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Online travel agencies (OTAs) have transformed the travel industry over the last few decades. According to research by the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), OTAs such as Booking.com, Expedia and Trip.com, have captured about 40% of the global travel market.

While there’s no doubt that OTAs absorb direct traffic and revenue commissions from businesses in the sector, some business owners believe that the costs of working with an OTA has helped them reach more travellers globally than they would be able to on their own.

With an OTA interacting directly with customers as a booking agent, it can be a challenge to feel in control of the process, especially when it comes to repeat bookings.

And we all know how important that is, after all, it’s believed acquiring new customers can cost anywhere between 5 to 10 times more than retaining an existing one, while repeat customers spend more than 67 percent more than new customers. 

That’s why when a guest works with your tour or activity business through an OTA, it makes good business sense to strengthen the customer relationship so you can have direct communication and earn repeat business. 

Let’s look at several ways that your tour or activity company can enhance the customer relationship when working with OTAs, and in turn drive repeat bookings and referral business. 

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#1 - Use a photo marketing service that allows for branded remarketing 

Customers want two things from your tour or activity business. They want an incredible experience, and they want photos that perfectly capture the emotions they were feeling and help them remember the experience for years to come. 

By capturing photos (with intent) of your customers smiling and having fun with their companions, you can use those photos to trigger memories in the future through remarketing. 

For example, email remarketing campaigns remind your past customers of their experience and this can help your business do two things:

  1. Encourage past customers to rebook an experience and relive that good time.
  2. Encourage past customers to share their photos with their friends and family, leading to increased referral bookings. 

#2 - Get to know your guests by name

It may feel like a tiny piece of the puzzle, but training your tour and activity guides to build a first-name relationship with guests, plays an incredibly important role in building an authentic and positive relationship between your brand and its customers. 

Remembering a customers’ name not only improves the in-the-moment experience, but also leads to more personalized email remarketing strategies after they complete the activity and return home. No one wants to be just another confirmation number.

#3 - Make sure to capture email information

We’ve talked about email remarketing, so we should probably highlight the importance of collecting customer email information. Since OTAs are highly protective of customer data, they could limit your business from communicating and marketing to guests that have booked through them.

That’s why the onus is on your business to request customer emails and contact details of those who booked through an OTA. Some customers are wary of providing this information, especially if they don’t get something in return. Providing customers with free photo memories of their experience is a great way to enhance their experience with your brand, while giving something back for the collection of their email address. 

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#4 - Have a website that customers trust

Tour and activity businesses need to work hard to build brand awareness and consumer trust by establishing a strong online presence, and that often starts from having an updated website that is both aesthetically pleasing and user friendly. 

A good website can help your brand convert OTA visitors and increase direct bookings. On the flip side, if your website isn’t attractive or easy to use, visitors may not even book through an OTA after checking out your website. Photos are an important part of a tour or activity website, so show real customers truly enjoying the experience they had with your tour.

#5 - Ask for customer feedback

Show your customers that you value their feedback and care about the experience they had with your brand. Asking for feedback shows your customers that you want to continuously improve and deliver a top customer experience. 

Feedback can come through a variety of methods, whether it be an onsite survey after their experience or communicating with past customers on social media. By understanding what a guest liked and didn’t like, you can make valuable changes that significantly improve the experience for future customers. 

Interested in learning more about how a photo marketing service can help your brand enhance customer relationships when working with OTAs? Book a free demo of Fotaflo today, and learn how photo memories can build customer loyalty.

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Topics: Photo Marketing

Chad Ingles

Written by Chad Ingles

Chad leads operations and tech for growth, with 20 years' experience in innovation. He is passionate about adventure, travel, and food!

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