The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the travel industry, and tour operators have had to adapt and make changes to their operations. There’s no denying that every travel-related business felt the sting of the pandemic. However, with the crisis slowly subsiding travel will inevitably start picking up soon. Now that many countries around the world are finally opening their borders and lifting their COVID-19 restrictions, tour operators can prep for the peak season and start to optimize business and their operations.

In this article, we’ve outlined the top 9 tips you should take to heart in 2022. These tips will help you bolster your business, get more bookings, and ensure success in the new normal. 

1. Understand the needs of your customers

Customer demand and sensibilities change over time. Socio-economic conditions and other drivers will affect the popularity of different tourist locations and the tours they offer.

While the locations you offer your tours might always be popular, there’s no denying that the sensibilities and unique requirements of your customers may change. This is what’s happening right now in the post-pandemic world.

The COVID-19 crisis might be subsiding, but that doesn’t mean that the customers themselves are coming out of it unchanged. Their priorities have shifted, primarily towards:

  • Health and safety
  • Contactless technologies
  • Expecting tour companies to adhere to COVID prevention measures
  • A streamlined digital booking processes, and digitization in general
  • Flexible cancellation terms with full or partial refunds

A post-COVID-19 customer might be eager to book your tour. But along with prioritizing the prices and the experiences tour operators offer, they’re now extra cautious when it comes to COVID restrictions, sudden changes to travel plans and tours, as well as their personal health and safety. Keep all of that in mind when crafting your strategy for the new normal.

2. Monitor COVID-19 restrictions and changes

Aside from researching and analyzing the demand and the needs of your target demographic, you also need to conduct industry, market, and competitor research. This is essential not just for creating a business plan but also for optimizing it in these uncertain times.

Make sure to keep a close eye on the current political trends in countries and local areas where you operate. And try to always stay up to date should the authorities institute any new restrictions.

Reacting in a timely manner and notifying your customers of any changes will allow both parties to adapt quickly. It also prevents you from losing business. Should one of the locations impose any new restrictions, you can communicate the change across all your brand-customer touchpoints. Ultimately, this can help you and your customers work towards a mutually-beneficial solution.

When this happens, instead of giving people a refund immediately, you want to have enough time to come up with other options. These could include new dates or alternative match-value tours.

3. Use video marketing to attract the post-COVID demographic

optimize business with video marketing

Business owners will need to invest heavily in marketing in the new normal. Creating a marketing strategy will help to spike interest and boost demand in the travel industry. Given the fact that prospective tourists are extra concerned for their health and the health of their loved ones, many are still reluctant to book tours or make any definite travel arrangements.

While this is understandable, it doesn’t mean that you should let customers slip through your fingers. Instead, you should use your brand’s voice and reach to engage, incentivize, and inspire your audience to take action.

One of the best ways to do this in your niche is through engaging tour videos. You can easily create promotional videos that don’t just focus on the tour, but the perks that matter in the new normal.

Almost all free video editing software today has the features you need to piece together promo videos that are both entertaining and informational. By overlaying snippets from your tours and locations over a compelling narrative, you can easily inspire trust and peace of mind in your audience. 

4. Leverage AI-driven tools to reduce call center volumes

The pandemic has affected the industry in many ways, one of them being the exponential rise in call center volumes, especially with tour operators. This should come as no surprise as most customers are now concerned about the state of their booking, and are frequently seeking updates about new restrictions or travel changes.

Higher call center volumes are not bad, because every time you open a line of communication with a customer you have a chance to create a positive outcome. That said, the higher the workload, the more resources you’ll have to put into your call center staff and your communication tools.

The solution here is simple enough —  use chatbot technology to automate repetitive tasks and resolve repetitive issues. Furthermore, you can also create a clearly visible FAQ page on your website. These steps will allow your human staff to focus on the complex problems and work on customer acquisition and retention rather than redundancies. Your chatbot and FAQ page will answer menial questions, deliver information quickly, and even open cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. 

5. Add subtitles to your promo videos to boost engagement

We mentioned briefly the importance of video marketing in the travel industry, and how you should leverage videos to build engagement, generate bookings, and revive the demand in your industry. That’s all great, but how do you optimize your videos to boost bookings in the post-Covid world?

One effective strategy is to add subtitles to your videos. Here’s why:

  • Subtitles make your content easier to follow and understand
  • 83% of digital content consumers watch videos with the sound off
  • Creative subtitling can enhance the engagement value of your videos

Adding subtitles to your videos should be a simple and straightforward process, and a good subtitle editor will have all the drag-and-drop features you need to do it quickly. The results, however, will be well worth the investment, as you start to disseminate your videos across the web.

