How can you ensure your business remains ahead of your competition as worldwide tourism growth is slowing down?
It's not difficult, but you need to take time to think and plan.
In my discussions with visitors, tourism operators, inbound operators, wholesalers, RTO’s, Tourism New Zealand and from the international research I’ve done, these are the trends I see for the coming year(s).
To operate a successful tourism business, it's important to take time out and work ON your business.
Planning, executing, learning, reading. If you make this a habit, and set a specific time each week to work on this, I can guarantee you that your business will benefit.
If you need help improving your capability, do check out our:
Have a good rest of your week!
Kind regards, Marijke
Where do the images you have on your website, or the ones you distribute to other websites, agents, media etc. end up?
It can be useful to know this for several reasons:
To find out where your images are used, use Google image search. Here's how:
1. Go to Google Images.
2. Click on the little camera icon in the search bar.
3. You can either paste the image URL, or click "Upload an image" and upload the relevant image.
4. The search results will appear - scroll down the page a bit to see on what website they appear.
PRO tip: do rename your images with keywords before uploading them onto your website. This is great for your search results. Simply right click the image, click 'Rename', then rename it and save.
Till next time, Marijke
The key to achieve tourism distribution success is not rocket science, but it does take a bit of work. The key is to spread your distribution and risk and not put all your eggs in one basket.
A few years ago I had a client come to me who said he’d lost 45% of his business. The reason: he received 45% of his bookings from one supplier, who decided to go into competition with him.
Your online (and offline) visibility is essential so that your potential customers learn about you when they’re planning their holiday. A well thought-through distribution strategy is therefore essential.
Successful businesses spread their distribution by selling their products through:
Set specific goals of what you want to achieve and get into the habit of spending a few hours each week – preferably the same day/time - to work ON your business. You will achieve the things you set out to do and build a successful business.
If you need help with this, consider getting a coach or join one of our tourism business success programmes. (note: the next Tourism Business Success Programme starts next week on the 29th of August 2019 - register now!)
If you use Instagram for your business, you will have noticed that the number of likes of a post is no longer showing. Why is this?
It’s part of a trial carried out in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Brazil to remove the pressure on how many likes a post received. Instagram says: “We want your followers to focus on what you share, not on how many likes your post gets. During this test, only you will be able to see the total number on your posts”.
Yeah, right! Instagram is of course in it to make (more) money. By removing this feature, brands and influencers will be forced to spend more money on boosting posts and advertising.
A decrease in post likes has already been observed by many operators. Have you noticed this?
Social media is an important marketing tool for tourism businesses, but also one that you don’t have any control over. And that's a risk.
So what can you do about it?
If you are too reliant on one type of marketing or distribution, I’d advise you to start thinking about spreading your risk. The reason is that if one supplier, or social media platform, Online Travel Agency or wholesaler falls over or changes the way they work with you, you don’t want that to affect your entire business.
A diversified marketing strategy that spreads the risk is the way to go. Especially now that tourism is softening, it’s time to work smarter and plan strategically for the next few years.
What are you doing in terms of local, domestic and international distribution, content marketing, digital marketing, email marketing, social media marketing, partnering with other businesses? Are you keeping up with marketing trends? Do you have sound marketing systems?
Winter is a good time to work ON your business and the businesses that do this will grow compared with businesses that are complacent. I’ve seen this over and over!
So, set some time aside to work on your business so you can focus on your planning. Go off-site for a few days or join on of our training programmes. Visit www.smartraining.co.nz/
Last month, I met with the Australia/NZ Sales Manager of Tripadvisor in Australia. He mentioned that the key to ranking high on Tripadvisor is:
Quantity of reviews
With regards to quantity of reviews; there are more and more tools out there that send automated emails to every customer encouraging them to write a review. You can also create a miniposter or sheet with a QR code linking directly to your review page. You can hang this in your reception, in your transport van or put it in an in-room compendium. Or you can send them an email with the link to your Tripadvisor review page yourself.
Recency of reviews
These tools also address the ‘recency’ of reviews. If your last review is several months old, Tripadvisor doesn’t rank you as high as they rate the reviews as less relevant.
Now, that’s all good, but what do businesses have in common that are at the top of review sites? And not just Tripadvisor, also Google Reviews, Airbnb reviews, Online Travel Agency reviews etc.
Quality of reviews!
The ‘quality’ of reviews is the most important factor and they don’t just happen by accident. People mostly write reviews if they've had a good experience and they're happy to spread the word for you.
