If you are in the adventure tourism industry, it likely all began with a deep passion for the type of adventure you are promoting. You thrive on being in nature, outdoors, meeting a great challenge, an adrenaline rush or you just love nature’s beauty. What you probably didn’t start with was a passion for having to market your awesome business.
Marketing and bookkeeping can sometimes fall into the category of, “I guess I’ll have to do it – tomorrow.”
But taxes don’t wait, nor does the competition. Booking out your year and providing the highest quality experience to your guests isn’t always as easy to do in today’s equal opportunity online marketing world.
According to the Global Business Travel Association, “The travel and hospitality industry hit a new record of spend and transformation in 2016. Global business travel spend topped $1.2 trillion USD in 2015, growing 5 percent over 2014 and is on pace to advance 5.8 percent on average over the next five years reaching $1.6 trillion in 2020.”
So how do small companies compete with mega tour operators, especially Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) such as Orbitz, Expedia and Priceline? The answer is… through personalization.
Being a smaller company gives you the opportunity to specialize and personalize. We are currently in a P2P (people-to-people) point in time. Customized messages to specific types of people who fall within your target audiences is critical.
Five Ways You Can Personalize Your Brand
1. Be very clear about what your unique value proposition is. If your company offers white water rafting tours, what makes it different than the numerous other companies offering the same service? How do you differentiate your brand and company? What are your values, story, and what is the experience you provide that keeps your company unique?
2. Build out at least five Persona’s of the types of people you believe are your clients. A persona is an imaginary person who has the characteristics of a specific type of customer. Be specific about this person, naming their Persona, giving them an age, whether they are married, have children, where they live, where they work, what brands they like, which magazines they read, which movies they watch and why they would spend their precious extra time and money on your service.
3. Write as often as you can on your website blog. If you don’t have a blog, get one. And don’t just write about anything, be very strategic in identifying keywords that you want to show up for in organic searches. Tag and ID high quality images within your blog so that they also show up in Google Images (people use Google Images as a search engine). If you are doing something as cool as providing outdoor adventures, then you should have a great deal of stories to tell. If you aren’t great at storytelling, then hire someone who is. Hire a photographer or ask one of your guides to take some high quality images. Stories are told through words, images and video. Get started.
4. Live Video. Facebook has made it pretty clear that if you want to gain any leverage using their platform these days, you had better be using Facebook Live and Facebook Stories. As painful as this may be for many who are uncomfortable with the look and sound of their voice on a video – pull out that smart phone or ask one of your millennial employees to start a series of Facebook Live events to be calendared into your editorial calendar (see blog concept above). Yes, you will have an editorial calendar so that you know what you will be writing about, the images you will need, the video topics you will cover and then you will tie them all together in a nice package for social media promotion.
5. Social Media. People are visiting their Facebook pages so many times a day, we have nearly lost count. Your potential clients are also on Instagram for equal proportions of time – as well as Snapchat, Pinterest and Youtube. Personalizing your brand and the experience people who will have with your company can carefully and thoughtfully be expressed through each and every one of these platforms. All of the work you will be doing in the above four steps will play into how this social media strategy will work. You will have a number of Persona’s and each of those types of people have specific interests they want to read about, or see.
Example: Suzy Brown, age 48, has three children. She and her family want to adventure with you and your company. Suzy isn’t as concerned about how much the trip costs, but is more concerned with safety. How many articles and photos do you have on your website and within your social account that discusses all of your safety measures?
When you use the above five steps, people recognize that you have tailored every piece of information you create for them and their experience. If your information is generic and self-promotional, people will sniff that out in two seconds, and move on to someone else who cares. If you are ready to book out your tour calendar for the next year and receive happy and wonderful feedback – then don’t worry so much about the billions the big sellers are spending, and use simple common sense to get your adventure travel company on track.