For travelers, there’s no greater feeling than the anticipation of a trip they’re excited about. And, as a tourism-centred business, you know what it takes to see guest’s eyes light up.
Surpassing guest’s expectations doesn’t have to be complex or expensive. With the travel boom coming, you’ll want to be ready for guests who have lofty expectations.
How are you planning on adding value for the guests you’ll welcome next?
Here, I’ll share a handful of ways you can position yourself as an intuitive tourism business, giving guests an experience they’ll rave about.
Providing added-value travel and tour experiences
Providing added-value travel and tourism is as simple as surprising and delighting your guests. Speaking from personal experience, I can remember staying at a place on one of the Gulf Islands about five years ago. The hosts had a beautiful vegetable garden which, when we were there in mid-summer, was in full bloom.
Not only did the host provide us with helpful directions and check-in reminders, upon arrival we were greeted by name with a warm welcome. The owner also provided me and my partner with a tour of the property, giving us a few tips for local eats and told us to enjoy their garden.
Towards the end of our stay they even insisted on sharing their veggie bounty with us. We took home a bunch of fresh tomatoes, snap peas and zucchini. What was a relatively simple gesture made us feel taken care of as guests and you better believe we shared a raving review of our experience.
Especially since travelers have not been able to explore internationally for the past year, expectations will be high. While luxurious travel experiences may look a little different for every guest, as a tour professional, you’ll have a knack for knowing what delights guests.
What does the modern traveler want?
Today’s traveler wants a personalized experience. More guests seek out talented tourism professionals who set the scene for a valuable, once-in-a-lifetime type of trip.
While high value experiences may look a little different for every guest, as someone who interacts with plenty of people you’ll have a knack for learning what delights them.
Plus, with more people keen to travel further and for longer – luxury travel and wellness vacations are becoming hot topics. This involves a white-glove approach to travel, where pretty much everything is taken care of and the emphasis for the guest is on getting away from it all.
12 ways of providing added-value to the guest experience
1. Connect with your guests
From initial communication, you have a powerful opportunity to earn a guest’s appreciation, gratitude and trust. Throughout the booking process, add value for travelers by asking the type of questions that help you get to know guests better.
In addition, regular emails in advance of the booking give guests the chance to connect with you, ask questions in advance and feel prepared for their trip. Creating travel packages is all about giving guests a way to re-charge and enjoy their time with you.
2. Curate memorable experiences
How would you feel if someone sent a personalized video your way saying how excited they are to meet you? It might give you the sense that you’re in for a personalized experience.
Travelers value when you get to know them by name and treat them like friends, and while you don’t need to send videos to every booking, you can get to know each guest and learn what their preferences are to set them up with a valuable experience.
3. Create ease of travel
Don’t assume your guests have the travel savviness of an Amazing Race guest contestant. The simple logistics of travel can be frustrating if mistakes are made en route.
Providing added value travel and tourism might be as simple as including the most cost and time-effective route for guests to reach their destination. And, by communicating with guests, you reinforce how you’re available to help if they need.
Just before you start your tour or activity, inform guests of restroom locations to minimize questions interrupting the flow of the experience. If you notice the same questions come up time and time again in your booking process, address them proactively in your pre-booking emails.
4. Gather food-related preferences ahead of time
Let’s say you offer food tours and find that you typically have guests with various eating preferences. It’s valuable for travelers to know that they have options when it comes to their food. Make a point of saying how your tour is an experience that includes something for everyone, like vegetarian and gluten-friendly options.
5. Accommodate furry friends
When people travel with their family, sometimes four-legged companions are part of the group. Typically pet owners will be willing to pay more for value-added services, so it’s worth considering how you can provide extra value by thinking of their pets, too.
Perhaps it’s setting up a dog bed in certain pet-friendly rooms or offering dog bowls and a few toys. You can also keep a few treats in your pocket for when you happen to pass the guest and their dog. Thoughtful touches go a long way for pet-owners who consider their dogs as core family members.
6. Inspire cultural connections
Part of the draw of arriving in a new city is how much you can discover. If guests are joining you for a few nights, a bike ride in the city or a walking tour, make a point to ask them what they’re looking to accomplish on their trip.
If they casually mention wanting to speak better Spanish, visit a certain landmark or try a specific type of food, share your personal favourites with them. Guests appreciate hearing about local recommendations from guides to help them make the most out of their trip.
7. Teach a new skill
No matter your age, it’s a treat to have someone talented teach you something new. Perhaps your business offers a cooking class or food walking tour. After the experience, provide recipes along with a video that takes viewers through the recipe step by step.
You can also help travelers engage with the local language by sharing common phrases and offering to practice with them throughout their experience.
