Updated July 2023 – 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 20 tour operator tips that will help you understand how tour operators work so that you can grow your business and know how to create a consistent positive customer experience.

Becoming a successful tour operator in 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of the travel industry, staying ahead of current trends and tour business ideas is crucial. Embracing these trends is one of the key success factors in the tourism industry as it actively sets you apart from the competition while also resonating with the desires of modern travelers:

  • Sustainable travel remains a top priority for many tourists, as they seek eco-friendly and responsible experiences. 
  • Catering to the preferences of Gen Z and millennial travelers, who value authenticity, immersive experiences, and social media-worthy adventures, can be a game-changer.
  • Capitalizing on the trend of bucket list travel can also attract a broader audience looking to fulfill their dream destinations. 
  • Over the past several years, local travel has seen a surge, and offering experiences that allow visitors to explore their own backyard can be highly appealing.

Business operations tips

tour operator tips

1. Develop a detailed business plan

One of the most critical tour operator tips is creating a comprehensive business plan. No matter whether you’re just starting your journey as a tour operator or have been in the business for a while, having a well-thought-out business plan is truly the cornerstone of success. Your business plan serves as a roadmap, guiding you through every stage of your growth.

Revisit and update your business plan periodically, especially during the quieter seasons, to ensure it aligns with your current objectives and market trends. This way, you can set clear goals and adapt your strategies accordingly, positioning your tour operator business for continuous growth.

2. Establish clear policies and procedures

Transparency and consistency are key to earning the trust of your customers and partners. Establishing clear policies and procedures for reservations, cancelations, refunds, and safety protocols will not only protect your business but also instill confidence in your guests.

Make these policies easily accessible on your website and during the booking process to ensure everyone is well-informed and can make decisions confidently.

3. Utilize technology to streamline operations

Leveraging technology is a game-changer for tour operators. Invest in a reliable tour operator software such as Rezdy that can handle bookings, payments, and scheduling efficiently. Automation can free up your time and reduce administrative burdens, allowing you to focus more on enhancing the guest experience. 

Another key bonus of online booking platforms and effective tours channel managers is their ability to help expand your reach and tap into new markets.

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4. Keep detailed financial records

Maintaining meticulous financial records is one of the key success factors in the tourism industry. Track all expenses, revenue, and profits to gain a clear understanding of your financial health. This data will enable you to make informed decisions, identify areas for improvement, and allocate resources wisely.

5. Regularly review and adjust business strategies as necessary

The travel industry is dynamic, and what works today may not be as effective tomorrow. Regularly evaluate the performance of your business and marketing strategies to stay ahead of the curve. Be willing to adapt and make necessary changes to ensure your offerings remain relevant and appealing to your target audience.

Guest experience tips

6. Hire knowledgeable and personable guides

Your guides are the face of your tour operator business and play a pivotal role in shaping the guest experience. Ensure you hire guides who are not only knowledgeable about the destinations and activities but also possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills. A friendly and engaging guide can turn an ordinary tour into an unforgettable adventure.

how tour operators work

For more tips on choosing the right guides for your business, check out our article on the top characteristics of the ideal tour guide.

7. Provide exceptional customer service

Outstanding customer service is the cornerstone of any successful tour operator. Train your staff to anticipate and exceed customer expectations. Be attentive to guests’ needs throughout their journey, from the moment they inquire about your tours to their post-tour feedback. Positive word-of-mouth can be a powerful marketing tool in the travel industry.

8. Offer unique and memorable experiences

In a saturated market, setting your tours apart from the rest is essential in order to start getting more tour bookings. Design unique and exclusive experiences that resonate with your target audience. Consider catering to niche markets or curating themed tours that cater to specific interests.

A memorable experience will not only leave a lasting impression but also encourage repeat bookings and referrals.

9. Ensure safety and comfort of guests

Safety must always be a top priority for tour operators. When travelers feel safe and comfortable, they can fully immerse themselves in the experience without worry.

Conduct regular safety checks and risk assessments to mitigate potential hazards. Train your guides to handle emergencies and ensure that all safety measures are communicated clearly to guests. 

10. Solicit feedback and use it to improve the guest experience

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.

key success factors in tourism industry

Sales and marketing tips

11. Identify your target audience

Understanding your target audience is fundamental to crafting effective marketing campaigns. Conduct market research to determine the demographics, preferences, and interests of your potential customers. Tailor your messaging and offerings to align with their desires, and you’ll have a better chance of attracting and retaining loyal clients.

12. Develop a strong brand identity

A compelling brand identity sets you apart from the competition and fosters brand recognition. Create a logo, color scheme, and tagline that embody the essence of your tour operator business. Consistently incorporate these elements across all marketing materials, including your website, social media, and promotional content.

13.  Create a visually appealing website

effective tours channel manager

Your website serves as the online storefront for your tour operator business. Ensure it leaves a lasting impression by following these key tips:

  • Opt for an appealing layout and design that reflects your brand’s personality.
  • Showcase high-quality images and videos that capture the essence of your tours.
  • Display testimonials and reviews from satisfied customers to build trust.
  • Update your website regularly with fresh and useful content, such as engaging blogs and travel tips.
  • Make sure your website is user-friendly and easy to navigate, enhancing the overall customer experience.
  • Implement SEO strategies to increase visibility on search engines.
  • Include prominent call-to-action buttons to encourage bookings.
  • Ensure your website is mobile-friendly to cater to the growing number of mobile users.

14. Leverage social media to reach potential customers

Social media platforms provide an excellent opportunity to connect with potential customers and showcase your unique tours. Create engaging content that reflects the experiences you offer, and use social media channels to interact with followers, respond to inquiries, and share user-generated content.

Social media influencers and partnerships can also extend your reach and attract new audiences.

15. Offer special deals and promotions to encourage bookings

Promotional offers and deals can entice potential customers to book your tours. Consider offering limited-time discounts, early-bird specials, or exclusive packages. Collaborate with local businesses or tourism organizations to create attractive joint promotions that benefit both parties and appeal to a wider audience.

Distribution strategy tips

16. Establish partnerships with local businesses and organizations

Building strong partnerships with local businesses, such as hotels, restaurants, and transportation providers, can expand your distribution network and attract more customers. Offer exclusive deals or packages in collaboration with these partners to enhance the overall visitor experience.

17. List your tours on online channels

When it comes to finding the right resellers for your tour operator business, strategic partnerships are crucial for expanding your distribution network.

Leverage the power of online channels to reach a broader audience and tap into new markets. Listing your tours on well-established platforms can increase your visibility and credibility, attracting travelers who prefer the convenience of booking online.

online tourism marketing

18. Attend industry events and conferences

Participating in industry events and conferences allows you to network with other tour operators, travel agents, and potential partners. Stay updated on industry trends, share insights, and explore opportunities for collaboration and business growth.

19. Develop a referral program for satisfied customers

Word-of-mouth marketing can be incredibly impactful. Encourage satisfied customers to refer their friends and family to your tours by implementing a referral program. Offer incentives such as discounts or exclusive experiences to both the referrer and the new customer.

20. Consider offering private tours and customized experiences

Personalization is a growing trend in the travel industry. Offering private tours and customized experiences allows you to cater to individual preferences and create truly unique adventures for your guests. By tailoring tours to their specific interests, you increase the likelihood of positive reviews and repeat business.

Supercharge your tour business. Try Rezdy today for free

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 subscribe to the Rezdy newsletter. There are a lot of marketing tools and tour operator tips designed with businesses like yours in mind.

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