Whether you’re just starting out or entering year 10, running a business in the travel industry requires innovative ideas to stay competitive and take advantage of current trends. In other words, you need to be ready to give consumers around the world what they’re looking for when they book their next trip. From maximizing your social media presence to leveraging Google Things To Do, tour operators need to be creative and forward-thinking to succeed in the world of tourism. In the following sections, we’ll explore 11 proven strategies your company can’t afford to ignore.
1. Streamline your mobile booking experience
In today’s digital age, mobile devices have become indispensable tools, whether consumers are planning their next vacation or shopping for a new car. Recent statistics show that 2.64 billion people, approximately one-third of the world’s population, prefer to shop online using their smartphones rather than tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
In the travel industry, prospective customers are increasingly relying on their phones for all aspects of their trip, from initial research to final booking. As a result, it’s imperative that businesses adapt to this trend. Your website should be designed to be responsive, meaning that its design seamlessly adapts to both small and large screens. More importantly, you need to ensure that users can easily check availability, view pricing, and purchase your offerings with just a few clicks – all key interactions you don’t want to miss out on. Our suggestion is to invest in a reservation software solution that is optimized for both mobile and desktop access so that your clientele can enjoy a seamless booking experience regardless of the device they choose.
2. Push direct bookings more than any other channel
The way consumers plan their vacations is changing rapidly, with more and more choosing to book directly with travel suppliers. This shift away from third-party OTAs (online travel agencies) is driven by the convenience and transparency that direct bookings provide. Since direct bookings tend to generate higher profits for companies like yours, it’s important to prioritize this method of customer interaction. That being said, the appeal of direct bookings isn’t just about the bottom line. They also help you build deeper relationships with your customers, build trust, and lay the groundwork for repeat business.
To effectively sell your tours directly, consider implementing a modern booking solution like Regiondo. With our software, you can sell tickets online, manage reservations and connect with over 200 distribution channels, all from one unified dashboard. To learn more, schedule a demo with one of our consultants.
Pro tip: If your goal is to drive more direct bookings, make sure your customers can easily find your website when they search for relevant keywords or your brand name on Google. For best results, it’s also important to ensure fast page load times and, as mentioned in the previous paragraph, provide a mobile-friendly interface for seamless booking across all devices. Assess your site’s performance against these metrics and more with our free SEO Grader tool.
3. Leverage Google Things to Do for greater visibility
In the digital age, being visible on Google is critical for any business, and the tourism industry is no exception. An often overlooked platform that can give your business a significant boost is Things to Do, a module for the popular search engine that shows users nearby attractions, experiences and activities based on their search queries and location.
The first step is to get your tourism business listed on Google Things to Do. Follow the guidelines outlined here and submit accurate information, including your business name, description, location, and hours of operation.
Use high-quality photos and videos
Use high-resolution images and videos to give potential customers a glimpse of what they can expect from your tours.
Encourage satisfied customers to leave positive reviews and detail their tour experiences. Not only will this add credibility to your listing, but it can also boost your rankings on the platform.
Offer online bookings
Google Things to Do often allows direct booking of activities, so make sure your booking system is compatible with Google’s platform to provide a seamless experience for your customers. This way, prospects can book activities on the spot, increasing the chances of immediate conversions.
4. Introduce “Travel Like a Local” packages
Today’s travelers are looking for authentic, enriching experiences. Simply “seeing” a destination isn’t enough anymore; they yearn to immerse themselves in the local culture and understand the essence of life abroad. For tour operators, this trend represents a golden opportunity. Instead of covering saturated tourist hubs like Paris, Tokyo, or San Francisco, shift the spotlight to less-popular but equally compelling locations. Our recommendation? Design your tours to immerse visitors in authentic experiences, from tasting traditional cuisines to participating in age-old traditions.
5. Focus on business travelers
Many of us travel the world for business, so why not combine that with some leisure exploration? More and more people are doing just that, extending their work-related trips to indulge in local experiences. While adding a few extra days to a business trip was once the norm, today’s travelers are extending their stays for weeks at a time, taking advantage of the convenience and cost-effectiveness. With the ubiquity and reliability of global technology, we see professionals spending even more time abroad, juggling work and exploration. This shift presents a golden opportunity for tour operators as they seek comprehensive, multi-day packages that require no planning on their part.