8. Offer inside tips
Providing value for for tourists to explore other areas that may not already be on their bucket list. Added value in tourism can be summarized as taking care of the little things. Plus, feeling like an insider gives travelers a completely different perspective.
As a tour guide, guests love when you share your wealth of knowledge with them. By addressing them personally, asking questions about their trip and taking the time to connect with them, you make the guest feel seen and heard – elements of a quality booking.
9. Encourage add-ons
Have a mid-week gap in your booking calendar? See if you can persuade happy guests to stay an extra night or two with a slight discount if they’re having a great time. You can explore whether offering a Travel Tuesday deal can inspire guests who might be willing to book longer stays, especially in off-peak times.
10. Offer flexible booking and cancellation
In the age of grey zones and unpredictable travel, give your guests even more reason to stick with you. Communication goes a long way when it comes to changes. Be transparent about postponement options and timelines for cancelling in the event of a border shut-down or something simple like a missed flight.
11. Send guest photos
One of the best value-adds for travelers is receiving photos after they’ve been on a trip. Sending photos also acts as a catalyst for guests leaving reviews. While it may be an extra task, taking photos for guests makes a memory stand out. In addition, they’ll have something digital yet tangible to share that will absolutely be better than the selfies they can capture on their own.
12. Share handwritten thank-you notes
The warmth of personal touch and a handwritten note stands apart in our digital-centric world. You can leave a note at the beginning of the trip for guests you feel might appreciate it.
Adding value once guests have left is a matter of keeping the conversation going. Whether this is over social media or email, by treating your guests like friends instead of a number, you can earn their trust and continue the relationship.
Ways to elevate the guest experience
Imagine if you were traveling with a friend. You would be looking forward to hearing their insights and discovering new places they personally recommend for sightseeing, dining and entertainment.
You might appreciate discovering off-the-beaten-path locations and rally around supporting local and/or family-run businesses. If your tour business is centred on your values, the clients you attract should share these beliefs as well.
Adding value as a tour operator:
As a guide, your expertise is essential to an added-value travel experience. Think of yourself as the light for them in a new city, country or culture. A heightened demand for personalization and flexibility, which looks like smaller groups and niche style tours.
Use the valuable time ahead of a scheduled tour to get to know your guests, asking about where they are from and whether they have any big to-do’s on their bucket list during the time they are in town. You can offer guests a value-added experience by sharing:
- Complimentary snacks or water
- Contactless waivers and check-in options
- Icebreaker questions
- Maps or virtual link send the day before
- Options for seeing the city in the best way possible. Bikes, scooters, vehicle or bus transportation options
- Sightseeing tips and top locations depending on the length of their trip
- Restaurant suggestions, highlighting options for both early birds and night owls .
One of the best ways to set the scene for a seamless tour is by promoting timely guest arrivals. The first 15 minutes you share together can create more excitement and present you with the opportunity to solve any issues.
You can even incentivize guests to be alert with a bonus perk like a free drink or meal voucher. As a tour professional, adding a bit of charm, humour and surprise will help you to stand apart from your competitors.
Adding value as an accommodation provider:
When you think about offering value for your guests, consider age and activity level in your attention to detail. For instance, older adults have different energy levels and needs than travelers in their twenties.
Families with kids are going to be in search of kid-friendly activities than a couple on their honeymoon. Solo travelers are going to want opportunities to connect and re-charge without feeling isolated or unsafe. Put yourself in your guests’s shoes and imagine what you can do to enhance their experience.
For eager travelers, there is a lot of appeal in choosing to experience life like a local especially if they receive a warm welcome from their host. Part of the draw in booking hosted accommodations is the guests being able to feel immersed in the city they’re in along with the added flexibility.
Go the extra mile and treat your guests like you would your friends, sharing advice, travel tips and food recommendations in person or with a guidebook in-house.
Here are some tips of easy, inexpensive ways to delight travelers:
- Include fresh flowers
- Offer early check-in and flexible checkout times
- Have a guidebook with recommendations
- Ensure you’re well-stocked with staples like detergent and cooking utensils
- Leave a bottle of wine or beer in the fridge
- Provide local coffee & tea for guests
- Offer light snacks and homemade treats
- Supply extra toothbrushes, soap and shampoo
- Provide games and toys for families
- Share a handwritten note with your top restaurant picks
- Stock the pantry with cooking staples
With revenge travel leading the way, there is ample opportunity for tour operators to stand out to guests with the promise of added value travel. There’s going to be more of a focus on multi-generational trips and crossing bucket list trips off the list. Making your offer intriguing, scarce and driven by personal touches will set your business up for the pending travel boom.