One of the best ways for tour operators to create ‘wow’ moments for clients is to weave travel storytelling into their narrative.
You can apply it to your marketing materials to reveal the heart of your brand. Or your tour guides can use it during trips to create word-of-mouth worthy memories for travelers. In any country or language, great storytelling provides a way for people to “make sense of the world.”
Now more than ever, travelers are seeking connection: connection to the companies they buy from, connection to people they encounter on their journey, and connection to the places they visit.
They want an encounter that is bigger than a simple drive-by tour. They want to experience travel wholly and walk away with memories they can hold onto forever.
As we explore how tour operators can use travel storytelling to win over clients, we will also share a few snippets from our recent conversation with Mitch Bach, CEO of TripSchool.
Mitch joined us for an episode of our ongoing interview series titled Travel Has Many Parts, Follow The Journey. He has some fantastic insights on the importance of storytelling and how to captivate tour guests.
Why Is Travel Storytelling Important?
Storytelling is a journey that ignites the senses. It’s all about developing a narrative that incites emotions. More than that, it’s about creating suspense, surprise, and having your audience relate to what is being said and shown.
Mitch touches on the huge impact storytelling has on us from a human perspective. Travel itself is just one side of the experience. Creating a sense of drama, emotion, personal connection, and anticipation is the other part of maximizing your impact on tour guests.
When you can do that, you create a space where guests go home to tell a story that is not just ‘we saw this,’ and ‘we did that.’ Instead, they go back to say ‘you won’t believe what we saw,’ or, ‘you won’t believe who we met.’
Ahead of the tour, travel storytelling is a surefire way to build trust and a genuine connection with clients.
How To Master Storytelling In Marketing
To master storytelling, you’ll need to do your research, be intentional with planning, and work out how to use technology to create the perfect experience for your guests.
Start At Home
In all likelihood, the internet will be the first avenue people use to research tours. Your website and linked social platforms are the perfect places to regale in adventures and paint a picture of the possibilities ahead.
Incorporate aspects of your brand, your team, your clients, and your tours to create an engaging story to show clients who you are and why you are great.
Publish images, video reels, music, and short texts that really showcase your why and allow travelers to connect with you. It could be an engaging intro video on your home page, compelling images and write up for your about page, or witty stories written by guides for your blog and social profiles.
Showcase Your Visual Content
If you are looking to make an impact in travel storytelling with your marketing materials, don’t hold back on incorporating visual content. It is an immersive format that allows tour operators to fill in the gaps between the traveler’s imagination and tour reality.
Encourage Customers To Tell Their Own Stories
That lasting impression you made on past clients may have left them with a beautiful story of their own to tell. In this case, word of mouth is a vital marketing tool you will want to utilize.
Your first option is to let them tell their own stories by sharing their content on your platforms as social proof.
The other option is to collect reviews. Send over a link to clients and ask them to leave a review on their preferred platform, whether Google, Facebook, or your website.
Either way, explain how much it would mean for clients to share their experience with your community. Encourage them to dish out details on their most memorable part of the trip for it to have the greatest impact.
Tips To Improve Storytelling On Tour
On tour, your guides need to let their passion for what they do shine through. Authenticity is a powerful tool for crafting an engaging experience.
Know Who Your Clients Are
For guides on the trips, it is essential to consider who they will be telling stories to. It is crucial to think ahead and work out the tone, language, and tales that the audience can relate to.
For example, younger generation travelers might require a different punchline to more mature travelers. The former might want to hear personal recollections from locals in the community, while the latter is eager to learn about a place’s history.
Tours are never a standard event; it is part of what makes them so exciting. Preparing anecdotes to suit all the types of people who take your trips will help to put them at ease and build relationships.
Allow Creativity To Flow
Mitch mentions that the most impactful tours are delivered in a novel way. They surprise and delight, build anticipation, and tug on human emotions. He uses an example of an Eiffel Tower reveal and story that leads up to the pivotal moment when tour guests catch their first sight of the impressive structure.
Instead of running from point one to point five on the morning’s itinerary in a matter-of-fact way, build up the moments leading to the pinnacle. Reveal details your guests might not notice. Give them pieces of a puzzle from their surroundings that eventually come together to uncover your tour centerpiece.
2020 was a year of rapid acceleration for technology in many industries, including travel. In the interview series, Mitch touches on self-driving cars and self-guided trips with virtual tour guides as several innovations being worked on during this time.
The reality is we are yet to see all the technology advancements that will emerge out of this quiet period during the pandemic.
As tour guides, directors, and operators, it is vital to be mindful of what these might look like for the industry. They will change how tour directors interact with guests, how businesses interact with clients, and expand on the customer journey.
With the pandemic forcing a pause on travel, now is the time for tour operators to reevaluate how they connect with customers through travel storytelling.
Try to understand what it will mean for people to travel and explore again once it is possible to do so. See how you can create connections and delight guests with relatable stories that bring them closer to the places they visit.
Get this message across in marketing or the field, and you will remind travelers just how fulfilling the travel experience is and of the magic waiting out there for them to discover.