Hook More Travelers to Book Your Experiences with Purpose-Driven Storytelling

Better stories = better profits for operators of tours, activities and attractions, as explained in a popular Arival 360 | Las Vegas breakout session on storytelling.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 50 seconds

How are your storytelling superpowers? Have you considered how storytelling can help you grow your business? At Arival 360 | Las Vegas, Mitch Bach of TripSchool & Tourpreneur and Akila McConnell of Unexpected Atlanta & Unexpected Virtual Tours led a compelling workshop on profit-driven storytelling.

Bach kicked off the session with a demystifying notion: story is the opposite of noise and information. Story has the power to create connection and communicate to guests that you are the right experience for them. 

Perhaps you’ve heard the old adage: facts tell, stories sell. As the numbers show, this is true for selling tours, activities and attractions. As McConnell shared, story-driven businesses outperform the general market 15:1 and outperform their competitors 6:1, and corporate cultures built on a consistent story and purpose see their revenue grow four times faster.

How can you leverage the power of storytelling to bring more travelers to your tour, activity, attraction, or experience? Here are some insights from the Profit-Driven Storytelling session.  

Your Brand Story Is How You Tell Your Brand Purpose

If you think of your business as an iceberg, story is the part hidden under the water that influences everything you do in business (what people see above the water). It is the deeper underlying foundational force that drives your business’s existence. As McConnell shares, “your brand story is how you tell your brand purpose.”

In the workshop, this is what is referred to as a “us story”. The “us story” is the story you tell of how the tribe is impacted by your experience. It invites people to join you in what you believe in and what you stand for. This form of storytelling can be more impactful than just a “me” story (the story of you, the entrepreneur) and the “you” story (the story of who your experience is benefiting).

McConnell explains how Bulldog Tours uses storytelling to effectively set themselves apart from their competition

We can see how a purpose-driven narrative plays out with Bulldog Tour Company out of Charleston, South Carolina. Bulldog Tour Company doesn’t put the story spotlight on how amazing they are, they put the spotlight on the impact their tour company has in the community and the fact that their visitors & guests have helped them raise $4.9 million for historic preservation in Charleston.


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Hook, Emotion, Narrative (HEN)

Stories are powerful because of their ability to hook you and draw you in. In order to capture someone’s attention, we have to captivate them – and that is what a good story does. “We sometimes create websites and tour descriptions and products optimized for SEO, for the bots, for the OTAs to all read them and optimize them and sell them,” says Bach, “and we forget that we’re dealing with human beings.

And human beings are emotional, not logical. It’s estimated that upwards of 95% of purchase decisions are subconscious, driven by our emotions and irrational feelings. After all, this is not printer ink or garbage bags people are purchasing – traveling in and of itself can be a deeply emotional act. People want to be taken on a journey, and a strong narrative ensures that you’re taking people somewhere.

 Bach uses a tour description from Modern Adventure as an example of effective storytelling

In the clip above, Bach demonstrates the power of using emotional language to immerse people into an experience. But words alone are not the only type of storytelling! The rules of story also apply to imagery as well. Are your photos evoking emotion and curiosity? Bach suggests showing people interacting and in action, to make it feel more like a story playing out.

Taking Your Story Offline

If you feel your story is coming through strong in your marketing, Bach and McConnell are encouraging you to take it one step further: consider how stories are integrated into your tour. Mastering the art of oral storytelling is important for all tour guides looking to transport their guests to another time. Where are there opportunities within your experience to move away from fact-sharing?

Even the way your tour is structured can mimic a story, making it incredibly valuable and immersive. For example, if you were running a food tour, you could just take your guests to a restaurant and have them served a plate of grits. Or… you could start by getting them to smell the southern spices, feel the grits in their hand, and watch the grits being made by a chef. This building up of a narrative or journey creates more meaning for your guests when they do finally sit down to eat.

Operator Takeaways: Story heavily influences people’s emotional decision-making process. If you’ve struggled with coming up with a compelling story, you might have been trying to force yourself into the “me” or “you” story. Consider structuring your story through the “we” narrative. Think back to when you started your experience. What was the driving belief that you want to invite people to join you in? This is one of the most powerful stories you can tell! Use it to fuel your marketing and experience.

More Insights on Storytelling

For more insights on using storytelling to attract more travelers, watch the full recording of Profit-Driven Storytelling at Arival 360 | Las Vegas on demand with an Insider Pro Access membership

Become an Insider Pro Access member today and get access to the full library of Arival research, plus many other benefits such as free consulting sessions, special discounts and 20% off in-person events, starting from $179 per year.


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