Your Brand: Why It Matters Now, More Than Ever

Brand is often overlooked at tour and activity companies. However, you don’t need to spend millions or billions of dollars on massive brand marketing campaigns, to see the benefits.

Reading Time: 3 minute 24 seconds

Stop for one moment and think about the first words that come to mind when reading the following brand names:


Coca Cola.


Perhaps ‘Apple’ conjured up words like ‘premium,’ ‘expensive,’ ‘design,’ and ‘high quality.’ Coca-Cola might have made you think ‘sweet,’ ‘refreshing,’ or ‘iconic.’ Airbnb could trigger words like ‘sharing,’ ‘home,’ or ‘pioneer.’ 

This is brand marketing in action. 

Your brand is of the utmost importance and goes well beyond just a logo or color palette. 

Why should you care about your brand as a modern-day tour or activity operator? More on that below.

But quickly, let me share a quick personal story. 

My wife once asked me to run to the drugstore to buy cotton swabs (yes, quite exciting!) As a generally frugal guy, I opted for the store brand type, because after all, they’re just little sticks with a bit of cotton on the end. When I got home, I got an earful (pun intended) from my wife! How dare I buy cheap cotton swabs when what she really wanted were Q-tips.  

Why was she so peeved? 

Because over the years, the good folks at Unilever have positioned the Q-tips brand as ‘the gentler way to clean all of those sensitive areas.’ 

That’s just one of many examples of strong brand marketing at work. 

Why is Coca-Cola the most consumed non-alcoholic beverage around the world, after tea and coffee? Certainly not because of its health benefits. 

Those dancing polar bears and campaigns like ‘Open Happiness’ have done their job, convincing consumers everywhere that to drink a Coke is to be a part of something bigger. 

Why brand matters.

As a tour operator, a strong brand can be a growth hack and act as a differentiator between you and the competition down the street.

Tours and activities are one of the only verticals in travel not to have become a commodity, although some OTAs have certainly tried to commoditize them. 

Of the entire vacation experience, tours and activities should be the most memorable. 

Creating this memory for your clients begins with forging an emotional connection during the research and booking process. This is where having well-defined, well-communicated brand messaging really makes an impact.

Good branding sets a foundation for all other marketing channels and tactics to follow. SEO, social media, PR, email – all of these channels rely on branding.

Sure, you can create content for your blog or launch a Facebook campaign without investing first in brand strategy. But, it’s a bit like going for a hike in the woods without a map or GPS. You might reach your destination but it will take longer to get there. 

If that doesn’t convince you, consider this: a strong brand can mean relying less on pricing as a lever to generate bookings and revenue. Sure, you can still offer discounts. But a solid brand platform means you can use them more strategically, to optimize profitability for a certain date or departure, for example. 

Visit Glasgow Branding & Slogan

Changing consumer sentiments.

Now, more than ever, consumers are looking to purchase products that have meaning; that stands for something, and that reflect back the values they see in themselves.

According to a recent Ernst & Young study, 25% of consumers will pay more for trusted brands and 23% will pay more for ethical brands.

The world’s biggest travel companies caught onto this trend pre-pandemic. In 2019, Booking Holdings announced a 41% quarterly increase in brand marketing vs. the same period, prior year. This was a part of a bigger shift away from performance marketing channels

Of course, creating this brand positioning to the point where it influences bookings takes some effort and time. But these consumer trends look to be the new normal, so some investment now could pay dividends in the future when demand returns in full.

Practical tips to build your brand. 

Let’s put some of this theory into action, with these five practical tips towards building your brand:

  1. Develop your brand personality. Just like each of us, your brand is a living, constantly evolving entity with personality traits. Ask yourself: ‘if I met my company in a bar, how would I describe it?’ List four to five adjectives. It’s just as important to define what you ‘aren’t’ as it is what you ‘are.’
  2. Create a meaningful value proposition. This should be one to two sentences that describes how your product solves your customers’ needs or improves their situation. Position it front and center on your homepage.
  3. Write a mission statement. Some organizations write mission statements independent of their brand strategy. However, taking a holistic approach and drafting this as part of a larger branding exercise is recommended. 
  4. Consider a style guide. If you run a larger company or one where multiple internal or external stakeholders create marketing content, a style guide can help to ensure consistency.
  5. Live your brand! Encourage your team in all departments to live your brand. Let it shine through in all channels and at every stage of the customer journey – from research through to post travel. 

Wrapping it up.

