We’re almost halfway through the summer. Many travelers are returning from their trip, while others are midway through the adventure or anticipating the upcoming departure date. As a tour and activity operator, you’re knee deep in peak season. You’ve seen travelers come and go, and whether you’ve been busier or slower than expected, it’s not too late to know what travelers want this summer.
Arival, an avid supporter of tours, activities, and attractions, conducted a Summer Pulse survey of US adults planning their summer trips. Based on the information collected, they discovered great news for tour operators! Travelers want an experience of some kind — the most popular being active excursions (kayaking, hiking, biking, etc.).
Since 76% of travelers will book their tours and activities last minute, there’s still time to capture their attention and increase your bookings. By making small changes, you can appeal to the majority of travelers and even treat your current guests!
That’s why we’re sharing our favourite takeaways from the report and what you can do with them. Let’s get started:
Summer travelers want to get outside and explore
Heat isn’t keeping people inside this summer. Travelers know adventure awaits and are willing to leave the air conditioning behind. Even if it means layering on the sunscreen, they’re thrilled to experience everything a destination has to offer.
While visiting famous attractions is still popular amongst travelers, natural attractions are leading on the must-see list. There are 52% of travelers who want to take in breathtaking scenery. Whether it’s standing underneath a waterfall or staring into the crater of a volcano, they understand there’s more to a destination than it’s iconic city streets.
And the urge to get outside is compatible with the desire to explore more. Not only do travelers want to see the natural attractions, but they also want to get up close and personal.
According to Arival, 40% of travelers plan on booking an active excursion — which means they’re packing hiking boots, a snorkel, and their GoPro. From mountain biking to whitewater rafting, the best souvenir to take home this summer is the proud feeling of overcoming a challenge.
Summer travelers want a local, “off the beaten path” experience
Nowadays, travelers want to feel less like a tourist, and more like a local. They want to find out what it’s like to live in a destination that’s not like their own. And this means getting off the tourist trail and discovering gems only the locals know and love.
Although sightseeing tours take the lead at 49%, we’re starting to see an interest in non-traditional tours — such as a haunted pub crawl or a blockbuster film walk. It seems travelers are favouring themed tours that are different from the classic stop and look, snap a photo and snatch a brochure tour.
The craving for a local introduction flows into the desire for an unforgettable experience. It’s one thing to see the neighbourhood sights, and another to learn, taste, and try something new. This is especially evident amongst travelers in the 18-24 age range who show the most interest in an experiential tour.
They want to learn how to cook the local cuisine. They want to attend a sports game and cheer with the local fans. And they want to try a recreational activity well-known for that destination.
That’s why experiential tours are great — travelers get a glimpse into the life of the locals before diving into the culture on their own.
What can you do?
If your tour business falls into one or both of the above categories, then you’re already ahead of the game. Now is the time to heavily promote your tours and activities. Whether a traveler is packing their bag or unpacking in the hotel, they need to know your tours and activities exist.
Here are some marketing tips to easily implement this busy summer season:
- Take videos of guests enjoying your tour experience and promote them on Facebook to your target audience.
- Post your guests visiting a “local secret” on Instagram. Be intriguing and don’t give away the location! Travelers who wish to go there will have a choice — book with you or spend hours wandering aimlessly on their own.
- Train your guides to ask for reviews. Last minute travelers often trust online reviews written recently.
- Publish your address or embed a Google Map on your website. Google needs to know the location of your tour business so it can list your pages when a traveler searches for a related activity in your area.
- Create a Google My Business account, so your business information can show up on Google Search, Maps and other Google properties.
If you offer more of a classic sightseeing tour but want to get in on the action, it might be a little late to overhaul your offerings. But don’t worry! You can make small changes that will delight your current customers and attract new ones.
Here are two examples:
- Local, “off the beaten path”: Take a short detour when possible — somewhere familiar with locals. Encourage your guests to explore, shop or get a treat.
- Get outside and explore: Integrate at least one natural attraction into your tour. Whether it’s walking, bus, or boat, there’s bound to be mountain views, beaches, waterfalls, lakes or hoodoos you can stop at along the way.
Let your guests know these stops aren’t typically included. This unexpected bonus will make your guests feel special, and they’ll be happy to leave a positive review. You can also promote this part of the tour using the same marketing methods listed above.
Being in the middle of peak season doesn’t mean you can’t intiate adjustments to make the season even better! By knowing what travelers want this summer, you can tweak your offerings to capture their interest and then wow their expectations once they arrive!