One of the most effective ways tour and activity CEOs can grow their business: positioning themselves as a trusted expert in the industry. It'll help expand your company's reach and can even generate more bookings each season. Spreading your wealth of industry knowledge by publishing articles about your business, leading speaking events that get posted online, or participating in online forums will increase your visibility to both customers and competitors — and can even make it easier to find your business in online searches, a valuable asset to any business.
But becoming a trusted voice in your industry doesn't just happen over night; it'll require some work. So to get you on your way, here are some of the most effective ways tour and activity owners can become a trusted expert in their industry.
Lead a Discussion at a Speaking Event
Jeb Blount, author of People Buy You, explains that speaking gives you a chance to showcase your knowledge and increases your visibility and credibility. She states that “it creates the perception that you are an expert and authority in your field, and it creates an endless stream of qualified leads that come to you almost effortlessly."
Reach out to small business networking event organizers and other groups in the area that host presentations, seminars, workshops and other events that require professional speakers. At these events, you can speak about the state of your industry, upcoming trends, or share insights about the local travel and tourism industry from an owner's perspective. For example, a kayak tours operator could speak at a local travel marketing conference about their success with their social media strategy. A ghost tours operator might lead a discussion for small business owners about seasonal trends and marketing strategies that have helped them increase bookings during a slow season.
Share Industry Insights on LinkedIn
Yvonne Halling, a bed and breakfast owner and coach for other B&B owners, posts tips and marketing strategies on her website. But she is also an active member of the Bed and Breakfast Guest House Owners Group on LinkedIn, a community of 1,800+ members in the hospitality business. A recent post talks about handling bookings during a slow season and she shares advice on how she grew her B&B by 7-times in just a single year.
Positioning yourself as a thought leader on a subject that is relevant to fellow business owners and sharing your insights on LinkedIn will help you build your online presence and help to establish yourself as a leader in your industry. For instance, Bill Beaudoin, proprietor of the Alaskan Viewpoint Lodge, is a member of the same B&B LinkedIn group and posted about how the lodge has been open for only 53 days, yet has already amassed 250 Facebook "Likes" — a significant milestone for which he credits his active presence in this community.
Self-Publish a Book on Amazon
If you've had great success selling tours and activities or have extensive experience in the tourism industry, consider selling your tips and strategies as an eBook or print-on-demand title, following Gordon Bartlett's example. After retiring from a 28-year career in computer sales and computer management, Bartlett started a tour business in 1993 with just nine passengers in a rented van, eventually building it into a business that escorts passengers in a chartered bus around Arizona. In 2014, he published a book, How to Start and Operate a Profitable Tour Business: Make Money While Traveling and Guiding Tours, using details from his own success. In the book, Bartlett shares valuable information with illustrations, sample itineraries, and pricing guides to help other tour operators succeed — positioning Bartlett as an expert in the industry.
Luckily, Amazon makes it easy to self-publish through the CreateSpace platform. You can upload your book, add a cover, and sell it on the Amazon Marketplace within a matter of days.
Host Workshops for Tour and Activity Seekers
If you have a group of veteran tour and activity guests — people who book tours and activities more than twice a year — consider hosting an educational workshop for them to learn more about the area, your business, and other interesting insights about the experiences you offer. Some of your loyal guests may be intrigued to learn more about kayaking tours, canopy adventures, rainforest excursions, and the history of boating in the area from an industry expert such as yourself. You can host these special, invitation-only events throughout the year, and also offer a discount on a tour packages to those who bring a friend.
Host a Training Event for Small Business Owners
Shift your focus to fellow industry professionals by hosting a training event or seminar. If you have several years of experience in the tourism and hospitality industry, you could position yourself as an expert by sharing your wealth of knowledge with a PowerPoint presentation, webinars, and by creating a training program for aspiring entrepreneurs who want to get started. For example, a kayak tour operator may share insights about how to start a kayaking business or challenges to be aware of when entering the market. Or, a food tour operator may host a training event for aspiring food tour guides.
Sponsor Local Events
Serve as one of the main sponsors of a sporting event, fitness competition, or travel events in the area to position yourself as a leader in the industry. For instance, Florida-based Sunrise Surf Shop, which offers surfing and SUP lessons in addition to selling surfboards and accessories, stays active in its Jacksonville Beach community by sponsoring local surf contests, charity events, and sports affiliated teams by running clothing drives, hosting surf camps for children with autism, and finding other ways to give back to the local community.
Seek out connections with local event organizers and activity leaders who are looking for sponsors, or send out inquiries about sponsorship opportunities for any upcoming events that compliment your business. You would be able to promote your company logo and website on their marketing materials and the organizer may ask for a few words from you to promote the event. This can be a great way to connect with the community and establish your business a leader in the area.
Run or Attend Professional Networking Events
Build up your professional network by attending local networking events designed for small business owners and entrepreneurs, or serving as an event organizer of a networking event in your community. Many of these events are posted on Facebook and serve as business casual social mixers for professionals across all industries. You can introduce yourself as the owner of your company and network with marketing, business development, technology, and financial professionals across different industries. Ultimately, establishing a strong network of contacts can help you build credibility in your market and local community.
Post Webinars and Videos Online
Whether you promote these presentations and video clips as "Notes from the Owner" or set up a separate section of your website dedicated to "industry news," share content about the industry straight from the owner's desk for site visitors to view at their leisure. You could also share this type of content on LinkedIn to attract viewers in your industry and establish yourself as an expert in the field. Blog posts or industry-specific articles published in industry publications with links to this content could further your reach and help you earn 'expert status' in your field.
From hosting training events to self-publishing a book, there are several ways you can establish yourself as a trusted expert in the travel and tourism industry. Use these tips to develop a community outreach and marketing strategy to build your online and offline presence.