Tour & Activity Companies – What can you do today to improve your business?
Over the past few months, this is the question that has been asked repeatedly by operators all over the world. Inevitably, answers to survive more months of struggle have varied from “pivot this to virtual that to mothball the other”. However, there is one thing operators can do today that will benefit them both right now, and in the long term.
This issue is one of the biggest gripes faced by distributors worldwide. It can become an obstacle that prevents OTAs from working with operators, and in some cases even prevent customers from booking tours with operators. While this is a pretty obvious issue, it is often ignored by roughly 70% of operators. Any ideas about what this could be? Perhaps it’s time to talk about the elephant in the room…
Yes, it is content. The visual images (static and video) and written words that you share with distribution partners i.e. OTAs, tour operators, travel agents, hotels, hostels and so on.
The vast majority of operators are really good at telling their stories and keeping their audiences engaged when they are in front of them. However, when it comes to describing their experience in words or getting the right images to share, the vast majority of operators do not invest in this area. By not creating good quality descriptions of your service, you are simply turning people away from your website or making it difficult for partners to list your service and effectively saying goodbye to revenue.
So what does good content look like? This is a question we get asked regularly, so we went out and spoke to various OTAs to get their input. We collected their feedback to create this cheatsheet for you:
Images and videos Long Vs Tall Images Most OTAs have their images in a landscape format on their websites (aka length ways), however lots of operators continue to send portrait images (aka tall images).
You should have at least least 12 high quality images to share with distributors (6 landscape and 6 portrait). By providing both formats (landscape for desktops and portrait images for mobile phones) you save the OTA lots of time and improve your chance of getting listed.
Here are some tips to help you source high quality images
Tip1: If you do not have a good photographer on your team, pay a professional to get you the images you need. It will be something that will pay you back a hundred times.
Tip 2: Make sure they give you the images in both a high resolution print format and a low resolution web format.
Tip 3: If you have the budget, get them to cut you a 60 second intro video to show potential customers what to expect when they book your product.
Tour and activity descriptions
Product Description: 250 – 500 words describing what you do. What makes you special and why should visitors not miss your offering.
Localise Content: Have your content description in different languages. If your target audience are German travellers, then you should have German content not just on your site, but you should also provide content in German to those OTAs who also target German travellers.
Languages: Clearly state, in what languages you deliver your tours.
USP’s: Highlight your 4-5 Unique Selling Points
Inclusions: What is included/not included in your tour/product.
Address/Pick up: GPS coordinates along with address of your venue/start/pick up location of your tour.
Directions: How will customers find your venue. Not such a big deal in urban areas but regularly causes problems amongst rural operators.
Start/Open times: What time do you open, what is the latest time to visit in order to best explore a venue/museum etc.
Additional Information: What extra information would be useful for guests to know? Examples include “Wear good walking shoes” or “If attending in the afternoon leave extra time to get here due to traffic”. For certain activities, you might also mention height and/or weight restrictions.
How do I improve my chances of establishing a successful OTA partnership? The following operational features should also be considered to improve your opportunities for getting listed and to grow third party sales.
Live availability via API. – OTAs want to instantly confirm bookings, either via your booking system or a Channel Manager such as ExperienceBank.
Mobile friendly vouchers. – Most customers travel with their smart phone.
Listing availability for up to 2 years. – For that special trip, customers are booking further out where possible.
The later the cut off the better. – Later cut offs drive sales – especially on mobile devices.
Consider the different languages in which your tour/product is available. – Not every visitor speaks your home language. But nearly every visitor is a potential customer.
Clear and unambiguous cancellation policy. – Be upfront and concise. Make it easy to do business with you. Due to Covid 19, flexibility is critical to secure bookings.
If you take reviews on your site – share them. Every customer wants to know what others thought. Reply to negative reviews and learn from them.
ExperienceBank is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Trekksoft Group. Launched in 2018, it has rapidly grown to become the leading tour & activity channel managers in the market. As a standalone platform it is uniquely designed to connect independent booking software solutions and tour companies to global OTAs via API.
As an operator can you answer YES to any of the following questions?
I want to connect to more OTAs,
I want to get my product in front of more visitors who don’t already know my business,
I am tired of managing multiple extranets,
I am fed up of downloading booking details from different platforms,
I am sick of manually loading bookings into my systems,
I am tired of managing overbookings.