3 Brand Strategy Tips for Tour and Experience Operators

Brand and marketing hacks to stand out in a crowded market, with brand proposition expert Catherine Warrilow: a preview of her upcoming Arival 360 | Berlin workshop session

Reading Time: 5 minutes 30 seconds

Reaching customers is becoming an ever increasing challenge. Travel has well and truly bounced back which is great news. Yet with that comes increased competition for share of voice, growing costs to advertise online, and ever-increasing traveler expectations to try and meet.

Plus, it can be really hard to put yourself in your guest’s shoes – especially as their needs and wants seem to change by the day – it’s pretty hard to keep up.

But if you consider this, it’s a great question to start off with:

  • What do you do – who for – and for what gain?
  • Therefore – what do you sell – who is the customer – what problem do you solve for them?

With that in mind, here are a few of my top brand strategy tips for 2024 that will give you a kick start in the direction of doing things differently to everyone else so you don’t get lost in the crowd:

3 Top Brand Strategy Tips To Try Right Now

1. Collate all of your customer reviews from the last season. 

Pick out key messages and words and look for trends – what do people often rave about and why? Is this reflected in your key messaging and brand tone of voice? 

It’s so easy to assume where the value you add is, but often when you take a detailed look at your customer reviews and feedback, you’ll start to spot the true reasons. The beauty of this is that customers word things in a way that will resonate with other customers — no marketing speak, no jargon, and no fancy stuff — just simply facts. Using this approach with the framework of what you do, who for, and for what purpose makes it far easier to land a message with a busy, distracted audience.

Customer reviews can help you assess the effectiveness of your branding efforts, as well as give you insight into the types of messages that will land with your audience | Photo: Unsplash / Embed Social

2. Challenge your channel choices. 

If you’re largely using Facebook, are your customers still there or have they moved on? If you’re using Instagram, are you just posting pretty pictures but not generating any engagement?

There are two main ways that people fail with social media, and can also waste a lot of budget.

The first is trying to be on every channel. As an example, some businesses plaster their Instagram post across every other channel with no thought for the relevance, style or point of the post. What are you actually asking people to do?

And second, businesses often pick a channel but don’t research or use the channel fully, they just post, tick it off the list and move on. With channels like Instagram and TikTok especially, you really have to utilize the channels to their full potential. Engage with other people’s content, comment and understand what people are talking about and what type of content is performing well. Research the right types of hashtags to use and explore how other people are using them.

For example rather than #valentinestour a customer might search #instagrammabletours. Think about the problem you solve and how to translate that into your messaging, for example: lower cost, instant booking, meet and greet, VIP experience, etc.

Carefully consider which social channels you are on, and how you are using them, as part of your brand strategy | Image: Pexels / Tracy Le Blanc

3. Make sure you’re being consistent with your brand 

Have a look at the hero message on your website against your printed collateral, social media and email marketing… It’s amazing to see how many businesses don’t have consistent branding across their channels.

Make time for marketing housekeeping every month, just half an hour is enough to check that the bios on your social channels are still in line with your website key messages.

Again, based on knowing and understanding what problem you solve for your audience ensure that your key messages are simple, direct, and demonstrate the value to the customer of booking their tour, activity or experience with you.


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A Common Challenge All Brands Face

In my experience of building brands and teams and also being brought into companies at the stage of expansion or acquisition to align vision with goals and deliverables, I’ve discovered that often businesses have simply lost track of what they are trying to achieve and they’ve stopped measuring progress.

This leads to real confusion and a scattergun approach in reaching and engaging people. In many cases, leaders are guilty of not keeping teams well informed of strategic plans, which means that nobody is working to the same vision.

This is because all too often growing businesses skip straight into the delivery – getting content out the door, publishing articles and sharing on social media. I guarantee that if I audited 10 brand strategies, at least seven would have inconsistent messaging, confused call to actions and complicated ways to engage or buy.

So what can you do? My number one takeaway is this: go back to the basics. Don’t change anything just yet, because first you have to be utterly clear on this…

Where are you trying to get to, what are you doing to get there, and how are you doing it differently? 

Knowing where you’re going and how you’re getting there is foundational to a successful brand strategy | Photo: Pexels / Jens Johnsson

Learn More About Growing Your Brand and Business at Arival 360 | Berlin

Join us at Arival 360 | Berlin for Catherine Warrilow’s workshop “From Mission to Money in 6 Steps.” This session will take you through the journey from ‘what’ your business actually does, right through to your core revenue streams, filling in the essential six elements between A and B that need to be in good shape to grow your brand and business, reach and engage customers and stand out in a crowded market. You’ll get your own roadmap to complete during the session, and hear examples from other operators in the room. We hope to see you there!

About the Author

Catherine Warrilow | The Plot

Catherine has spent the last 16 years working in travel and tourism – from holiday rentals and hotels, to attractions, experiences, OTAs and restechs, most recently working with Days Out, Day Out With The Kids, Eureka! And Invisible Cities. She is now Director of Brand Strategy at The Plot.

Follow Catherine on LinkedIn as well as TikTok.

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Header photo: Pexels / Kevin Bidwell

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