What I mean is that you shouldn’t just run a tours and activity business, at least not in the way you think. To create a successful tours and activity business in today’s marketing landscape you must become more than just a tour operator — you must become a media company.
By media, I mean articles, guides, videos, and anything else that adds value to people researching travel or just looking to be entertained. It’s not enough to have expert product knowledge in your T&A niche if your potential customers don’t know about it.
Becoming a ‘media company’ involves putting out meaningful content about your niche to drive traffic to your website or your off-site booking channels.
Making content takes time and money, but it’s the only way to make yourself visible online, and to — ultimately — make yourself more visible than your competitors. Let’s look at just some of the items you should have within a marketing strategy…
- Written blogs and travel guides
- Video blogs and travel guides
- Tour writing
- Social media management
- Facebook & Google Ads
- Email list building campaigns
- Abandonment management
- Search engine optimisation
As you can see, with so much of digital marketing involving the creation of content, you mneed to change your mind-set from being just a tour provider to being a tourism media company. You have to create and put out a huge amount of content that rises above the tourism clutter that is already online.
Because of this, here is a brief 3-step process for generating lots of content related to your tours and activities niche. I will use a fictional business called FoodDrinkTour to highlight my examples…
1. Look close to home
The first step I would take is to list every member of your team and write down the main skills each person brings to your business. Use Post-it notes, paper, or a spreadsheet – whatever you are comfortable with. I always prefer Post-its as they offer a more visual, more tactile way to organise and present information.
FoodDrinkTour listed the following…
- Founder & Owner, Bob Curry— Former Chef, Former Tour Guide
- Owner, Lisa Curry— Former Chef, Finance
- Tour Guide, Simon Bacon— Food Tour Expert
- Tour Guide, Maggie Baker— Food Tour Expert, Speaks French
- Tour Guide, Ali Ale— Beer Tour Expert
- Tour Guide, Kyle Cask— Whisky & Gin Tour Expert
So, FoodDrinkTour have two former chefs, two food experts, a beer expert and a whisky expert and a French speaker. Hopefully you also have people who have relevant expertise in your business, or at least expertise you can use. You can break this down further by comparing each area of the business by listing the main tasks involved in each role.
For example, Maggie Baker takes both English and French speaking customers on food tours around her destination and also happens to be Vegan.
I hope you can start to see opportunities for marketing content from the lists you have created. Let’s look a little deeper…
2. Create topics and titles
With the information from top tip 1, you can use this information to find topics and ideas that you can use to create content. There are various free tools you can use to find the top content from competitors in your tour or activity’s niche, current trends, and what your customers are searching for. Here are two I recommend:
Google Trends— With Google Trends, you can type your main keywords and Google will return any trends in and around that phrase. Try a combination of specific and broad terms. If you find the term is too specific, then Google will display no results.
For FoodDrinkTour, we will try the broader term ‘Food Tour’ and select ‘United Kingdom’
as the destination. You can see from the results below that Scotland is in second place for this term. Great news for Glasgow-based FoodDrinkTour. The term also receives a steady amount of searches each month. One term that this highlights as popular is ‘secret food tours’. That is a content topic right there.
With the lists you create try your main services and skills, like ‘Vegan Tours’, for example.
Answer the Public— Answer the Public is a fun, simple-to-use tool. You will be mesmerised by the old chap in the video they use. Add keywords and search terms to generate all of the highest search terms worded as questions: ‘how to…’ ‘where is the…’ ‘Is it better to…’ etc. This allows you to generate all of the questions people are asking the internet about your products. If you can write content that answers these questions, you will be helping your target audience and tapping into extremely relevant search traffic.
Using tools like this, here is what FoodDrinkTour came up with for topics and content titles:
Glasgow, Scotland: the best pubs, restaurants, and places
- Crafted whisky
- Secret food tours Glasgow
- What are some good whisky tours in Scotland?
- Vegan food tours Glasgow
- Tour of whisky distilleries in Scotland
- Food walking tour Glasgow
- Scotch whisky tour — Any good suggestions?
- Scotland tours with Indian food
- Scotland whisky tour — Any thoughts or ideas?
- Should I visit Edinburgh Or Glasgow?
- Glasgow bus tour
- Flaring experts and classes
3. Create a Content Pyramid
With these 13 topics we can create hundreds of content and marketing opportunities. For example…
- Videos ads
- Facebook posts
- Instagram posts
- Twitter posts
Let’s take my favourite platform: video.
Let’s start by creating a long format advert of around 2-3 minutes, highlighting your experience and destination. I know you have probably heard videos ‘should be 30-60 seconds long’ but in my opinion if someone complains that a video is too long, it simply means it was not compelling enough.
The video you create can be posted onto various channels, like Facebook, YouTube, your
website, and Instagram TV (IGTV) — so you have one video published on at least four platforms, creating at least four content opportunities.
Now, using the best elements of this footage, we take that 2-3 minute video and edit this to create two one-minute videos, four 30-second videos and six 15-second videos.
The one-minute videos can be published on Facebook, Facebook Ads, Instagram, Instagram Ads, Twitter, YouTube, and even LinkedIn (if you are B2B). The 30-second videos can be published on Facebook, Facebook Ads, Instagram, Instagram Ads, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and as a background video on your website (with no sound!). The six 15-second videos can be published on Facebook, Facebook Ads, Instagram, Instagram Ads, Instagram stories, YouTube, and SnapChat.
Between those platforms and the previous one, you now have created 13 videos ready to be published across the various platforms, creating 68 content opportunities. See where I am going with this?
You can take this a step further and take stills from your video to create five inspirational shots, overlaid with quotes. You can also take your footage to generate 5 animated GIFs and ‘boomerang’ type videos.
With all the content and channels so far, we have now created around 103 content opportunities. We are not finished yet.
Last, but not least, the audio track from your videos may be suitable for audio podcasts. This is especially relevant if you create an expert series that can still make sense without the visuals. These can easily be distributed to Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Soundcloud, RadioPublic, Stitcher & TuneIn (there are many more).
By adding in podcasts, you now have approx 110 content opportunities. If you were to post up one per day, it would take you around three and a half months to publish it all. All of this from one piece of storytelling footage.
Remember, this is just from one video. One topic! If you did this with all 13 topics you would have approximately 1,650 content opportunities — that is four and a half years worth of daily content — and we have not looked at written blogs yet!
I hope you can see how easy it is to create a massive amount of content ideas from what is around you, and that you can see how these ideas can be used in blogs, videos, Facebook ads, email list building campaigns, and SEO strategies.
Now, go forth and start telling the world how amazing your tour or activity brand is!
Chris has 26 years’ experience working in brand development, design, and marketing, and he’s spent the last 13 years running the Tourism Marketing Agency. Chris is responsible for researching travel and tourism trends and has also written the first, and only, tours and activity marketing book available today, titled ‘How to Turn your Online Lookers into Bookers’. The advice in the article above has been adapted from Chris’s book. Please check out https://lookersintobookers.com for more details.