who use GA.
Set your conversion goals
GA is not a place where you find passive information. Use the tool to get actionable data that leads to more visitors, leads and sales for your tour company.
The way to do this? Set conversion goals.
Conversion goals help you track key actions on your site such as purchases and email sign ups. Once you have this set up, you’ll be able to see which of your channels perform best based on the actual conversions they bring, not just traffic.
You can learn more about setting up conversion goals in the video below:
Monitor your top pages
The Behaviour report shows you the top pages people visit on your site.
That’s nice because you’ll know which are the most important areas to improve on. Small adjustments in your homepage (usually the top page on most websites) or product pages can lead to big improvements in your bottom line.
But don’t just guess – use GA to find where you have the biggest leverage. Go to Behaviour>Site Content>All pages and sort the table by Unique page views to see which ones are the most visited.
Rank your top channels by conversion rate
If you set up goals properly (see above), now it’s time to utilize this information.
It will likely take a while before you have adequate data on conversions (perhaps at least two weeks, depending on the amount of traffic you get) but you’ll soon see some patterns in the channels that drive the most conversions for you.
Go to Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels and sort your channels based on Goal conversion rate to find the top channels for you – not just in absolute numbers but also in terms of effectiveness.
You can take this a step further and go to the Source/Medium section to see the exact websites that bring the best results for you.
That’s all in addition to the Audience Report which can tell you crucial information about your most interested prospects – such as the country they’re from and the language they prefer to speak. As a tour operator, these are important details to know about.
If you don’t have GA yet, head over to their website and login with your Google account. Then, you’ll need to set up the Analytics tag (here’s how) and you’re good to go.
MailChimp lets you automate your email marketing so you can stay in touch with your former (and future) customers.
Building a strong tour business involves word of mouth and in today’s world, this is largely done online with sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor.
The problem is – people don’t always leave reviews, even if they loved the experience.
This is where email automation works best – reminding people to leave a review without having to manually monitor past customers and sending them an email yourself.
Better yet – you can distribute discount coupons which they can send to friends and family or redeem on their own in case they want to take the tour again (if that’s the situation – kudos to you).
And let’s not forget – tools like MailChimp come with a host of related features such as building landing pages, online forms and managing your overall customer relationships.
You can get started with MailChimp on their website and then even download their mobile app for Android or iOS. There’s a free plan too – you can send up to 10,000 emails per month and 2,000 a day for free.
If you go to Proof’s website, you’ll see a small pop up in the bottom left telling you that someone signed up recently.
How Proof works. You’ll get a similar pop-up on your own website which visitors can see.
That’s leveraging the power of social Proof (get it?) – the platform lets you have the same type of notification on your own website so your visitors can see other people are buying your tours and taking action as they browse.
The idea is to create a sense of urgency and credibility – and it seems to work pretty well. Proof claims that conversion rates for its customers increase by more than 10% almost instantly.
The setup is very easy and fast, you don’t need to be tech savvy for this.
There is a 14-day free trial period – you just need to install the Proof marketing pixel on your website (here’s how) and see if it gets you more sales.
Hootsuite is a Social Media management platform that lets you manage your social accounts in one place, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.
So instead of posting on each network individually, you can set and schedule a post once and it will appear everywhere. This can save you a good deal of time when promoting your content or new offers on social media.
You can sign up for free at Hootsuite.com or check out two of its bigger competitors below:
Recommended reading: 12 Free Marketing Tools To Boost Your Online Sales
Graphics and image editing
Canva lets you create cool graphics for your online and offline marketing materials – without being a design wiz.
It’s super easy to create graphics with this tool and you can start creating great materials within minutes (they have thousands of templates and free elements to get you started).
So whether it’s a new promotion you want to run, a brochure you want to design or an image you’d like to edit, Canva has you covered.
You can check it out at canva.com.
As a tour operator, your photos need to be top notch.
Well, there’s one drawback here – good photos are typically quite large in terms of file size. When you upload them to your site, this can slow down your loading time and… frustrate visitors with slow internet connections.
TinyPNG lets you compress images so they load quickly without compromising on quality.
The service is free but if you have lots of images to compress at the same time, you might choose the PRO version.
So there you have it – that’s our list of the best online tools for tour operators.
You can see there’s a suite of tools to help you in every area of business – from sales and marketing to design and internal communication.
And while these are all nice to have – try to minimize the number of tools you use to keep things simple and manageable. The best approach is to think about your current processes and find the right tools to fit your workstyle.
Don’t fall into the trap of finding a tool you like and then creating more work for yourself just so you can utilize it. If it’s not crucial to your work, it’s best to leave it out.
All in all – I hope you found at least one tool that will help you run your tours more efficiently.
Finally, this list is subject to change and I’d love to learn about the tools you use on a daily basis to run your business – comment below with one piece of software you can’t live without and we might include it above.
Recommended for you:
- 10 Free Apps To Boost Your Personal Productivity
- 10 WhatsApp Tips and Tricks to Market Your Leisure Activity
- Website Best Practices for Tour and Activity Companies
- How to Market a Tour Company for Free: 7 Big Platforms You Should be on