Tour Operator Insight: Set Sail for Success by Leveraging Your Support System

This article forms part of our fortnightly Get More Bookings® Show where we interview clients and travel professionals from our Facebook group to uncover tips on what’s working for them in business. Click here to be part of the community.

The biggest impact for us was the system. Having people getting the information, and getting this continuous flow from us. The 6 part email course, that was brilliant” – Nick Hathaway

45 degrees sailing get more bookings

The Problem

“Coming here [45 Degrees Sailing], I felt like they didn’t have a funnel and there were too many people just looking” – Anna Anderson

Located in Croatia, 45 Degrees Sailing is a sailing tour operator co-founded by Nick Hathaway and his wife Mahina. Aimed at predominantly families and couples, Nick’s fleet of 55ft sailing yachts delivers the luxury Dalmation Odyssey their guests have always dreamt of.

The couple were joined a few years later by lead content creator and Managing Director Anna Anderson, who has since helped Nick transform the online visual experience of 45 Degrees Sailing to what we see today – A beautifully crafted window into life on the Adriatic waves.

“We just show people the time of their lives” – Nick

45 degrees sailing

Having glanced over the 10x Tourism Tour Operator Accelerator™ program previously, it was the 6-part email course element that initially caught Anna’s attention. She then sought out to create the content for the email campaign herself, but came up against a wall in terms of understanding and implementing the technology needed to bolster their campaign’s success.

By opting for the Tour Operator Accelerator™ program, we were able to show Nick and Anna – in extreme detail – what they needed to do to finalize this part of the system too.

“Being me I did it myself, but then it’s that whole technology side. Between us, we thought how can we do this?…. With the pandemic we thought, we’ve got this one opportunity, we’ve got the time” – Anna

Nick and Anna came aboard 10x Tourism’s Tour Operator Accelerator program in December 2020, in search of a sales-driven funnel that would provide 45 Degrees Sailing with the knowledge and tools to create a regular influx of high-quality leads.

One of the main challenges the team previously faced was manually sifting through a pipeline of empty traffic and low-quality leads. Often getting to the point of a video call with potential guests, to soon realise their lead didn’t fit their buyer persona and had no intention of buying their luxury product.

Whilst it’s crucial to educate and inform prospective leads as much as possible before the point of sale, if the leads do not fit the requirements of your tour offering then this can take up a lot of meaningful time without resulting in revenue.

“As you can imagine there are many, many tours over here, and so when we began we were just getting so many people that just weren’t our target market” – Anna

Nick and Anna knew they were swimming against the tide, and needed a process that could ‘cut the fat’ as it were, to make way for plain sailing. 10x Tourism works on the 3% rule, meaning 97% of site visitors aren’t looking to buy. This makes for expensive and empty traffic. Instead of generating thousands of these low-quality leads, the Get More Bookings® sales system targets the 3% looking to buy.

communications strategy

The Solution: Streamline Your Sales Workflow

“The 6 part email that was the core of it, this is exactly what we want” – Anna

In the 6-week online Tour Operator Accelerator program, Nick and Anna were given the tools, understanding, and step-by-step tutorials that enabled them to build a Get More Bookings® System that was tailored to the needs of 45 Degrees Sailing.

What really resonated with them while implementing the program was the importance put on educating potential future guests. Through this strategy, they were able to streamline their sales workflow and improve call quality with leads. In turn, this freed up Nick’s valuable time, enabling him to put more of his energy back into building meaningful relationships with potential guests.

“We’re cutting out a bunch of the first stages of what we had to do”- Nick

The traditional way of building a mailing list according to many other companies has been to place a widget on your website saying ‘sign up to our newsletter’. The generic newsletters by these other tourism businesses are often accompanied by lots of images and offers rather than focusing on educating prospective guests.

The Get More Bookings® Sales Funnel takes a different course by teaching you how to pre-qualify leads without it seeming like a sales-focused push. The 6-part email course was invaluable for retaining a warm relationship with their subscribers, keeping 45 Degrees Sailing at the top of their prospective guest’s minds. The goal was to drive bookings through educating – not selling. 

Anna expressed that while they previously struggled with the capacity for manually qualifying low-quality leads over the phone, it’s important to acknowledge the long-term value of a loyal audience. The 6-part email course ensured Nick and Anna that by the time the prospective guest hit reply, they already had a thorough knowledge of the trip on offer.

Opening a dialogue with leads also enables Todd to gauge the appetite of his target market. Gathering data on their tour preferences, in order to make effective business decisions for the future.

“For some people this is the holiday of a lifetime, and they actually want to know so that in two years time they can come” – Anna


Sailing Through with a Support System in Tow

“That was one of the brilliant things about it, go through as fast as you need to and then keep going back, to be able to go back and revisit that information really helped” – Nick

The 10x Tourism Tour Operator Accelerator program is designed to be comfortably completed over 6 weeks, however, Nick and Anna went full steam ahead and completed the course in a record-breaking time of 3 weeks. One of the many advantages of the course is that you can sail along at your own pace – Whether that be 6 months or 6 days.

