Many tour and activity providers have a love-hate relationship with the low season. While it may not bring in the high revenues and foot traffic associated with peak tourist months, dismissing it as “unimportant” is a strategic misstep you can’t afford to make. What you do during this time can have a significant impact on your annual performance, customer satisfaction, and even your reputation in the marketplace.
We get it; generating revenue during the shoulder season can be a daunting challenge, and that’s where this guide comes in. Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned veteran looking for fresh ideas, you’ll leave with actionable insights you can put to work right away. Ready to learn more? Then let’s dive right in!
Leveraging Customer Reviews
Let’s face it, in an age where online reviews are the new word of mouth, collecting customer feedback is a must. According to the latest statistics, 99% of shoppers (!) read reviews before buying anything on the internet, including tours and activities. And during the low season, when every booking counts even more than usual, testimonials can be your secret weapon for attracting new clients.
In addition, reviews provide invaluable business intelligence, allowing you to see your offerings through the eyes of your customers. This information can highlight areas for improvement and shine a light on your strengths, and what better time to work on improving your business than during the slower months of the year?
Best Practices for Gathering Reviews
Collecting feedback doesn’t happen by accident; it’s the result of a well-executed strategy. Here are some best practices:
- Ask for reviews promptly: The best time to ask for a review is when the experience is fresh in your customer’s mind. As we’ll explore in the next section, you can use a reservation system to send an automated email or push notification within a few days of the service.
- Respond to reviews: Yes, all of them! Thank your guests and address the concerns of your detractors. This shows that you value customer feedback and are committed to improving the experience.
- Showcase reviews: Be sure to prominently display glowing reviews on your website, social media and other marketing channels.
How a booking system like Regiondo can help
Collecting reviews sounds like a full-time job, right? Not with Regiondo on your side. With automated emails and customizable templates, our booking system can send out review requests without you lifting a finger. Want to offer a discount code as an incentive? We’ve got you covered. To learn more, don’t hesitate to contact our consultants for a free demo.
Special Promotions and Gift Vouchers
Improving your online reputation is just the first step: to win the off-season game, you need to launch an amazing promotional campaign. For starters, you could offer discounts to attract customers who are willing to try your experience outside of peak months (mainly locals and the so-called “slow travelers”). At the same time, to ensure a steady flow of revenue, you could sell gift vouchers or even have early bird specials for those who make reservations well in advance. Let’s explore these options in more detail.
Tailor Offers and Promotions to Locals
When the tourist crowds thin out, locals become the lifeblood of your business. Fortunately, domestic tourism has seen an unprecedented rise in the Covid era and continues to be a strong trend. But how do you make your services irresistible to locals?
- Local discounts: Consider offering a “locals-only” discount to residents in order to build some goodwill within the community.
- Collaborations: Team up with neighboring businesses for cross-promotions. How about your wine tasting tour followed by a discounted dinner at a local restaurant?
- Membership rewards: Create a subscription or loyalty program that offers locals exclusive benefits and turns them into regulars.
Dedicated offers for Slow Travelers
With an estimated annual growth rate of 10%, slow tourism is one of the trends revolutionizing the leisure industry as we know it. If you’re not familiar, slow travelers are those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and immerse themselves in a new environment at a leisurely pace. The low season is their playground, and you should be ready to roll out the red carpet.
- Cultural packages: Design experiences that offer deep dives into local culture or natural landscapes, which slow travelers often appreciate.
- Exclusive access: Give them behind-the-scenes access to experiences that aren’t available during the busy season.
- Flexible cancellation policies: Offer generous cancellation or change policies to attract those who prefer to keep their plans loose and flexible.
Selling Vouchers as a Revenue Booster
In a world where instant gratification often reigns supreme, coupons offer customers a taste of future pleasures and provide a steady stream of revenue during the low season. It’s no surprise that they’re extremely popular during the holidays, when more than 40% of shoppers purchase them as gifts. But how do you make your vouchers irresistible? Well, you need to consider the following factors:
- Expiry date: Offer coupons with extended expiration date to reassure customers that they have plenty of time to redeem them, making the purchase less risky.
