Us tour operators are a passionate bunch. We love our guests, designing tours, and getting out in the field and leading a memorable, well-organized tour. What we aren’t always great at is the business side of things. Because of this, there are many mistakes we still make that are hurting our business. I love browsing tour operator websites and social media accounts to see what others are up to, but too often see mistakes being made by tour operators.

Here are 5 of the biggest ones you will want to shore up ASAP.

1) Using Browserwrap to agree to terms and conditions

Getting your guests to agree to your terms and conditions is an essential part of the booking process. Think of your terms and conditions as a contract between you and your guests. To make that contract binding, you need to get them to sign it. Electronic signatures are tricky, however courts have ruled over and over again that using “browserwrap” will make your terms and conditions unenforceable. 

What is browserwrap? When you make the purchase button double as the agree to TOC button, this is browswewrap. See this example:

When you package your purchase now button with your TOC, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Your terms and conditions need to be separate from the purchase button to give yourself a better chance at actually enforcing your TOCs. Try to have a separate section where guests can agree to your TOCs, like this:

2) Not updating cancelation policies

It is 2021, and the travel industry is on shaky ground. Bookings and trips are way down, and there are not any firm dates on when volume will return to pre-pandemic levels. 

Airlines have changed their cancelation and fee policies for the better (let’s hope these changes are permanent). Too many tour operators have not updated their canceling policies to reflect the state of travel in 2021. The shorter your non-refund period, the better. We need to make travel worry-free for our guests. The last thing we need is a guest feeling pressure to join a tour or activity when feeling unwell just because they are locked into a noncancelable trip.

3) Too many fields in the booking process

Once you have gained the trust of a potential guest and they are ready to book, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. I see so many booking processes that are longer than they need to be or they have way too many fields the guest needs to fill out. The longer your process is and the more fields you have, the more likely the guest will abandon their cart.

One of the biggest violators of this theory is asking for the first and last name of everyone that is joining your tour. If a group of 6 is booking the tour, there is no need to have the first name and last name of all six people! By only requiring the first and last name of the lead traveler, you could cut down 10 fields for a party of 6! 

Try to cut the pages and fields down to only the essential ones, and enjoy a bump in your conversion rate.

4) Not using user-generated content

User-generated content (UGC) is one secret to running a winning direct booking campaign. By using UGC on your website and social media accounts, you not only boost your conversion rates, but you gain an unlimited stream of relevant content to post. UGC can be anything from showing guest reviews on your website to reposting Facebook posts on your company account. It is one thing to tell people about your fantastic tours, but it is on another level to let your current guests do the explaining for you. 

Your guests are on social media, and they are definitely posting content from your tours. Getting permission and reposting your guests’ content on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok is a simple way to constantly fill your own feeds with high-quality content that will help you drive more direct bookings.  For an added boost, highlight these feeds on your website to show potential bookers what going on your tours looks like from the perspective of the guest.

5) Using sliders as the hero section

Sliders in the above-the-fold section of tour operator websites are something I see all the time. While they may look good, they have been proven again and again to hurt conversions. And in the end, this needs to be the primary goal of your website, to get people to convert into guests that join your tours. By using sliders in the hero section, you are moving further away from this goal. It has always seemed counterintuitive because those sliders look so good. But almost no one watches past the first slide, and there are lots of studies that back up with hard data that sliders have no place on a modern website. 

Writer: Matthew Meier is the founder of MaxTour in Las Vegas. When he is not running the day-to-day operations, he loves getting out and taking guests on tours of the Grand Canyon

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