Cauldron Skittles aren't the only goodies in store this October. With a few tricks, turning the Halloween season into a treat for your tour or activity business is as easy as polishing off an entire bag of Mini Snickers while watching "Young Frankenstein."
The spooky season presents a number of ways to generate extra revenue, even if fall is your slow time of year. You don't need a giant pumpkin-sized budget to get the attention of new and existing customers—try these 10 creative Halloween marketing campaign ideas instead.
1. Run a Halloween-themed promotion
Whether you promote a "monster sale" or create Halloween-themed promo codes using words like "trick" or "treat," select a few tours and activities to be eligible for a discount through October 31. For instance, Travelocity runs Halloween-themed campaigns each year with big savings on certain hotel bookings. Pro tip: Travelocity's promotions typically last a few days or weeks, which creates a sense of urgency and prompts customers to book quickly. Generate additional buzz about your promotions by sharing them on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter, coupled with an email blast to all customers in your database.
2. Add some spook to your experience
'Tis the time of year for unique, after-dark experiences—take advantage of it!
If you host any type of outdoor excursion or activity, turn Halloween night (or the Saturday closest to it) into a special event. For instance, Hocking Hills Canoeing hosts a Halloween outing on the Hocking River, taking guests on an evening canoe trip and haunted hay ride through nearby campgrounds. San Francisco Fire Engine Tours runs a spooky tour through the Presidio District every October. Do you offer guided hikes? Kayak/SUP excursions? Sightseeing tours? Brainstorm ways to put a "spooky" or "autumn" twist on your experience. Invite people to dress up. Share scary stories. Serve pumpkin-flavored treats along the way. 'Tis the time of year for unique, after-dark experiences—take advantage of it!
3. Run a social media costume contest
There are certain things you can count on in life, and Halloween is no exception. Every year, Trader Joe's will roll out a gargantuan inventory of pumpkin-spice flavored goods (yes, we're excited about it). ABC Family will play "Hocus Pocus" at least a thousand times. Someone you know will put their baby in a pumpkin and take a bunch of pictures. And people will get really, really excited about dressing up. Time to tap into that costume fervor.
Consider hosting a costume contest with prizes, and make it easy for guests to participate via social media. Simply ask them to post a costume picture to their Instagram, Facebook or Twitter account (you can keep the contest open to multiple channels, or just one), tag @[your company] in the post, and use a specific hashtag that you came up with. Once the contest is over, post submissions to your company's Facebook page and ask for votes from fans, or simply select a winner privately and make an announcement around Halloween. Take a look at how HootSuite executed its costume contest: They asked entrants to snap a picture and post it on Instagram with the hashtag #OwlWeen as part of the entry process.
Consider dedicating a page of your website to showcasing costume images that your customers tagged you in. This allows guests to browse and enjoy the online event before and after Halloween revelries. Social media contests connect you with customers, build your social following and even generate some search traffic if contest results are posted directly on your website. For more examples, check out My Drink On—they do a great job with this.
4. Hold an open house with a fall or Halloween theme
Turn any open space in your calendar into an opportunity to host an open house event, introducing your business to locals and travelers for the season. This can help attract new clientele and promote your business to locals in a relaxed and informal way. Consider hosting a giveaway or series of raffle prizes that include tickets to your tour or activity at a later date, or offering special booking rates for all open house attendees.
5. Throw or sponsor a party
If you've hit your slowest season of the year, think outside the box to generate some revenue, such as hosting a Halloween party at your business location or by becoming a major sponsor for a larger event in the area. Promote the party on all social media channels and get it listed on community websites so locals know you're hosting one of the biggest bashes of the year. Create a Facebook event for the party to help generate interest, and send event invites to business and personal contacts.
6. Entice subscribers with virtual trick-or-treat bags
Have some fun with your email marketing over the Halloween season by running a themed campaign enticing recipients to open their email for a "trick or treat." Those who receive a "treat" might get a deep discount on their next booking or a special offer, such as buy one ticket, get one free. The "trick" email could contain playful, creative content such as a digital postcard. Create a teaser headline to increase the email open rate, and run this campaign for several weeks leading up to Halloween to engage subscribers. Promote the trick-or-treat bags on your website with a simple message that states, "subscribe now for your FREE trick-or-treat bag."
7. Host a Halloween flash sale throughout October
Flash sales are a great way to prompt quick bookings. Drum up more business on those slow weekends or over Halloween week by dropping prices on certain tour and activity packages for a few hours at a time. Make sure to promote these heavily across all social media channels, and send out an alert to your email subscriber list so customers can look forward to the sale.
8. Offer free tickets to Halloween events in the community
Dedicate a portion of your marketing budget this holiday season to purchasing a certain number of tickets to local events, such as Halloween parties, pumpkin festivals, craft fairs, Oktoberfests, etc. Offer these tickets as a free gift for all bookings completed by Halloween. It could help fill empty spots on the calendar, and also encourage the event organizer to promote your business on their end.
9. Offer Autumn weekend packages with multiple activities
Inspire travelers to make the most of their experience by staying the entire Halloween weekend and booking more than one tour or activity with your company. Promote a "Halloween getaway" or "Halloween weekend escape" on your website with recommendations on where to stay, other activities in the area, and tips on where to eat. Paint the location as an ideal retreat destination—with your company's experiences as the highlights. Offer complementary add-ons that might sway travelers to book more than one activity at a time, such as instructor-led sessions before a kayaking excursion, one-on-one time with a chef during a food tour, a horseback ride with optional wine tasting afterwards, etc.
10. Promote gift cards or gift certificates
Lasso your share of early bird shoppers by encouraging them via email, social media and on your website to purchase gift cards before the holiday season officially begins.
According to the National Retail Foundation, last year, 70 percent of shoppers planned to buy gift cards and gift certificates as early as November, and close to 50 percent found their holiday gift inspiration from an online search.
Lasso your share of early bird shoppers by encouraging them via email, social media and on your website to purchase gift cards before the holiday season officially begins. When it comes to gift cards in general, consider the benefits of an online booking software that can simplify both the purchasing and redemption process.
The leaves might be falling, but your business momentum doesn't have to. Try some of these Halloween marketing tricks, and see how they treat you!