- Personalization: Allow customers to personalize their coupons. This can be as simple as adding a name or as elaborate as including a personal message.
- Customer experience: Make the buying process seamless by using a reliable booking system that can easily handle vouchers.
Early Bird Discounts
Who doesn’t love a good deal, especially one that rewards customers for their early decision? Early bird promotions are considered to be the most effective way to increase ticket sales, and for good reason. In fact, they are a classic win-win situation, allowing your business to secure revenue while providing added value to your guests. Let’s explore the different types of discounts you can employ:
- Percentage off: The classic approach, based on offering a simple percentage discount for bookings made before a certain date.
- Tiered discounts: Get more sophisticated by offering a larger discount to the first group of early bookers and smaller discounts as the deadline approaches. This adds a sense of urgency and a bit of gamification to the mix.
- Add-ons: Instead of lowering the price, add value by offering a free meal, extra activity, or merchandise.
Partnering with OTAs
Online travel agencies (OTAs) are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they offer increased visibility that can help maximize capacity in the off-season; on the other, they charge commissions that eat into your profits. Still, you can’t afford to ignore this distribution channels, which accounts for 33% of global sales of tours and activities. But how can you manage your presence on multiple OTAs at the same time without getting overwhelmed? This is where Regiondo comes in.
- Unified dashboard: Regiondo provides a single interface where you can manage all your OTA connections. This central hub makes it easier to track performance, availability and reservations, eliminating the need to jump from one platform to another.
- Real-time updates: With Regiondo, any changes in availability or pricing are updated in real-time across all OTAs, minimizing the risk of overbooking and ensuring pricing consistency.
- Automated processes: From booking confirmations to cancellations, Regiondo automates many of the tasks that can be cumbersome and time-consuming when managing multiple OTAs manually.
Building a Robust Online Presence
Let’s say you already have an impeccable online reputation, great promotions and a strong network of partners to help you distribute them. All of this would be worthless if your online presence wasn’t up to par, especially during the low season.
First impressions matter, and in today’s digital age, your website is often the first point of contact between your business and potential customers. Your goal should be to provide visitors with a first-class experience, which includes making it easy for them to find all relevant information and make a reservation.
- Clear call-to-actions (CTAs): Your CTAs should be front and center. Whether it’s “Book Now,” “Learn More,” or “Contact Us,” make it easy for visitors to know their next step.
- Landing pages: Design specific landing pages for different offers, promotions, or customer segments. For reference, the average landing page conversion rate is 9.7%.
- Mobile optimization: Having a website with a responsive design is paramount, as over 60% of e-commerce transactions are made from a smartphone.
The Importance of a Reliable Booking System
While a great website can attract visitors, it’s the booking system that turns them into customers. More and more people (especially Millennials and Zoomers) don’t want to deal with long phone calls to make a reservation, as they are used to making purchases online with just a few clicks. Here’s how Regiondo can help you streamline this process.
- Real-time availability: As mentioned above, Regiondo updates your inventory in real time to prevent overbooking. 2.
- Payment gateway: Our system supports multiple payment gateways, providing flexibility and convenience for end customers.
- Up-selling and cross-selling: Use Regiondo to offer additional services or products and increase the average transaction value.
Navigating the off-season is less about hibernating until things pick up, and more about using the quiet time for meaningful engagement and growth. Here are the key takeaways we’ve covered in this guide:
- Customer feedback is gold: Don’t underestimate the power of customer feedback. Use this invaluable data to fine-tune your offerings and improve your services.
- Leverage coupons and local promotions: These aren’t just revenue generators; they’re a way to build deeper connections within your community and retain customers.
- The power of partnerships: OTAs and strategic business alliances can fill your slots, even during off-peak times. But tread carefully – any partnership should be aligned with your brand and business goals.
- Optimize your online presence: Your website and booking system are the gateways to your business. Make sure they’re welcoming, functional and efficient.
There you have it: your roadmap to making the most of the off-season. Keep in mind that the strategies in this article can be implemented in pieces and adapted to your unique business needs and challenges; the important thing is to take the first step.