While you may take bookings from travellers across the globe, there is one common place where most of your customers hang out— Facebook. It doesn’t matter if they are at home, work or on a plane on their way to your city, you can bet they are scrolling through their newsfeed. People in the US spend an average of 2 hours and 15 minutes a day on Facebook— that works out to be one month every year! With all this time spent on Facebook, it can be one of the best platforms of social media for tour companies.
Your first, and often most difficult, goal as a tour operator on Facebook is to to find a way to draw attention to your business page. Then you need to use your page as a virtual storefront to make the sale. If you are stuck wondering how to do this, we’re here to help.
Here are 5 ways you can use Facebook to increase your tour bookings.
1. Use Facebook Ads and Retargeting
What can you do about people who visited your site but never ended up making a booking? What can you do to entice existing customers into coming back for seconds? You can use Facebook’s advertising tools in some truly incredible ways to target and expand your audience. Reconnecting with previous visitors, showing Facebook ads to your existing customers and even finding new prospects based on behavioural targeting, are all options available with Facebook. We’ll explain each in a little more detail:
Reconnect with people who’ve already visited your site
Retargeting is a marketing tactic that tracks customer movement throughout the internet and uses the data as an opportunity to send them specific ads. Facebook has a retargeting tool in its Create Audience section; by going to Custom Audience → Website Traffic, you can generate a pixel code (see image) which you place into the header or footer of your website; it will put a small pixel onto every page of your site. When someone visits your site, Facebook stores a number in their browsers (called a cookie)—a piece of temporary code which tracks whether a visitor has been to the site before. When the visitor goes back to their Facebook homepage, they’ll be shown one of your ads. You can specify various groups of people you wish to target based on a variety of factors, including how recently they visited your site and which specific pages they’ve been to.
Show Facebook Ads to your existing customers
If you want to find some existing customers on Facebook, you don’t have to look them up one by one; you can input a client list, and Facebook will find them for you. From the Facebook Ads manager, go to Audiences → Create Audience → Custom Audience → Customer List. From there, you can upload a CSV, import from MailChimp, or copy-paste a simple list of your customers’ emails. Facebook will find them if they have accounts and you’ll be able to show them ads for your services. This is a great opportunity to get some repeat business—for instance, you can show these existing customers a specific ad with a specific discount code meant solely for them.
Find new customers based on expected behavior
Facebook can also track a lot of advanced metrics, and you can use this to your advantage too. Say you run a tour in a specific large city; when creating an ad, you can go to the “Behaviors” field, select “Travel” as one of the options, and target people whose posts and behavior have indicated that they’ll be traveling to your location.
*A note about conversion tracking for Facebook Ads…
The first rule of paid advertising is to know what converts. Along those lines, Checkfront also now supports conversion tracking for Facebook advertising; allowing you to evaluate the effectiveness of your various ads and targeting techniques. Assuming you already have a Facebook Ads account, you can set this up in two simple steps.
- Create a conversion pixel within your Facebook Ads account
From your Facebook Advertising account, select ‘Conversion Tracking’ from the left menu. Select ‘Create Pixel’ and then choose a name and category. Once you’ve created your pixel, a code snippet will be displayed. From that code, simply copy your conversion ID. In the example below, this is is highlighted in blue:
- Add your Facebook conversion ID to Checkfront
From your Checkfront account, select Manage > Add-ons, then search for the ‘Facebook Ads’ option. Take the conversion ID you copied down in the previous step, enter in the appropriate field, enable Facebook tracking, activate and we’ll take care of the rest.
2. Take bookings right from your Facebook Page
In order to use the book now button on Facebook, you need to have an official Facebook business page already set up. Then, head here and click “Add this App”; it will put a new tab on your page that says ‘Online Bookings’, and you’ll be taken to a settings box. Here you can fill in your Checkfront URL (the place where you go to log into Checkfront), give a welcome message for Facebook customers, and—importantly—apply a discount code.
