How Tour Operators can Generate More Bookings through Digital Channels in 2021
An active digital presence has been increasingly important for travel intermediaries over the past few years. With the COVID-19 pandemic having affected every industry throughout the planet, the travel sector has been among the hardest hit, making the shift to digital channels not a choice but a necessity.
Since lockdowns are gradually being raised the world over, online reservations have begun to pick up. Despite COVID concerns, people are eager to venture out after being trapped indoors for months. So, we feel that this is the right time to share some of the tactics that have been successful for many tour operators to help you generate more bookings for your business in the new normal.
The Importance of Digital Channels
The world is online.
From a basic search to travel bookings to daily entertainment, we all rely on digital channels. This means that your entire target audience is a click away from you!
Instagram, the 10-year old social network, currently has 1 billion active users per month. The potential advertising reach on this platform is 849.3 million users. That’s a sea of opportunity right there. And, this is just one digital channel. We have Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter as well and our target audience is just everywhere.
If you weren’t already astounded, you will be now. Google, our go-to for everything digital, has more good news. The click-through rate (CTR) for Google Ads was a mind-blowing 11.38% in 2019. In fact, according to a survey by Search Engine Land, 63% of searchers said they would click on a Google Ad!
These numbers are concrete proofs that digital is here to stay and the faster tour operators jump onto the bandwagon, the better.
How to Leverage Digital Channels to get more Bookings in 2021
Below are a few curated tips that will help you make the most out of the wonderful online world.
Be Active on Social Platforms
Instagram, as aforementioned, is a goldmine. Most travel-lovers frequent the platform and 200 million of the total users visit at least one business every day. Chances of that business being yours are significantly high, thus. After all, that’s where all the travel pictures go! People are usually high on travel-life here and using that to your advantage will work wonderfully. Facebook and Pinterest are also good choices but the youth is on Instagram right now.
Here, you can also use Instagram stories, branded & trending hashtags, etc. for specific targeting and retargeting.
When people want travel inspiration, where do they go? Google.
When people want to compare prices, what do they do? Google.
When people want to find out more about their preferred destination? Google.
Imagine what will happen when your ad is the first thing searchers see. 75% of them will click on it because your ad makes it easy for them to find what they want. Search ads can also increase brand awareness, letting your target audience know that you have amazing booking packages to offer to them.
Create funnels so that you target users who have visited your site at least once, follow your social pages, etc. Remarketing is the way to go.
Thomas Cook does a wonderful job here. Its text ads usually highlight its USPs and most attractive offerings, coaxing searches into clicking on the ad right away.
Influence your Audience
For every $1 you spend on influencer marketing, you are likely to make $6.50. Conversions don’t get better than this! All you have to do is to find popular travel influencers on YouTube and Instagram and partner with them.
The biggest travel vloggers on Youtube have on average 500k to 1 million subscribers which can translate into massive exposure for your brand. From sponsored trips to brand integrations, you can offer perks and/or monetary benefits in exchange of their services and reach.
Influencer marketing works so well because travelers prefer going by real-life experiences.
Elevate the Booking Experience with a Tour Operator Software
Various digital channels will drive leads to your website or landing page but converting them into successful bookings is also just as important. If the booking process is seamless and automated, conversion chances go up. If not, no matter how many leads you get, there will be drop-offs. A tour operator software will help you with this. It will offer perks such as real-time booking and sales-automation so that you breathe easy and your visitors book their trips without problems. It can also help you quote faster to both retail clients and B2B agents to increase your team’s productivity.
Offer Perks to your Visitors
Since there are multiple tour operators offering similar services, the only way to stand apart and attract attention is through perks. Something as simple as dynamic packages can woo audiences. They want a personal touch and to know that there’s something out there for their specific needs. Give them that and they will be more likely to choose you.
Additionally, referral programs, online rewards, and partnering with global OTAs such as Viator, Klook or GetYourGuide to distribute your tours will surely increase your reach. Yes, you will have to pay them a small commission on your bookings but the booking volume generated through such partnerships will significantly offset the cost.
Have we mentioned the importance of user-generated content yet? Tour operators could augment the above efforts with your social campaigns by incentivizing followers to share testimonials, videos, or photos of their tour experience with branded hashtags on their social media pages. The best (or the luckiest) may get rewards such as discounts on subsequent trips.
Use Online Marketplaces
Marketplaces also represent an increasingly valuable distribution channel for Tour Operators. Travel Triangle and Tour Radar are two popular marketplaces that you can immediately explore. Promote the tours you offer through these platforms and reach their audience without breaking a sweat.
Publish Targeted Content
We cannot end an article about leveraging digital channels without mentioning search engine optimization or SEO. Targeted & optimized content has a set of advantages that other media cannot match. These include a loyal customer base, returning visitors (each of them are potential customers), consistent traffic, and more organic reach.
To make this strategy even more powerful, tour operators can build and promote microsites on specific themes (beach travel, honeymoon travel, solo trips, Europe, etc.) Such interest-based targeting, when clubbed with SEO can help generate more conversions. Microsites usually do very well with long-tail keywords such as “Beach destinations to visit this summer” or “Best places in Europe for couples.” By creating microsites on various themes, your brand can rank better for specific user queries on those keywords and get higher conversions. Check out this article for more tips and tricks on how to boost your search engine traffic.
The online travel game is strong and to counter technology, there’s more technology! Use a strong tour booking software, engage with your audience, provide useful content, and offer personalized perks. Consistency in these efforts will help your business take off.