With travel making its comeback, tours, activities and attractions operators need to prepare for the revenge travel plans customers make. And as partners for thousands of operators, we asked for feedback on how we can help put tours, activities and attractions businesses on the road to recovery.
While operators face many challenges, we discuss the ones our community identified, and some possible solutions operators can leverage.
Challenge 1: Connecting to Interested Consumers
The pandemic accelerated digital transformation, changing customer behaviours and trends. It has also forced businesses to shift their strategies or get left behind. The same goes for the tours, activities and attractions sector where going digital has affected sales and marketing efforts.
While bricks-and-mortar operators still exist, fewer people walk off the high street to book travel. Instead, there is more focus on creating a new brand experience on a digital platform. This digital rebranding is necessary to connect with travel consumers who spend significant time online.
This is especially the case for Gen Z travellers leading the revenge travel trend, with Avail’s 2022 Travel report stating that 72% intend to travel more this year compared to pre-pandemic times. And do you know what influences their travel decisions? It’s social media.
In the UK, 90% of Gen Zs’ travel decisions are influenced by social media. It is a robust platform that allows tours, activities and attractions operators to share travel experiences through both original and user-generated content. This influence is supported by the fact the online travel market is expected to grow to $690 billion by 2026. So, to connect with this group and a wider audience, operators need to create a solid digital presence and an efficient online booking platform.
Solution: Create A Digital Presence and Leverage Content
Regarding the travel industry, social media is a powerful storytelling tool. With it, you can show consumers what it is like to visit a destination or experience the tours, activities and attractions you offer. The more engaging your brand and content is, the more you can connect with consumers.
Social media content is rich with travel posts and stories, so take advantage of the consumers’ attraction and desire for socially shareable content. A study in the UK revealed that 40% of respondents would prioritise an “Instagrammable” destination when on a holiday or trip.
Because social media and smartphone usage go hand-in-hand, your website or booking platform must be mobile-ready. In 2021, mobile bookings for tours had increased significantly to 31%, while attractions were at 20%. Both are significant increases from 2019. Being mobile-ready ensures that you always allow your consumers to book your products seamlessly whether they’re on a desktop or mobile.
However, having an online and social media platform is not enough. Poor user experience can be a deal breaker for consumers. That is why you need to optimise your site to facilitate direct bookings efficiently. An imperfect customer journey from inquiries to check-out will drive away travellers who would likely lose trust in your brand.
Challenge 2: Being More Visible on Google
A rich social media presence and an optimised website do not mean a thing if you are not visible when travellers are searching for tours, activities and attractions on Google. Your customers need to find you if you want to get bookings and increase your customer base.
Another challenge of not being visible on Google is that customers can go to your competition or online travel agencies (OTAs) instead of losing valuable profit and customer data. The long and short of it is that if your customers can not find you until page 10 of a Google search, you can’t increase traffic or direct sales.
Solution: Google’s ‘Things To Do’ Program
Fortunately, Google’s Things To Do has made it easier for tours, activities and attractions operators to deal with travel customers and drive direct bookings.
With this program, tours, activities and attractions operators are now listed as the ‘official site’ to book with, and it links directly to your website to make a direct booking. If you have a website with an optimised profile, you are more likely to be listed above all the resellers, making you highly visible and the preferred option for booking.
More importantly, it brings pricing, content, and distribution power back to your business without paying fees per transaction, commission, or pay-per-click.
As Google’s global connectivity partner, Livn can help you connect to Google’s ‘Things to do’, learn to see if your business qualifies here: https://go.livn.world/register
Challenge 3: Competing with OTAs or larger local travel businesses
Traditionally, OTAs have dominated the market by being the middleman for tours, activities and attractions operators, requiring commissions to be paid. It also impacts how you distribute and market your product. With this setup, control is ceded to OTAs.
You have to contend with the larger businesses making this a more significant challenge. They have more resources and a more established brand that consumers are more familiar with. Is there anything left for small to medium businesses?
Solution: Redesigning Your Offerings and Price Strategy
The good news is that the travel industry has improved, and there will always be opportunities for smaller tours, activities and attractions businesses. And the best way to do this is by offering unique experiences and employing competitive cost and pricing strategies.
Consumer behaviour has changed. Along with their desire to spend more on travel, they are also looking for new and unique experiences. This could be sustainable or purposeful travel, wellbeing-focused experiences, or personalised tours and something they have not seen before.
Regarding pricing, having flexible payment options or group pricing can also make a huge difference. By utilising Google’s ‘Things to do’ program, which allows you to increase your profit margin and take back control of distribution, combined with unique experiences and flexible pricing, operators can compete with OTAs or larger local travel businesses.
We are always looking for ways we can help tours, activities and attractions operators, so a huge thank you to everyone who contributed and provided feedback in our surveys. Don’t forget, if you are not already part of Google’s ‘Things to do’ program, you are leaving money on the table, so learn more here: https://go.livn.world/register