Re-Opening Your Tour Operator Business

Frida Kops   ● 6 min read
This article forms part of a weekly newsletter series that’s sent directly to travel industry professionals every Friday.
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Every week, we’re seeing signs of a recovery and a shift in consumer behaviour. But where should your focus be right now and what do you need to take into account in order to re-open? More on this below.

Let’s get started.


Here's this week's roundup:

Why I Decided Not to Develop Virtual Tours for My Tour Business With Jessica Hammer

Source: Tourpreneur

Want to be sure that developing a virtual tour is a good use of your time and resources?

Follow the example of Jessica Hammer from Taste of Toulouse Tours and ask yourself these 7 questions:

  1. What are you hoping to get out of this?
  2. Can you sell enough virtual tours to justify the investment? i.e. how big is your audience?
  3. Will you be selling something that others are offering for free?
  4. What other options do you have besides selling a virtual tour or experience?
  5. Will making sales right now disqualify you from any government assistance?
  6. Is this the best use of your time to build a better business in the future?
  7. Will people continue to buy your virtual tour/experience after the lockdown is lifted?

While a virtual tour can be a perfect solution for some tour operators to navigate through this crisis, it might not be suitable for others.

Instead of jumping straight into a decision in order to avoid FOMO, ask yourself the questions above and take time to reflect on whether a virtual product is the best fit for your tour operator business.

Read the full article or listen to the episode here.

When Travel Returns, the Focus Needs to Be on Fun

Anthony LaFauce, a senior vice president at the Clyde Group, believes that “when travel returns, the focus needs to be on fun.”

He bases this reasoning by drawing comparisons with consumer attitudes after the Great Depression and World War II.

During this period, the travel industry didn’t focus on safety as part of their marketing campaigns. Instead, the popular cruise lines of Hawaii were promising “fun for the whole family” as a release from previous negative news.

Tour operator businesses can also apply this strategy in the post-pandemic world. We’ve already seen recent data (and there’s more of this in the article below) that confirms people are searching for travel experiences during quarantine.

So whilst value and safety will be essential factors, the industry must focus on a return to selling fun in order to encourage bookings.

Read the full article here.

Martin Aircraft, 1945
An advertisement for Martin Aircraft, 1945

Survey Shows an Overwhelming Eagerness to Travel

Looking back to a different historical period this time – the Great Depression – we saw it was luxury travel that led the industry’s recovery.

A recent survey of 2,000 U.S travellers indicates that this might be the case once again.

Luxury tour operator, Overseas Leisure Group, conducted the survey and found the following results:

11 May 10xBlog News-Art-2 Resource_ USA Travel Survey - April 2020
  • 72% of respondents are already making plans for their next trip.
  • 39.7% are considering a budget of up to $500 USD per person, per day
  • 15.9% are looking at budgets of up to $1,000 USD a day
  • 11.4% are open to travel budgets of more than $1,000 USD a day.
11 May 10xBlog News-Art-2 Resource_ USA Travel Survey - April 2020

One of the most encouraging things discovered in the survey was the readiness of the respondents to fly.

78.2% stated that they are ready to take a plane, 26.6% of them chose to travel locally, 13.4% were ready to travel to a neighbouring country, and 31.7% expressed the desire to fly “farther away”. The most popular destination being Europe.

Other key findings refer to the fact that 42% of respondents would be ready to book a trip if there wasn’t any risk involved, meaning no deposit or cancellation fee.

As for the favourite destination for their next vacation, travellers voted as follows:

  • 26.1% – beach resort
  • 21.3 % – road trip
  • 17.8% – small island

It’s believed that higher-income individuals will be less affected by the covid-19 crisis. Ultimately, this is good news if you are already in the luxury travel niche. But if not, how could you focus on appealing to the high-end traveller?

Read the full article here.


Here's my top-tip articles:

Ready to Re-open? Four Essential Steps to Consider

Source: Arival

The covid-19 crisis forced tour operator businesses to funnel their efforts and resources to survival mode, assessing each day as it comes.

This article submits that as we witness the situation edging towards better control and moving past the peak in most regions, it is time to switch the focus to restoring operations.

Here are 4 factors to consider:

  • Regulations: It is not only about masks, sanitizers, and social distancing. Consider the specifications of your business. Guided tours and experience providers might start their operations earlier but could be limited by group size.
  • Employees: Who do you need? What training plans and safety procedures must be implement?
  • Communications: Communicating effectively with customers, suppliers, distributors. How do you ensure everyone is following protocols?
  • Operations: What’s the best way to combine everything together for a smooth experience?

Tour operator businesses should expect that customers will set their demands high for minimizing the potential risk. Be ready to provide the highest standards of safety and best customer experience possible.

Is your tour operator business really ready to re-open?

Read the full article here.

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How to Break Through Zoom Gloom with Customers

Are you spending more and more time on Zoom calls with customers?

If you have any of the symptoms below, you are experiencing Zoom Gloom. It is a side effect of being on a video call repeatedly with an overwhelming sense of sameness.

  • Exhaustion
  • Strain from always being “ON”
  • Uncomfortable eye contact
  • Constant self-evaluation

If you don’t find a way to break through Zoom Gloom, people might avoid a video with you altogether.

how to avoid zoom gloom

Here are some recommendations from Julie Hansen, a keynote speaker, sales trainer, and author that ensures customers will look forward to every video call with you.

  1. Stop practicing on your customers. Learn everything you need to know about being on camera and feeling comfortable before communicating with customers.
  2. Use appropriate eye contact. There are various tutorials on this topic you can find online.
  3. Break it up. Use a slide, a picture or a poll to refocus the attention of your customer. Having non-stop eye contact can get exhausting.
  4. Hide your video image. This way you will be fully focused on the customer without worrying about your appearance.
  5. Bring energy. Before your Zoom call try to energize yourself. A few minutes of exercise can help.

Zoom Gloom can happen on any type of video conferencing platform. By applying the above-mentioned tips you will ensure that customers will remember every video call with you.

Read the full article here.

Building Better Customer Experiences - Best of Whiteboard Friday

Source: Moz

Moz provides tips on how to improve customer experience by replacing the usual practices with new or lesser known ones.

Instead of sending customers long surveys asking to rate their experience with your tour operator business, here are some new ideas to implement:

  • Follow customers on social media. It’s an opportunity to see what they share, what they care about, what they are engaged in. It is also a great way to spot angry or disappointed customers since people tend to share their feelings on social media, but they might never mention it to you!
  • Post-sale monitoring. The idea is to create a fake customer account and to it promotions, emails – everything that the ordinary customer gets. It’s a way to look at your organization from the customer’s perspective. Are you annoyingly persistent? Or too distant, perhaps?
  • Better content. A lot of travel companies focus on creating new content and overlook recycling old ones that received high engagement. Involving all employees in the content creation process will bring different perspectives. Ask them to share their thoughts in a Slack channel, for example, and reward the best ideas.

Read the full article here.


A statistic I found interesting:

The no.2 thing that people are most looking forward to spending their money on when the lockdown ends is travel. Dining out at a restaurant was no.1. (Marketing Land)


A question for you:

Where are you focusing your priorities right now? Does it differ from any of the above?

Drop me an email at [email protected] to share your thoughts and comments – I’d love to hear from you.

The 10xpress is a weekly series curated exclusively for travel companies like you.

Every week, I provide you with:

  • Reports, opinion, case studies and key findings that directly impact the tours and activities sector.
  • Educational articles to guide you through the changing world of online sales and marketing from industry leaders.
  • Tips and tools on how to improve your tour operator business, generate more sales and make your life easier.
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