Smart Tour Operators are Running a Lean Business

Frida Kops   ● 8 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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Most tour operators are now running a lean business often without a full team, but I argue that this isn’t a negative. What’s crucial is that every decision is calculated and purposeful, therefore by taking this approach non-value products and processes are eliminated.

Below I share some business boosting tips aimed at helping you take measured and data-driven steps forward.

Let’s get started.

Here's this week's roundup:

Who Is Using Which Social Media Platform - A Demographic Look

Sprout Social’s recent study analyses social media users based on demographics. As social media trends constantly change, it is important to stay updated on the latest developments for running a lean business. Customers can be reached more effectively when you can identify which social media platforms they use most.

Here are the main takeaways:

It is the most popular social media platform for reaching the baby boomer generation. Interestingly, the older generations prefer to share the content of others rather than create their own. By producing appealing, shareable content your tour operator business can stand out to them. 

Facebook users’ age breakdown:

  • 51%13–17 year-olds
  • 76% – 18–24 year-olds 
  • 84% – 25–30 year-olds
  • 79% – 30–49 year-olds
  • 68% – 50–64 year-olds
  • 46% – 65+ year-olds

I think that Instagram is a great marketing tool for tour operators. It is perfect for promoting your tours and destinations through visually appealing content.

Besides, it is an excellent way to engage with your customers and build relationships. This visual platform is more popular among younger generations.

Instagram users’ age breakdown:

  • 75% 18–24 year olds
  • 57% – 25–30 year olds
  • 47% – 30–49 year olds 
  • 23% – 50–64 year olds 
  • 8% – 65+ year olds

If your tour operator business is not on Twitter yet, it is worth considering. That’s where you can post timely information and engage with your customers, providing a more meaningful experience. The data below will help you understand which demographic you can reach on this platform. 

Twitter users’ age breakdown:

  • 44% – 18–24 year olds 
  • 31% – 25–30 year olds 
  • 26% – 30–49 year olds
  • 17% – 50–64 year olds
  • 7% – 65+ year olds

Read the full article here.

Interested to learn more about marketing across generations post-COVID-19? 

This article teaches you how to think through the lens of each generation.

IATA Proposes Alternatives to Quarantine

Recent public opinion research found that 83% of travellers would not even consider travelling if quarantine measures were imposed at their destination.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urges governments to step away from quarantine measures and use a layered approach instead. Specifically, IATA suggests layering bio-safety measures in two areas:

1. Mitigating the risk of imported cases via travellers by:
  • encouraging symptomatic passengers to stay home and postpone their trips;
  • implementing a standardised process of health screening and filing electronic health declarations;
  • providing COVID-19 testing for travellers from high-risk countries at the departure airport.

“Safely restarting the economy is a priority. That includes travel and tourism. Quarantine measures may play a role in keeping people safe, but they will also keep many unemployed. The alternative is to reduce risks through a series of measures.”

– Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO

2. Reducing the risk in situations where the infected person decides to travel by:
  • applying all necessary safety measures during the air travel of these passengers;
  • contact tracing;
  • reducing the risk of transmission at the destination.

There are several obstacles in putting a layered approach into practice including privacy concerns, and a lack of standardised procedures. Governments should work together, using the latest technological solutions to deliver balanced protection and help our industry thrive again.

What’s your opinion? Do you support the above initiatives of IATA?

Read the full article here.

Low Season Is the New Travel Season

If you’ve already missed your peak season and unsure how to move forward in the short-term, then all is not lost.

Low Season Traveller, a travel company dedicated to inspiring low season worldwide travel has just launched to support the rebirth of the travel industry.

“There is a real gap in the market for low season travel and the recent pandemic has only endorsed it. There could never be a better time for us to launch Low Season Traveller, highlighting to travellers how to avoid busy tourist spots and delivering effective ‘social distancing’.”

The research data shows that 70% of all global tourists travel during high season months. Low Season Traveller believes that “extending the selling season” is the most effective way to avoid over-tourism and grow the global travel industry again. Not only that, but travellers can avoid the crowds and maintain effective ‘social distancing’. 

Inspiring people to travel during the low season also means the company contributes to more sustainable and responsible tourism. 

They use a range of communication channels to outline the benefits of travelling during the low season. These include blogs and social media. Their goal is to support the recovery of the travel industry providing more flexibility and financial value for travellers. 

Read the full article here.

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How to Keep Tour Guides Happy With a Positive Work Environment

Source: Checkfront

Running a lean business means being committed not only to your customers but also to your employees. I’m sure you’re already aware of the value of your tour guides. A fantastic tour guide can really take the customer experience to the next level. It can be the difference between merely a good trip or the trip of a lifetime that results in a 5-star review.

The 4 tips on how to keep your tour guides happy:

1. Show you care. Check in with your tour guides regularly to make them feel connected. Recognise their efforts, make sure to thank and support them. Can you provide your team with more flexibility to reduce stress and achieve work-life balance? Give it some thought because the happier they are, the more enthusiasm and energy they will bring to the tours and activities that they lead. What can be better than that?