6. Use contactless tech to prioritize health and wellness

While the pandemic might be dying down, the new normal will continue to witness a rise in contactless technologies. This is extremely important as businesses continue to invest and prioritize customer health and safety. In 2022 and the years to come, travelers will expect business leaders to digitize their processes as much as possible. This will help to minimize the risk of exposure and contagion.

You as a business owner must do your part to safeguard your company and customers. With that in mind, it’s important to invest in some contactless tech — the sooner, the better.

Here are some of the technologies to consider:

  • Contactless employee cards to monitor location and staffing
  • Contactless check-ins for tour-goers via dynamic QR codes and mobile apps
  • Online booking systems with zero on-site requirements
  • Automated disinfection, hygiene booths, and UV light stations

These technologies are just some of the health and safety solutions you can invest in to inspire more people to book their tour with you now and into the future. 

7. Utilize social platforms as much as possible to optimize business

social media marketing to optimize business

Boosting the demand for your services in a post-pandemic world will greatly depend on how active you are on social channels. This is a community effort, requiring all business leaders in the sector to contribute, but you can and should do your part.

That said, getting started early with social media marketing allows you to stand out from your competitors. Again, you’re in the tourism industry, so you should leverage visual content as much as possible on your social profiles.

Different social platforms favor different video formats and styles, so you can play around with editing and tailoring your videos for each. For instance, on TikTok, it pays to know how to change background in video so that you can showcase different tours and locations behind the presenter. You can do this on Instagram as well, but on Facebook you might want to stick to longer promotional videos.

However, don’t forget to keep publishing quality articles that will help you drive traffic to your website. 

8. Smaller tour groups, more frequent tours

Scaling your operation in the new normal is not an easy challenge, and there are many factors that may be out of your control. Now that customers are placing additional emphasis on their health and safety, many are apprehensive about touring in large groups. So you might need to rethink your scheduling and tour-group sizes.

One possible solution is to start offering more frequent tours but for smaller groups. Taking steps like this can help put peoples’ minds at ease, and even help you market your tourism business as one that cares about its customers’ safety concerns in the new normal. 

Specifically, a big part of your marketing strategy should be about the great lengths you’ve gone to keep your customers safe. You simply can’t do that effectively if you push people into large tour groups. 

9. Invest in staff education and training

business operations in the new normal

Last but not least, one of the key ways to ensure success in the new normal is to invest in staff training and education. Your employees are the face of your brand, and to make sure they represent it in the best possible light, they need to know exactly how to handle the post-COVID crowd.

Make sure to run specialized training sessions to educate your staff on proper wording and safety practices. Training your staff to adhere to new safety practices is needed to succeed as part of the new normal. Your employees should adhere to proper hygiene, wear masks, avoid physical contact, and encourage (or even incentivize) others to do the same.

Unfortunately, poor staff training is still one of the biggest mistakes tour operators are making this year, so don’t fall for this common pitfall.

Start optimizing your business for 2022

In the new normal, tour operators will need to ensure to align their processes. These processes vary from operations, marketing, and communication in order to attract more customers. All while simultaneously adhering to post-COVID-19 rules in different locations and countries. Make sure to implement these best practices throughout 2022, and you should have no problem getting more tour bookings by inspiring trust and goodwill in your customers.

Once you have successfully optimized your tour business to fit the new normal, you’ll need to be equipped with the right tools for a smoother workflow. An online booking software will help you optimize your business operations, making it not only more efficient for you but also for your customers. For instance, an online booking software like Rezdy will help simplify your admin and booking processes. Rezdy features a real-time availability viewer, automatic email reminders, integration to over 20 payment gateways, and a detailed reporting metrics system that will help you understand your overall business performance.

On top of all those features, Rezdy booking software customers have the benefit of free access to the largest reseller network within the Experiences Industry – Rezdy Channel Manager.

Curious to see how Rezdy will fit your business needs? Start a  FREE 21-day trial today or book a demo.

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.

Author – Geoffrey Scott

Geoffrey Scott is a prolific content creator and copy editor with 5+ years of experience writing blog posts, landing pages, product reviews, product copy, and more. He currently works as the head of content at ResumeGenius.com and BigPDFConverter.com, and writes regularly for sites like Movavi.com and GoDaddy.com on the weekends.

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