Our Facebook app includes a very unique option: you can give a discount to those who click ‘Like’ on your Facebook page. This is a great way to entice some new people into your social community, and give them a little bit of incentive to get involved. In order to issue Like-based discounts, you’ll need to set up a discount in the Checkfront app itself. Once you’ve done that, put the discount ID into the settings on the Facebook app and it’ll be automatically applied to anyone who’s liked your page.
If you’ve got a Facebook business page, you already have many opportunities to connect with customers new and old via social media. While posting and interacting with fans is a great way to keep in touch, there are some truly creative ways to market your business on the site and the Checkfront Facebook App and Facebook Ads plugins can be parts of a unique strategy that may reach people you never imagined possible.
3. Use Facebook Live and video
It’s no secret that Facebook is making a big push for video. And when it comes to video, Facebook live is King.
When you post a live video on Facebook, it’s automatically pushed to the top of newsfeeds and a notification is sent out to your friends and followers. This is a big win for businesses who lost some of their organic reach with the algorithm change last year. Customers can engage with the video as you are recording, and the video saves to your page for rewatching.
What makes Facebook Live great for small businesses it that there are no expectations about high production value. You don’t need any fancy equipment to pull it off. All you need is your phone.
Live is meant to feel real— like the viewers are part of the experience. And since you are selling an experience, it’s the perfect way to advertise!
Post live videos teasing an exciting part of your tour, or if you have an adventure tour, show your daily safety checks to help build trust with your fans. Assign Live to different guides over the span of a coupe weeks or months to show off their unique style. Whatever you do, make it feel real.
You could take inspiration from Whistler Bungee who posted a video of a guy freaking out before he makes the leap.The video works well because it captures a genuine moment— you can feel his excitement and are almost scared for him. They posted this on Instagram but it easily be turned into a Live post.
4. Get more 5 star ratings
Social proof can have a big impact on how a traveller decides to spend their time in a new city. TripAdvisor, Airbnb, and Uber owe a big part of their success to their rating system.
Facebook allows you to build social proof by showing people the pages their friends already like. This can really help your business since 83% of people admit they trust the recommendation of their friends and family while only 46% said they trust ads on social networks.
Getting people to like your page is just the first step, to really see the power of social influence look to guest testimonials. Rather than trying to tell people how awesome your tour is, get your past customers to do it for you! Like TripAdvisor, Facebook has a star rating system that lets customers share their experience with others.
To receive reviews on Facebook you’ll need to make sure your page’s category is set up as a “Local Business”. Then you need to figure out a way to drive visitors back to your Facebook page after their tour.
A great way to do this is to have your guides taking pictures throughout the tour. Then let everyone know you’ll post the pictures later in the week. Everyone wants a souvenir! An added bonus is that they’ll remember what a great time they had as they look at the pictures. If your guests need a bit more encouragement to leave a review, you could add an incentive such as a chance to have their photo turned into a postcard.
Having a higher rating on Facebook also helps your ranking in the algorithm. Having a lot of 5 star ratings can help your posts to appear higher in the newsfeed, especially over those of a competitor with a 2 star rating. So by investing in testimonials, you’ll see all your other Facebook efforts go a lot further.
5. Use Facebook Messenger for business
Facebook Messenger is a another feature tour operators should take advantage of. Messenger gives you a direct line to your customers and prospects. It lets you answer inquires, make up-sells and get immediate customer feedback.
For Messenger to be effective you need to think of it as an extension of your customer service. This means you must be prompt and responsive through every stage of the buyer’s journey. If a customer sends you a message asking you if they need any extra equipment for your tour, they expect an immediate response. If you wait two days to respond they could have already left your city.
A new strategy that has emerged combines retargeting with Messenger. You can create a retargeting campaign for people who left their cart and direct them right to Messenger. That way you can find out why they didn’t go through with their purchase and identify any concerns they might have had. Uncertainty is a common reason for cart abandonment and messengers lets you address these problems head on. Even if you don’t successfully convert them to a customer you will gain lots of customer feedback to improve your offer.