Marketing your zip tour in 2016
“The times, they are a-changin.’” In the last ten years, many have witnessed the incredible evolution of the challenge course and zip tour industry. Its commercial success has spurred the growth of hundreds of establishments and even more “pop-up” zip activities at fairs in a short period of time. There were 30% more businesses in this sector in 2015 as there were in 2014. (I’m borrowing Michael Smith‘s definition of the “sector” to mean any zipline, canopy tour, aerial trekking tour, or zip ride company.) In an industry where change is the norm, getting an edge on your marketing strategy can set you apart from competition that’s only getting fiercer. In this article, we’ll look at two incredibly important platforms for your zip tour’s digital marketing strategy: Google and TripAdvisor.
These, of course, are not the only two things you should worry about this year. If you’re looking to boost your marketing success this season, check out “Insider Marketing,” my monthly column in Adventure Park Insider. With tips and insights just for the zipline and aerial adventure park industry, you’ll never run out of helpful marketing ideas.
And now, back to Google!
Google search metrics: “zipline”
As I’m sure you know, there are a lot of names for gliding through the air on a system of cables and platforms. According to Google, however, “zipline” is the most popular option. While canopy tour or challenge course may be more accurate industry monikers for your tour, the people have spoken (or at least typed). Take a look at the different search volume forecasts for our favorite “zipline” alternatives:
Thee difference in traffic for “zipline” and the last three keywords is so large that it’s virtually impossible to estimate their values from the graph. Compared to an average of 49,500 monthly searches for “zipline,” “canopy tour,” “aerial adventure park,” and “challenge course” receive 1,600, 800, and 390 average monthly searches, respectively.
“Zipline” is a great keyword for another reason too; it not only gets the highest search volume, but it’s also the cheapest of the top three results. “Zipline,” “zip line,” and “ziplining” are all highly competitive keywords to bid on for paid advertising purposes, but the suggested bid for “zipline” is twenty-three cents lower than the second cheapest, “ziplining.”
TripAdvisor: a sign of the times
Along with Google, many zip tours place a heavy emphasis on their TripAdvisor presence. Since performing my last survey of ziplines on TripAdvisor, the rating site has made some fundamental changes to the organization of listings and reviews. Now when you search, the ranking algorithm takes into account not only the business name but also the keyword’s presence in that business’s reviews. Unlike last year where the number of attractions and reviews containing the word “zipline” were distinct figures, now the search results somewhat blend the two.
On the bright side, this more intelligent search functionality makes it easier to account for zip tours on TripAdvisor that do not contain “zip” in their business name.
The main takeaway from this TripAdvisor survey, however, is that ziplining is challenging traditional definitions. Searching “zipline” yields 1,147 attractions. The quality of the results, however, starts to decline at around the 360th listing. That’s when you begin to notice more businesses with names that are not zip-/canopy-/aerial adventure park-related. Additionally, far fewer reviews mention “zipline” at this mark.
But even within these 360 results are tours that fall outside of the traditional boundaries of the zipline industry. For instance, Dollywood and the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens make the list. While ziplining is not the main attraction, they both offer the activity as a supplemental experience. Do these tours count in the zip tour industry?
I’m guessing we’ll have to answer this question sooner rather than later. But just as traditional challenge courses and commercial zip lining have come together as constituents of the Association for Challenge Course Technology, I predict that industry policymakers will also welcome these unconventional tours into the fold before long.
As you consider these TripAdvisor statistics and trends, understand that this is a hybrid sample of dedicated zip tours alongside businesses with ziplining as an accessory activity.
Gearing up for the 2016 ACCT Conference
With the Association for Challenge Course Technology’s annual conference being but a few days away, head to Austin armed with these insights about the evolving zip tour industry. Be sure to stop by booth 409 if you have any questions for me or if you’d like to chat more zipline marketing!