From my own experience in working with high-ranking businesses, here's what these operators have in common:
So, have a look at your Tripadvisor reviews and research those of high-ranking operators. What can you learn from it?
Travel bloggers and social media influencers can be very beneficial in promoting your tourism business to a large group of people as they share stories and photos to their thousands of followers. They usually combine blogging with posts on Instagram and Facebook.
They can also dramatically help you increase your number of followers and provide great exposure for your business.
Some do it professionally and make money through advertising, sponsorships or get paid to write about you. Others blog their way around the world and get free accommodation and activities this way. Either way, working with them can be very successful.
Here are some tips to make to ensure the blogger or Instagrammer will meet your expectations.
Whether you approach them, or they approach them, research them before you talk or to them, research them first:
Overall: do your product ‘fit’ with this influencer?
After doing this research, it’s time to approach them or get back to them. Ask them:
Some bloggers will provide you with a proposal, others are very casual. By doing the research above, you’ll be able make a more informed decision as to whether you’d like to work with them!
Till next time, Marijke
At least once a year, take a few minutes to update and tidy up your social media accounts. Ensure your profile photos, banners, posts are the ones that reflect your business at this point in time. Are you using the right photos and the correct sizes for your posts so they look great and match your current branding and reflect what sets you apart from your competition?
Ensure your branding is consistent so your customers recognise you, whether they look at your website, Instagram account or brochure.
Below is a guide that will show you the exact sizes for your social media account images so you can make your social media accounts look as sharp as they can be!
First of all, what is a blog?
"A blog is a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style."
And YES, I think you should blog! Why, you may ask? Apart from posting on social media, writing blog posts is even more work.. and you may feel you aren’t into writing.
Blogging is a way to ‘talk’ to your customers, to tell them stories about your business, your area, the things that you’re passionate about (that would appeal to your customers). These stories add a lot of value to your website, which is your most important marketing tool!
Don’t despair, it’s not difficult. But it is about creating a new and consistent habit. If you’re not going to commit to writing a blog post say once a month, don’t bother even starting.
Keep in mind the ‘conversational and informal style’. Write as if you’re talking to your customers. What do you talk to them about? What are you passionate about?
Say you run an accommodation business and your passion is walking. In your blog you could describe the great walks in your area and add some photos you’ve taken along the way. Or you’re into golf, write about the golf courses in your area. Or photography may be your hobby, provide tips on how to take amazing pics in your area. Etc. etc. etc.
So how do you start a blog? The easiest way is to add a blog page to your existing website (like this one).
Plan to write a little article say once a month. Before you know it, you’ll have created this really great content that is of interest to your customers on your website. It’ll create a connection and rapport. It a way to personalise your content and share it with your customers.
Oh, and it’s also really good for Search Engine Optimisation! Google loves original, regularly updated content on websites.
So, what are you waiting for?
Find some inspiration by researching other people’s blogs and plan the topics that are of interest to you and your customers!
Tourism Business Success Programme: 9th May start
This is a great time of year to work ON your business.
The Tourism Business Success Programme is a 9-month intensive course for tourism businesses that will help you take your business to the next level, work smarter and learn about the latest trends.
The next course starts next week, 9th May in Queenstown. Click here for more info, registrations closing on Monday.
If you have any questions, call me on 021-456451
Customers who are interested in your type of product usually have a wide range of options to choose from. Whether it be options directly competing with you (such as similar types of tours) or other alternatives (such as a guided walk).
Your points of difference are the reason people choose you. Think about what your favourite café or restaurant is. Why do you go there? There will be very specific things you like about it, such as great staff, great food, they know you by name etc.
They say that 50% of your business comes from your unique selling points.
So, the one question you need to answer about your business/product is: Why choose us?
What are the things that make you unique, why are your customers choosing you?
Apart from the reasons you come up with yourself, read your customers’ reviews and testimonials. They’ll say why they chose you, and you can use these reasons to help you market your business.
Ensure you have a “Why choose us” section on your website, brochure, social media etc.
This will make it much easier for your customers to decide to choose you!
Check out the new Tourism Business Success Programme and Agritourism Success Programme - next start dates 3 & 9th May. Visit www.smartraining.co.nz for more info!
Up to 50% funding available through New Zealand Trade & Enterprise.
Reviews help customers make decisions on where to stay, what to do or what to buy.
