Whether you’re in the start-up phase or you’re entering year 10, running your business requires innovative tourism ideas to remain competitive and take advantage of current travel trends. You need to be ready to give travelers around the world what they’re looking for when they book their next trip.
From providing the tours your customers are most interested in, to making it easier than ever to book on mobile, tour operators need to be creative and forward-thinking in order to be a success in the tourism business.
Here are 10 of the top tourism ideas to try in 2021 that your business can’t afford to ignore.
Editor’s note: This is a guest contribution by Monica McCutchen. Monica lives in the lovely coastal city of Vancouver and is a writer by day and coffee, pastry, and yoga enthusiast by night. Having completed a degree in technical writing, her writing passions include education, technology, natural health, and mindfulness.
1. Streamline your mobile booking experience
Whether they’re booking their next vacation or shopping for a new car, consumers are using their mobile phones more now than ever before. Every day, consumers worldwide are spending millions of dollars shopping online, with the prediction that by 2021 more than 2.14 billion people around the world will buy services and products while connected to the internet.
When it comes to travel, your customers will be researching, planning, and booking their entire trip on their mobile. This means that you need to design your business so it’s accessible to your customers online. Your website needs to be responsive to people checking the availability and pricing of your services and making last-minute bookings – bookings that you can’t afford to miss.
Invest in booking software that’s designed to be just as accessible to your customers on mobile devices as it is online.
2. Push direct bookings more than any other channel
To expand further on the way that travelers are planning and booking their trips, more of them are making one-stop direct bookings with tour operators. With the ease of booking online, more customers are going straight to the source rather than booking through third-party OTAs (online travel agencies). And since direct bookings are more profitable for you, focusing on reaching your customers is more important than ever.
But it’s not just profits that make direct bookings so desirable. When your customers book with you directly you raise the level of customer engagement, building stronger relationships and trust for your business. And it’s this trust that’s going to provide you with repeat customers.
3. Introduce “travel like a local” packages
People who travel want more out of the experience. Gone are the days when tourists traveled just to “see” a destination. Now they want to immerse themselves in the culture and discover what life in other countries is all about.
If you have a smaller tour company, you can offer products and packages that are streamlined for your target market. Rather than providing tours to popular destinations such as Paris, Tokyo, and San Francisco you can focus on destinations that are similar but less crowded. Provide opportunities for your customers to experience the food, way of life, and culture of these destinations. Booking a local experience is one of the biggest trends of the last few years.
4. Focus on business travelers
A huge number of people travel all around the world for business. So why not mix a little work with pleasure? That’s exactly what more business travelers are doing – they’re lengthening their business trip and staying for fun. And this is a big share of the market that you need to target.
The previous trend of mixing business with pleasure was for travelers to extend their trip by just a couple of extra days. Nowadays, travelers are extending their trips by up to a couple of weeks, recognizing the convenience and cost savings.
And with the reliability of technology all around the world, business travelers will be spending even longer times traveling and working away from home. This opens up even more doors for tour operators, with customers looking for multi-day package tours where all the planning is done for them.
5. Offer ecotourism packages
Ecotourism is still as popular as ever, perhaps even more so now that even small tour operators are able of offer great packages for their customers. What is an ecological tour? Also marketed as an educational tour, this type of tourism focuses on travel to unique natural locations, allowing visitors to learn more about the environment and promote its protection. This is a bit of a niche market, but travelers are looking for these tours and willing to pay for them.
6. Start promoting family tours
Another new travel theme is a focus on multi-generational travel. This is when more than one generation of a family travels together. Grandparents, parents, and children are taking trips together and connecting in ways they haven’t before. This promises to be a big market, not only this year but in years to come as people in their senior years continue to travel well into their retirement, choosing to spend quality time with their grandchildren.
Tour operators need to build tours and activities with something in mind for every age. This includes children’s activities at destinations that are of interest to both adults and seniors. While these types of tour packages can be a little more challenging, multigenerational travel is a target market that is only going to expand in the next five years.
7. Introduce “Skip the Line” tours
Travelers around the world are booking “skip the line” tours in larger numbers every year. They don’t want to waste precious travel time standing in lineups – and they’re ready to pay the price to avoid this inconvenience. In 2017, skip the line tours were considered to be one of the fastest-growing experiences of the year. Today, people are booking skip the line tours just as enthusiastically as ever.
If you organize and provide tours to popular destinations, it makes sense to offer your customers what they want. If you’re not already offering this option, you soon will. Otherwise, your travel customers will turn to your competition to get the convenient services they’re looking for.
8. Don’t forget the solo travelers
A growing market for tour operators is solo travel. Women and adults over the age of 45 are traveling on their own more than they ever have. Not only are singles taking trips on their own, so are people in relationships who are opting to travel on their own and pursue their own interests.
Your business needs to be ready to accommodate and target this growing market by offering special tours and packages that are designed for the solo traveler. Use market data to base these packages on previous activities booked by other solo travelers.
Part of your marketing strategy for the solo traveler should be highlighting customized packages on your website and social media accounts for anyone traveling alone. This targeted marketing can help solo travelers make quicker decisions to book with you.
9. Maximize your social media presence
People around the world continue to interact with social media in huge numbers. As of January 2019, there were over 3.397 billion active social media users around the world. That’s a lot of travelers you can reach if you’re effectively using social media to promote your touring operator business. Because if you’re not using social media, your competition most certainly is – 81 percent of medium and small businesses are using at least one social media platform.
With so many of your potential customers being online and scrolling through social media, you need to ensure that your marketing strategy includes content, video, and images that showcase your business.
Here’s how to make the most out of your social media marketing:
- Regularly post new content.
- Repost popular content.
- Respond quickly to comments.
- Follow market influencers in the travel industry.
- Follow your own popular followers.
- Share images and videos that highlight your tours and services.
- Post links to other online content that’s relevant to your business.
- Give travel tips and advice.
- Use relevant and creative hashtags.
- Be original and unique.
10. Offer multi-day tours
Another innovative trend is that travelers are booking multi-day activities and tours much further in advance than they once were. The reason for this? It’s all about convenience. A large portion of travelers, particularly those who travel often, don’t want to take the time to plan all the small details that go into planning their activities and destinations.
With these innovative tourism ideas, you’re ready to take your business to a whole new level. When you understand what travelers want from a tour operator, you’ll be able to provide services and products that give them a travel experience that they won’t soon forget. And that keeps them coming back to your business for every trip they take.
You might also like:
- Four Ways to Promote Your Tours to an International Audience
- 10 Tourism Marketing Campaigns that Work Despite Difficult Times
- 5 Ways to Offer an Innovative Tourism Experience to Your Clients