Even though travel demand is currently low, it will pick up again. Already there’s talk of several European countries reopening borders to their neighbors for summer under certain conditions, while others, including the US, are starting to ease internal restrictions.
When the industry does begin to pick up and travel inquiries go out, you want your tour operator business to be the first that comes to mind. Travelers will turn to the companies which have been present throughout this period and be on the lookout for value offers which reflect the times.
If you’ve been a regular supplier of digital armchair travel material, travelers are more likely to think of you when sending out booking inquiries. There’s familiarity, and they will have come to rely on you for a dose of inspirational travel content.
What Value Are You Delivering Digitally?
When we say ‘demonstrate value’ digitally, we mean by sharing content and engaging in interactions that build lasting industry relationships.
If you’ve been there to supply travelers with their armchair travel material, they’re more likely to think of you when deciding which tour operator to turn to when booking. There’s familiarity and they’ve come to rely on you for their dose of inspirational travel content.
4 Ways Tour Operators Can Demonstrate Value Digitally
1. Share Engaging and Up To Date Content
You have probably changed up your content strategy since the pandemic set in. For example, quite understandably, international tour marketing might not be generating as much interest as it usually does, so you have had to find another angle.
We go into greater detail on rethinking your marketing strategy in this post, but to highlight a few pointers, you could look at sharing:
- Inspirational content of some of your favorite destinations
- Helpful resources for travelers in the pandemic
- Relevant industry news from a verified and reliable source
- Guide or team member profiles for a look behind the scenes
- Travel stories from past clients or anecdotes written by your guides
- Details of a new local product or offer which you are hoping to start selling when the time is right
- Extensive branded travel guides to your tour destinations
- Appreciation posts for the travel partners who help to make your product amazing
Sharing this type of content contributes to your professional image, and makes you a source of relevant, go-to industry information.
2. Connect, Connect, Connect
Don’t wait for travelers to contact you. Instead, be proactive in keeping up a connection during this time. Even though you’re not engaging clients face to face on tour, or lining up exciting trip planning conversations, still use this energy to demonstrate value through interaction.
There are several platforms to do this, including your website, Facebook, Instagram, email – use the space to be social and let people know that you’re open for business.
Start conversations around the content you share and interact with travelers as much as possible. You want them to learn more about your travel company and be able to relate to your products.
Without hard selling, you can tell stories and provide insights that give travelers a bit more than the brochure does. For those who do make inquiries, answer their questions, and ease their concerns where you can.
You can also survey your clients to find out if they have any useful pointers for your tours, as well as find out what they are hoping to accomplish with travel in the future.
3. Repurpose User Generated Content
Another idea could be to run through hashtags or geotags on social media to see if clients have tagged your tours in any of their own posted content. With their permission, you can share it to your social profiles for social proof.
User-generated content can be a valuable marketing tool as happy clients enjoying themselves on tour can speak volumes for your product.
As an added benefit, you get to reconnect with people who are already fans of your business, and this could potentially result in a positive interaction. Although you should be mindful of everyone’s unique situation in these trying times, previous clients may have some useful pointers to help improve your offering or even be interested in a discount code for a possible trip in the future.
In any case, sparking the conversation will get them thinking about your travel business once again.
4. Fine Tune Your Website
A website that performs optimally and has all the relevant features and information travelers are looking for is an absolute must to demonstrate value in a digital age. Slow loading speeds with insufficient or outdated information and images can result in travelers passing over your business for another.
In busier times, when bookings are coming in, assessing your website to see how it’s working might not be a top priority. However, now that people are turning to the internet more frequently for communication, shopping, entertainment, and information, it’s a good idea to give it a once over.
If needed, then update your branding, imagery, and content. Add the travel products that you’re planning to move forward with, and incorporate any new technology that can help you win over clients more easily. For example, if you weren’t offering online bookings before this, you should consider how to do so in the future.
Other things to fine-tune is to remove unnecessary clutter on your website to simplify the user experience. You can also display client testimonials on it as social proof, as well as add a pop up for people to sign up for your company newsletter.
It’s trying times for the travel industry and world at large. If your travel business can stay present and demonstrate value through content and interactions online, it will reap the rewards later when travelers are ready to hit the road again.
The pandemic has accelerated the drive towards technology and all things digital, so becoming more proficient online now will help your business to remain relevant.