Peak Season Ends… Now What?
The winter season is on its way out, and many of our friends in the Northern hemisphere will be winding up their winter experiences soon.
As the last guest waves goodbye, there is a laundry list of tasks waiting for you. It’s that time to go back to your business book and get ready for next season.
Analyzing total bookings, revenue, and profit is part of a tour or activity operator’s day-to-day work. However, a few other assessments need to be done to step up your game for the upcoming season. Here is a checklist of necessary things to be taken care of as peak season ends.
Analyze Sales Channel
Tour operators use different sales channels to distribute their tours—global Online Travel Agencies (OTAs like TripAdvisor or Expedia), agents, and/or local partnerships. Thanks to innovative online reservation software, it is now possible to manage the creation as well as distribution of your tours and activities across all of these channels and track sales in real-time.
Evaluating each channel at the end of the season is a must as it gives you deeper insights into where your bookings are coming from. Even when selling tours via various distribution channels is exciting, every channel may not bring you more guests or revenue.
As peak season ends, go back and analyze sales channels for their profitability. Your reservation software will be able to do the heavy work for you. Use the reporting feature offered by your online booking system to examine all your distribution channels.
Understand the relevancy of each channel and how your guests booked your tours. Some sales channels do well to acquire guests for you in-destination (like hotel concierges) while others might be better at acquiring customers globally (like larger OTAs such as Viator or GetYourGuide). Better knowledge of successful sales avenues makes it easy to invest time and money in the right place to strengthen your sales.
Collect Customer Reviews
Customer testimonials are a reliable source of information for your future guests. Assessing online reviews is an inevitable step in a traveller’s booking journey. Marketing your tours with raving customer reviews drive more bookings. It is one of the most inexpensive ways to increase your business credibility and attract new customers.
Ideally, you should not wait until the end of peak season to collect feedback. Request their testimonials when the memories of the experience are still fresh in them, within 1-2 days after their trip.
At the end of the season, ensure that you have reached out to all your happy customers to get their views to create trust among potential customers. Do not forget that word-of-mouth marketing is probably the most effective strategy, and they work like a charm,
💡Zaui Tip: For a little nudge, in the review request emails for your guests, include an additional promo code for their next trip or for their friends and family.
It’s not all about positive feedback. You may end up getting not-so-pleasant reviews too. But, it can be a learning experience to make improvements and elevate the customer experience. Even if it is not favourable, always respond, thanking them for their time and promising changes. Many review sites place a high value on companies that not only collect reviews often but interact with their reviewers on a regular basis.
Revisit Marketing Campaigns
You might have run paid ads, social media ads or other marketing campaigns. Take an in-depth look at your marketing campaigns to understand which ones are providing the best return on your investment.
Analyze each campaign to understand whether you’re placing your money in the right marketing basket. Rely on metrics and trace customer responses to see which campaign motivated them to book your tours best. Review whether the campaign met the objectives and will fit into next season’s budget.
If it’s not, try to figure out what went wrong and tweak your strategy to strengthen the campaign for the upcoming season. Assessing marketing campaigns will provide valuable learnings for future initiatives and help you make informed decisions.
For many operators, distributing brochures is still a valuable way to reach new customers while in some markets, brochures aren’t distributed as widely as they did years ago. At the end of one season, it’s a great time to evaluate marketing initiatives like this to see if it’s still worth the spend.
Ask for Staff Feedback
Your staff members are your frontline workers, interacting with guests. Their valuable insights can complete your understanding of customer experience.
If you adopted new technology or partnership initiatives this season, your staff could give you a clear picture of its success rate. They can tell you the things your guests loved and hated.
Also, check whether they need any more tools or resources to resolve issues or enhance their services in the future. With their help, put together a list of things that can be improved and create an action plan.
More importantly, listening to your team shows that you value their opinions. It helps you build a strong relationship with them and helps them deliver an outstanding customer experience.
When hiring is becoming a significant challenge in the travel sector, it is crucial for tour operators to keep the staff happy and engaged. Get your team together, ask them for their genuine opinions and translate the feedback into action.
Prepare Content Calendar
This may not be a part of the seasonal analysis, but something inevitable at the end of the season. Operators are busy welcoming the guests during the peak season. Now is the time to get to the tasks that were on the back burner.
Check out your website, and in case it needs any upgrade—content and photography—add it to your to-do list. If you have blogs on your site, keep adding new content. Create a social media calendar to spice up your social media during the off-season and make the best use of user-generated content.
When your potential guest begins to plan their trip online in the upcoming season, make sure you have maintained a solid online presence to attract them.
Peak seasons can be tiring yet fulfilling. You have done great work entertaining guests and creating beautiful memories for them. It’s important to evaluate your operations after each season, though, to learn what worked and what needs improvement. But remember to take some time off as peak season ends. Enjoy the off-season to unwind and come back with the zest and energy to make another memorable, as well as profitable, peak season.