Prerequisites: You have a website and an online booking engine that supports the use of coupons or promotional codes and you want to drive more bookings through your online channel.
Estimated Time for Completion: 15 min reading time (plus time to create your promotional code)
Details: Coupons and promotions have been around for a long time and are commonly used to drive business by providing price incentives. As a tour or activity operator, there are a lot of ways you can use a promotional coupon to drive new or repeat business to your website. In the traditional model, a customer would find a coupon in a newspaper or in a coupon book, cut it out, bring it with them, and redeem it when they take the tour or activity. Now, however, there are much more efficient ways to use coupons with online bookings.
When creating your online coupons, consider using a fixed price discount or percentage discount. These are generally much easier to manage then a "2 for 1" style promotion, especially if you offer multiple tours or services supported by a single coupon. Logically speaking, a "2 for 1" coupon implies a 50% discount when two of the same tour are booked, but complexity ensues when you have three or more booking. For example, is it 2 for 1 for the first two and then full price for the third? If so, then the calculation needs to be 2 at 50%, 1 at 100% and then the total divided by three to determine the per person cost. If you didn't understand that calculation imagine trying to manage that for multiple bookings. Using fixed price or percentage discount promotions will ultimately make your life much easier in the long term.
Here are four simple ways to use coupons or promotional codes to drive online bookings to your website:
- Print to Online Conversion Coupons – These are very promotions that you run in print that must be redeemed online. For example, if you print a brochure or rack card, you might include a promotional code that can only be redeemed with online booking. You might also use a printed ad in a magazine or newspaper to drive customers directly to your website and to book. This is a very good way to confirm that users saw your advertisement and converted into a paying customer.
- Specialty Promotional Links – This method requires that your tour operator software support the addition of promotional codes to your website address so that the customer doesn't need to re-enter the promotional code when they visit your site. This website address (or URL) will be placed in content on your website or on a partner website when advertising your promotion. For example, your promotional text might say, "Click here to receive $5 OFF the Morning City Tour". The text in this case would link to the tour in question with a specific promotional code attached which reduces the per person cost by $5.00.
- Repeat Customer Coupon – This is a great way to build customer loyalty. Create a promotional code specifically for your customers that provides them with a special discount the next time they visit. When a customer uses the coupon, they are telling you that they are a repeat customer and that they appreciate the fact that you provided a coupon. Although you can certainly create coupons for each customer if you want, I recommend that you create a single "PREFERREDCUSTOMER" coupon (or something similar) that you use for all customers. If you find that this coupon is abused, you can always remove the coupon and create a new one.
- Friends and Family Coupon – Word of mouth a powerful marketing tool, especially for tourism businesses. A great way to give your customers an incentive for evangelizing your business is by providing them with a friends and family coupon. They can give it out to as many people as they want and when the coupon is used, you will know it was the result of a direct referral from one of your customers. If you want to track further, you can always add a custom field and ask where they heard of your business.
Outcome: You will have a good idea of how to create a promotional code or coupon for your business and how to track it against your bookings.