If you are a new travel agency or an old one but striving to innovate your business based in the United States, then this post might give you some ideas on how you can improve marketing and tourist experience. I researched them to impress a tour & travel agency for an internship in San Francisco, CA. Unfortunately, I failed to secure it. Then thought to be fair and share with the world in hope that it might help others 🙂
Online Marketing: Using Facebook Adverts to find your potential customers
I am not sure whether your company is using Facebook Adverts campaigning or not but if not, using it might help to catch the right people who are interested in taking your services. Let’s see through some stats. I did some research and came to know that most of the tourists to the USA come from its neighboring countries specially Canada as the leader. In March’15, 2,077,642 tourists arrived in the US as per the report from ITA. I tried to create a Facebook Advert campaign below.
By using the adverts option, I tried to get to the people who are interested in taking Yosemite Tours. Let’s see how. I selected the country location ‘Canada’ as this is the main target to attract visitors from. Second I chosen the people who are interested in topics related to Mountains or Yosemite National Park. Third I chosen the people who are behavior related to frequent travelling or intending to go to San Francisco. Putting all these filters together, we get 820,000 people out of 35 million people living in Canada who can the your company’s potential reach. I know that’s not the practical number as this is the maximum to reach out. Now let’s talk about finance and sales, if the company happen to allot a budget of $1000 for this campaign which will run for total 1 month, you have the possibility to reach at least 5,500 people and at max 15,000 in one single day. Now, let’s try some probability which will help in doing some conversion rates. Taking the least figures of 5,500 people who will see the advert on their Facebook account, say 75% ignore it, now we are left with 1,375 people. These 1,375 will go to the website and say the bounce rate now is that one of 50 person books the tour. Now, we have 27.5 customers or guests. This was for one day. Multiplying this by 30 for a month gives 825 customers. In other words, more than 41 tour buses arriving. So the sales are 825 customers x $145 = $119,625 per month. So we invested $1,000 and got this figure from just one campaign for just one country. If we happen to get some traction, this can be a continuous flow. I don’t know this figure is good or bad for the company but what I know is that this is the least we can get because we took the minimum numbers from every numbers. We took the minimum from overall reach, cut 75 %, again cut 5,000%, took the cheapest tour package. So, yes this was regarding online marketing.
A Good Website
Yes correct, if your website doesn’t look and works good (good in today’s era means eye catching, smooth transitions, fast, functional, mobile view ready, even retina view ready, big sliders, good presentation, easy to use), you are going to lose your customers who care for that. I would love to go to a website which shows most important information which I am searching for easily such as a tour package, while doing that I want some butter animations, I want good pictures in big size, if you can impress me, now I want a form where I can book the tour easily without redirecting me to a different page or refreshing my browser.
Here is the best WordPress based theme I could find on Earth for your tour and travel platform. This theme is called ‘Tour Travel Agency Altair Theme’ which is not free 😀 as you have to fetch around $59 for this but this is worth. Let’s see how.
Okay, so this theme looks excellent on mobiles as wells as tablets and computers, has full-width and fixed width layouts, beautiful booking form, advanced tour search, parallax for travel destination page, service-team member-testimonial support, advanced theme panel, and searchable documentation.
Tourists Experience Improvement
Providing Wi-Fi access in the tourist van
o Why: A lot of tourists are international and don’t have a local SIM card to access the internet data for social media or anything. Using international data is not even something to think about.
To beat the competition: big giants such as Globus are also doing this. Why not jump into. This news is covered in Travel Weekly. It gives positive results.
- Improve tourist experience: they will feel different like home and surprising.
- Share with the world in real-time: tourists will be able to access social networks while moving and Skype their friends.
- Indirect marketing of the company and reputation build-up.
- This service can be sold by charging the tourists ( I am not sure if that will be a good idea to charge them in the beginning or say $5 for a day or it can be keep as complimentary too.)
o How: by using 4G mobile hotspot device and service from companies like Verizon or AT&T
- 15 persons will be able to connect by a single device, so one device should be enough for one vehicle as not everyone want to use it.
- Devices: Verizon Wireless Jetpack 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot AC791L or AT&T Unite Pro-Black.
o Cost: <$200 per vehicle per month
- One time: hotspot device ~ $200 + accessories $150
- Recurring: depends on the plan and plan will depend upon the usage. Usage will depend on what they the tourists do on their mobile phones. As per the Verizon data calculator tool, for one person using 5 emails, visiting 5 websites, uploading and download 10 photos, and having 5 minutes of video chat will cost 2GB per month. For 15 people in the tour, it comes 30GB. As per the Data-Only Verizon plan, it will cost $185 per month.
o Security: the network will be encrypted with a password as we use in our daily life to prevent authorized access from outsiders. The guests will be given password in the van by the tour guide or someone can just print it and paste it inside there.
o Plan: create a demo and then finalize it.
- Buy that device under the business or commercial purpose with 30GB plan along with a car cable charger.
- Configure it according to the need. Set the access passwords.
- Test run on a personal vehicle and then after positive results, Install it in the van
- Take print out on paper ‘We have Wi-Fi here’ and then see the magic.
- Network Coverage: according to the given mobile carriers coverage maps, it could be decided.
- Verizon: http://vzwmap.verizonwireless.com/dotcom/coveragelocator/
- AT&T: https://www.att.com/maps/wireless-coverage.html
- Can it work outside the van vehicle: yes, it will need some more extra market devices such range extenders or repeaters. Which are good ones? From the Amped Wireless company, Titan EX seems the king just for $190.