Brand is often overlooked at tour and activity companies. It’s understandable – there’s always an operational or customer issue to deal with and it can be challenging to quantify the impact of investing in this area. 

However, you don’t need to spend millions or billions of dollars on massive brand marketing campaigns, like the other companies mentioned above, to see the benefits. Spending just a little bit of time and money on a brand strategy will provide your company and its employees with a ‘north star’ when it comes to future marketing and customer communication efforts. 

Contact us to learn more about Wildebeest and the brand strategy work we provide for tour and activity companies.  Or, read more about our full range of organic marketing services

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


already a member?

Lost your password?


Become an Arival Insider

Included in Free Membership

Included in Arival Pro Membership

The Arival on-demand video library archive
Access to the entire library of over 150 video sessions and webinars

Short, digestible research & trends reports delivering insights into our industry, such as The Tour Operator Outlook for 2021. articles
Topical articles about marketing, tech, operator business and operator stories in all areas of tours, activities & attractions & experiences

Job board access
Find a job from our regular listings, post a resume to the talent network and learn strategies from the job resources articles

New webinars
Helpful, instructional sessions covering subjects such as Mastering Facebook Ads, Grow Your Business and How To Work With OTAs — topics to help advance your business.

Discounts on all Arival in-person events
20% Discount on all Arival in-person events (save up to $300)* based on business type

Arival ProShield – Insurance program
Access to tailored insurance solutions by Granite Insurance is available exclusively for Arival Insider Pro Access Members. Insider Pro Access Members also have access to a suite of resources from Granite Insurance including templates, forms and other informative documents.

Insiders Pro Access member exclusive webinars
Paid membership-only webinars to deepen your understanding of important industry topics.

Job postings & talent directory
Post jobs & connect with candidates most applicable to your business.

Private roundtables to connect, learn and engage
Small, focused and intimate discussions exclusive to Arival Insider Pro Access members.

Full access to Arival’s library of in-depth reports
Up to date, deep analysis of tourism topics ranging from Self-guided Tours to Sales & Distribution Trends and Outlooks, based on the data that defines the industry.

The latest on-demand videos
Over 350+ on-demand videos featuring hot topics in tours, activities & attractions

Insider discounts in digital marketing, tech, e-learning, and more
Save money on additional tools, services and learnings you need to run your business. Exclusive to paid members.

Membership Overview

At Arival, we believe travel can make the world a better place. Our mission is to establish and inspire a diverse community of individuals and companies in the In-destination Industry by providing opportunities to gain insight, share knowledge and build connections. To make it possible for true collaboration, creativity, innovation, and idea exchange to thrive, we are committed to facilitating a welcoming and respectful community for all. This Conference Code of Conduct shares our community expectations and applies to all attendees, employees, exhibitors, speakers, sponsors, volunteers, and other participants at Arival- produced and sponsored events. We empower all participants in our community to actively engage in creating a friendly, inclusive and safe environment for all.

Arival’s core values include the following, and create an expectation for conduct at our events and in online community spaces:

We demonstrate a deep respect for human beings inside and outside our company and for the communities in which they live.
We value integrity and strive to consistently interact with others in ways that are authentic, ethical, and fair.
We are dedicated to transparency, committing to clear, open and honest communication.
We actively pursue and advocate for inclusion, diversity and representation of varying cultural backgrounds, perspectives and ideas

Arival welcomes people from all cultural backgrounds, and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, creed, gender (including pregnancy, perceived pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding, or related medical conditions), gender identity, religion (including religious dress and grooming), marital status, domestic partner status, genetic information, age, national origin or ancestry, military or veteran status, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, or any other basis protected by federal, state, or local laws.

Accordingly, participants must refrain from displaying any demeaning, harassing, aggressive, or intimidating behavior or materials that would interfere with others’ experience and participation in our community.

If you witness or are subjected to inappropriate or disruptive behavior or have any other concerns, notify an Arival staff member as soon as possible.

Inappropriate or disruptive behavior will not be tolerated. Arival reserves the right to refuse entry to or remove any party from any event or community space at any time when participation or behavior create a disruption or hinder the event or enjoyment of the event by other participants. All determinations are at the sole discretion of Arival, and the decision of the Arival team will be final. Severe breaches of this Conference Code of Conduct may result in disqualification from participating in future events. Individuals expelled due to violating this Conference Code of Conduct will not be eligible for a refund or other consolation.

If you have questions regarding this Conference Code of Conduct or its implementation, please contact us at [email protected].