As a tour operator trying to do everything possible to market your business, the latest online marketing fads always seem to get the most attention. Over the years you’ve been told to focus on web design, SEO, email marketing, conversion optimization, social media, blogging, micro-blogging, and photo sharing. This post is here is a reminder that email marketing has still been shown to be the most effective way to remarket to your prospects and customers. Independent tour and activity operators can especially benefit from having an email campaign that captures, remarkets, and converts.
What do I mean by “remarket” or “remarketing” for tour operators? It is simply a way to get your message across to people that visited your website and are likely to make a booking soon or later. By leveraging the power of email marketing, your tour website can capture more leads and convince them to come back to book a tour or activity. The return on investment (ROI) with tour and activity email remarketing means your effort to publish an email newsletter will be rewarded.
1. Capture Leads That Are Not Ready to Book Now
This is what the Book Later Button was made for but you can do it yourself with a basic email address capture form. In addition to displaying your “Book Now” button proudly to ask for the sale, add a link to your email newsletter subscription page nearby. Tell visitors that if they are not ready to make a booking today, simply sign up for your email newsletter to stay informed and get the best deals. Of course make it clear that you will not share their email address, unsubscribe can be done in a click, and you won’t contact them more than once a month.
2. Offer Deals to Price Sensitive Travel Consumers
Even if you are selling luxury tours, people want to feel like they are getting the best deal on a tour or vacation activity. Encourage people to sign up for your newsletter by stating that subscribers will receive exclusive offers and specials not available to the public. You can choose to offer a money off coupon in your newsletter with a special link or offer code. Also when your tours go on sale throughout the year, advertise those promotions to your email list first.
3. Tell Subscribers How You Are the Expert in your Vacation Activity
People book tours based on the itinerary and price but also on your ability to deliver what you promise in a travel or adventure experience. With abundant competition in the tourism space to every destination, people require a reminder as to how you are the experts. Do not be afraid to promote the expertise of your tour guides and booking staff with detailed bios, testimonials, company history, awards, and videos. For example do your drivers come from the local area in Africa, are your tour guides certified in scuba safety, was your company the first to hike the inca trail, or does your staff speak multiple languages? While you may be confident that your travel business is the best, it is easy for subscribers to forget what your brand and experience stands for.
4. Send Out “Almost Booked Up” Notices for Upcoming Tours
When your tours or vacation activities are selling out, include that notification in your email newsletter to motivate your subscribers to book right away. Telling people that there are only a few places left on an upcoming tour is a surefire way to get their attention. When subscribers are interested in booking a tour but are making excuses for acting right away, use this technique as a motivating call to action.
5. Remind Visitors to Return and Complete a Booking Later
This goes to the core of why you should send out a tour email marketing piece to people that click the Send Tour Reminder button on your website. People are not on vacation all the time (perhaps they wish), but they may be searching and discovering travel opportunities online all the time. Just because they are not planning to book a tour today or even in the next six months doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the personal connection started. This type of person simply wants a reminder via email, the most visible daily marketing channel, so that one day their travel aspirations can be realized.
6. Email the Latest Tour Brochure When Published
For tour operators that still publish a full color brochure of all their scheduled itineraries and vacation activities, email your subscribers when the latest brochure (even before the general public has seen it) is available. You can offer it for download as a PDF file or have a link to your form to request a tour brochure by postal mail. Another option is to render your brochure as magazine style on the web, for which there are several popular technologies that allow browsing full screen just like a printed magazine.
7. Publish the Latest News on Traveling To Your Destination
For tour operators that focus on a few select destinations, your staff is always aware of important news stories and changes in the tourism landscape. Leverage that knowledge and share it with your newsletter subscribers each month. It will make a bold statement that you run a well-informed and well-connected tour business, one that can be trusted with their booking. Sharing the latest news stories can also generate business in your new tours as well as encourage subscribers to act now when unforeseen changes will affect tour goers that wait until next year.
8. Freely Offer How-To Travel Advice on Your Adventure or Activity
Often people reach your website because they are planning a trip and wish to discover the touring and trekking possibilities. For example they may be interested in going on safari in South Africa or whale watching off the coast of California. During this type of web search your target is not likely to be in a booking mood, so it is the perfect opportunity to capture their email address. Promote your newsletter as a way for people to gain real advice and experience from experts in the field. Instead of filling your newsletter with self-promotion, give out general travel advice and tips. Know these subscribers will turn to your tour company or tell a friend when it comes time to make a booking.
9. Conduct Contests to Win a Free Tour by Subscribing and Sharing
The possibility of winning a free trip always attracts attention and it is no different when you promote your tour packages via email. Once or twice a year come up with a contest that subscribers can enter with just a click. Of course you must investigate and follow the legal rules for running a contest in your home country, the location of your subscribers, and that accept online entry. Therefore this tip cannot be done on a whim. However the possibility of winning free travel by signing up for your vacation newsletter is enticing. Travel consumers that enter a contest and lose now are likely candidates to want to be converted to paying customer later.
10. Share Customer Testimonials to Inspire Trip Bookings
These top 10 reasons are not in any particular order and #10 is just as critical as the rest. Try to include a few recent testimonials from customers to inspire subscribers to return to your site and book the same travel experience. The power of testimonials are clear, plus you can take it a step further by including customer submitted photos and videos talking about what a great adventure or day out they had. This is also the opportunity to mention any improvements to your social media reputation and TripAdvisor rankings as you gain more acclaim.
To get started, sign up for a freemium email newsletter provider such as MailChimp or consider the other paid options based on your tourism marketing business needs. Read more about Email Service Providers for Travel on this site.
Follow the steps to create your tour email marketing list, set up your email capture form to embed on your site, and start collecting leads. It is a tour marketing best practice to send out a welcome or thank you email upon new subscriber sign-up. Why? You may be able to convince that tour booking lead to come back and book in the next day or two if you can win them over.
Once you have the tour email remarketing pieces set up, it is time to get writing. Pick from among the top 10 ideas above to write and send out your newsletter, typically on a monthly basis or less. Be sure to include a tour related photo or two to encourage people to turn on images in their email client which is useful for tracking open rates. Here are some more ideas of what to include in an email newsletter for hotels, much of which applies to tour and activity companies as well.
Tour operators, please share your own tips and experience in the comments section below. How are you employing travel email remarketing to get more tour bookings?