You work hard at providing an excellent customer experience resulting in positive reviews on sites such as Tripadvisor, Facebook, Google, Yelp etc. But every now and then, you may get a negative review. Some are fair, and these provide you with an opportunity to improve aspects of your business. And some are unfair.
No matter what they are, you need to write a response. It provides you with an opportunity to explain what happened and apologise, and it shows your professionalism and that you care.
I have talked with many operators about their occasional bad review. It’s human nature to focus on these, even if the majority of your reviews are raving!
So, my first piece of advice is: keep the negative reviews in perspective. How many good reviews do you have compared to the bad ones? Don’t take it too personal and don’t dwell on them.
OK, now you need to respond to that negative review. Here are 5 tips to help you do it.
Final tip: Have a complaints procedure in place so it’s easy to respond. Ensure your staff is empowered to do this too to solve issues quickly and on the spot.
Instagram is a great way to promote your (tourism) business as it’s purely visual and everyone LOVES photos and videos! It takes a bit of thinking and researching to develop a theme that represents your brand, what you stand for and how you want to stand out! But if you're going to spend time on Instagram for your business, you might as well do it well!
A theme will reinforce your brand and help people recognise and remember you.
Like anything in business: planning is the key to achieve what you want. If you don’t know where you’re going, how are you going to get there?
So, when it comes to Instagram themes and posts, the same applies. Plan your theme for results!
Here are 6 tips to help you develop a theme that people will want to follow!
So, spend a little time developing your Instagram theme that your customers will want to follow and share!
Final tip: put a live feed on your website! This will keep your content fresh and encourage people to follow you!
Till next time, Marijke
When I speak with businesses about training their staff, many struggle with the transient nature of staff in the tourism industry, especially in towns like Queenstown, Te Anau and other places where there's a large number of tourism businesses.
Recruiting quality staff is a challenge, and investing in training them can cost a lot. But what is the cost if you don't train them?
It doesn't have to be difficult, though. By having good systems in place where you can train them yourself, your business will provide the quality customer experience that you expect.
But what about your own training and development? How much time do you spend planning the next few years of your business growth, your product development, marketing trends, distribution etc?
I see time and time again that business owners or managers who invest in their own development achieve far greater results than others.
Currently, tourism growth is softening. There are many factors that can be attributed to this, from worldwide political situations to economic slowdown. So the more reason to work ON your business and plan for the next few years.
If you're interested in growing your business, then check out the new courses below. Over the last 22 years, I have worked with hundreds of tourism businesses and am most happy to have a chat to you if you have any questions about the new Tourism Success Programmes.
Registrations are now open (for April/May start) - click on the link below, or go to www.smartraining.co.nz.
With the huge amount of options people have when buying your type of product or service, it’s so important to make it really clear why they should buy from you, what value do you bring them and what is the experience going to be like?
Every now and then, ask yourself the questions below. It’s also good to involve your team in this exercise to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Here are 5 questions that will help you clarify why people should book you or buy from you:
Till next time, Marijke
Coming soon: the new Agri-tourism Success Programme and the new Tourism Business Success Programme. Click here for more info!
Happy new year to you!
Here are 5 Tourism Marketing Trends for 2019!
Trend 1: The rise of Instagram for tourism.
Instagram has grown at a much faster pace than Facebook has in the past. It’s a great visual platform for tourism businesses and by learning how to use Instagram ‘properly’, including the use of hashtags, you can reach and keep in touch with customers in an effective way.
Trend 2: The growth of Google Reviews (and Google bookings).
You will have noticed the increase in Google Reviews and Google Local Guides. The advantage of this is that everyone uses Google and it’s a good to have an alternative way to review to Tripadvisor. Google has offers online booking - you can book directly from the operator's Google Listing through one of the existing Online Travel Agencies (OTA's). Google clips the ticket.
Oh, and did you know that Tripadvisor is going ‘social’ too? Late last year, they launched their own social media platform. I won’t go into too much detail here, but to be honest, I’m not sure what to think of it and whether it will take off.
Trend 3: The increased importance of content marketing.
Content marketing has been growing in the last few years, but now businesses are becoming more strategic about it. Content marketing involves developing quality and unique content that will benefit your customers. Think about imagery, blogs, videos (virtual reality/360 degree videos) etc.
By developing a content strategy (rather than posting random ad-hoc content) for your website, social media, blog etc, you will have quality material that will encourage your customers to book you, share your content and follow you. User-generated content (USG) is when your customers’ photos for example are shared on social media. UGC is hugely powerful and should be a part of your content strategy.
