In the digital era, finding the balance between selling directly to consumers (more profitable) and through distribution networks (more efficient in terms of volume) is a real challenge for tour operators. However, this balance is based on the ability to ask yourself the right questions. For example:
- Which channels correspond to your business and culture?
- How do your customers buy? Are they online? How do you optimize online sales?
- Can you leverage technology to manage multiple channels successfully?
These are some of the questions we’re going to explore today.
But first, let’s look at the key stages in a customer’s buying cycle so we understand how your sales strategy fits in the overall picture.
A typical customer buying cycle
Depending on the stage of their research, a customer will be sensitive to different content. Typically, the stages look as follows:
1) Awareness: If he or she seeks inspiration, their web search will probably tend to lead them to platforms for comparison or suggestions such as TripAdvisor.
2) Consideration: Once they define their wishes, choosing a highly reputable company is extremely important.
3) Decision: Customers will be looking for recommendations, along with visiting your site. Not only is the quality of your content important, but the fact that customers can contact you directly and book online is crucial.
As you can see, a customer is likely to go through multiple interactions with your brand before making a purchase. This could be on review platforms, online travel agencies (OTAs), social media, or your website. This is why developing a multi-channel strategy is important to your success.
But you can’t be everywhere – this can eat up your time and resources going after channels that are not relevant to your customers. You need to choose several core distribution paths as the center of your sales strategy.
So which ones should you pick?
Which channels correspond to your business and culture?
Depending on your industry, some channels are more promising than others. Segway tours, for example, are generally sold through marketplaces specialized in tours and activities, while customers looking for escape games tend to book directly with the organizer.
In general, offering the possibility to book on your website remains a prerequisite to maximizing your chances of success. The choice of a distribution network should be based on the knowledge of your customers and their preferences.
How do you find that out? You can learn about the different ways to understand your customers in this post:
How to Conduct Market Research for Tour and Activity Companies.
How do you optimize online sales?
Once you decide on a set of channels to focus on – such as your website, OTAs and social media – it’s time to optimize your offers for these channels and your customers. Here’s how:
First, it is important to think of your media: your website should match your customers’ browsing habits, be suitable for navigation on a tablet or smartphone, and the content should be updated regularly. The description of your offer should also be designed to create product packages which can easily be booked online.
In this regard, there are technology solution providers specialized in the tourism industry, such as Regiondo, which facilitate the publication of your content, the creation of your offers, and the management of your bookings.
Once you set up stand out offers and descriptions, it’s time to focus on traffic acquisition. This can happen through initiatives like online advertising, content marketing and other techniques to drive traffic to your website.
And, of course, make sure to delight your customers as they experience your tour or activity – there’s no better way to improve your sales (both online and offline).
So let’s say you have all these steps covered – you’ve chosen a few great distribution channels that include both direct sales and partner channels; you’ve also optimized your media and online content so people actually buy your offers when they find out about you. How do you manage all this complexity and still run your business as usual?
This is where technology comes into play.
How to choose an IT solution?
From the creation of your site to your booking management, including distribution channels, the IT provider options are numerous. It is necessary to research and identify the one that best fits your needs, expertise, and budget.
Each solution has different benefits and prices can vary greatly. So it’s important to evaluate the quality/price ratio.
This is a big topic and it could take you some time before you arrive at a decision. This is why we’ve prepared this article on choosing your online booking system:
10 Things to Consider When Choosing an Online Booking System
This was a quick overview of the questions and steps you should consider when combining your direct sales with a multi-channel strategy.
We looked at why being present in multiple channels is important these days. It’s because customers have several interactions on different platforms with a given brand before they decide to buy.
In order to choose the right channels for your company, you need to spend time understanding your customers and how they buy.
Once you have this knowledge, it’s time to optimize your offers and content for the channels you choose and focus on driving awareness for your tour or activity.
To make this whole process easier and manage your bookings in the long run, you can rely on technology providers like Regiondo so your operations when it comes to sales and marketing are centralized in one place for easy management.
You might also like:
- The 7 Ps of Marketing for Tour and Activity Operators
- 10 Ways To Get Free Advertising for Tours and Activities
- Dynamic Pricing: The Do’s And Don’ts For Activity Providers
- How to Boost Your Sales with Add-ons and Merchandise