Your food tour is one-of-a-kind, just like a Moby Dick sazerac or a freshly flipped brie & fig compote crêpe. Whether it's a thoughtfully detailed confirmation email, or surprising your guests with a complimentary bottle of bubbly (because you already knew it was their anniversary!) personalized touches make the difference between "mediocre" and "Michelin Star" status.
If delicious fare and drink are the main course, a seamless customer experience should be the icing on your cake. Here are several ways to leverage the customization features of an online reservation system so your guests stay satisfied—from booking, to burping.
1. Ask The Right Questions During Online Checkout
Make it easy for customers to provide all the essential information from the get-go by customizing your online checkout questions. It’s a simple way to improve and personalize the overall customer experience. It also prevents you from having to make an extra phone call or send another email that might get buried in your guest's inbox.
We love that Evergreen Escapes offers complimentary pickup at downtown hotels, and asks guests “where would you like us to meet you?” during the booking flow. Kitchen Kettle Village, which hosts a number of seasonal events in Lancaster County, gives customers the opportunity to specify whether they’ll need high chairs or booster seats for family-friendly festivities.
Another great example comes from Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co., the South’s paramount bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Customers get to pick their favorite flavor during online checkout, and are treated to a complimentary bar at the end of the tour.
Here are a few basic questions to consider asking during checkout:
- Any food allergies?
- Dietary restrictions? (e.g. vegetarian, pescatarian, vegan, gluten-free, lactose-free, ect.)
- Would you prefer non-alcoholic beverages while on tour, or are there certain types of alcohol you won’t drink?
- What are names of additional guests you’ve purchased tickets for?
- If traveling, where is home?
- Are you celebrating a special occasion?
- Any special mobility requirements?
- How did you hear about us?
- Any medical conditions we should know about?
User spotlight: See how ZOZI Advance helps a Slice of Brooklyn Tours create a seamless customer experience:
2. Automated Emails: It’s All In The Details
Make expectations clear, avoid miscommunication and increase overall customer satisfaction and retention by taking advantage of automated emails. Build and customize the confirmation message to contain all the essential tour details and answers to commonly asked questions, such as when and where to meet, how to get there, what to wear, etc.
Taste of New Haven is a great example of this practice. Their confirmation emails are detailed and easy to understand, helping to ensure a seamless guest experience right from the start. Customers get all the essentials in one email, including directions, parking tips, what to wear, what to bring and additional guidelines.
Remember to customize an automated “thank you” email sent after the tour, and make it easy for customers to provide feedback by embedding links to Yelp or TripAdvisor directly in the email.
3. Get Smart About Gift Cards
We caught up with our friend Raquel Navarro, multitasking mom and owner/founder of See.Eat.Love., which offers intimate culinary strolls through Oakland’s diverse neighborhoods. Raquel tells us selling and managing gift cards is an important feature for her, particularly during the holidays.
Navarro likes to discount her gift cards and have the savings appear on the checkout page. This lets customers understand the value of what they’re purchasing, she says. Being able to charge customers a lower amount than the actual value of the gift card is a “great way to help incentivize people to purchase them,” Navarro tells us.
“That’s the cool thing about it—the way it’s displayed,” she continues. “I like that you see the little slash. It shows you ‘this is what it was, here is what you’re paying.’ It’s appealing to the customer.”
Give your gift card page a personal touch: Customize using your own images, include a description of what the gift card is good for, and provide details on how to send/redeem it. Check out Forktown Food Tours for another example.
4. Don’t Underestimate The Power Of Great Photos
If your online booking system lets you upload more than one photo to the experience page, take advantage! A gorgeous shot of salsa tartufata con mozzarella fresca can be the deciding factor that tempts a customer to go with your food tour instead of someone else’s. Mix it up: Consider showcasing a couple of the small plates featured on your tour; a some sites guests might see along the route; group shots from past tours; or the kind of vehicle guests will be traveling in. Take a cue from our friends at Eat.Sip.Indulge Food Tours, Ventura Food Tours or Eastern Shore Food Tours.
5. Make It Easy For Large Or Private Parties To Book
When exploring which online booking software is right for your food tour business, consider a system that lets you easily create private or hidden events when working with corporate groups, family reunions, bachelor/bachelorette parties, etc. If the reservation process is a piece of cake and communication is clear, you're more likely to gain repeat customers when they're planning another shindig, not to mention word-of-mouth recommendations.
When it comes to the customer experience, tailored touches are the cherry on top. From marketing, to communication, to gift cards, these tips can help attract new guests, and encourage others to return for second helpings.