Operators should take this weak business time to make your future business stronger. Focusing on future strategy during this crisis
reduces fear and increases productivity, which can improve our attitude. We all get busy during regular business times and don’t have the chance to do a hard analysis on our business; however, now is the time to study and update your business for a strong future.
Take these 10 projects as ideas, “thought-starters” to guide you on the review of your business during this tough time. I hope they lead you to discover even more ideas for improvement.
I expect most of us have already canceled paid advertising on all forms of media including Facebook ads and Google Ads. You can use this time to review the analytics of past campaigns with the analytics tools available within each ad platform. Take a critical look to discover the best and the worst success rates. Find the patterns in the successful ads and create a plan to increase those ad styles for the future.
Don’t disappear. I have heard on a few podcasts that you should use free marketing and social media to stay visible in the marketplace during times like this. You want your brand to be the first thought when customers start looking for tours and activities again. You must be empathetic and relevant during the crisis. For example, use your social media to talk about supporting small businesses and local businesses. Thinking ahead, video is more effective in marketing but many of us don’t like to do it or don’t have time to create it. Now, is the time to plan video content you can use when the business begins to return.
Reinforce the front line
This is the best time to spend a lot of time looking at your web analytics about the online aspect of your business. You should really understand how your customers interact with your website so you can improve their experience. Also, take time to improve your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to increase the searches your brand appears in when customers start searching again. I have one LinkedIn article with more detailed information about Google Analytics and heat maps to understand your user experience. You can also review my LinkedIn article about SEO because there is a lot more to the topic than just using the top keywords.
It’s time to step back and consider additions and subtractions to the tour products you offer. Use the free time to listen to podcasts and research trends to find new tours that you can create. You can even think about tours for the fall and holiday season of this year. It’s also a good time to take a hard look at the tours that don’t get booked often. You can either cancel them or put them on hiatus because you want your tour menu to be focused on coming out of this crisis. I want to point out that food tour operators need to be prepared for the fact that some of their restaurant partners may not reopen. Operators will need to quickly react so they don’t exit the crisis with bookings on tours they are no longer able to offer.
You may have had these projects on your long-term goals as we did, but now may be a good time to make these goals a reality. You can consider adding self-guided tours or virtual tours to your offerings. These are formats that may be able to survive a crisis. We luckily already had self-guided tours in a low-tech format; using a mobile web page. There are self-guided app options that are more expensive but might be the right choice for your brand. Virtual tours are an option that can be as simple as giving your guide a mobile camera to use along the tour route. You can also hire a professional to create this content for you. Trends do show that individual non-guided tours may increase in the coming years.
Your team will be happy to take the time to upgrade their excellence or take some time to reeducate themselves. They may be happy to get paid for a few hours if you are able to set up a Google Hangout or other online meeting. Use the time to create a list of topics you want to reinforce your guest experience and/or policies. Tour guides may want to take time to do some new research about their topics or maybe even update the tour route. They may even be able to share their successful tour habits to make the entire team stronger.
Prepare to launch new ways to list your tours. There are many ways to expand your reach to possible new customers including Facebook Events and local activity listings. Use this time to think beyond the OTAs in order to increase your direct bookings. I invite you to review the list of options I created for LinkedIn.
Sell the future
As I mentioned before, you don’t want to disappear. You should offer vouchers for future flexible tour dates or gift cards. I suggest that you present them in social media in a friendly way to support the local small business without sounding like high-pressure sales.
You may know that blog posts on your website is a good part of improving your SEO. You may not normally have time to write articles for your community but it is important to keep them updated if you already have a blog on your site. You should definitely add a blog to your site if you haven’t done it before. Finding topics to write about can be a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be that difficult. You can write about common questions your receive from customers before they book, popular tours or locations on your tours, special services you offer, suggestions for activities after the tour is over, and even reasons why customers should book with your brand. Use Google to search for tours similar to yours, then scroll down to the bottom for the ‘related searches’ section for possible ideas.
My last project suggestion is a big one: control and optimizes your expenses. I hope you have already cut every expense possible to get through this tough time including ads or even trying to reduce fixed overhead by negotiating with providers. Now is also prime time to review your overall expense structure. You may discover expenses that have been justified in the past but really don’t need to continue in the future. Try to find tech or new online platform resources that may be able to combine other services in order to reduce the total expense. Discover office or administrative expenses that are no longer needed; even though they may be the way you have always operated in the past. Of course, deeply analyze the profitability of each tour product in your portfolio to find ways to improve or maybe even delete select offerings.
I look forward to connecting with all of you on my LinkedIn @AlanRRust and hearing your business improvement ideas.
LinkedIn web review: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/behind-your-business-online-activity-alan-rust
LinkedIn tour listings: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/behind-your-business-tour-listings-alan-rust
My LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/alanrrust/