How to Stay Connected with Your Guests Throughout COVID-19

Just because the world has gone on lockdown, it doesn’t mean that customer communication should come to a complete halt as well. Tour and activity operators should continue to put their guests in the centre of their strategy by finding creative ways to stay connected and keep them engaged. Even the smallest things can make a big difference, and loyal guests will notice and remember. 

Maintaining engagement with your guests is always critical for the success of your business, so while your to-do list might be longer than usual these days, don’t use that as an excuse to take a break from communication. Gallup research has shown that “fully engaged customers are more loyal and profitable than average customers in good economic times and in bad.” 

So, with the state of the world right now, customers might not be ready to book their next visit with you yet. However, you should still be showing them that you are committed to providing the best service and experience possible, whether that’s in person or virtually. Here are some customer engagement strategies you can try:

Up your social media game

Did you know that social media users are now spending an average of 2 hours and 24 minutes per day browsing various social networks and messaging apps? This statistic has been steadily rising over the years. Just think of how much it’s increased now that quarantine has forced everyone indoors! If you’ve been having trouble thinking of new and creative ways to boost engagement on social media, here are some ideas for you to consider:

Post useful tips or how-to’s 

Whether you want to be serious or funny, how-to guides are a great way to provide interesting and relevant content to your guests. Be creative by relating these posts to your industry, location, or even just the times we’re living in right now. And of course, make sure that they’re always relevant to your business.

Informative posts can also help you to expand your reach — guests that find your posts useful might go on to then share them with their friends or followers. 

Including the information right in the post might increase the chances of it getting shared, but linking guests to a specific page can help bring in some extra traffic to your website or blog, so keep your goals in mind when creating new content like this.

Norwegian Cruise Lines Instagram post of how to make crepes

Create and post your version of a well-known meme

Memes (funny images or videos that are copied — often with small variations and shared on the internet) may seem like a silly millennial trend, but studies have indicated that they’re more than just that. In fact, one study showed that “Internet memes” can actually affect the purchase intention of consumers through strengthening their attitude. 

If you’re a bit hesitant about sharing your creation, conduct some research to confirm that you understand the style you want to use. “Meme Marketing” can be quite lucrative — as long as you’re able to get it right. Take your time, and remember to keep it relatable and relevant to your brand.

Participate in hashtag trends

There are so many options for trending hashtags these days that it might seem overwhelming trying to decide which ones to use. Not only are there a multitude of specific day-of-the-week tags (#TravelTuesday, #WednesdayWisdom, #ThrowbackThursday, just to name a few), but there are thousands of others for holidays or daily and weekly tributes to almost anything you can think of!

Since it’s no secret that posts that have at least one hashtag (specifically on Instagram) receive higher customer engagement than those with none, don’t fall victim to decision paralysis. Do some research to find tags that relate to your business and industry, and use them to your advantage.

Having trouble coming up with hashtags? Check out our list of 177 Instagram hashtags for tours and activities!

Instagram post by Rei using trending hashtags to engage customers

Trending hashtags are an excellent way to relate with your audience, but it can also give you some inspiration on what to post next. Use them to give your audience a laugh, to provide fun facts about your business, to reshare a guest’s photo, or even to show off your company’s history. 

Keep your guests in the loop

It’s important to be honest and genuine with your customers all the time, but especially now, as life has turned upside down for so many. While you might only want to try fun and quirky ways to engage with your audience during this time, don’t forget to be real with them too. 

Let everyone know what you’ve been up to

If you haven’t shared how your business is handling the COVID-19 crisis or how it’s been affected by it, now’s the time to do it. Keep the conversation going by letting your guests know how things have changed since the quarantine started and ask them how they’ve been doing as well. 

Marriott International's message about their commitment to sanitization during COVID-19

Consider starting a weekly or monthly newsletter to keep your guests informed on your plans for reopening your business after covid. Alternatively, a message on social media and your website will suffice — or even a short video! Don’t be afraid to show your face and chat candidly with your guests. It’s a friendly way to remind them that there are real people behind your brand.

Post employee spotlights

Most people love to read about personal stories (ahem, Humans of New York, anyone?!). So why not put the spotlight on some of your superstar guides and staff? It’ll help your guests develop a more personal connection with your brand, which is essential for gaining their loyalty. You could post fun facts or quotes from your employees or even share how they’ve been handling the quarantine themselves. 

Share guest photos and testimonials

“Throwback” style photos often cause people to think of positive memories from their own experiences with travel and tourism, and not surprisingly, it gets them excited about booking their next adventure. 

Try engaging with your guests by asking questions about what they miss about your business, or what their favourite experience has been. Ask them to share their favourite moments through social media or even to leave your business a review on Google or another review site. 

Also, don’t forget to link guests to your booking page so that they can book their next experience or purchase a gift certificate. They will be excited to have some activities to look forward to again!

Collaborate with other operators

Working together with other businesses in your area is a great way to boost your brand awareness and expand your reach. While countries are slowly starting to open up and return back to regular life, it doesn’t look like international travel will bounce back quite as quickly. Take this as an opportunity to work with other operators in your area to provide guests with interesting and fun local experiences. 

You could work together to offer deals or giveaways, or even host social media contests. These efforts will help to create a positive buzz around your brand – a good way to increase your customer engagement and loyalty! 

If you’re financially able, you could also consider collaborating with other businesses to give back to your community or donate some of your resources to a good cause.

Ask your guests questions

This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s actually more valuable than you might think! Loyal customers want to interact with you, and they’ve actually got some great insight to provide on what they like and want to see from your business.

If you’ve been thinking about offering a new service or experience to your guests, consider asking them directly for feedback. They’ll feel appreciated that they get to provide their input and will be more likely to try out your new service or experience once it’s released.

Final thoughts

Keep your engagement strategies relevant to your business and industry while maintaining your brand voice and tone. If what you’re sharing comes across as inauthentic, your guests will notice — and not in a good way.

Try to be especially empathetic during this time and use sensitive language when posting and replying to your guest’s comments and questions online.

Lastly, think about quality over quantity. Don’t overwhelm your guests with too many new ideas at once — start slow and see what resonates. Do your research to make sure that what you’re posting and sending out to your guests aligns with your goals. 

Even if you’ve already got a success-proven strategy, it’s imperative to remember that customer engagement is not something to skip out on. Show your guests that you’re there for them (always!), and they won’t soon forget once it’s time to get outside again.

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