Trend 4: Mobile marketing & the growth of voice search. With between 75% and 80% of visitors using their smartphone while on holiday, the growth of voice search has grown too. Paying more attention to the mobile user experience and speed is important – how does your mobile site perform and is it optimised for voice search.
We’ll also see the growth of payment methods such as Alipay, Wechat pay and Whatsapp pay.
Trend 5: Direct marketing. More and more hotel chains world-wide are using direct marketing to reach customers as their share of bookings (and thus paying more commission) to Online Travel Agencies (such as booking.com and expedia) has grown so much. Many hotels are focusing on direct marketing to their customers and I believe it’s hugely important that smaller accommodation and activity operators do this too. Don’t forget that you don’t control what’s happening on social media. What you do control are your own customer databases.
Do you need help with your business and marketing strategy? Do you want to learn and keep up to date? Then check out the new Tourism Business Success Programme and the new Agritourism Success Programme. Go to www.smartraining.co.nz for more info!
Only 11 days till Christmas and everyone seems to be frantic and stress levels are rising. Work pressure, holiday pressure to get everything finished before your break – that is if you have one, as for tourism businesses, it will get even busier.
I felt a bit like that myself, so took a step back and focused on these 4 simple tips below. It's not rocket science, but it's worth reading them. I hope they will help you too!
1. Remember what’s really important to you; e.g. your health (physical and mental health) and the health of your loved ones, relationships with loved ones, the things that make you happy and give you satisfaction such as your business, job, and activities. Remember what’s really important to you, the rest is a bonus. Trust your gut and be true to yourself.
2. Take some time to plan - now! Take an hour or two today to plan the rest of this month. Plan your business and marketing tasks and plan your personal tasks. Some things need to be done right now, some things can wait till the new year. Either way, write down the things you need and want to do and break them into bite-size chunks, and you’ll see: you WILL save time and achieve everything on your lists! It’ll also give you a sense of control in these hectic times and planning will actually save you a lot of time.
3. Get some help! Whether in your business or personal life, sometimes you just need to get some extra help. Who could help you make your life a bit easier at this time of year? Ask them today!
4. Take some time out to relax and refocus. Yes, even if you think you need every minute of the day for all the urgent things, take some time out. If you have routines that help you calm down (like walking your dog, have a coffee with a friend, get enough sleep), do these! You’ll be able to survive the busy times effortlessly. Be kind to yourself and keep smiling!
Be kind to yourself and keep smiling!
Till next week, Marijke
Last month, I posted an article on "How to repost your customers' photos on instragram - and increase credibility and followers".
Following on from that article, I thought I'd share a little tool that will allow you to easily create a live instagram feed on your website. (see the bottom of this website: www.planit-doit.com for an example.
A live Instagram feed looks great! Every time you post a new photo or video on Instagram, it gets automatically updated on your live feed. That means you'll have fresh content all the time, which keeps your website up to date and relevant.
It also encourages people to start following you (assuming you're sharing interesting, stunning, fun, beautiful photos and videos!).
A free tool you can use for this is called Powr. Go to www.Powr.io . It only takes a few minutes to insert the code into your website.
Encourage people to use your #hashtag too by promoting it the above the feed and encourage them to follow you!
Till next week, Marijke
NOTE: Last chance to register for the Tourism Business Success Programme starting in Christchurch next week (5th December) - go to: www.smartraining.co.nz
Do you run a tourism business in the Christchurch or Canterbury region? Then don't miss the next Tourism Business Success Programme. Start: 5th December 2018 in Christchurch. Click here for more info!
Whether you travel for work or for pleasure, long haul travel can be a bit of a mission.
I’ve travelled from New Zealand to Europe dozens of times. From Queenstown, this takes between 31 and 41 hours. As I am a fussy traveller, over the years I’ve managed to make it into a more pleasant experience. This means a more comfortable flight and arriving (relatively) fresh at the destination.
Here are my best tips:
If you have any more tips, share them in the comments box below!
Your customers are likely to be taking LOTS of photos of their experience with you, especially if you work in the tourism industry.
These pics could be a great in helping you promote your business as UGC (User-generated content) is much more credible than photos you post yourself.
Instagram is a great social media platform as it is so visual (and you can post pics onto Facebook with just one click).
So, how could you use the photos your customers take of your product/experience?
The easiest way is to ‘repost’ them.
Is reposting legal?
It’s not legal to repost an image without asking permission to the owner of the image as they have the copyright.
