The One Trait that Tour Operators Require to Generate Sales (and Ways to Acquire It)

Frida Kops   ● 8 min read
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Recently it feels like we’re gearing up now more than ever for our own business growth, but also for the rebuild of the travel industry as a whole. In order to do so, the common theme this week that’s proven to generate sales is flexibility.

Let’s get started.

Here's this week's roundup:

Travel Organisations Team up to Create Coalition for the Future of Tourism

Source: Travel Pulse

Determined to level the playing field and create a more robust tourism industry for the future, six organisations united to establish The Future of Tourism Coalition. A group with a global mission to support the recovery of the travel industry.

International tourism has faced a major decline in 2020. Moving forward, all industry players need to cooperate to make the recovery process as successful as possible.

More specifically, travel professionals are expected to share experiences, adopt the best practices from different countries, and place sustainability and trust at the centre of tourism’s development.

The Future of Tourism Coalition has identified the following 13 Guiding Principles intended to inspire and lead a change within the travel industry: 

  1. See the whole picture
  2. Use sustainability standards 
  3. Collaborate in destination management
  4. Choose quality over quantity
  5. Demand fair income distribution
  6. Reduce tourism’s burden
  7. Redefine economic success
  8. Mitigate climate impacts
  9. Close the loop on resources
  10. Contain tourism’s land use
  11. Diversify source markets
  12. Protect sense of place
  13. Operate business responsibly

Currently, twenty-two key industry representatives have committed to stand by these principles. Are you going to join them? 

Read the full article here.

“The recent crisis in tourism has shown us just how much tourism relies and depends on local and global communities.”- Maja Pak, Director at the Slovenian Tourist Board (STB).

The Rise of the Walking Tour

Source: Travel Pulse

There is a rising trend of self-guided urban walking tours as travellers look for new experiences in less crowded places with more personal space. Opting for a walking tour offers a great alternative to travellers re-thinking conventional family holiday activities.

While many tour operator businesses provide traditional walking tours, some companies have gotten creative and taken it to another level. For example, Nashville Sites’ thematic self-guided tours allow travellers to explore the city’s history and culture at their own pace using a free program on their mobile or tablet.

“Guests can tour at their own pace, stop and re-listen to a tour to absorb the content, and even rest in some of the locations and take in the history. The tours offer an excellent balance of immersion with historic and modern content.”  – Mary Ellen Pethel, executive director of Nashville Sites.

Some of the tours offered by Nashville Sites include Music Row and the Food Tour (a guide to Nashville’s historic restaurants). These tours also help other local businesses to generate sales and thrive. An important aspect I think, one that supports the whole industry. The real powers at play in successful tourism are; rising, working, helping, adapting, and recognising opportunity.

If your tour operator business typically offers group tours, how flexible could you be in converting them to self-guided by utilising technology?

Read the full article here.

What’s Next for Operators As Destinations Begin to Reopen?

Source: Arival

“As we move through the stages of recovery and return to travel, we’ll need to pay close attention to travellers’ shifting needs and preferences. Travellers will expect their changing needs to be met and operators that are able to pivot and meet these needs will be rewarded.”

Kristin Dorsett, VP of Supply, Viator shares key takeaways from a recent Tripadvisor research report that outlined the five main stages of recovery for the tourism industry. 

Here’s a summary:

1. The Decline stage. This early stage of the COVID-19 crisis was characterised by a rapid decrease in bookings and a sharp increase in cancellations. However, 34% of consumers surveyed in late March reported rescheduling a trip rather than cancelling it. Subsequently, 27% were ready to reschedule the cancelled trip later. These numbers indicate that even with the unexpected global pandemic, people had intentions to travel.

2. The Plateau stage. Travellers were trapped at home but kept dreaming about their future trips. This was confirmed by the increase in travel search activity in early April. 

3. The Emerge stage. That’s where we are now. One insight I want to bring to your attention, is that at the moment consumers are actively seeking health and safety information. Your website and product pages have never been more important to communicate the safety measures and protocols implemented for each of your experiences.

62% of travellers consider private tours the most appealing.

4. The Domestic stage. By now you probably know that all bets are on domestic travel to recover first. The data from Tripadvisor research supports this trend, proving nature and beach destinations to be the most popular.

5. The International stage. Full recovery of our industry depends on many factors and might not happen any time soon. The Tripadvisor report suggests that 28% of consumers are most likely to take a short international flight to their destination post-COVID-19.

86% reported that they feel more positive towards brands communicating right now.

So what does it all mean for tour operators and destinations? The full picture of the travel industry recovery is not clear yet. At any rate, based on the available information, to generate sales, your tour operator business should:

  • Focus efforts and resources on the domestic market.
  • Promote tours where travellers can relax and feel safe.
  • Ensure your customers that all necessary H&S protocols are in place.

