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2020 showed us all how crucial it is to stand out from the crowd, not only in the experiences you offer, but also how safe your experience is for travelers. With the surge of domestic travelers in 2021, many TripShock travel & tour business partners began wondering what they need to do to ensure they’re ready for 2022 and to keep domestic travelers coming back when they might otherwise go overseas. The answer, it starts with your tour company branding and identity. In this blog, we will go over the details specific to businesses operating in the tourism industry.

 

Table of Contents

 


Why Travel Companies Should Care about Branding & Identity

 

Here are 5 key reasons why tour and attraction companies should care about business branding and identity, particularly in today’s travel climate.

 

#1: Experiential Turn

 

 

According to pre-pandemic data shared by Hitwise’s US 2019 Travel Report, the online travel industry was growing 6.4% YoY, dominated by cruises, rentals, and holiday parks. The travel and tourism sector has contributed approximately $2.57 trillion to the economy in the U.S. alone. The data shows that vacationers have shifted from utilizing travel and vacations simply to relax and are now seeking truly authentic, culture and location-based experiences.

As the pandemic begins to ease up, attraction companies should start actively building on the experiential turn. The experiential turn is the concept of creating a unique and personal experience that makes travelers likely to return and tell their friends. This helps travel businesses make sure they fill empty seats with the unserved market.

 

#2: Stand Out From Your Competition

 

 

As COVID cases are rapidly declining throughout the U.S., and domestic travel is surging particularly in beach markets many operators saw an opportunity to launch a new travel business. Now, more than ever, companies must prove why their offerings are more attractive than those offered by competitors. These distinctions are typically made via pricing strategies, their value proposition, or storytelling, but we’ll look into less obvious distinctions below. 

 

#3: Fit Your City Theme

 

 

Many operators located in Nashville, TN, can tell how easy it becomes to run a travel business once you fit your city theme. Nashville has evolved into the bachelorette capital of the US and this created an opportunity for tour operators to create custom packages for their guests and fit into the theme their city created. Here are 10 Lessons Tour Operators can Learn from Nashville, TN. Additionally, don’t forget to use your CVB as a resource and explore how they can help get your brand recognized.

 

#4: Company Merchandise

 

 

Obtaining unique merchandise or swag can be part of your customer’s experiential turn experience. Some travelers see it as a way to memorialize their experience, and it can also be used to win over difficult customers when something goes wrong. Your merchandise can be anything from pens and notepads to mugs and t-shirts, but be sure to use your company’s logo so that your brand will be shared and other people will see it. Think of your merch as a walking billboard and consider choosing items that people will continue to use overtime.

Bonus Point: If you want to go above and beyond with your company’s merchandise, another option to consider is having your own mascot or photo opportunity and offer the photos as an upsell to your guests. For example, Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise offers a photo opportunity with a pirate that guests can purchase to remember their cruise. Print photos, keychains and magnets are all great options if you have the resources. LIkewise, providing some sort of social media worthy photo opportunity is another way to get guests to spread the word and increase brand awareness.

 

#5: Inclusivity

 

 

Recent Black Lives Matter events and the President’s administration announcement of making Juneteenth a federal holiday show how vital it is for many people, including vacationers, to have a sense of belonging in the community. Not only must tour operators strive to make all guests feel welcome and safe, there is also an opportunity to promote your business if you are a person of color, or fall into certain other groups that people wish to seek out and support.

If you list your business on Google My Business, which we highly recommend, you will be provided with the following attributes for setting up your profile:

  • Black-owned
  • Veteran-led
  • Women-led

If you identify with one of these destinations

then we encourage you to include the label on your Google business listing. If a traveler intends to find a company nearby by setting one of those criteria, your profile will show up in their search result.

 

Travel Companies Branding Identity Pointers

 

While we’re on the topic of why attraction companies should care about branding & identity, here are 5 more pointers you should consider; let’s dive right into them.

