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ZOZI Advance is the fastest growing web-based reservation, payment, and customer management platform used by thousands of activity, tour, and event merchants.

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Sabah Karimi

If your tour business is having a hard time attracting new customers, or just can't seem to boost your customer acquisition, it may be time to revisit your marketing strategy, customer service approach, and take a closer look at your website. Today's tech-savvy travelers have access to an array of online booking options from tour and activity operators in your area. When they're in the mindset of booking an experience, you need to do whatever you can to attract and engage them, walk them through the booking process, and complete the sale.

Here are six reasons your tour may be losing customers right now and effective strategies for getting them back:

Reason #1: No Follow Up after a Company-Initiated Cancellation

If you have to cancel a tour or activity because of inclement weather, staffing issues, or overbooking, prioritize the customer. Research from NewVoice Media reveals that 53 percent of customers switch to another company or service provider because they feel unappreciated. Even if you have issued a full refund and explained the situation to the customer via phone or email, the customer is now in a disappointed frame of mind.

How to Win them Back:

Instead of parting ways and hoping they will book again, make the effort to get that customer re-booked immediately. They have already trusted you to provide a great experience and you still have a chance to do that by offering alternatives. Consider extending a re-booking offer or discount—up to 20 percent off a tour or activity—as a courtesy. You can set up a special promo code for these customers right within the ZOZI Advance platform and send the customer an email containing the code. Alternatively, have a staff member follow up with a special offer so that the customer feels like they've been invited back and can take advantage of an exclusive offer.

Reason #2: Poorly-Designed Website

If your website is difficult to navigate, takes a long time to load, or isn't too easy on the eyes, you may be turning customers off before they even have a chance to see what you offer. Results of a survey published in The Gomez report in 2010 revealed that 88 percent of online customers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience and almost half expressed a less positive perception of the company after a single bad experience.

A poorly-designed website, coupled with a bad checkout process, will make things even worse. Thisinfographic reveals that the average shopping cart abandonment rate—the rate at which online shoppers load up items in their cart and then fail to proceed with payment—is more than 65 percent, and that 11 percent of shoppers abandon their cart because of a complex checkout process. In addition, 7 percent would abandon the cart if they do not have enough payment options.

How to Win them Back:

Walk through your website as if you were a customer. What do you see? What type of impression do you get about the company? Is it easy to book a tour or activity, or do you have to do some work to get to the checkout phase? Redesign or update your website to make the entire visit and checkout process as simple and streamlined as possible. Implement online booking software that helps you implement one-click booking buttons around tour or activity descriptions and takes the visitor through a secure checkout process without any hiccups.

Reason #3: Weak Tour and Activity Descriptions

You've done the hard work: you got prospects to visit your website to learn more about your offerings—don't disappoint them with weak tour and activity descriptions. How you describe your lineup of experiences can make or break the sale. Customers want to know what to expect with the activity and determine whether the tour or activity is the right fit for them.

Summarizing the activity in a few lines and adding a book it button may not do much to initiate the sale; your prospect could get bored very easily and hop over to a competitor's site for a more engaging experience. Online retailer Shopify explains, “Writing weak copy is a huge lost opportunity…You lose the chance to tell a story, as well as the ability to differentiate your product along yet another dimension."

How to Win them Back:

Consider each and every description to be a marketing tool for that specific tour or activity. Set yourself up for more bookings by fleshing out your tour and activity descriptions with creative language and walk the customer through the experience. What will they see? What will they learn? What can they expect to walk away with? Consider placing colorful photos alongside each description or posting a short video showcasing highlights of the tour or experience near the description.

Reason #4: Trail of Negative Reviews Online

According to survey results from Dimensional Research, 86 percent of customers report their buying decisions were influenced by negative online reviews. If you've noticed a trail of negative online reviews on major review sites—or even on your Facebook Page—you may be losing customers based solely on your online reputation. (We shared some useful tips for handling negative reviews online with professionalism here.)

How to Win them Back:

Become extremely proactive with monitoring online reviews so that you can respond to negative feedback in a timely manner and offer up a solution. Start promoting positive reviews and testimonials you receive on your website, in marketing materials, and across your social media accounts so that prospects are exposed to an overwhelming number of glowing reviews. Your goal is to make a great impression quickly so that any dissenters are left in the dust.

Reason #5: Weak Social Media Presence

If you aren't active on the primary social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, you could be missing out on several opportunities to not only engage a prospect but also develop a positive online presence. Thisinfographic from Go-Gulf reveals that approximately 46 percent of web users turn to social media when making a purchase. That means almost half of your prospective customers are checking out your Facebook page or Twitter profile to learn more about your business and determine whether they even want to book with you. If you're not updating these sites with relevant content and actively responding to or engaging your following, you may be turning customers away.

How to Win them Back:

Get into a routine of posting to social media sites regularly so that you can keep followers and fans engaged. Encourage loyal customers to post positive reviews and ratings on Facebook since those reviews are seen immediately upon visiting the page and, as mentioned earlier, may prompt a booking decision. The aforementioned infographic by Go-Gulf points out that seeking out promotions and discounts and getting the latest information about products are among the top five reasons why people follow brands on social media. You can use this to your advantage by posting details about promo codes and special offers for various tours and activities, spotlighting some of your experiences and packages, and sharing photos or video clips of different offerings.

Reason #6: Poor Customer Service

Poor customer service, whether that's in the form of a lack of following up after a booking reservation is made, not returning phone calls in a timely manner, or neglecting to greet guests in a positive and professional way upon arrival, can reflect badly upon your company and turn people away. Experts at NewVoiceMedia report that 93 percent of customers will take action following inadequate service—this could range from posting negative reviews online (34 percent would "take revenge" by posting a review online, reports NewVoiceMedia), rating your business poorly on rating sites, or simply spreading the word to friends and family to stay away from your company.

How to Win them Back:

Take the time to train your staff to deliver exceptional customer service at every opportunity—from the moment the customer contacts you by phone or talks to a staff member in person, to the point that they leave after a tour or activity. Carol Roth, author of the bestselling book The Entrepreneur Equation, shared some valuable insights for creating customer loyalty in business, pointing out that promptly returning phone calls and delivering more than expected can boost customer satisfaction.

As a tour and activity operator, you can go above and beyond the call of duty by making sure every customer phone call gets a response within 24 hours, over-delivering on experiences by offering complementary gifts or freebies at the end of the tour, and following up with customers to find out what they liked or didn't like about their experience. The simple act of opening up the lines of communication with customers can help to boost customer confidence and increase the chances of a positive customer experience. Eoghan McCabe, cofounder and CEO of Intercom, tells CIO.com it's important to, “Always give the customer a way to easily [contact or] reply [to you]. Make your phone number, email address, and social media links readily available so that customers have multiple channels to choose from."

Final Thoughts

Increase bookings every season and improve customer loyalty by changing the way you approach and manage your customers. Use these six tips to stop losing customers to your competitors and attract more happy customers season after season.