Insider Exclusive: Online Marketing Trends Tour Operators Should Watch (Part 1)

Insider Exclusive: Online Marketing Trends Tour Operators Should Watch (Part 1)

By: Kyla Steeves

Keeping up with online marketing trends is like keeping up with the newest flavor of potato chips—one week it’s all about the smoked salmon and the next, your friend is digging through a bag of yam and kale chips.

With technology, much like potato chips, there’s always something new and exciting. And consumer behavior changes as a result. Last year, memes took over social media, and now there is a shift toward live-streaming video.

It’s impossible to ignore the relationship between consumer behavior and marketing strategy, as a person’s online actions could lead them down the path of becoming a customer. In other words, if you want your tour business to make an impact online, you must pay attention to the top marketing trends of 2018. In this first of two articles, we’ll look at trends in video content and online interactions.

1. Vary video content

Whether we care to admit it or not, most of us would rather watch a movie than read a book. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. We are busy walking the dog, taking the kids to school, killing it at work and weightlifting like Olympians. Sometimes, it’s easier to sit through a two-hour movie than to spend days flipping pages. Plus, you know—popcorn.

This holds true for online content, as reading a blog requires more time than playing a short clip. So, props to you for reading this article! But video content is still dominating social media because it’s quick and easy to consume.

According to a Hubspot survey, 53 percent of consumers want to see more video content in the future. Whether it be a promotional ad on Facebook or a behind-the-scenes look on Snapchat, consumers favor this in your content creation.

Here are a few video content ideas that are trending. Try testing them out in your online marketing strategy today:

·         Live streaming is a way to reach your guests live. It gives the viewer an instant, real-time experience they can’t find anywhere else. Since it’s unrehearsed and honest, the viewer sees the personal side of your tour business—as if they are talking face to face.

·         360-degree videos are great for introducing someone to your tour’s location, and current consumers are loving a virtual reality experience. With a headset or browser, the viewer controls the perspective—fully immersed and directly interacting with the content. It acts as a teaser, which may tempt the viewer to try your tour in real life.

·         Stories are bite-size pieces of video content. Primarily used on Instagram and Snapchat, stories allow tour businesses to get creative with filters, emojis, drawings, and text. And because they vanish after 24 hours, the fear of missing out drives viewers to watch them before they’re gone.

2. Don’t sell; show and tell

Take a moment to think about how many advertisements you encountered today. You will guess a rather high number, but admit it, you can’t pinpoint a single one. Most of us have become desensitized to the posters, billboards, digital advertising, and commercials. Advertisements come at us in such high volumes that they’re nearly impossible to swat away—instead, we ignore them.

As a result, brands have become faceless. It’s easy to forget about the humans running the show in the background. Without a face, it’s difficult to build a business-to-customer relationship. Distrust in sales is growing, so tour businesses need to get up close and personal.

Today, with all the information available online, a consumer can find out whatever they want about a company. Instead of hiding and creating suspicion, a tour business should take advantage of this as an opportunity to show who you are and share what you care about. To build trust with travelers, start by creating authentic online interactions:

·         Engage on social media. Don’t post a bunch of content and forget to respond to comments on your posts. Everyone appreciates a thoughtful reply. Talking with your audience adds a human element to your business.

·         Be open to customer reviews. Most consumers need a little social proof before booking. Every positive review bumps up a tour operator’s trustworthiness. Don’t be afraid to follow up with your guests—you could be missing out on a glowing recommendation.

·         Add personalization to emails. Using a person’s name is one of the best ways to show value. No one likes the “hey you” greeting received from an acquaintance they previously met. When an email starts with a name and ends with your own, a connection has been made.

·         Introduce your amazing staff. You know your tour business wouldn’t be successful without the help of your passionate and talented team of tour guides. Show some appreciation by giving them the spotlight. Publish content centered around your team members—or better yet, allow your staff to take over your social media accounts. Now your business doesn’t have one face, but many.

Applying any of these online marketing trends will be a challenge at first. But remembering the effect consumer behavior has on business will be the motivation you need to tackle them.

 Kyla Steeves is copywriter for Checkfront, a leading online booking system for the travel and tourism industry.

Reprinted with permission of Checkfront, a leading online booking system for tour and activity operators. 

About the American Bus Association

The American Bus Association (ABA) is the trade organization of the intercity bus industry, with more than 1,000 motorcoach and tour company members in the United States and Canada. Its members operate charter, tour, regular route, airport express, special operations and contract services. Another 2,800 members are travel and tourism organizations and suppliers of bus products and services who work in partnership with the North American motorcoach industry.


Melanie Hinton, Vice President, Communications & Marketing, ABA
Office: (202) 218-7220
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