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It’s no surprise consumers are growing increasingly reliant on online booking services for securing their tours and activities. This growth in online booking in tourism provides new opportunities for tour operators who previously relied on offline means of acquiring new customers – think newspaper ads, flyers and brochures to name a few.
It also shifts the booking process for tour-goers. With online booking services, clients can now book excursions upon arrival to their locale, providing tour operators the advantage of capturing in-destination customers.
While online booking opens up a world of possibilities for tour operators, the customer experience still needs to be at the heart of your business. Today we’ll be looking at the impact of online booking improvements, and how developing a solid understanding of the customer loyalty landscape can help your tour business reach new heights!
Understanding the Customer Loyalty Landscape in Travel and Tourism
Online booking services allow operators to tap into a wealth of new tour-goers, and in turn provides them ample opportunities to improve their customer experience. However, it’s equally important to touch on potential frustrations experienced by customers throughout the online booking process, too.
Once you have a solid understanding of these potential downsides, you’ll be better equipped to enhance your customer experience, transforming frustration into satisfaction and using online booking systems to your advantage.
Customer Loyalty in the Tourism Industry
Part of the secret sauce that adds to your customer experience is customer loyalty. Understanding customer loyalty, especially as it relates to your business, can enable you to put into place tactics that will keep your customers coming back for more, every time they return to your city.
Definition and significance of customer loyalty
Your ability to build a following of loyal customers can not only generate repeat customers, it can also help you find new business leads without you ever having to outsource, promote or market your business (you should be doing these things, regardless!).
Customer loyalty is especially crucial to tap into, given the increased competition in the travel and tourism industry. It can be difficult to stand out from the crowd, especially when your competitors are offering similar, if not, identical tour packages!
When you turn your attention to honing and defining what customer loyalty looks like for your business, you begin to set yourself apart from the competition. How do you do that? Let’s take a look.
Factors influencing customer loyalty in the tourism sector
So how do you go about tapping into customer loyalty? There are a few key factors involved, but most relate to building a fantastic customer experience – build a great experience for your clientele, reap the benefits of customer loyalty.
A customer review can make (or break) your customer loyalty. Younger travellers and tour-goers, especially Gen-Z and Millennials, rely heavily on online reviews to make their purchasing decisions. They also seek out businesses that provide more meaningful connections and who’s reviews from previous tour goers reflect that connection. This is becoming increasingly important to younger populations of tour-goers – that their tour or excursion has meaning and is more than just a transaction or exchange. Encouraging your tour goers to focus on what was especially meaningful to them while on tour with you in their reviews, allows this element of your business to shine while attracting customers in search of a deeper connection.
Additionally, your ability to maintain and upkeep a positive digital presence, be it through Google Reviews, TripAdvisor or Yelp, will reward you greatly. Your online reviews are a representation of your reputation, and tour-goers will be more likely to associate with you and your business if you have a positive online presence.
A memorable experience
When travelers visit your destination, they want to create memorable experiences with family and friends. Providing an unforgettable excursion they will share with their loved ones upon returning home will be crucial to solidifying your customer experience. This might look like offering extra amenities, or bundling services together for the convenience and ease of your tour goers.
These word of mouth recommendations from your loyal following to their family and friends, can greatly influence customers, and provide you with a consistent stream of new leads. Return customers are also likely to spend more money on your business than new visitors.
Rewards and Benefits
Maintaining your loyal following can also be achieved by rewarding their efforts or granting them exclusive benefits not offered to the general public.
Discounts on tours, exclusive access to attractions, and private experiences not only shower your clientele with a fabulous customer experience, but also keep them loyal to you and your business.
The Impact of Online Booking Improvements on Customer Loyalty
Analyzing Current Online Booking Practices
Modern booking software offers a range of features that cater to the wants and needs of your customer as well as your business. Your customer no longer has to wait for your operating hours to book a tour with you. They can now book their excursion in real time.
Features of online booking systems include email marketing to keep on top of communicating with your customers as well as customized reporting, so you have all the insight you need to make informed business decisions.
If you want to improve your clientele’s experience upon arriving at your tours, or need them to fill in safety waivers prior to your tour, mobile app check-in as well as online waiver sign-offs are features you’ll want to consider.
Key pain points and limitations
In terms of key pain points and limitations, there are very few but nonetheless they can cause roadblocks along the way if you or your tour-goers encounter them.
Firstly, an online booking system needs to be just that – online. If your customer lacks internet connection, that is likely to have its limitations. Also, if your tours are held somewhere remote, you may need to make use of printable manifests and have a plan to take payments in advance or off-site.
There are also limitations on your online booking system if you don’t select the right one for your business needs. While the features we mentioned above can prove highly beneficial, doing your research and considering the features which best suit your business will prevent you from selecting the wrong online booking system. Remember – no two features are alike!
Key Factors and Strategies for Improving Quality, Satisfaction, and Loyalty in Online Tourism Booking
So what sort of strategies should you be paying attention to for improving quality, customer satisfaction and loyalty as part of your online tour booking system? As we’ll explore, it comes down to four things.
- User-centered website design and intuitive navigation
Having seamless website usability for desktops, laptops, and mobile devices, will be crucial to creating a fantastic user experience for customers who book via your online system.
A booking website that contains difficult navigation and confusing design will be a huge turn off for your potential clients. When your website’s elements are organized in a way that your visitor can access information, navigate and transact effortlessly, tour-goers will be encouraged to stick around your website and proceed through the buying process.
- Streamlined booking process and secure payment options
Implementing a streamlined booking process and secure online payment options builds trust and loyalty with your customer base when they book one of your tour packages or excursions online.
Process plays a critical role in tourism marketing, ensuring your customer experience remains as smooth and efficient as possible. Your tour-goers should not only be able to book with ease, but find all their information easily, such as itineraries and waivers.
Your payment processes within your online booking system should be kept short, sweet and seamless, while also ensuring your tour-goers’ payment details remain secure, no matter which device they pay on.
- Leveraging data for personalized experiences
Part of crafting a winning customer experience and earning your customer’s loyalty is also about leveraging your existing data to create personalized experiences for your guests. In fact, personalization has become standard for customers, who expect to see relevant content catering to their wants and needs, especially throughout the buying process.
Whether it’s a recommended tour package or suggested add-ons, you can glean what your customers are looking for through your email marketing data or Google analytics on your website. Your online booking system’s reporting features should allow you to track and manage your customer data better than ever, providing powerful insights into your customers preferences.
- Proactive customer support and feedback management
Finally, investing in customer feedback manager programs can help you to build and produce tailored campaigns as well as identify and target segments of your loyal customer base. The ultimate goal is to retain new clientele for your tourism business, while developing and maintaining your relationship with existing customers.
Ensure your customers have the support they need throughout the entire process of interacting with your booking platform, and offer them a place to provide feedback. This can help improve client-business partnerships. It can also position you as an empathetic business owner, open to suggestions from new and returning customers alike.
As we’ve uncovered, online booking improvements can enhance your tour business’s customer experience. Tapping into initiatives which bolster customer loyalty will also help you find success.
And remember, it’s not just the customer-facing parts of your online booking platform that matter. Researching the features that will best cater to your company’s wants and needs can also give you the foundation you need to provide a stellar customer experience. Your customers may not know what goes on behind the curtain, but they’ll be happier with an experience provided by a company that’s running smoothly and efficiently — and that happiness translates to loyalty, word-of-mouth, and ultimately, more bookings to bolster your bottom line.
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