After attending the Self-Guided Tours and Apps breakout session at Arival Berlin, it reaffirmed what I strongly believe in… ALL tour operators should provide a self-guided option of their products, be you a day tour or multi-day operator.
Set aside that the world is changing and digital experiences are and will come more to the fore, by creating a self-guided option you are catering to the largest untapped market in travel. When any of us travel we self-guide for a large proportion of that time. We visit places and look for things to do on our own without booking anything with an operator or an OTA. The opportunities here are quite frankly endless.
Self-guided experiences do not cannibalise your in-person experiences. They can provide…
- A stepping stone for someone to take one of your in-person experiences
- Help your brand awareness and highlight your expertise
- Generate extra revenue while you sleep
For a little upfront work, you could create an audio experience, a digital experience through a app or a full multi-day experience that you create for your customers. Creating apps are very easy now with many options out there like Questo and Vidi Guides. Even gamifying your experiences is possible with these tools, providing your customers with even more reasons to buy from you.
Below are some self-guided examples from operators across the world that have taken advantage of this format…
Macs Adventure is a multi-million pound company that focuses solely on self-guided experiences… but that was not always the case. When Macs Adventure first started out, they provided both guided and self-guided options but they felt the guided option meant they could not grow the business to where they wanted it to be. It was a ‘never ended cycle’ of growth, and hiring guides that they wanted to break.
When they switched to self-guided, the company grew exponentially and are now one of the worlds largest adventure walking companies.
Their team organise and manage the trips for all their customers so that they have the confidence to take the experiences out themselves with the back up of the Macs Adventure team.
Overland Ireland provides multi-day trips across Ireland for a predominantly North American Market. When the pandemic reared its ugly head, we helped them develop a self-guided option of their tours so that their guides could still provide their expertise by providing all the necessary documentation and guidance so their customers could have a self-drive experience across Ireland.
Overland took this one step further but developing their own self-guided app called ‘Paddy, the Pocket Pilot’. This provided instant information as their customers travelled around the Emerald Isle while having an expert on hand if they ran into trouble.
This has opened up a new audience for Overland and much needed revenue post pandemic.
Clio Muse Tours
Clio Muse Tours are both a self-guided operator and a marketplace for other operators to create self-guided experiences.
These self-guided audio tours also combine with skip-the-line and entrance to various attractions across many destinations. It is a clever way to allow travellers to take a tour at their own pace while still providing access to the attractions they may visit. If you are a day tour operator, this is an ideal alternative you should consider.
As an example, imagine a food tour operator providing something similar, where the traveller travels around a destination but a voucher on an app allows them to sample food on the go.
Vox City Walks
Vox City Walks is a day tour operator providing self-guided walking tours across the world also with entry to attractions and other venues. By creating these partnerships, you not only create extra revenue for your business through the sale of the tours, but possible commission from these partners.
Grasshopper Adventures provide self-guided cycling experiences supported by a self-guided App, featuring: GPS-guided route maps, dining recommendations, points of interest, and local insights. All of this information provides the consumer with all of your expertise and knowledge, but digitally.
The added element that Grasshopper add is that they meet all their guests at the start of the journey so they still provide that human element before they set off on their own.
Future Proof Your Tours
I will go on record to say that every operator must and should create versions of their experiences as a self-guided option. For me it is a no-brainer and one that could help open up your business to a whole new audience, ‘future proof’ you for the coming digital revolution… and create opportunities to increase your profit levels.
Once you have created the content for an audio tour or app, then this could be used in self-drive tours and even autonomous vehicle tours which are not only fast approaching, but already here! The revenue options are endless.
Look out for a future podcast and Sprint on creating self-guided products on Tourpreneur.