If you’ve clicked on this article, you’re probably looking for strategies to get more bookings - and you’re not alone! Arival’s recent study* found that increasing online bookings was the #1 technology-related priority among both big and small operators.
While there are various techniques to get more bookings, in this article we’ll focus on the 4 main ones that leverage technology and allows you to achieve more bookings on a totally different scale.
Now, I can hear you saying “sounds good but what about costs?” You’re absolutely right, costs are rising across equipment, wages, marketing, insurance,... you name it. That’s where technology & digital tools can help you automate your processes. So you can save time, manpower hour & you can handle more customers seamlessly. Let’s get into it!
#1 Review your website
Did you know that over 90% of travelers** are now performing their travel research online? As a tour and activity operator, your website is like your storefront: You want to ensure that your website is attractive to new customers and is designed in a way that entices them to book. Potential customers are already there so let’s not lose them at that stage!
Some key elements to think about here:
- Is your site secure?
- Are your call to action (aka booking buttons) prominent?
- How does it look on mobile?
- Have you got tracking in place?
- And more!
There are quite a few steps that you want to take to make sure your website is healthy and has the best chance to convert. I could go through them all in detail but then this would become the whole blog. So instead, if you are interested in improving your website’s performance, download this free website health checklist with 10 steps to follow.
Last but not least, make sure you also spend some time reviewing your product as well and how it shows up online. Creating great products isn’t always easy: you need a great name, a compelling tour description, the best images that resonate with your potential customers etc… For a better understanding on the key elements to build online products that convert, including do’s and don’ts, check out this guide.
#2 Optimize it for search
Now that your website is healthy, is it search engine optimization (SEO) ready though? Wait, is that not the same? Nope. Long story short, SEO as you probably know, is the art of showing up higher in search results. The higher you are, the more likely you’ll get visits to your website. SEO is a great direct booking channel and according to Arival State of Tours 2022, more than 41% of direct bookings occur as a result of an organic search.
Some key steps to take for SEO:
- Research your relevant keywords
Write down all the phrases you can think of relating to your experience, business, location, etc. then pick out the most important ones. You could also use Google’s autofill feature to find a vast range of search terms - this is generally what most people are searching for, so it’ll give you some great ideas on what to focus on. If you did want to go the extra mile though, you could use tools like Answer The Public and Google Keyword Planner that’ll help you find relevant keywords.
- Place your keywords on your website
This increases the relevance of your website during searches, boosting your search engine performance and your page optimization. Some placements you will need to think about are: headers, page URL, meta description & image Alt tag.
- Get your partners or other websites to link back to you
In other words, get more backlinks. Backlinking is a link-building technique where websites direct back to your web page via links. So long your links are embedded onto their site, it’s considered a backlink. A quick way to gain backlinks is to reach out to your partners and/or friendly competitors and request a backlink on their site in return for one on yours. It’s a win-win!
- Regularly add some content
You should also regularly update your content. This is a signal to Google that your content is up to date and therefore, more relevant. By regularly updating your content, you’ll also be able to better answer your potential customers’ questions. Many companies use blogs as a way to answer user search queries and therefore, attracting them to your website as potential customers.
For more (a lot more!) on SEO, watch or read through this free masterclass.
#3 Advertise your experience on Social
According to Arival’s Path to Purchase 2021 report, 25% of travelers in 2021 researched for activities via social media platforms. Social media is becoming the main resource that travelers use to discover new places to visit and is a key decision influencer in choosing experiences.
My personal favorite? Facebook (or Meta now). Even on a small budget and without an agency, you can do great things via their ad platform, Facebook Business Manager. Here is why:
- Target by location
Location Targeting is a tool that allows you to showcase your ads to a group of people in a specific area. If you know that a lot of your visitors come from one part of the world or from one state in the country, you can target your ads to that demographic.
- Target lookalikes
By uploading into the platform the list of your previous customers, Facebook can automatically find and advertize to others who most closely resemble your customers. Meaning, Facebook will help you locate new customers who are most likely to make a booking.
Typical customers need to be exposed to your brand at least 7 times before making a purchase - that’s where retargeting comes into play. Within Facebook Business Manager, you can create a custom audience to retarget anyone who’s been on your website. You can also select your audience based on how recently they’ve been to your website.
With so many distractions around us these days, it’s important that you’re where your customers spend the most time. You can also give them a nudge if they get distracted while on your website. For more on Facebook advertising, check out this great step-by-step guide.
#4 Let others advertise for you
Often, even with the best product on a great website with ads running, it’s just not enough to attract more potential customers… but fear not, we’ve got a couple more tricks up our sleeve.
- Getting referrals & word of mouth
One way to get referrals is by providing great customer service and by adding little touches to your experience. One way to do this is to capture their “once in a lifetime” moment. For example, companies like allow tour operators to take photos of the experience, personalize it to fit their branding, and automatically distribute these photos to their customers. Not only will your customers appreciate free photos, but they’ll also be more inclined to post the images on their socials, which in hand will also promote your business.
More happy customers + more brand awareness = more bookings in the future.
- Working with resellers
When thinking about resellers, one that operators usually think of are online travel agents (OTAs) - and they are usually seen as expensive. When we break it down though, resellers have a lot of benefits:
- They reach new customers in new markets that perhaps wouldn’t have otherwise considered (or found) you;
- They have a large marketing budget, sometimes featuring operators directly, so you benefit from those too;
- They are travel specialists with a lot of teams behind them from marketing to customer service;
- They are risk-free! You only pay commissions when you receive a booking. Now that’s really interesting, because you can use them to sell tours or activities that would normally go unsold.
These days, nearly half of travelers prefer to book a trip from a single website that offers flights, accommodations, car rentals, and extras^ and OTA’s are growing faster than any other channel.^^ It’s happened in the hotel industry, and is now happening in the experiences industry - so don’t miss the train on that one.
It’s also worth noting that, although OTAs are an important player, there are a lot more resellers you can partner with - from independent travel agents, visitor information centers, hotels & concierge services to other operators in your area!
Learn more about finding the right resellers, best strategies when working with them, and more.
And there you have it, 4 ways that you can get more bookings for your tour & activity business!
You could look at these strategies individually or you could also start using an online reservation system, like Rezdy, that will help you get more bookings. In fact, using a reservation system would already help you increase your conversion rate as it equips your business with tools to enhance your website, create effective online booking forms, and integrate with fast & secure payment gateway options.
With Rezdy, you could also get bookings from Facebook by adding a ‘Book Now’ button directly to your Facebook page as well as integrating with Fotaflo, to automatically deliver photos and videos to all of your guests.
Finally, Rezdy, is the world's leading independent online booking and distribution platform and it offers the broadest reach of resellers in the industry: Rezdy Channel Manager. You can access Rezdy Channel Manager regardless of your booking system or size of business and this will be a game changer to expand your reach, automate your processes and grow.
Find out more about how a reservation technology can actually help you get more bookings.
No matter what stage your tour or activity business is at, the team at Rezdy is dedicated to helping all their customers grow. Start a free 21-day trial to test their booking software or book a Channel Manager demo.
*Tours, Activities, Attractions & Experiences - Phocuswright & Arival October 2022
^Travelport Retailing 2022
^^Arival The role of OTAs 2022