 

#1: Online Reviews

 

 

One of the most important tools for helping a vacationer choose your attraction vs. any other, are your customer reviews. The quality of your customers reviews will depend on the quality of the experience provided. It’s also important to register your business on various platforms so that you can monitor your reviews. Some free platforms for you to list your business on, which are used by many of our partners, include Facebook, Google, and Yelp. Be sure to fully complete your business profile and select any special designations that may apply based on your leadership, for example if you are woman led.

#2: Logo

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Your company’s logo is just like your business card – it shows a level of professionalism and sets the tone for your brand image, which is why we highly recommend not overlooking this important branding aspect. Creating a logo can be cumbersome, which is why it’s essential to delegate the responsibilities to boost your output. Companies like Tour & Travel Logo specialize in developing logos specific to the travel industry; not only will they save your time, but they may also save your money since they are connected to the industry.

 

#3: Connectivity with CVB

 

 

How well are you connected with your CVB? Here are 5 Reasons Why Tour Operators should not overlook their local CVB as a Resource for Growing Their Travel Business! Being listed on the CVB website can establish your business’s notability and authority, and can help you reach conference travelers, which make up a large percentage of travelers in many destinations.

 

#4: Robust Website

 

 

Your website’s functionality and loading speed are just as crucial as other branding identity pointers. Having a robust website optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile users is critical to retain their interest in exploring your offerings. Study your market to determine which call to action works best for your users (e.g., book online or call to book), and be sure to check out the SEO for tour operators, attractions, & destinations. Many watersport operators don’t even have a website and choose to grow their watersport business on Instagram only without considering how to maximize profits.

 

#5: Storytelling

 

 

Do you tell stories to your prospects or customers? Storytelling is a powerful technique you don’t want to miss!

Today’s vacationers, especially Gen Zers, are curious to learn about the background of the businesses they interact with; here are some areas that can guide you in developing your stories shared by our partners:

  1. Date of Establishment: Sunset Watersports specifies when their watersport business first appeared as an idea and what they’ve been through during the past few decades to make them one of the leading attraction companies in Key West, FL. This demonstrates their authority in the region, and ample experience in the field, creating trust in the travel community.
  2. Best in Town/Area: Many travel companies claim that they are the best in offering their services, but they never specify why. What Historic Tours of America did, was share their strategy of focusing on heritage tourism. Their strategy is to capitalize on the Historic Tours of America brand while focusing on the heritage tourism niche. In this process, they emphasize guest communication and satisfaction, product value, superior vehicles, and industry trends to profitably expand their entertainment business in each of the cities they currently operate — such a compelling argument for heritage lovers.
  3. Photos & Videos of Happy Travelers: SpeedBoat Tours post their online reviews and media of their customers right on their website. They also went the extra mile by sharing a video of being featured on CNN. Watersport operators definitely have someone to refer to for advice on storytelling.
  4. Mission & Vision Statements: Audubon Nature Institute’s mission of Celebrating the Wonders of Nature led them to develop a vision of creating a family of museums and parks dedicated to nature. Such statements help families and kids to find out that they are welcomed in the community and, thus, be more likely to convert into customers.
  5. Who Started a Business & About Us Video: Lastly, Blackbeard’s Pirate Cruise did an amazing job telling the background story of its business owners and their activity offering through video. Their passion for the pirate theme needs no other proof to have vacationers visiting them.

 

Conclusion

 

 

It turns out,  there’s so much work involved in establishing a tour company’s brand & identity. Quite often, simply claiming that you are the best in town without factoring in why travel companies should care about branding & identity & branding identity pointers, can result in missed opportunities. If you are uncertain about any of the aspects discussed in this blog, TripShock can help you to figure them out. Our core experience is to promote partners in the most effective ways and help them sell their empty seats. If you are interested in learning how we can help your attraction or tour business grow, be sure to drop us a line, and someone will be with you shortly. 🙂