What you can do though, is generate a branded hashtag with your business name and add it to your profile. Say something like: Tag #smartrainingnz to share your photos with us and give us permission to re-post.
If you then repost the photo, make sure you credit the image to the owner.
How to repost?
You need to find a separate app to repost photos to Instagram as it is not possible through Instagram itself.
There are a number of apps your can use to repost an image. I use “Repost for Instagram”. If you use Buffer.com for your social media scheduling, you can also repost through this software.
Promote your hashtag
Ensure you promote your hashtag clearly:
Have a go! You’ll increase your following and increase credibility because your customers are sharing their experiences of your product!
NOTE: Final plug for the Tourism Business Success Programme starting on the West Coast (NZ) with the Strategic Planning Day on 18th Oct 2018. Don't miss it!! Go to www.smartraining.co.nz for more info. 50% funding available.
Till next week, Marijke
When you’re on holiday somewhere, do you ask locals what their favourite restaurant is, what the best walk is, what the best activities are etc? I sure do!
Word of mouth marketing is one of the most powerful ways to market your product.
Recently, we stayed in a lovely ‘villa’ in Tuscany, just outside of Florence. It was a wonderful experience, the main reason being that the service exceeded expectation and was very personalised. They were interested in where we were from, gave us lots of tips on what to see and do, and also gave us a sheet with their favourite local restaurants. This was very helpful as there is a choice of nearly 2,000 restaurants in Florence!
For locals who work in tourism and are in contact with your customers, it is highly beneficial to know the local products as people will ask them for advice. But not just for people working in tourism, as any local is likely to talk to visitors.
So, what can you do for locals to get to know you and recommend you?
What's in it for you?
Till next week, Marijke
Just back from a trip to Europe... A holiday in a different environment is a great way to recharge, and also to find some brilliant innovative marketing ideas....
One small Italian restaurant we visited had a novel way of charging for wine. It was lunch time and we just wanted a glass of wine or maybe one and a half, not a whole bottle.
We asked the waiter for a wine suggestion. He said, how about I put the bottle on the table, and you only pay for however much you drink.
This was perfect!
They offered the opportunity to just pay for how much you actually drunk, rather than charging per glass or a whole the bottle. We had a glass of lovely white wine and decided to have a little bit more.
When it came time to pay, the waiter put a ‘measuring stick’ (see pic above) next to the bottle indicating exactly how much we drank and how much we had to pay. What a great idea! It allowed us to have a little bit more than one glass, as we didn’t want a whole second glass. (Though it was tempting with the bottle sitting there!)
For the restaurant, it’s an easy way to increase revenue!
What did they do with the rest of the bottle? They probably used it for single glasses of wine…
Till next week for more innovative tips, Marijke
PS Last chance TODAY to register for the Tourism Business Success Programme starting this Friday 21st of September 2018 in Queenstown.
Are you from the West Coast? We'll start there on the 18th of October. Don't miss out! go to www.smartraining.co.nz for more info!
Do you use email marketing (or are thinking about it)? Then read on!
Email marketing is still highly relevant. In fact, the use of it has increased over the last 10 years and it is the most used marketing channel with the highest return on investment. WOW! Email marketing works better than social media marketing as each message needs dealt with - even if it's deleted, people still read your headline! Social media posts can get 'lost' due to the volume of posts.
And the great thing with email is that virtually everyone uses it!
Here are some tips to improve your email newsletters:
Don't have time to do it yourself? We can help! Just email Marijke firstname.lastname@example.org
Have a great weekend!
As you can imagine, Google ranks faster sites higher. The slower your site loads, the more visitors will leave your site before it's finished loading. And that's not you want!!
The easiest way to speed up your site is to ensure your images are resized properly. An images that is say 400 pixels wide (appr 10 cm) needs to be resized to 400 pixels BEFORE you upload the image. If you don't do this and just drag the corners to resize it, your image will be much larger than needed and will slow down your site.
I've recently started this extremely easy-to-use free little tool called Bulk Resize Photos. You can either upload a lot of photos and resize them all at once, or just resize one pic at a time.
Here's the link to the tool: bulkresizephotos.com/
After uploading the pic(s), just adjust the width to whatever you want it to be (eg 400 pixels for a small image, or 1250 for a full width pic) and click "Start Resizing".
After resizing your pics, rename EVERY PHOTO with a description / some relevant keywords.
Then upload the pics to your website.
Voila, simple as that!
Till soon, Marijke
Marijke Dunselman. Click here to read more about us!