Summer 2021: Is Your Tourism Business Ready?
This article forms part of a weekly newsletter series that’s sent directly to travel industry professionals every month.
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As we jump into the much-anticipated summer season I thought I’d take you through an analysis of trend expectations, lessons learned, and where you should be targeting your marketing efforts to maximize sales going forward into summer 2021.
Let’s get started.
Here's this week's roundup:
"It's a Bit Crazy" - What to Expect When Reopening Your Tours
Source: Arival Travel
As many countries give the green light for tourism to open its doors, you might be wondering what to expect? This article explores the lessons learned from two US-based food tourism businesses that have already experienced the wave of ‘revenge travel’.
Keeping Staff and Guests Safe
When Key West Food Tours, based in the Florida Keys reopened in June 2020, owner Analise Smith initially feared bookings would be slow. However, once the floodgates of Florida’s tourism opened, to her surprise, customers came in their droves.
“It feels just like a swarm of people, it’s just never-ending” – Analise Smith
Keeping both staff and guests safe should be the first priority for all tourism businesses preparing to reopen. Make sure all your guests are completely aware of your business’s Covid-19 safety rules before the tour starts.
Key West Tours ensured their guides wore masks and were well equipped with hand sanitizer throughout the tours. They also limited group tour sizes, which resulted in a more intimate and valuable experience for the guests.
Savannah Taste Experience, based in Georgia, goes beyond this. They suggest opening up the floor to guests at the end of the tour, asking what they could improve on with regards to safety. This shows guests that you’re willing to go the extra mile to keep them safe, encouraging repeat booking.
If you’re also a food tourism business, it’s good practice to make sure the restaurants you’re taking guests to have safety procedures in place also. Standard restaurant Covid-19 safety procedures include; social distancing, temperature checks, and outside dining.
Hiring Has Been the Biggest Challenge
The hospitality industry goes hand-in-hand with tourism, their suffering is ours and vice-versa. The plight of the pandemic caused the hospitality industry to take a huge hit in job losses. Many hospitality workers have left the business altogether. In the US alone 2.5 million hospitality jobs were lost.
As the industry starts to reopen parallel to tourism, the competition is high to re-hire skilled staff. To alleviate some of the strain, food tourism businesses can work with restaurants, making sure they don’t visit at busy times.
“We just can’t overwhelm these restaurants by coming in and asking for tables.” – Analise Smith.
Adapting to Changing Markets
It doesn’t take a crystal ball to predict you’ll almost certainly have a larger amount of domestic tourists booking with you. Pivoting to new demographics can be challenging without the right guidance, or strategy in place.
Perhaps you’re anxious about showing them things they’ve already seen? Relax, listen to your guests’ needs, and focus on revealing the hidden gems they may have missed. If you haven’t already pivoted to domestic travellers, this article will give you a good overview of how to do this effectively.
You may also experience an influx of younger or older travellers, depending on vaccine confidence. However, with vaccines making people feel safer, age groups have started to return to normal in the US at least.
For more key insights on how to communicate the above with your guests, take head from Bicycle Adventure owner Todd Starnes human-centric approach.
Nearly Half of U.S. Travelers Plan to Use Travel Advisors Post-Pandemic
“There’s cause for optimism for this at-risk segment of the industry. Travel agencies that are quick to adapt have the potential to capture a new customer base that outlasts the travel recovery years”
— Lebawit Lily Girma, Skift
In a “fragmented travel landscape” where entry restrictions and public health protocols can change in a moment, will travellers be able to navigate this on their own?
New data from the American Society of Travel Advisors (ASTA) and Sandals Resorts – suggests travellers will increasingly become more dependent on travel advisors going forward into summer 2021. Nearly half of US travellers (44%) said they were more likely to go to a travel advisor post-pandemic. To put this into perspective, only 27% of U.S. travellers frequently used travel advisors pre-pandemic.
“Travel is coming back, and travel advisors are poised for an epic comeback,” – Erika Richter, Senior Communications Director at ASTA.
This is great news for tourism businesses like yours. You can leverage this opportunity by establishing your tourism business as a trusted source of authority. One of our clients, Alym Bhanji advises the most effective way to increase bookings is through educating, not selling.
20 Sustainable Travel Companies and Destinations
Source: Travel Pulse
Sustainability is more than a buzzword, it’s a win-win strategy for your tourism business in 2021 and beyond. Those who work to maintain sustainable efforts reap the rewards in customer interest and bookings. With more travellers opting for eco-conscious and ‘slow travel’, this article selects 20 travel companies that have gone the extra mile to uphold extensive sustainability practices in place.
Here are just a few of my favourites…
A company with a long-standing history of advocating for sustainability. They’ve been carbon neutral since 2010 and go to great lengths to reduce their carbon footprint on trips. Their most recent push for sustainability was to announce amended itineraries removing flights on their top 50 trips. They also pledged (where possible) to add more cycling and walking tours.
