10 Top Operators on TikTok and Reels

More travelers are finding experiences through video: are they finding you? Here’s ten ways you can level up your vertical video game, based on ten tour operators killing it on TikTok and Instagram Reels.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 20 seconds

On social media, there seems to be two kinds of videos: those created by influencers with serious storytelling skills, and the rest of them. Search your destination on Instagram or TikTok and you’ll be inundated with beautiful scenery from professional videographers, photographers, and ultra-high-quality content from creatives who spend hours and days capturing and editing to get the perfect look and feel.

This, however, is not how most tour and activity operators spend their time. Nor should it be! We understand you need to focus on your strengths, whether that means leading the tour or activity itself or dreaming up the next irresistible experience for your guests. But if video is what gets your products found by travelers — as is increasingly the case with younger Gen Z and Millennial travelers in particular — then you can’t just ignore it.

So what can operators do to stand out on social? We’ve put together a list of ten creative operators who are at the top of their TikTok and Instagram Reels game. Here’s what they’re doing right and how you can follow their examples to make your experiences stand out too.

Ten Ways to Stand Out With Vertical Video

1. Focus on Novelty

Arigato Japan wisely shares incredibly unique aspects of their destination. By ending their video with “It’s only in Japan” they’re creating a sense of exclusivity which can really help pull viewers in. Think about what aspects of your culture or location are unique, and be sure to integrate those into your video content.

2. Take Viewers Off the Beaten Path 

If we know a few things about travelers, it’s that they love 1) a secret surprise and 2) saving money. Maybe that’s why this TikTok from The London Spy has amassed 5.9 million views and nearly 70k saves. In this reel, we feel like we’re being led somewhere special that most other tourists don’t know about. This gives us a taste of what it’s like to actually be on a tour with David. 

@the_london_spy

You can find sections of Roman London still standing in public free to visit in several places, here is one of my favourites. On this site stands a surviving piece of London’s city wall. The landward wall was constructed between AD190-220 and ran a distance of 3km (2miles). It was one of the most extensive works undertaken in Londinium The Roman city wall was 2.7m (9ft) thick at the base and stood over 6m (20ft) in height. This large, defensive boundary had an important influence on the City’s devclopment. It continued to be of importance through the post-Roman and Medieval periods when it was strengthened and extended in height. This section of the wall shows both the Roman and the Medieval parts of the wall. In the Roman section of the wall you can see four tile bonding courses and facing stones laid in roughly regular courses. In the upper medical section, the facing stones are less regular. In places the rubble core of the wall is visible where the facing stones are now missing. #thelondonspy #davidharry #romanlondon #londonwall #romanbritain #toweroflondon #londonhistory #londonguide

♬ original sound – David Harry – The London Spy

3. Join in on Challenges

Are you following along with the TikTok challenges? These have a tendency to go viral and people love seeing how your brand gets creative with them. Alaska Backcountry Adventure Tours had a little fun with this Miley Cyrus flowers trend, and we dig it.

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4. Educate About Your Offerings

Speaking as a traveler, it can be really difficult to understand different tiers and offerings some tour operators promote. If you get a lot of calls or questions from people asking the difference, take a page out of Wilderness Tours’ book and create some video content around it!

5. Position Yourself as Expert

Not everyone who comes across your video is going to be booking anytime soon. But if you can position yourself as an expert in something that they’re interested in, they’ll follow along. This creates long-lasting goodwill for when they are READY to book! Hog Island (a farm that hosts oyster tours) does this very well with their video content.

6. Make People Laugh

This video makes me laugh out loud every time I see it. I can only imagine the amount of fun I’d have on a tour with Ollie if I were to go to Ireland. And if fun is your goal, then this is a must-do video content strategy for you.

7. Convey an Inspiring Message

We love how Hot Air Expeditions is using video to not just showoff the beautiful views, but also communicate something deeper. This approach says, “we’re not just something to check off your bucket list”! You always want to find a way to tug at the heart strings and stir up emotion when creating content.

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8. Talk to The Camera

Most videos we see are of people walking around and doing things, but speaking directly to the camera has been shown to boost trust. In fact, close-ups of faces have been found to spike oxytocin and immersion in video. We love how Curious On Tanzania shows off her winning personality and creates an instant bond with the viewer.

9. Share Something Timely

This is especially relevant if you’re in a big city, where there’s always something new happening! Look at how Fat Tire Tours highlights a cool new exhibit in Paris. And while this video is a repost from an influencer, it still supports their goals of using social media to establish themselves as in-the-know tour leaders.

10. Call Out Superfans 

Using videos to talk to a very specific crowd is a great way to say “hey! We’re the tour for you”. Photowalk Nashville does this by addressing “Swifties” (fans of Taylor Swift). Not only do they capture superfan’s attention immediately, they can use hashtags to further get their videos out to highly targeted affinity groups. 

Operator Takeaway: As you can see, these videos vary in quality, approach, and length. The secret is finding what works for you and being consistent. Most importantly, embracing your authentic style of expression will always make this process enjoyable!

Learn More at Arival Activate | Bangkok 2023!

Vertical video has been a hot topic at the last couple of Arival conferences, and Bangkok is no exception! We are excited to be having a speaker from TikTok discussing videos and tourism, as well as a breakout session discussing social media strategy and working with influencers. Get your ticket today!

Insider Pro Access members can also join our upcoming Pro Meetup on June 1st, where we’ll be discussing all things social media. Register here. 

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