Effective Travel Marketing Ideas for Tour Operators

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June 19, 2023

9 min read
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Effective Travel Marketing Ideas for Tour Operators

Exploring the nuances between promotion, advertising, and marketing can be intriguing and challenging, but when it comes down to it, the ultimate goal is to expand your tour business and enhance your sales. In order to achieve that, an impactful tourism campaign plays a vital role which is only possible through careful planning and understanding innovative concepts to stand out. 

Whether you want to overcome intense competition, adapt your content marketing strategy to keep up with new trends, or prepare for a surge in bookings in the upcoming season, this blog will help you discover the essential travel marketing practices and ideas to achieve your 2023 goals. Get ready to immerse yourself in the world of travel marketing excellence!

Travel Marketing Trends in 2023

The travel marketing practices of the previous year may not align with the demands of the current tourism economy. Have you effectively pivoted and revised your game plan to embrace the emerging trends in the tourism sector? If not, don’t worry here is the list of top travel marketing trends that will help you uplift your marketing game.

Harness the Power of a Strong Google My Business Profile

Utilizing Google My Business (GMB) can prove to be immensely beneficial for tour and activity operators, enabling you to enhance your visibility, attract a larger customer base, and bolster your online reputation. Notably, studies indicate that having a comprehensive GMB Profile can make customers more inclined to perceive your business as reputable, while also increasing the likelihood of them making a booking by over 50%. 

With Google Things To Do, there is now an opportunity to turn people who find you on Google Search and Maps into new customers by optimizing your google my business profile with photos, offers, Points of Interest, posts, and more. It enables Tour Operators to show direct booking links of their business to the users while they are searching for activities online.

And don’t forget about reviews on your Google My Business listing! With the introduction of Things to do, it’s more important than ever to have glowing reviews of your experiences right next to Google’s “buy tickets” feature. Previously, you may have only asked for reviews on TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook, or your own website. Google reviews are increasingly more important in the travel industry as customers find your business and can book directly from a Google search. Additionally, surveys now show that Google is now the most trustworthy platform for online reviews. 

Invest in Visual Content

People these days are doing a lot of research before they make any travel plans. They want to see every little detail about the trip before they decide to book anything. That’s where creating awesome videos comes in handy. When you make exciting video content, it gets people pumped up about your travel destination and shows them all the awesome things they can experience on their vacation.

Having videos on your website and social media platforms is a smart move since it helps you highlight the best parts of your travel destination. This kind of content can really get users interested and engaged. Additionally, it sets you apart from your competition if you include videos that they don’t have, like cool room tours and stuff. A nice tip for your destination marketing is to create a mix of short and long videos to keep things interesting and easy to watch and share. That way, your users can enjoy the content and easily share it with their friends too.

Videos between one and two minutes long are great for showcasing your tourism activities and your destination. Think of it like taking the written description of your experience and putting it in video form. Shorter videos are great for fun facts, behind the scenes content, tips about your destination, and more. These are perfect for social channels like TikTok or Instagram so your brand can remain in mind of your followers with wanderlust.

Create a Virtual Reality Experience

Another travel industry trend that is taking off is Virtual reality. It can be a game-changer for travel and tour operators to uplift their brand. Marketers can now use panorama and 360-degree videos to give people a taste of what it’s really like to be there. It’s like experiencing the real thing from the comfort of your own home.

This is super important because travellers these days conduct extensive research before booking a tour and having a VR experience not only provides every little detail about their potential vacation but also helps build trust. 

With virtual reality videos, you can show off everything your destination has to offer. Whether it’s showing off swanky hotel rooms, awesome amenities, or exciting excursions, VR videos can get people really excited and engaged. It’s like a sneak peek that can really boost their booking experience. VR will also highlight that you are a dynamic and evolving operation, not just one satisfied in what was successful with guests many years ago. So hop on the VR train and let people get a taste of what they’re in for!

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence for Tour Operators
Artificial Intelligence for Tour Operators

AI provides a valuable means of maximizing your team’s productivity by harnessing technology. These tools have the potential to enhance the engagement between your brand and the intended audience. Incorporating AI into your marketing strategy can be easily accomplished through various approaches, but the most widely used and successful method for travel brands is the utilization of chatbots.

Recent advancements in AI technology enable businesses to enhance their user experience. Certain technologies leverage data from past travelers to create optimal itineraries for new guests. Chatbots are capable of addressing frequently asked questions, providing user support, and discussing availability, and even helping guests book their experiences. Implementing these small enhancements can significantly enhance the customer experience and boost online OTA (Online Travel Agency) bookings.

Eco-Tourism

Research indicates that 85% of surveyed consumers have altered their purchasing behaviour to align with sustainability. In response, travel companies are actively adapting to this shift.

Eco-tourism is a type of travel that sustains the natural environment and uplifts local communities. However, it is crucial that these efforts are not  perceived as mere greenwashing.

Modern travellers not only seek to enjoy nature but also desire to contribute to the well-being of local communities. Have you ever been asked to contribute a small amount to offset carbon emissions during your holiday or to round up your purchase to support rainforest conservation? Such initiatives can sometimes seem like greenwashing attempts. However, brands that actively demonstrate genuine eco-friendly value that effectively dispels any doubts about greenwashing. These brands are rewarded with positive mentions, and travel companies can achieve the same outcome by following suit.

Maybe you can’t convert all your vehicles to electric right now, but you can examine ways to move away from single use plastics like water bottles and rain gear. You can also partner with local conservation groups and allow guests to donate as part of their reservation or contribute a portion of your profits to support local sustainability efforts.