Could your tourism business incorporate more eco-friendly travel options such as bikes over taxis?
The Meritage Collection
Just as we did years ago, The Meritage Collection also partnered with One Tree Planted. Committed to planting a tree for every night booking during the entire month of April. This is a great incentive for guests to opt for your tourism business over another.
Alongside this, the Hotel partnered with Clean the World providing “gently-used toiletries to recycling centers to be sanitized and distributed globally”.
What organizations could your tourism business partner with?
Ker & Downey Africa
This safari tour operator helps travelers book fully built-out conservation safari trips, like a Rhino Safari & Conservation Experience in South Africa. Additionally, they offer safari lodges run by locals or suggest eco-focused properties that encourage guests to limit their consumption of natural resources.
Community-based tourism is very much at the heart of this tourism business’s ethos, and it can be the centre of yours too. Consider working with suppliers that support responsible tourism, partnering with lodges that put a keen focus on wildlife conservation.
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What Today’s Digital Nomads Signal for the Future of Travel
Source: Adventure Travel News
The Covid-19 pandemic accelerated the demographic of remote workers, but who are digital nomads? Well, in short – they are remote workers who love to travel. This demographic prefers long-stays and is confidently, actively travelling right now.
The Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) recently released a new research report exploring who Digital Nomads are, what they’re looking for when they travel, and why your tourism business should consider targeting this group.
“The number of digital nomads was steadily increasing year-by-year, but COVID-19 drastically increased this market, catching many destinations, accommodations, local business, and tourism boards unprepared” – Diego Arelano, Adventure Travel Trade Association & Digital Nomad
Here are our key takeaways from the report:
- Digital nomads like to live like locals, meaning more money is kept within the local community. However, unlike typical domestic tourists, the ‘local experience’ is still unknown to them. Show them the authenticity they crave.
- They opt for long-stay trips rather than short leisure trips. Some destinations such as Greece and Croatia have offered visa and tax incentives encouraging even longer stays.
- Whilst preferring longer stays, they’re not shy about moving around and checking out new destinations on a whim.
- The report found the top challenge for digital nomads was to “unplug and disconnect from work”. On average digital nomads work 46 hours a week, across different time zones. Your tourism business could solve this problem by offering more secluded trips, or “device-free” zones.
- Of course, don’t neglect their need to connect also. Strong WIFI is a must for this demographic in order to continue working, and connecting with people in their home country. Suggesting hidden-gem cafes for working in will also go a long way in gaining trust.
- Ensure stability to combat the uncertainty that comes with choosing the digital nomad lifestyle. Offer discounts for long-stays paid upfront, or suggest more flexible payment options.
Is this a demographic you could potentially tap into?
How to Tailor Marketing Content to a Local Audience’s Needs
Source: Marketing Insider Group
Are you pivoting to a new international market, or perhaps you’re expanding domestically? This article has you covered with top tips for nailing local SEO, and how to communicate with your audience effectively.
Here are 3 quick takeaways to get you started:
- Start by optimizing your content for local search.
- Choose a language that reflects the local culture to communicate.
- Plug into your community both online and off.
It Starts with Search – Use localized keywords for domestic travellers
Optimize your local search strength by putting yourself in your domestic customers’ shoes. Study your content and social media analytics to pick out which keyword searches drive domestic traffic. Namedrop local businesses you work, and destinations you serve within your blog articles to rank higher in local Google search results.
Build Local Buyer Personas
Use the information you’ve gathered on your local domestic market to create very specific ‘local buyer personas’. What do you know about their socio-economic background, their hopes, their challenges when it comes to post-pandemic travel. Bring your buyer personas to life, and cater your content to them.
Use Native Speakers to Translate Your Content
If you’re targeting a market with language barriers make sure that your existing and future content translates your brands’ voice, and speaks to them on the same level as your native speakers. You can achieve this by hiring a copywriter fluent in both your language and the language of the market you’re targeting. This ensures your voice remains consistent, and cohesive across your content.
Feature Local Industry Influencers in Guest Posts
Collaborate with local businesses and local social media influencers. Not only can they offer high-quality content with a far reach, but they’ll also be great brand advocates. Showing that your tourism business asserts authority in your travel specialism.
Listen and Respond on Social Media
Being active in your local community includes your local social media hubs. Listen to what locals say about your brand, and learn how you can improve and address their needs.
You can do this in a number of ways…
- Ask your prospects’ what their main concerns and challenges are when deciding to book a trip, then answer this through your social media account-based content, blog pages, and FAQ pages.
- Engage with your followers in thoughtful and interesting conversations. Humanize this process by remaining authentically you.