“I loved how you set it up, it wasn’t just do-it-yourself. You had the support through all the modules” – Anna

When Nick and Anna felt they needed to boost what they’d already learned from the modules, or had questions to ask, these points were addressed through a range of customisable support options. From weekly live Q&A Mastermind sessions with the Tour Operator Accelerator community to one-on-one calls with 10x Tourism’s in-house technical experts – deep-diving into those pain points, and solving them.

The beauty of the Accelerator member community is that there is a real range of tourism businesses. Everyone from smaller companies at the very start-up phase all the way up to tourism businesses who generate 8-figures in booking revenue. The advice and support system you receive from all members is priceless.

“Look at the time you’re spending now, what is that time getting you and what time would you like to get back? We’ve paid for other systems, we’ve done other systems and nothing has worked to take that time away”- Nick

Balancing time and money icon

“Basically it didn’t matter what time it was, it was just an email to say we’ve hit this, what do we do? And we got so much great support to help us in a specific area” – Anna

45 Degrees Sailing coordinated a team effort when implementing the Get More Bookings® Sales Funnel. Nick and Anna leveraged the opportunity to take a collaborative approach to the course modules. Anna took on the content-driven elements, whereas Nick anchored down the technical side. Not only did this increase their efficiency at being able to sail through the course, but it also allowed them to utilise each other’s strengths for success.

“I think it was great teamwork and being able to break it down” – Anna


The Results: Building Meaningful Relationships to Generate Sales

“It’s great when an inquiry comes in through the course. They’re getting the details, and getting excited about the trip before you manually engage with them” – Nick

45 Degrees Sailing joined the Tour Operator Accelerator program at the height of the second wave of European lockdowns in winter 2020. This forced Nick and Anna to initially realign their goals and measure the success of their campaign in a more holistic way.

“We were in the strangest tourism year in my life, we weren’t in a system where people were actually getting bookings. So results wise we grew our list massively, we had 200 more on our list over a month. We have a solid list of 450 now.” – Nick

Successful lead generation starts with successful communication. 45 Degrees sailing focused on the elements they could control at the time – building relationships between their content and their target audience. By implementing the Get More Bookings® system 45 Degrees Sailing succeeded at doubling their contact list with high-quality leads looking to buy.

“The results for me were that we were following people up…People weren’t buying but it was a time to form relationships. Which we wouldn’t have been able to do without the system we have now.” – Anna

Once the worst of the storm had passed in terms of international tourists being able to travel again, 45 Degrees Sailing started to achieve their first sales through the 10x Tourism Get More Bookings® system.

“We got our first 10x sale, we said if we get two or three sales we’ve paid for the 10x program.” – Nick

sales hero

Embracing Opportunity in Unchartered Waters

“The whole design around the boat, being in an isolated bubble. Cruising around on your own yacht, unpack once, and not having to interact with others. If you’re very wary this is a great option.” – Nick

Fortunately for 45 Degrees Sailing, Croatia remained fairly open throughout 2020 and 2021 compared to many other European countries. Due to the local climate and culture, there is already a strong framework set up for outdoor activities keeping in line with social distancing recommendations. Tourism businesses such as 45 Degrees Sailing that have capitalised on this mega-trend have been the first to make a robust recovery.

During this uncertain time, Nick made the valuable connection that addressing people’s anxiety plays a huge role when nurturing leads. Going forward he advises other tourism businesses (like yourself) to use all your content as a way to calm some of the anxieties that stop potential leads from hitting that ‘Plan My Trip’ button. Providing your audience with as much information about your tours as possible will go a long way in establishing authority within your travel nich, and building trust.

“When anything is unknown, it becomes anxiety for people so the more people know about who they’re going to be with, how we’re going to look after them, what they’re going to do, that reduces that anxiety before they even arrive. All this information as much as you can give them in a curated sense is a really good idea.” – Nick

Additionally, Nick and Anna minimise their future guests’ anxieties by inviting the whole family, or full couple to attend a call to go over the trip itinerary. By doing this all the guests’ minds are put at ease in one place, further building upon that relationship.

“They instantly feel safe with their kids and it makes such a difference on that call.” – Anna

Another key piece of advice for travel industry professionals is to take a human-centric approach to your marketing strategy by giving your brand a face. Brand storytelling is vital for getting the edge on the competition and creating conversion-focused content.

“I would say one thing I struggled with in the beginning is no one wants to be on video. I started my Youtube channel just for this company, to be the face of a company as opposed to a lot of faceless companies. If you just start putting stuff out there eventually it will get easier, push yourself forward, Just do it.” – Nick

Setting sail for new horizons Nick and Anna’s final words for tourism businesses wanting to Get More Bookings®, is to simply not give up. Travel industry professionals feeling fatigued right now need to renew their passion, utilise existing support systems and the rest will follow.

“Get out there and renew your passion because it’s your passion that will renew your business” – Anna


Want to see how we can take the stress out of generating high-quality leads for your travel business?

Click below to schedule your FREE Strategy Session with us at 10x Tourism, and we’ll walk you through how you can apply our proven process.

“We’ve got huge potential to carry on to whatever the future of travel is going to be”

Nick Hathaway & Anna Anderson

45 Degrees Sailing

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