In a small survey we recently conducted, we came across a common tour marketing pattern employed by tour operators who are doing it as a part-time business or on a small scale. In this survey, we included tour operators in Mumbai as well as some in Panchgani and Mahabaleshwar.
The common pattern observed among the tour operators we selected was that their tour marketing, promotions and booking were completely dependent on Facebook.
They developed friend networks, mostly under their personal name and promoted tours by sharing details within those networks. The promotions were largely in the form of infographics which displayed a number to call and confirm bookings. This strategy has worked for them so far. They have achieved a certain level of success through it. This success, however, is limited and doesn’t allow them to grow beyond the part-time or small-scale operations that they run today. They have the talent and the skills to scale it up but their tour marketing/ operations strategy is holding them back.
Facebook has a limitation of 5000 friends for a personal account. Beyond this point, Facebook recommends a move to a fan page. 5k may seem like a big number for common folks but not for someone meeting 50 new people every weekend. With 6-700 real friends, this 5k limit will be breached in less than a year. So, your network is capped with Facebook marketing of this kind.
A slightly better approach to this is the fan/business page. It has no limitations in terms of numbers. Limitations are associated with holding a recall on a fan page without being intrusive. It is difficult to get likes and it is quite easy for someone to unlike a page if he/she doesn’t like any of the posts there.
The scope of your network is quite limited. You are restricted to a particular demographic and location. Scaling up becomes more and more difficult. Facebook is a great marketing tool but it cannot be the only marketing solution. It is just one of the many tools that you should leverage to have a balanced marketing strategy. It can only take you so far.
The other problem with both these strategies was the heightened uncertainty. Money is mostly collected at the start of a tour or paid at office or address of the organizer. Assume 25 people have confirmed on the phone out of which 4 have a prepaid booking. The tour is affordable for minimum 15 people and the maximum people that can be accommodated is 30. In such events, there are always unexpected walk-ins. The level of uncertainty is such that, the organizer is not even sure if the tour will lose its feasibility by going in an assured loss or he will have to lose face by refusing people.
This level of uncertainty takes the fun out of the work and playing safe takes a toll on the fun part of the trip. We have some words of advice for tour operators following this strategy.
A little investment in technology like Vacation Labs can take care of the above limitations. Booking uncertainty will be no more. People will be able to pay and confirm bookings in a single click. Multiple tour marketing avenues can be explored and all of them can redirect to your storefront to confirm bookings. Payment will be received immediately in the tour operator’s account and positive cash flows will result in better planning. Manage everything on the go through a mobile app and you are sorted with your operations. It is time to focus on making your trip awesome.
Technology has saved you. Tour marketing through Facebook has made your business a feasible venture. Now, you need to scale to the next level. It is time to embrace technology rather than use it as a compulsion. Technology can act as your loyal companion, an assistant who will always be by your side. Let technology take care of all the mundane activities. That way you can focus on doing what you do best, your awesome tour activities.
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For improved tour marketing, call our travel business experts today! We look forward to taking your tour business to an all new level.