The tourism industry is a series of ebbs and flows, as different trend rise and fall. And right now, if you're a tour or activity operator, you should be attentive to two evolving trends: overseas travel from India and adventure tourism.
Here's a closer look at these trends and some ways tour and activity operators can capitalize on it:
Tap Into India
How do you capture the vastness that is India? According to Expedia of India, nearly half of Indian travelers make their travel decisions based on the activities available rather than the destination. More than half of those surveyed preferred to book the activities online in conjunction with hotel and flight bookings while 25 percent booked their activities at the venue itself.
Tour and activity operators can position themselves as a "destination" for these types of travelers instead of relying solely on locals and interest from travelers who just happen to be in the area. Adventure seekers from both overseas and domestic markets may be planning their trips around a tour or experience you offer so you can tweak your marketing strategy to cater to this active market.
Adventure Tourism Travel Trends
The 2013 Adventure Tourism Market Study reveals that from 2009 to 2012, the adventure travel market had an estimated average yearly growth of 65 percent. The same report indicates that the average adventure traveler spent $947 on their trip in 2012, excluding airfare, compared to $593 in 2009. This equates to an annual increase of almost 20 percent for both soft and hard adventures.
As a tour and activity operator, this means there is a hungry market seeking out activities and experiences you offer. Some may even be choosing to travel to your location to participate in certain activities.
According to the World Food Travel Association's 2013 study, almost a third of travelers choose destinations based solely on eating opportunities. If you're a food-tour operator, winery owner, or conduct any type of food and wine tours, you can attract more guests by promoting your experience as a "foodie destination" by highlighting your roots in the area and sharing information about your connections with local farmers or artisanal food suppliers.
Results of the same World Food Travel study reveal that the majority of travelers in this market segment want to combine culinary activities with other activities, such as participating in heritage, cultural, and nature-based activities. You could expand your offerings to create customized or themed packages and itineraries that include more than just the standard tour or food sampling session.
Ways to Capitalize on These Trends
Whether you're a winery tour operator or conduct kayak excursions, there are several ways you can promote your business to travelers who are seeking out activities over a specific destination. Here are some ways to capitalize on the latest trends:
Harness the Power of Social Media
We Are Social reports a 26 percent growth rate of active social media users and 5 percent increase in active mobile social users in India from July 2014 to August 2015. Becoming a part of the social conversation is more important than ever before. Increasing awareness about your company via social networks can help you attract travelers who are searching for activity ideas and want to learn more about your offerings. Deloitte Consulting, LLP, reports on consumer behavior trends that show digital channels are a "source of inspiration" when someone is planning a trip—approximately one-third of those surveyed stated they started daydreaming about a new holiday while using a social site or when they noticed a friend checking in to a destination.
Skift highlights some of the ways top media travel brands are using social media platforms to their advantage, pointing out the value of travel videos, sharing high-quality images, and leading conversations on major social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Promoting your tours and activities by dropping links to descriptions on social media platforms, sharing photographs or videos of different experiences on social sites, and engaging in conversations on Twitter and Facebook could help you stay in mind of those travelers who are seeking out what you have to offer.
Maintain a Mobile-Friendly Site
In this blog post, marketing expert Frederico Gonzalo points to studies that indicate almost half of users browse or look for destination and vacation ideas on a mobile device and 37 percent of mobile travelers consume content related to 'things to do' on their trip.
Making sure you have a mobile site available for prospective visitors to browse and book can also help. According to the latest U.S. Consumer Travel Report, mobile bookings are expected to reach 25 percent by the end of 2015. You need to have a mobile-friendly site available for these travelers who prefer to browse and book travel using a smartphone or other mobile device. Make sure you have a large "Book It" button placed on each page of the mobile site so the visitor doesn't have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to make a reservation—it should only take a few screen swipes and taps to proceed with the checkout process.
Provide Lodging and Flight Tips
Position your company as a go-to destination for a certain type of experience by encouraging travelers to take advantage of area lodging and easy access to the airport when planning their visit. Whether you choose to partner with area companies or just provide insider information on where to stay and how to get to your location, the goal is to give travelers as much information as possible to make their trip-planning process easier. In the case of Indian and overseas travelers, consider setting up a dedicated page or section on your website with plan-your-trip tips that include maps, links to area hotels and resorts, and other relevant information a prospective traveler might find useful if they are planning their entire trip around your tour and activity experience.
Build Your Customer List
Capture the attention of interested travelers the moment they visit your website by setting up a newsletter subscription form or encouraging visitors to register with the site for updates. Building your email list will make it that much easier to stay in touch with these prospective guests and steer them towards the booking and checkout process. You can promote the benefits and highlights of different tours via an email newsletter, send out special offers and promo codes throughout the year, or just send informational tips and guides about maximizing the experience with your company to subscribers. Focus on the activities and your company as a destination to keep in mind when booking travel in the upcoming year to cater to travelers looking for something new to do and experience this season.
Use an online booking software program like ZOZI Advance to organize and maintain your customer list in a secure database. These programs make it easy to send out personalized emails automatically so you can keep up with your email marketing strategy with little effort.
As more travelers start to make their booking decisions based on activities rather than a particular destination, you can tweak your marketing efforts to cater to these groups. Use these tips and strategies to capitalize on this emerging trend.