- A little bit of risk is worth taking.
Photo sharing website where tourists can upload their tour photos
Retaining tourists is difficult but at the same time important for development of a tour and travel company. If they could remain in touch with us, it’s good. What about offering them a free online service to let them store their tour photographs. For example a website offered by your tours and travel agency where they can create an account and upload their photos just like Flickr. In this way, they can be associated with us for a long time. Just an idea but I am this is easy to do these days. I am not sure this would work or not but ? In an open source world, it’s easy these days. Just buy a good hosting plan ~ $50 per year and find a nice PHP based script, deploy it and boom! You won’t be having a lot of traffic, but the traffic you might be having will mean a lot to you.
Some of the options I have in mind are Piwigo, Coppermine, and Zenphoto.
Asking their favourite music
What about asking the travelers about their favorite music before they book their travel? Just one request per person may be accepted. So that the guide can play it during their journey.
Here, I am not exactly talking about marketing because it seems like much business thing. Gifting someone is a good idea specially when they don’t expect it. So what your travel agency can do is to gift them in an affordable and sustainable way. So, I thought of two ways
Offline Marketing- Gifts which bring nice ROI (Return over investments)
1. Gifting tourists printed photos after the tour ends
- Main question why they will love it: it is actually a psychological game here. They won’t love these gifts instantly because at that time the photos are reflecting their surroundings which won’t be a new thing for them actually, so they will just keep the photos with a smile at that time. But when they will go to their homes after a week or two and have a look at printed photos, yes now, their brains will be moved away to that time and they will think about it. They might be sharing those photos with their friends and families and for sure their would be some mention of your travel agency. So, here we got happiness on their faces and our offline marketing in a sustainable way. In the age of 3D, people really care about printed photos as they are rare, and that’s what will make this idea a hit.
- How can be this possible: It can be possible by buying an instant camera (a good one costs $100-$200), giving it to the tour guide, he takes some casual group photographs or even some personal photographs on the tourist’s request. The photos get ready instantly.
- How much it costs: it will cost $0.75 per photo to $1.50 per photo. Though the initial cost will be just buying the instant camera. We can also put a cap on the number of photos per person say 2 photos. Or say one photo is free, and after that It will cost $1 for additional ones. Or if your travel agency wants something more economical, just make like every photo is chargeable at $1 per photo. In this, we just have to buy the camera and that’s all.
- How to re-brand the photos: I thought why don’t we print ‘Memories by your agency name’ on the photos at the back side. But this would be a time consuming process and won’t be economical anymore. Then I thought about pasting already printed stickers at the back of the photo, but this will have the same problem. Also, people might think we are pushing hard on the our agency. So the solution to this is we can ask the tour guide to just put their name in casual or wishes and your agency name in between. In this way, the marketing just got personal and no one can say it was done just for marketing purpose.
2. Sending them gifts to their address back their home
- The gifts themselves can be printed photos, printed coffee mugs, calendars.
- This is the most effective because it would be more like a surprise.
- This is for sure not be economical which your agency Adventures can do for everyone.
- But yes, what about sending to a few people once In a month? This will cost about just a couple of hundred $.
- They will really appreciate us, specially the personal attachment between the tour company and the tourists.
- So, by this we are making good personal relations and formal relations on the same side. We are promoting our agency by this.
- When we make good relations with the customers, they recommend us automatically without even asking for it.
Some other things you can take care of for your online business
- Adding your travel business business on Yahoo local listing and on Lonely Planet. Because everyone has it on Google, Bing.
- Most of the travel business have presence of all major social networking websites, but updating them is also a challenge. For that I have a plan. This is something called 80-20 rule. “The 80/20 Rule’ should always be a big part of your social media strategy. It simply comes down to this: use just 20% of your content to promote your brand, and dedicate 80% to content that really interests your audience and engages them in conversations.”- some internet website source
- Responding to all positive comments on TripAdvisor.
- Giving the tourists, feedback/review forms after they finish they journey.
- Adding coupons to Groupon.
- Show your agency’s staff with pictures and description similar to what startup and business companies do these days under the ‘team option. As I think this increases trust for the visitors and the tourists.
- Other suggestion is the use of a CMS like WordPress system because it keeps everything well managed unlike scattered HTML webpages. It can make the website beautiful and visitors will like it. A CMS will save efforts, and help facilitate the development of a good blog. We can write about why you started your business, Write bios about the founders of your business, Incorporate photos and videos to bring your story to life.
- Other things we can think on a blog
- Write ‘how-to’ articles about your specialty area
- Write about news and trends in your market area
- Provide commentary on industry news
- Use your blog to illustrate your passion and excitement about what you do. Use it to inspire people to want to “give it a go.”
- Provide ‘behind the scenes’ content to show the human side of your business
- Address frequently asked questions, this will save a lot of calls and headache.
- Enable comments and make the effort to respond to all comments.
Hope this helps you a bit folks! I have some other research for Las Vegas visitors and what it means to you, will publish soon! Please feel free to contact me at email@example.com as I love to hear from everyone.
This time thanks to my Romanian and Greek friend, Alexandra and Pavlos for boosting me to write this article.
An article on travel business by: Anvar Jamal, IT student, www.anvarjamal.com