Much is said about a globalized world where everything and everyone is interconnected. In this unified scenario, the market and the competition ceases to be local and become global.
That has implications on the way businesses, in general, operate and depending on its sector, globalization has an even greater impact.
This is the case of the tourism industry.
In the past, punctual and less far-reaching publicity actions were enough to generate the necessary demand for the high season. Nowadays, this kind of approach is no longer enough for a company to stand out. They need something more.
The internet is here and it doesn't let me lie.
In recent years, large companies emerged from the virtual environment and came up with a proposal to embrace this global market. Surfing on this digital wave, they developed mechanisms that brought together consumers and suppliers in platforms that work as real online tourism fairs.
TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia, these are just a few examples.
The rise of them completely changed the dynamics of the tourism market. Today, a supplier in Bali has the chance to reach a potential customer in Phoenix without taking a plane to the nearest tourism conference.
A side effect of this convenience is the massification of offers and the mischaracterization of the target audience. The latter has become only a homogeneous mass that represents the number of potential reserves.
This way of thinking leads to a standardized market, where big technology companies are the main innovators and prominent players. While we need to accept the fact all big players on the market brought us really positive disruption, let’s keep in mind - in every living economy that is based on laws of economy, the innovation is built by small companies. That’s not related to tourism, folks, it is a fact for all business domains.
So, if that is the case, suppliers should not be active to keep the gears of these online markets turning and to ensure that the operations of these big tech companies will work properly.
To get out of this vicious dynamic and reconquer the leading role that belongs to them, tour providers should seek alternatives that reconnect them to their target audience. This involves recognizing customers as individuals and not just as a uniform mass.
One way to achieve this goal is by going back to the origins of the tourism market, through a strategy that prioritizes the local tourism ecosystem in order to reach a global audience.
I am not telling you to prioritize the good old brochure (which still has its place in the promotion of tours), but to make use of digital tools seeking to take the supplier-consumer treatment to another level, and thus recover your space in the market.
Achieving this is not easy, and the first step involves the reintegration of local businesses related to the tourism industry.
United we stand, divided we fall
With the advent of the Internet, each tour operator has been playing on their own using particular online strategies. However, for tour suppliers to regain control of the market, it is necessary to start playing as a team.
Think with me, a group of businesses that has complementary tourism products is able to offer a complete experience for tourists. This way, the guest doesn't need to look at several suppliers for different experiences.
Tour operators, hotels, restaurants, tour guides and locals. A strategy that involves all of them is way more effective than each one trying to win the tourist alone.
The result is customer satisfaction and the reduction of idleness in the group members. Here we have a win-win strategy.
If you are not online you don't exist
Tourists, like any other human being in the 21st century, spend a lot of their time on the Internet (about 30% of his day to be more precise).
This fact should not be ignored and takes the battle to the virtual field.
As in real life, to succeed online is necessary to consider a strategy that involves the local tourism ecosystem.
An option is creating a destination website where all associated members have the opportunity to offer their products, working more or less like these big online platforms that I mentioned before.
The difference is that innovation and protagonism now will be with local suppliers, instead of large corporations in the silicon valley.
To improve the website, it is also interesting to consider the adoption of a reservation management system.
This type of software integrates virtually all member businesses, making it easy for a manager, a tourism board, for example, to have an overview of the destination occupation throughout the season.
With this system, it is also possible to monitor the payment of commissions and the distribution of resources within the users.
The more specific, the more effective
Another way to stand out is by providing personalized services and having exclusive offers.
Remember, the market is not a mass of people who think alike, but rather a blend of different tastes, personalities, and stories with their own anxieties and expectations.
Offer something unique to each customer and you will have your place in the sun among a sea of standardized offers.
Today this is possible thanks to social media, analytical tools, and data acquisition softwares. With them, you can customize tours and spread your offer with the correct communication for each type of person you want to reach.
Consider also investing in customer service tools.
Providing only a phone and an email isn't enough anymore. People want an immediate answer when reaching you, for that, automate your customer service. Make use of chatbots, email automation and other contact channels, such as WhatsApp business.
The more ways to reach your customer, the more satisfied and confident he will be with your business.
Be unique and spread it to the world
Do you know what sets you apart from the competition?
If you don't know, get a pen and paper right now and start listing everything that makes your service unique in the market.
In case you don't find anything, ask directly to past guests. There is no one more knowledgeable about your services than a person who had a taste of it.
For that, perform a satisfaction survey. On the internet, you have free tools like Google Forms and Survey Monkey that will help you with this task.
After making a full analysis of your business and getting to the conclusion that isn't anything special in your service; innovate.
As the wise man once said, there is nothing so good that can't be improved.
In your search for innovation, check what leaders in your segment are doing to attract more customers, follow the latest market trends and conduct market research.
That will give you precious insights into what your guests want to see and live when choosing your services.
As soon as you find your differential or after developing one, make sure you have it at the center of your marketing campaigns. To achieve a better result, take the maximum of digital marketing.
Advertise your products on social networks, on your own website, and in your destination's portal.
Invite your partners for a free tour. This way you show live what you do, giving more confidence to them to recommend your business to their clients.
The best experience is in details
Remember that a tourist's buying journey begins with the dream stage, which takes place before the search for tour packages.
Your mission here is to make the buying process as exciting as the experience itself.
Make a lot of use from breathtaking images from your destination, demo videos of your tour, new technologies such as VR and AR, and seek to ensure a smooth and intuitive booking experience.
Before placing a tour, make sure that the logistic is organized and detailed, provide the necessary supplies for each type of tour and remember to send the tour guidelines to your guests before the experience starts.
Once the tour ends, don't miss the contact with the guests.
Do the follow-up once they return home and prepare them for the next season.
Standing out and innovating in a market dominated by large tech companies is not easy, but it is the only way for tour operators to recover their leading role and regain control over the tourist.
About the Author
Felipe is the Content Manager at Orioly, a SaaS booking and distribution software that helps tour operators, activity providers, and small travel agencies do a great local disruption.
Its online booking solution takes away the headache of having to deal with administrative tasks all day long. It allows you to focus on priorities - efficient sales.
Register today at www.orioly.com and start the change in your location!
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Chris and his team will send you a weekly email offering high-value insight and advice about a variety of marketing and business development topics related to the tourism industry. We address specific destinations, tours and activities, and the hotel industry. We also provide important travel industry news and updates.