As tour, activity, and event providers, you don’t sell products. You sell experiences.
Sure, the products you offer matter. It’s important that city tours visit interesting landmarks, that food tours visit great restaurants, that ziplines use quality safety equipment, and that the kayaks at a water sports company are in good condition.
But the products only matter because they impact the guest’s experience.
And the experience is what the guests pay for.
They pay for the rush of zipping at exhilarating speeds through a canopy of trees. They pay for wind in their hair. Or the water rushing around them. Or the city lights. Or the revitalizing experience of learning to look at a city in new ways.
That’s why, when you’re thinking about tour, activity, or event marketing, the customer experience should be front and center. The experience is what you’re selling, and you want to sell an exceptional experience.
Here are the five reasons every tour and activity provider should consider the customer experience when building their marketing plan.
Build Your Brand
Brand building is about perception. It’s about building long term trust and love of your company.
Great reviews are an indicator of a great brand. But a brand has value well beyond reviews and ranking on TripAdvisor.
A great brand is a powerful marketing tool. Take, for example, a kayak tour company who decides to expand into retail and produce a clothing line.
The average tour company will likely struggle to market their new business. After all, what does running kayak tours have to do with making fashionable apparel?
But if they’ve already built a great brand, that won’t matter. People will say, “Who them? I love everything they do. They gave me the best two hours on the water I’ve ever had. I bet they make great shirts too.”
Command Premium Prices
Guests pay for experiences. And they’ll pay more for a better one.
If you can consistently provide an excellent customer experience before, during, and after the experience (and prove it by generating more reviews), you can command higher prices than your competitors without losing business.
This is part of the value of building a great brand. The perception of your company, and the experiences you provide, determine the prices you can charge.
Improving the customer experience improves your brand. And better brands command higher prices.
Sell More Stuff
Simply put, happy guests buy more stuff. Unhappy guests don’t.
Take photo sales, for example. Over the past few years, outdoor activity operators have learned to supplement their booking revenue by taking and selling personalized photos to their guests.
But they only really sell if their guests are happy. After all, photos preserve memories. And who wants to remember a bad experience?
Get Repeat Purchases
Medallia Analysis looked at the effects of customer experience on repeat purchases. In their study they found that customers who had the best past experiences spend 140% more with the same brand than those who had the poorest past experience.
It’s common sense, really. Who would choose to repeat a bad experience?
Get More Referrals
Referrals and “word of mouth” customers are the holy grail of any tour, activity, or event marketing program.
Unless you offer extra incentives, referrals are typically free. A happy customers returns home and tells their friends about the great experience they had. They rave about it. Their friends can’t help but try it for themselves. That’s how one booking turns into two… and three, and four, and so on.
But a referral program only works if you create a consistently excellent customer experience. (Not an average experience, or even a great one. An excellent experience – A share-worthy experience!)
If you catch yourself worrying about the cost of improving the customer experience, think again.
Your guest experience is what your customers sign up for. It is your product. And bad products don’t sell.
Excellent experiences – the ones people can’t stop talking about – don’t just make selling easier. They make it less expensive too. They enhance your brand, increase revenue, and reduce costs.
Plus, it feels good to make a customer happy. Don’t you think?