6. Promote ecotourism experiences
Ecotourism is as popular as ever, perhaps even more so now that small tour operators are able to offer great experiences to their customers. But what exactly defines an eco-tour? Typically, ecotourism focuses on visits to pristine natural areas, with an emphasis on environmental education and conservation advocacy. While it may seem like a niche market, there’s a growing demand for this kind of tours, and travelers are eager and willing to invest in them.
7. Embrace family tours
An emerging phenomenon is multi-generational travel, where family members of different ages travel together. It’s not just parents and their children, but also grandparents who are joining in and forging deeper connections in new environments. This trend holds immense potential for the future, as today’s adventurous seniors are eager to create lasting memories with their grandchildren during their golden years. For tour operators, the key is to create experiences that appeal to different age groups. This means curating child-friendly activities in destinations that also appeal to adults. While orchestrating such packages can be challenging, tapping into the multigenerational travel segment promises a steadily growing audience for years to come.
8. Introduce “Skip the Line” tours
In recent years, “skip the line” tours have gained tremendous popularity, reflecting travelers’ desire to make the most of their precious time while on vacation. If you haven’t already added the “skip the line” option to your offerings, consider doing so promptly, as failure to adapt could send potential customers to competitors that offer the convenience they desire.
9. Don’t forget solo travelers
Solo travel continues to grow as more women and people over 45 seek to explore personal interests without compromise. As a tour operator, you can tap into this segment by curating packages specifically for independent adventurers. By demonstrating a deep understanding of their unique needs, you stand a greater chance of driving impulse purchases.
The digital age has reshaped the way consumers engage with businesses, and social media is at the forefront of this transformation. As of September 2023, a staggering 4.8 billion people are actively using these platforms to connect with their friends and family.
In a world where many potential customers are constantly scrolling through their social feeds, your online presence should be both engaging and informative. Here’s a blueprint for maximizing your social media engagement:
- Stay consistently active: Update your feed regularly with fresh content to keep your audience engaged.
- Re-post top-performing posts: If something resonated once, it’s likely to do so again.
- Engage promptly: Respond quickly to comments and questions to build trust.
- Connect with travel influencers: Connecting with well-known travel industry personalities can increase your brand’s visibility.
- Engage with active followers: Recognize and interact with your most engaged followers to build loyalty.
- Leverage visual storytelling: Share stunning images and videos that showcase your travel experiences.
- Share relevant content: Post links to articles, blogs or other resources relevant to travel enthusiasts.
- Share travel wisdom: Provide insightful travel tips and advice.
- Embrace hashtags: Use trending and unique hashtags to make your content more discoverable.
- Be unique: Your content should reflect your brand’s unique essence and values.
11. Prioritize accessibility for all travelers
According to a study by Accessio, over 20% of travelers have some type of accessibility need. As a result, it’s critical for tour operators to adapt and provide options that make the travel experience enjoyable for everyone.
Adapt infrastructure and information
Start by assessing the accessibility of your transportation options, routes and destinations. Make sure your websites and mobile applications are ADA-compliant and easy to navigate for those using assistive technology.
Offer specialized tours
Consider offering specialized tours for people with special needs. This may include wheelchair-accessible paths, sign language interpreters, and Braille or audio guides.
Make sure your staff is trained in disability awareness and how to provide assistance when needed. This not only makes the tour more accessible, but also contributes to a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere.
Be upfront and clear about the level of accessibility your tours offer. This will help travelers make informed choices and set reasonable expectations.
The travel industry, with its dynamic and consumer-driven landscape, constantly challenges tour operators to innovate and adapt. As we’ve seen, staying on top of the latest trends is paramount to success. From embracing the digital age with mobile-optimized experiences, to understanding the evolving needs of diverse traveler groups, operators are challenged to continually adapt and refine their offerings. Solo travelers, families, eco-enthusiasts and those looking to skip the lines at popular destinations are just a few of the segments that offer significant growth potential. In addition, the role of social media in promoting a business cannot be overstated, given its extensive reach and interactive nature.
Perhaps one of the most poignant takeaways from this research is the need for inclusivity and accessibility. As the world becomes more connected and empathetic, companies that embrace an inclusive approach that values each traveler’s unique experience and ensures accessibility for all will lead the way.