Top Travel Marketing Ideas for 2023

Now that we have covered the top 5 Travel Marketing trends let’s dive into the Travel Marketing Ideas for 2023. 

When exploring methods to enhance your tourism marketing strategy, you have most likely encountered repetitive and mundane tips across various websites. It can be incredibly frustrating! Here are a few creative ideas that will help you break through the clutter.  

Email Marketing

Did you know that the open rate for travel emails averages 20.2% which is higher than the average email open rate? Imagine this, coupled with the fact that Email Marketing has the highest ROI amongst all other digital marketing channels These are some pretty impressive stats to convince you to create effective email campaigns. 

Even though social media has gained much popularity among travel marketers these days, a lot of people still consider travel email marketing when planning their trips. Over 50% of people check their emails first thing in the morning even before scrolling through social media or catching up on the latest news. If you’ve got a killer travel email marketing plan, you’ve got a solid chance of reaching tons of people who are pumped to read what you’ve got to say. 

You never know when an airline or hotel can send out a flash deal that motivates a potential customer to make spur-of-the-moment vacation plans. Increase your chances of being part of those plans by keeping potential new and returning guests informed of new experiences, deals, or visitor tips through regular email marketing campaigns. Just be sure to not send too many emails; nobody likes being spammed! 

Leverage Customer Reviews

Travel Marketing Trends: Customer Reviews
Leverage Customer Reviews to sell tours.

We all know that reputation management is a big deal for businesses worldwide. It’s especially important for tour operators that rely on guest feedback because they need to think about how people perceive their tours and activities.

Review Marketing is not only important for local customers but also in general, customers are constantly referring to review marketing sites like TripAdvisor and Kayak.com for deals, and discounts for activities and tours. It’s estimated that roughly 98% of consumers read online reviews before purchasing and roughly 93% of your potential guests think reviews for travel and transportation companies are important. 

Now that we have established the value of Review Marketing, here are some tips for an effective review marketing strategy:

Deliver an Outstanding Customer Experience

At its core, the key to achieving success lies in prioritizing the provision of an exceptional experience for your customers. No matter how much you strategize and meticulously manage reviews, nothing compares to the advantages gained from genuinely offering a remarkable experience. 

By placing emphasis on meeting customers’ expectations, you can ensure that they depart with a positive perception of your company. Consequently, this serves as a form of natural review management, resulting in improved reviews. It can be difficult, but avoid taking bad reviews personally and always look for ways to improve. Even bad reviews can result in net positive results if you are able to respond quickly and in a way that satisfies both the reviewer and potential guests.

Encourage Customers to Share Feedback Online:

An effective approach to managing reviews relies on actively generating feedback from your customers, making it essential to encourage them to leave reviews. There are several ways to accomplish this, such as sending automated email requests after a guest’s visit

Maintaining a consistent stream of reviews is crucial. Review sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp will even prioritize companies with regular new reviews and responses. As travelers increasingly base their purchasing decisions on online reviews, more recent ones will better highlight the offerings of your business. And don’t forget to regularly respond to reviews as both purchasers and review platforms will appreciate you interacting with your customers on both positive and negative reviews.

Focus on your Target Audience

One of the most critical aspects of developing an effective tourism marketing plan is understanding your target audience. Without a focused approach, your efforts will blend into the sea of competition within the highly competitive tourism industry. To stand out and succeed, you need to tailor your marketing strategy to a specific audience and deliver a unique value proposition.

Rather than simply categorizing potential customers into broad groups like Millennials, families, couples, seniors, or backpackers, you can delve deeper and create more distinct segments. By doing so, you can better understand their preferences and design personalized marketing campaigns that resonate with their specific needs and desires.

For instance, if you own a vacation rental company in a renowned surf destination and your typical customers are families, you can refine your targeting to focus specifically on families interested in surfing. By doing this, you can effectively reach out to a niche market that aligns perfectly with your offerings. Additionally, as you gather more insights about your customers, you can fine-tune your targeting parameters and expand your reach to other relevant segments within the surfing community.

In addition to social media, share visually appealing content that captures the essence of your tour and activities. Potential guests enjoy imagining themselves experiencing your product or service and great visual travel content helps stir that wanderlust. You can also collaborate with influential travel bloggers or Instagrammers who specialize in leveraging social media followings of your target audiences to amplify your reach and establish your experience as a go-to destination or activity. 

Final Word 

In today’s dynamic business landscape, Tour and Activity Operators are presented with way too many marketing opportunities, making it challenging to find the most suitable ones for their business. However, by strategically selecting a few key options and excelling at them, operators can significantly enhance their ability to implement and track marketing performance effectively.

Additionally, it is crucial for Tour and Activity Operators to adopt a focused approach by evaluating and identifying the marketing strategies that align most closely with their unique business objectives and target audience.

By concentrating on a select few marketing options, you can ensure that you have the bandwidth to implement them properly to yield the highest possible returns. Rather than spreading yourself thin across numerous channels, you can concentrate your  time, energy, and budget on the chosen strategies, allowing you to develop a deeper understanding of those specific platforms and refine your  approach to maximize impact.

This focused approach allows for more accurate measurement of key performance indicators, enabling operators to make data-driven decisions and optimize their marketing strategies over time. Most important, is that strategies like the ones described here aren’t just reserved for big operations with huge marketing budgets. With clearer visibility into the impact of their efforts, operators can adapt and refine their approach to continually improve results and stay ahead of the competition.

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