Updated February 2022 – Prior to the onset of the busy travel season, you should make a pledge to yourself – this is the year you will become a better tour operator. Not that you’re a bad one — you have personality, your own sense of style, and your visitors love that they complete the tour feeling informed but knowing they also had fun. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. You can always look for more ways on how to become a successful tour operator and increase your booking levels. The bottom line is, when you’re a better tour operator, your business will be more successful.

In this article, we’ll go through the top 10 tour operator tips that will help you become a successful tour operator and how you can create a consistent positive customer experience.

1. Create a tour operator business plan

Whether you’re starting a tour operator business or have been running a tour and activity business for a while, starting the year by creating a tour operator business plan will help you understand the foundation of your business and where it’s headed. 

As your business grows, targets and achievements may see a shift. Updating your business plan every few years will allow you to set clear future goals to help your business evolve and adjust to the growth.

2. Understand your USP

Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is what makes your business stand out from all your competitors. Having a clear USP will ensure that your target market is drawn towards your business rather than anyone else. 

Your USP should showcase your strengths and advantages effectively, however, it should also be uniquely valuable for your customers. Simply being “unique” isn’t going to grab the attention of your future customers. Instead, you should aim to be unique around areas your target market cares about, otherwise, your USP may not be as compelling.

In order to create and communicate a strong USP, it should be:

  • Proven with evidence: You may think that your tours are “heaps of fun” and you can say that it is, but without evidence, how can people really trust your word for it? Showcasing your reviews, adding quality photos and videos, and writing an engaging tour descriptions is one way you can ‘walk the talk’.
  • Customer-focused: Creating and promoting a USP that isn’t valuable for your customers won’t generate any interest. Your USP should be customer-focused in order to reap the best results. Before setting up your USP, try to find out what their values are by performing surveys and research.
  • Feature it everywhere: While your slogan may be one way to communicate your USP, your USP should also be reflected in all other areas of your business. You can achieve this by featuring it on your website, within your policies, your “About Us” page, and more.

3. Make sure your website is optimized

With the advancement of technology, many admin duties and processes for both your business and customers have never been simpler. As more and more traveler’s become accustomed to booking via online methods, adopting and implementing the latest technological features into your business will help your business stay relevant.

Your website is one of the most important elements of your business. It’s the first point of contact your customer has with your business. Customers go onto your website to seek information, gain an expectation, and ultimately, to book. If your website isn’t appealing, user-friendly, or easy to navigate, it decreases your chances of winning bookings.

When building your website, make sure it:

  • has an appealing layout and design
  • features high-quality images and videos
  • Showcases testimonials and reviews
  • features frequently updated content such as blogs
  • is user-friendly and easy to navigate
  • is SEO optimized in order to increase its visibility on search engines
  • features key call-to-action (CTA)
  • is mobile-friendly

4. Create an easy booking process

Let’s face it, customers dislike complicated processes. If your booking process isn’t straightforward and instant, most of the time your customers won’t follow through with the booking. More importantly, if you aren’t able to accept bookings from multiple online channels, you may be missing out on heaps of opportunities.

According to Arival’s 2021 Path to Purchase report, the majority of travelers – especially during the pandemic – are researching and booking via online platforms such as:

  • social media – 25% in 2021 compared to 9% in 2019
  • operator websites – 31% in 2021 compared to 23% in 2019
  • OTAs (Online Travel Agents) – 35% in 2021 compared to 22% in 2019 

When you’re able to capture these online bookings effectively, you’ll be able to increase your overall booking levels.

Features that simplifies the booking process include:

  • Being able to accept bookings 24/7
  • Call-to-Action (CTA) buttons
  • Real-time availability viewer
  • Secure and efficient payment processes
  • Instant confirmation
  • Automatic reminders and updates
  • Easy cancellation and rescheduling processes
  • Being able to accept bookings 24/7

A booking software like Rezdy features tools that will simplify your overall booking processes. These tools include real-time availability, automatic email updates to avoid last-minute cancellations, payment gateway integrations, live reporting tools, and many more.

Curious to see whether Rezdy is right for you? Start a FREE 21-day trial or book a free demo today.

5. Touch base on the day of the tour, and encourage mobile check-ins

Sometimes, last-minute changes happen. People can forget to cancel their booking, forget to reschedule, or worse, forget they even booked! You can avoid these last-minute cancellations by sending an automatic e-mail to all of your customers who have tours booked for the day. With these automatic emails, you can remind them about the arrival time for the upcoming event. You can also go that one step further by including an easy-to-use button that allows them to check in themselves. This helps you create an accurate manifest, and it saves time at the beginning of the tour when everyone is arriving.

6. Set a cancelation policy and stick to it

Perhaps your tours are highly dependent on the weather, or maybe you have a problem with last-minute cancellations on your scheduled activities. Solve this issue by creating a cancelation policy, providing it to your customers when they book, and enforcing it when necessary. Rules are rules, and your business will suffer if you don’t create a policy that protects you and the other travelers hoping to enjoy the activity.

7. Ask for feedback at the end of the tour

Once the experience is complete, encourage your customers to provide you with immediate feedback. Send them an email that allows them to instantly rate your tours, and offer them a chance to provide further information if necessary. You can use free tools such as Survey Monkey to collect feedback from your customers. As a tour operator, this feedback is essential to growing your business and providing tours that customers want.

how to become a successful tour operator by asking for feedback

8. Handle unhappy customers with grace and respect

Unfortunately, you aren’t going to please everybody, no matter how hard you try. When you have a dissatisfied customer, attempt to see things from their point of view. Even if the situation was out of your control, do what you can in order to make it right. Even when they are unhappy, as a tour operator most customers will appreciate your responsiveness. Don’t let negative feedback just sit in your TripAdvisor Profile, instead acknowledge them and address them publicly for everyone to see. This will show your business’ professional approach in handling complaints and feedback.

9. Encourage social interaction online and get in on the conversation

Let your travelers know where they can connect with you online, specifically providing them with information about your social networking pages. Being active on multiple social media platforms will encourage people to interact with your business instantly. Through social media, people can leave public comments, send a direct message or even share and promote your business to their followers. On top of that, you should also join the conversation — it makes your company feel more human and relatable. You can do so by replying to the comments and direct messages so that people know they can easily interact with you online.

10. Utilize a channel manager to expand your reach

When you first started your tour operator business, there may have been a lot of questions on your mind. You may have wondered how to start a tour operator business that’s fun yet profitable, tips and tricks on how tour operators work efficiently, and how to increase your booking levels. What would you do if someone told you that all those questions you had can be achieved with one simple tool? An effective tours channel manager.

Channel managers are platforms that connect your business with thousands of resellers seeking tours and activities to promote and sell to their customers. For instance, Rezdy Marketplace is a channel manager platform designed specifically for tours, activity, and attractions operators. With Rezdy Marketplace you can name your price, set your commission rates, and let the reselling agents sell your products for you. On top of that, Rezdy will also take care of collecting payments and paying commissions, so you don’t need to worry about getting paid.

And as always – if you’re looking for powerful online booking software with flexible integrations, we’d love to show you around Rezdy. In addition to offering a user-friendly, cloud-based booking system, Rezdy subscriptions also include FREE access to Rezdy Channel Manager which allows you to improve your distribution network and promote your brand to a larger audience.

So why wait? Start a FREE 21-day trial or book a free demo today to see whether Rezdy is right for you.

If you enjoyed this article then make sure to follow the Rezdy blog. There are a lot of marketing tools and tour operator tips designed with businesses like yours in mind.

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