Today’s tech-savvy travelers are almost always connected to the internet via their mobile device. The challenge for tour operators is how to engage with them in a relevant, personalized way to enhance the customer experience.

Here are some tips gleaned from Eye For Travel’s webinar on the opportunities for engagement with connected travelers.

Stage 1: Dreaming

At this point, travelers are beginning their research into what they want to do and where they want to go.

It is very likely that they will land on your profile on TripAdvisor and check out your website, assessing you against several of your competitors.

What they expect from you:

A solid company profile. First of all, you need to have a functional website, which provides all the information they need from you. They need to feel that you are a legitimate and reputable company.

Good reviews. Travelers want to see that you are professional enough to have glowing reviews on TripAdvisor, your site, Facebook – wherever they find you.

Stage 2: Planning

Travelers are now actively researching their trip online. They are narrowing down their search to book a tour or activity such as yours, and it’s the perfect time to grab their attention.

What they expect from you:

Promotions. Discounts work very well at this stage, as cost is the highest priority for leisure travelers. A dollar amount off is better than a percentage, unless the percentage is very high.

Customized offers. An offer tailored to the specific market you want to target is essential. If it’s millennials that you’re targeting, then make sure it’s a group deal (because they hate traveling alone) and reach them through social media (it’s where they look to connect with brands in exchange for some perk or discount).

Stage 3: Booking

At this point, travelers are ready to book with you. But you can’t start celebrating yet!

If you fail to meet their expectations at this stage, you can be sure that they will cancel their booking.

What they expect from you:

Professional transaction process. When it comes to money, travelers are very sensitive and careful. They have to feel that your online booking system is professional and secure. If it’s not fully automated (ie. it’s a booking request form instead of an online booking software), it is less convenient for them.

Up-sell and cross-sell. Before they finalize their payment, offer up complementary extras that go with your tour product (for example, meals and a waterproof camera). They will not be offended because these are relevant to the tour – plus they will be more likely to pay for it along with the order instead of separately later. Plus, you get more revenue per customer.

Excellent service communications. Travelers want instant booking confirmation with evidence that their payment has been received. Again, if your booking system is not fully automated, the payment process will be extremely clunky on both ends, requiring some back and forth communications between you. This is not ideal.

Stage 4: Anticipating

Now that they’ve made an online booking with your tour or activity, it’s time to keep them excited leading up to it.

What they expect from you:

Instructions for what to bring. This will greatly influence their experience on your tour. If you know that it might rain, tell them to bring an umbrella. If you know that it will be sunny, tell them to bring a hat and some sunscreen. It shows that you are committed to making this day the best it can be.

Details on how to meet you. A map with directions should be sent to each traveler, because they are probably not familiar with the area. Let them know how to identify you at your meeting spot.

Terms and conditions. It is important to re-state your terms and conditions with each reminder email you send. This will remind them of what they agreed to – especially regarding your cancellation policy.

Stage 5: On Tour

It’s time to impress! We are sure that you’re already amazing at what you do, but make sure that you are always mindful of how your customers are feeling.

What they expect from you:

Entertainment. They’re here for leisure, so show them a good time. Crack a few jokes and keep them entertained. Visit points of interest. Don’t just state facts, but tell a story. Storytelling never fails.

Food, water, and toilet stops. Make sure there are plenty of opportunities for your customers to take a toilet break, or buy meals. They need to stay hydrated and feel comfortable.

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What else do travelers expect from tour and activity operators? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

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