Becoming a successful tour operator is a mix of skills. You have to be good with business as well as people.
You need to manage your time and, at the same time, manage your finances efficiently.
So, here are the 11 tips to become a successful tour operator that helps you take a step towards becoming the best.
We will be learning a lot, so without taking any more of your time–let’s get started.
1. Understand what makes your tour business unique
Every successful business has that one thing that separates them from its competitors. The first thing that you need to do is to identify your unique selling point.
What makes your business stand out? Is it pricing, or is it the experience?
For some tour operators, it can also be activities or sometimes special leisure time they offer.
Before you start marketing or building an online presence knowing your unique offering will help you stand out in your market.
To become a successful tour operator, you need to find out—what will make your business memorable and sell that point to your customers.
2. Know who your customers are
It is very important that, as a tour operator and as a business owner, you should know who your customer is and what they are looking for.
Tour and travel might be one of the most beloved businesses. For some people, it is a mode to relax, and for some, it is time to recharge.
Depending on what you are offering to your customers, people will choose you. Some customers like to enjoy leisure time, while some seek a thrill. Some look for once in a lifetime experience, while some seek to step out from their daily routine simply.
Knowing who your customers are can be helpful for every single decision, from planning the tour package to support and communication.
One easy way to go ahead is by requesting your customers to fill in a Google form, asking them about what they are looking for. You must keep the form short and easy to fill.
Once you understand what the majority of your customer is interested in, you can create specific tour packages and experiences for them.
3. Plan your tour business proactively
When you are running a tour business, getting into details will always be very crucial. So, you must plan out everything in advance and try to stick with it.
The first few things you can start with are the duration and basic offering of your plans.
Next would be the payment methods and cancellation policy. Now, at this stage, understanding your customers and bringing the best deal to them would be important.
So, plan an experience that you are offering from start to end.
Managing a business as a successful tour operator is important. Be it accounts, customer support, or the whole experience. The better you plan, the better returns you will be able to generate.
4. Optimize your website for the job
Over 82% of online bookings happens without human interaction. That means more and more people like to just get the thing done by learning about the deal and comparing it.
When more than 57% of travel bookings are happening online, you must ensure that your website is up and running—doing its job perfectly.
What is the job of your website?
The two important things that your website must do are inform and collect.
Inform your customers about what you offer, what they will experience, what others say about you, and everything else about the tour.
Collect their contact information, what they seek, and their experience details.
Your website is a window through which customers can interact. So, ensure that it is well-optimized to deliver the best experience.
5. Create an easy booking system
We now know that most travel booking happens online. So, why not make it easy for your customers to do the same?
One of the easiest ways to do so is by integrating an easy booking system. Get started with Advensure – your most reliable and trustworthy online tour booking software for tour businesses.
With no technical or design experience, Advensure is helping successful tour operators get bookings by assisting them in building a custom website, collecting payments, upselling and cross-selling add-ons, and much more.
You can ensure that your customer has the easiest online booking experience with your business at the most affordable cost.
Read More – Guide to choosing an online booking system for your tour business
Easy To Use Online Booking System For Your Website
6. Follow up with your customer
Once your customer has made a booking, it is important to build a relationship with them. A call or a message confirming their booking and assuring them of fun would be a great way to follow up. You don’t have to do this manually all the time; you can set up automation with your booking system.
This will help reduce the fallout while booking the activity and experiencing the tour.
7. Be clear with your cancellation policy
Cancellation is a big part of the industry, where an average of 20% of the bookings are canceled. Now, reason can vary, but as a business owner, you are the one who suffers the most.
To ensure that your losses are minimal and that you build a reputable brand, you must have a clear cancellation policy.
Create an informative cancellation policy and terms of the refund. Also, do not try to hide away this policy from your customers.
You can provide a window for cancellation where there will be no refund or just a portion of the booking amount will be refunded.
Being clear with your policies will build trust among customers. And since they are well informed from the start, it won’t affect your reputation either.
8. Always ask for feedback
Feedback is very important as it helps in optimizing the experience for the future. But unless asked, most customers won’t even share what they liked and what they didn’t.
When that’s the case, it hurts the growth potential of the business.
So, ensure you are asking for feedback from all your customers—collecting that information and working on it.
Many successful tour operators agree that the best way to grow their businesses is to work on their strengths and eliminate their weaknesses.
You’ll only be able to do that if you know what your customers are happy with and what they didn’t like.
9. Handle unhappy customers with respect
At times, the customers may be unhappy with the service they’re offered for various reasons.
And like everything else, this, too, is a part of your business. As a tour operator, you must handle your unhappy customer with the same respect you would give to every other customer.
Also, ask them what they are looking for and what can be done, and present them with an alternative to improve their experience.
If handled in the right way, your unhappy customers can be one of your biggest brand advocates, referring more customers to you.
10. Encourage social interaction
We all know that travel experiences and social media have a deep bond. Moreover, as a tour operator, it can be a great way to attract new customers.
When collecting feedback, you can leverage social media to share the customer experience with your followers.
Show them behind-the-scenes activities, stay, food, and everything you offer. It won’t be long before that experience hunters will learn about your content and connect with you.
So ensure that you have a strong social media presence and encourage your customers to tag you in their posts.
11. Have a Risk Management in Place
A crisis often occurs when least expected. Therefore, it is important to have a risk management plan that establishes the steps to be taken in the case of a crisis.
Tour operators who have prepared well and implemented the best risk management strategies to manage the crisis will be positioned to survive the crisis and welcome the customers again as quickly as possible.
To become a successful tour operator, you can divide your tour business into three sections.
- Planning of tour
- Administration of business
- Execution of the tour programs
Let’s look into simple ways to help you become better at every stage.
Planning of Tour is essential as it specifies what you are offering to your customers. You must be clear with the tour duration, stay, food, activities, and everything you provide to your customers. Make a list of them and ensure that when the booking is confirmed, you can deliver your services in the best way possible.
Administration of business is the part of the job that ensures that everything is running smoothly and your business is growing. Using automation tools and software to carry out day-to-day tasks is highly recommended. Tasks like accepting reservations, managing slots, payment confirmation, and more. All this will give you more ease and time to look into other parts of the business and work on them.
Execution of the tour programs is the part where everything boils down. That being said, if the planning and administration are adequately dealt with–execution will not be much of a worry. Ensure that you stick to the plan and are flexible in work according to your customer’s comfort and ease.
Becoming a successful tour operator means being able to give the best experience to your customers. But that is just one side of the whole business. You also have to work towards attracting customers, collecting bookings, and managing payments.
If left unattended, this surely can turn into a chaotic mess. So, ensure that you put that side of your business in order as well.
Today, you have various tools and software to help you. Utilize them and make running tour operations fun for you as well.
Divya is a marketer, nature lover & startup enthusiast. She has an immaculate experience in GTM strategy & SEO. She always follows her instinct and travels with her Ikigai.