Is your high season starting soon? Travelers think of shoulder seasons as nothing more than relaxing times to travel — but when you have a tour and activities company to run, you’re busy preparing for the biggest months of the year. Your company’s success depends on a strong start to your peak season, so we’re here to help you get ready to go.
Prepare your inventory
If your peak season is approaching, your customers are preparing to book. This is an excellent time to audit your tour and activity inventory and make any necessary changes.
First, take a trip through last year’s reports. Which tours filled up? Which ones were cancelled too often? Were any more popular for groups than you expected, or more popular for individuals? Armed with this information, you can decide how to prioritize your efforts this year, whether that means expanding a tour to more dates or retooling it to better suit the people who book.
If an activity is under performing, you may want to cancel it — but first, give it a good, long look. Is it listed with appealing pictures? Does its description ignite your imagination? Is there anything you could add to appeal to current trends, or could you market it more effectively? You don’t want to complicate your schedule with tours that no one wants to book, but you also don’t want to waste all that hard work put into planning a tour by throwing it out unnecessarily.
Once you’re happy with your tour selection, give your inventory listings a thorough look. Ensure the photos and descriptions are as the best they can be, pricing and availability is correct, and any details that have changed since last year have been updated. And don’t forget to make sure you’re well-stocked for any add-ons or required equipment.
Get to know your software
Before the season starts, take a look through your booking software to see what’s changed. Here at Rezgo, we add new features and make improvements regularly. We announce major updates by email, but it’s never a bad idea to refamiliarize yourself with your software.
Here are a few new features that we’ve added recently:
- Gift cards: Sell gift cards directly to customers, or create vouchers for promotional opportunities.
- Orders: Complete multiple bookings for the same customer in a single order through the Rezgo Point of Sale.
- Waivers: Have your customers acknowledge any legal or liability restrictions with a signature.
- Price sheets: Adjust pricing, commissions or net-rate for individual users, sales desks or locations.
- Service providers: Track inventory service providers and reconcile related bookings.
- Fee forwarding: Have customers pay an additional fee equivalent to your Rezgo transaction fee.
Take a few minutes to look through them (as well as changes to any other software you use) to see what could improve your workflow and drive bookings.
Rev up your social feeds
Hopefully, you’ve been using your social media accounts to build and maintain your audience during the off-season. If not, it’s definitely time to get started.
Once you have a social media following, you can use it to build excitement for your upcoming season. Remind your customers about your offerings, and get them dreaming about taking a tour or enjoying an activity with your company. Share photos that will get them thinking about the great times you provide. You can and should still engage with local businesses and industry influencers, but remember that you’re facing a lot of competition for your followers’ attention this time of year. Make your effort count.
Promotions can provide a powerful start to your season, but don’t go overboard. Deep discounts are best offered during quieter months. Focus your promotional efforts on single day events, like seasonal launch sales or contests. Not only will your followers be excited to participate and share, they’ll also remember that they should start booking.
Look over your reviews
If you’ve let your reviews slide over the past few months, now is the time to address them. Potential customers will research your tours and activities as your season approaches, and no one wants to see negative reviews that have gone unanswered.
If you’ve never replied to a TripAdvisor review, the company offers a helpful guide. Just remember, there’s no room for ego in a management response. Customers want to see that you’re accountable for your errors, not that you get prickly when criticized. It’s not always easy to swallow the frustration of an unfair review, but it’s necessary if you want to be taken seriously.
But what if you aren’t on TripAdvisor at all? Well, that’s easy to fix. When you sign up and set up Review Express, TripAdvisor will solicit reviews for you — and you can pull those reviews directly into Rezgo. If you’re nervous, remember, unhappy customers will always find a way to air their grievances. Using a review service like TripAdvisor gives you a way to address their problems, helps you solicit positive reviews, and serves as a great source of referrals.
Check in with your customers
Have you done all you can do to prepare for your upcoming season? It’s time to let your customers know. Your email list is a powerful tool this time of year, so use it wisely.
Effective email marketing is a bigger subject than we can address in this article, but there are two elements that are especially important when you’re kicking off your season:
Deliver value: Customers may be happy to hear that your season is about to start, but if that’s all you have to tell them, they’re going to wonder why you bothered to write. This is another reason to plan a promotional event for the start of your season — what better icebreaker than news of a contest or promotion?
Remember, customers on your email list have already shown interest in your tours or activities, so make them feel rewarded for their loyalty with a special promo code or early warning about an upcoming sales event.
Include a strong call to action: Two of the most common mistakes made in email marketing are leaving out calls to action or including too many. If there’s no way for your customer to act on the information in an email, it will be instantly forgotten. Instead, . For example, if you’re offering a promo code for a tour, don’t make them remember it — give them a link that includes it, and tell them what you want them to do in clear terms like “Book Now.”
Similarly, you don’t want to confuse your customers with half a dozen places to click, particularly if they all lead to different offers or destinations. Stick to the most important link, and trust them to find their way from there.
Once your season is underway, you'll be too busy taking bookings and running your business to plan. With these tips, you can get your preparation sorted and out of the way so that you'll be ready when the deluge begins.