It's time to start planning your holiday offerings and promotions. Seventy-one percent of Americans are expected to travel during the holidays, representing a six percent increase over last year, according to Orbitz. Smart tour and activity operators have the potential to boost their bookings by paying attention to travel trends.
Here are seven things you can do to attract more customers this holiday season.
1. Mobile booking. More customers are booking experiences via mobile devices. In fact, travel purchases made with smartphones or tablets are expected to increase by 40 percent this year, accounting for $36.77 billion in sales, according to eMarketer. Make sure your business offers online mobile-friendly booking, such as through ZOZI Advance.
2. Promoting hyper-localized experiences. Travelers are going off the beaten path, moving away from over-commercialized tourist offerings, and delving into the local flavor of the places they visit. In addition, staycations remain a popular choice for residents who have a renewed appreciation of home. Cater to both groups by creating hyper-localized tours and activities that allow your customers to experience your area the way long-time locals do. Identify your area's best-kept secrets, such as a scenic trail or tiny diner, and build a tour or activity around it.
3. Giving activities instead of gifts. Spending quality time with friends and family is in style, and materialism is out. In fact, 64 percent of Americans plan to spend more money on holiday travel-related expenses this year than gifts, according to Orbitz. Take advantage of this trend by offering gift cards or group excursions that can be wrapped and exchanged this holiday season.
4. Cooking trips. The most sought-after travel souvenir is no longer a T-shirt or snow globe; it's a recipe brought home from a cooking trip. Food-related travel is becoming more popular, with hands-on lessons from local chefs. Get in on this trend by pairing your tour, rental, or activity with a cooking lesson from a local food artisan. For example, if your business offers bike rentals, partner with a local restaurant that will offer a cooking class with its chef. It's a win-win for both businesses.
5. Embrace silence tourism. With technology creeping more and more into our daily lives, unplugging and experiencing nothing is a trend that redefines the word “getaway." Grow your business by offering customers a way to escape. Add nature hikes, yoga retreats and group meditation to your tours and activities. Collect cell phones, or gather in an area where there is no reception or WiFi. Then soak up the surroundings in silence.
6. Expand to "forbidden" places. More Americans are traveling to locations that were previously considered dangerous due to international politics. For example, since diplomatic relations were restored with Myanmar in 2012, visits by Americans are expected to increase 71 percent by 2016. Consider getting in on this trend by organizing tours to locations that were once off limits. Be sure to check with the U.S. Department of State for travel advisories and warnings.
7. Glamp it up. Glamorous camping–called glamping – is where “roughing it" meets a five-star hotel. This trend allows travelers to experience nature without giving up comfort by offering luxurious tents, yurts, and even tree houses as overnight accommodations. If you have a rental or tour business, adopt this trend by partnering with an existing glamping provider to create a complete experience.