2. Improve communication.Communication is important at all times, but even more so during difficult times of economic stress. Making yourself available to your employees and encouraging clear communication will help them to provide better guest service and ensure customers keep coming back. One way to gather vital information and feedback from your tour guides is through an employee satisfaction survey.

“Promote and reinforce cooperative rather than competitive behaviour amongst tour guides. Set personal goals with the group rather than individual objectives. Team objectives will help all of your guides act as a cohesive unit, and hopefully eliminate the competitive mindset for time slots that promise the best tips.”

3. Build togetherness. Keeping your employees on board, believing in your vision, and working together as a team will ensure your tour operator’s business growth. What’s important is to encourage tour operators to cooperate with each other rather than compete.

4. Cultivate confidence. Your goal is to create trust, safety, and shared responsibility within your team – whilst also keeping your business running as smoothly as possible. To achieve this, demonstrate transparency. Constantly update your employees on the latest developments, communicating to ensure everyone understands their responsibilities.

Read the full article here.

4 Elements Every Content Medium Needs to Have

This checklist of four main elements will make your content valuable to your customers and help guide them through the sales process. 

1. A topic that addresses consumer pain points. I know what you’re thinking. How can you identify these pain points? By answering the questions below:

  • What problems does your audience currently face?
  • What kind of information are they searching for?
  • What questions are they asking on social media and search engines?
  • Are they looking to be entertained, informed, or both?
  • What do you want them to do with your content? 

To track the results of your topic’s performance, analyse time visitors spend on your website vs bounce rate. Your tour operator business should aim for a low bounce rate + high time on a website.


2. Discovery keywords. I don’t need to tell you how important keyword optimization is for your content to be found online. To identify the best discovery keywords, try to think of the words you would use to find products your tour operator business is offering. 

When it comes to social media posts, type your topic in a search bar, and choose the hashtags with under 500,000 posts. Why? Because these will allow you to compete and yet be discoverable. 

“Your topic should be something your users and followers want to learn about with a clear call to action and flexible messaging to recreate the topic on multiple platforms.”

3. A clear call to action. Every piece of content is created with a purpose. With a clear CTA, you encourage your audience to take action. This can be downloading your free guide, subscribing to your email list, or reviewing your latest tour package. To ensure that your CTA is clear, evaluate the following:

  • Your positioning. What are you asking from your audience and whether it is something they can perform easily from their device.
  • Your topic. Does your content topic line up with an action you anticipate from your visitors?
  • Your medium. Make sure to use the right platform to guide people to take the action. For example, CTA for purchasing a tour won’t be as effective on LinkedIn as it would be on Facebook.

4. A message that can be shared across multiple platforms. Once you identify effective keywords and a trendy topic, the best thing to do is to create multi-purpose content. The same message about your top destination can be delivered on different platforms through a blog, video, or infographic. 

Each of these mediums help to engage with your audience and guide them through your sales process, so they feel more comfortable making a purchase decision. 

Do you consider these elements when writing your marketing copy?

Read the full article here.

4 Reasons Working With a Competitor Might Be in Your Best Interests

Source: Forbes

tour operators are valuable travel advisors

Have you ever thought about allying with other tour operators? It may be worth considering if you’re feeling anxious about making it through the next 6 – 12 months, or if you just want to take your business to the next level. 

4 reasons
why and when you might consider working with competitors. 

1. Customer satisfaction. Ask yourself whether a partnership with a competitor would be beneficial for your customers. Maybe it is an opportunity to provide them with more choices, and more flexibility. Would they like to see that?

2. Filling-in the gaps. If your tour operator business is specialised in one niche, sometimes customers might feel a lack of support in other areas. It might be a good idea to find an industry professional who will help you to fill in those gaps.

“As companies continue to look for innovative ways to help their business thrive in the COVID-19 era, more entrepreneurs should look within their industries for help. When competing companies focus on maintaining their market share and view each other through a cutthroat lens, great possibilities are overlooked.

3. Increased lead generation. It might not happen immediately, but collaboration can have a great impact on your company’s sales cycle. Partner-referred leads prove to your customers that you have their best interests in mind. As a result, you gain trust from your potential customers and trigger more referrals from your partner.

4. Brand awareness. By co-hosting a live Facebook event or a webinar with your competitor, you will open your tour operator business up to new marketing opportunities. You will get access to a new audience without spending valuable resources.

Read the full article here.

“Be willing to look beyond your immediate circle and reach out to others who, believe it or not, can bring something new to the table.”

A statistic I found interesting:

Nearly two thirds (64%) of responding tour operators have seen an upswing in bookings in the last 30 days. (Travel Market Report)

A question for you:

Which areas are the top priorities for your tour operator business right now?

Share your thoughts and comments on our Facebook and Linkedin page or drop me an email at [email protected] – 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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