Read the full article here.

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Here's my top-tip articles:

How to Sell When Customers ‘Aren’t Buying’

Source: Forbes

Nigel Green, author and former CEO of Story Brand, provides five ideas that your tour operator business can implement to generate sales.

Let’s take a closer look at them:
  • Do a reality check. Green believes that “the number one roadblock to selling right now is that people believe the narrative no one is buying”. Although travellers are nervous and need reassurance, there are people online who are booking trips and putting down deposits. You should be asking yourself: “WHO is buying right now and WHY.

    I don’t often self-promote, but Green’s advice goes to the core of our free training which is designed to help you secure deposits today. If this sounds helpful to you, here’s the link to register for the training.


  • Research smarter. Keep searching for new opportunities. You saw the Tripadvisor statistics above indicating that consumers feel more positive towards brands communicating right now. You have a responsibility to talk to your audience. Check on them and find out how their buying behaviour has changed.

“Ask customers what they need—and what you could make for them. Just because you don’t make it or offer it now, it doesn’t mean you can’t in the future.“

  • Give it away. Has your tour operator business developed a guide, webinar, or another useful resource? Consider giving it for free, at least for a limited time. You will have a chance to show how good your products are, building credibility and trust with your customers.


  • Don’t hoard expertise. Green suggests sharing your knowledge and ideas freely but charging for helping your customers to implement them into action. If your tour operator is a specific destination expert, demonstrate the value to your customers, come up with distinctive and creative tour offers.


  • Put yourself out of business. Think of new products/services your tour operator business can develop if there is no demand for the current products you offer. Use this crisis to create opportunities and generate sales.


Read the full article here.

“It’s a fast track to disruption and innovation. If you can do that, you create more sustainability for your business.” – Nigel Green

How to Beef up Your Marketing Strategy With User-Generated Content [Infographic]

Adding user-generated content (UGC) to your content strategy is marketing gold.


Firstly, it saves you time since you aren’t generating content yourself. Secondly, 93% of consumers find UGC to be helpful when making a purchasing decision.

Let’s look at additional benefits of UGC for your tour operator business:

  • Makes you stand out from the competition.
  • Builds customer trust.
  • Enhances your brand’s authenticity.
  • Requires less money, time, and resources than original content.
  • Attracts new social followers.
  • Assists to generate sales.
  • Helps to reach consumers who are bypassing ads.

“On average, sites with featured UGC experience a 20% boost in return visitors and up to a 90% increase in time spent on site.”

I was surprised to see that 57% of brands avoid using UGC because they are concerned about potential copyright issues. This is a challenge your tour operator business can overcome by knowing how to avoid copyright problems.

Here are 3 ways to avoid copyright issues:

  • Get permission before reposting content.
  • Make sure that there is no third-party content included in UGC that needs separate licensing.
  • When reposting, mention the original creator of content.

Before planning a UGC strategy it is essential to set a clear goal, and don’t forget to place user-generated content on your website and include them in advertising

And last but not least, always refer to your analytics prior to planning the next campaign. 

Read the full article here.

How Tour Operators Can Tap Into Local Markets With Checkfront’s Kyla Steeves

Source: Tourpreneur

In this podcast interview, Steeves shares the most crucial local marketing strategies your tour operator business can implement to inspire travellers to explore the places they often take for granted.

The 5 key local marketing strategies to know:

1. Focus on local keywords. Use free tools such as Google keywords planner for a keyword research.  You might be surprised by the variations people use to find local trips and attractions. It is recommended to use highly specific long-tail keywords. Tackle those on your website’s booking page to improve chances for a better ranking.

2. Remember your NAP (Name, Address, Phone number). It is important to be consistent in NAP listings online. By doing that you will achieve a higher position in Google search results.

3. Google My Business. Don’t underestimate this free and powerful marketing tool. It is a champion of local listings providing you with an opportunity to describe your tour operator business and travel products. Moreover, you can integrate your Google My Business profile with your booking platform to generate sales.

“If you are ignoring your Google My Business profile, don’t be surprised if Google starts ignoring you.”

4. Google ads. It’s understandable if you’ve put your advertising campaigns on hold during this crisis. But you should know that with everyone else holding back, you have the opportunity to stand out. Consider using geo-targeting to focus on certain locations and maximise the effectiveness of your PPC ads.

5. Local coalition. Reach out to other local tour operators and businesses to discuss possible cooperation.

Which steps is your tour operator implementing to tap into local markets?

Read the full article here or listen to the podcast below.

A statistic I found interesting:

76% of respondents said that flexible cancellation policies are a must for booking a trip. (TripAdvisor)

A question for you:

Do you need a simple ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ flexible booking policy template to help you generate sales? 

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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