- Create local partnerships with local businesses that complement your own. Both parties will benefit from the exposure to new customers, widening your reach.
Leverage SMS Text Messaging for Local Audiences
There’s a fine balance between overloading a local prospect with messages and just enough to give that personal touch. Use SMS messaging consciously. For example to promote a new offer or useful blog post.
List Your Business with Search Engines as a Local Business
If you’re really serious about focusing on your local market then list your business with Bing Places and Google My Business. This is a great way to rank nearer to the top of local searches. It can be a lengthy process but it’s worth it. Local listings have huge potential for building awareness in your community, especially when paired with content custom-tailored to your local prospects’ needs.
What Is Conversion-Focused Web Design?
Source: Optin Monster
Do you want a website for your tourism business that not only looks great but also drives bookings? Conversion-focused web design is the answer according to this article. Using “time-tested design principles”, conversion-focused web design is an effective strategy that persuades your audience to take action on your site. Consider the CTA’s (Call-to-actions) on your website. Are they clear and concise?
Here’s a rundown of the top 5 tips to improve your conversions:
1. Keep important elements above the fold
Above the fold is the content that appears on the screen as soon as the page loads, below the fold begins when the user starts scrolling. Optimizing for mobile and tablets is crucial, therefore, keep in mind that the fold changes depending on the device.
Using our partners at Soaring Eagle product page, here’s an example of what “above the fold” content should look like on desktop. You can see they have a clear call-to-action (CTA) and a crisp, easy-to-navigate layout.
When optimizing your site for mobile, ensure that the most important CTA’s are displayed without having to scroll down, as seen below. If you were to scroll down Soaring Eagle’s product page on any device, you’ll notice that the top banner displaying their company logo and ‘Plan my trip’ CTA, stays fixed. Adding a fixed header eases the user experience and guarantees your prospects can progress to the next stage of the buying process quickly.
Here are the two most crucial features you need to include in your “above the fold” content:
1. Clear unique value proposition (UVP). This is the headline that tells the user what travel experience they can expect from you.
2. A bold CTA that grabs attention. Use a colour that’s vibrant, yet compliments your company colour scheme.
2. Be Consistent With Your Messaging
The copy of your homepage should convey exactly what you’re offering using keywords. For instance, if you’re a luxury safari tour operator, you’ll want to include the keywords ‘luxury’ and ‘safari’ within your headline and CTA. Ensuring that similar keywords are peppered throughout the text too.
A web page with consistent messaging will rank higher in Google search results, increasing organic traffic to your site, ergo conversions.
3. Make Use of White Space
It can be tempting to fill every part of your website with text and images, however, sometimes less is more. These empty spaces are called ‘white space’, and they play a pivotal role in site design.
In a nutshell they:
- Remove distractions, drawing attention to what’s important
- Improves the user experience
Utilizing white space effectively helps to increase conversions because it leads the reader to focus on the crucial elements we covered above, such as the CTA.
4. Focus on User Experience
SEO goes far beyond keywords these days, and the user experience (UX) plays an important role in Google rankings.
The 4 key points to remember when enhancing the UX are:
Your content should deliver a consistent message about the travel experience you’re offering guests. If you’re offering hiking trips in the U.S. but your content is all about cycling, users will be misled. Resulting in a bad UX.
As mentioned above when discussing ‘above the fold’, your website should be simple to navigate. If your site is a maze, just to find a travel itinerary then users will drop off before they even reach it.
Optimizing for Speed
Part of navigating your website is the speed the page takes to load. Optimal loading time should be 3 seconds or less, which can be achieved through a minimalist design.
Large media files also slow down the UX and should be optimized along with images. If you’re still finding the UX slow after implementing the latter, you can also use a caching plugin such as WP Rocket to enhance the speed.
Whilst pop-ups can be beneficial for grabbing attention, users can feel overwhelmed if there are too many of them on a page. Ensure the pop-up campaigns you do have are purposeful, and relevant to the UX. Too many pop-ups also slow the speed of your site, which negatively affects your Google search ranking.
Search engines such as Google, value easy-to-navigate websites, ranking them higher. By implementing the above you’ll greatly elevate the UX, which will quickly translate into increased conversion rates for your website.
5. Use a Minimalist Design
When it comes to design, less is more bookings. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than 3 colours in your scheme, 2 are optimal. The CTA should always be the brightest colour in your scheme to attract attention from the user. Utilizing black and white with other colours in your website design will create a more harmonious and minimal appearance.
Which of these tips will you try first?
A statistic I found interesting:
A recent survey found that 60% of business executives identified investing in social media as a key strategy going forward, especially in terms of gaining a competitive edge. (Sprout Social)
A question for you:
Which trend will influence your marketing and sales strategy going forward?
Did you enjoy reading the above?
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