Category Archives for Video training and Industry Interviews

Creating better tour experiences – video

-It’s time again to hear from the community. Colombia, is a rapidly growing tourist destination, yet is still developing and changing rapidly over the last 10 years.  Julio Casadiego, is the owner operator of Colombia Travel Operator in Medellin, Colombia. I sat down with him at his office to talk about how he creates better tour experiences and how he would run his business differently, if he could do it all again.  

Question #1: 

What are you doing to create  better tour experiences for your target guests? 

Key Takeaways:

-Listening to your guests – constantly getting feedback directly from them about what works and what doesn’t.

-Adding value in each tour – if there is another addition to augment the tour and enhance it, investigate it. e.g. Visiting a coffee farm – and adding a coffee lab visit on a coffee tour.

-The most popular attraction in Medellin, is the neighborhood of Comuna 13 – is finding a different spin on the tour in this case Colombia Travel Operator partnered with a foundation of an African Colombian group to create a different angle to their stories for this now famous neighborhood in Medellin.  

- Dropping price on tours to compete is a mistake it’s difficult to go back and raise prices.

Question #2:  

Guest Experience – What about your guides? 

Key Takeaways:

-Training is essential part of the business as well, and teaching them how to create and tell stories, that is what makes better tours.

-Let guides put their unique stamp on their stories, for example:

  • One of their guides loves to share stories about his family, and another takes her experiences from living and working in Europe and applies it to her guiding in Colombia.

Question #3: 

  How to Ride the wave of changes in the industry? 

Key Takeaways: 

-Investing in their business.

-Hire well and pay well – Guides and drivers are the backbone of our business.

-Invest in technology- website, SEO and software – makes us better and more effective.

-The money will come back with better profits and every penny you put into the budget you will see the return.

- Learn how to delegate, and realize that can’t do everything and run all aspects of your business.

- Julio himself, believes in constant improvement and started his masters in tourism. 

- His team is studying and learning English to improve their customer service, but you have to give them the time and resources to do it.

Question #4:  

What would you do differently on your business if you started it today:

Key Takeaways:

-As tourism in Colombia is growing rapidly and veteran in the Colombian market

- He won a entrepreneurs contest to start a business and received a grant to build a website.

-In the beginning he didn’t do the research to see who could help with that.  Now he does his research – how to contract a company.  Five years ago made his own site and learned website building again.  – if you know what questions to ask it makes a big difference.

- Purpose – Understanding how his tour can change lives to communities and how to help a community. We are helping new entrepreneurs – making new tours, that is really important for us.

Check out these other industry interviews: 

Industry interviews: why branding affects everything

Industry interviews: Why create a customer profile

How do you create better tour experiences? Let us know and hit reply.  


industry interview- how to create better tour experiences

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How travel partnerships need to payback for you

Looking to accelerate your tourism marketing? One way is how effectively you manage your travel partnerships with Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) and partners. These groups are a compliment to your business growth, they can help you grow as long as they are win-win for you. The travel industry has to be collaborative to survive.  Travel partners are essential. They can help you run your business more effectively, open you to new guests, and sharing resources. These could include local partners, wholesalers, regular travel agencies and Online travel agencies.  

Your top considerations with a travel partnership

Make no mistake, these partners are not your primary business, they are your competitors too. It’s about striking the right balance with these partners because there are a number of negatives with working with this, such as

-The risk is:  what would happen if those partners closed shop tomorrow? A big piece of your business would disappear overnight  and you won’t be able to make that up with direct bookings or have another partner to replace those losses. At least in the short term

-These travel partners already impact the power of your branding - because you play a back seat role to their brand as those guests bought their  brand not yours- so growing your brand becomes more difficult with these clients (but not impossible) 

- And of course, your margins - as they take away as much as 10-30% from your revenues.

My point here is that you need your brand to stay in the driver's seat. Growing your business, your website and direct bookings guests should be your primary task. 

I’ve witnessed many tourism businesses as a marketer and a full-time traveler that slowly stop managing their direct bookings business entirely. Let's face it this industry is busy -- and your focus can move to other things

The top signs when a tourism business is spending too much on partners instead of direct bookings:   

  • When businesses stop doing regular analysis of their website, and where their traffic is coming from 
  •  or they stop making regular modifications to improve their website to persuade and attract new guests.
  •  Instead, they just use OTAS like as their booking service, instead of making it visible and available for guests to book direct. Sure it simplifies the task of booking, but they own this audience not you.
  • Some businesses don’t answer messages from potential or current guests, from social media like their facebook page, or just being generally not responsive from contact pages – and these potential guests  are at the stage where they are READY TO BUY. FROM YOU 
  • Other businesses don’t look at their capacity so they book their indirect guests first (from these partners or OTAS)  and leave no room for full margin, DIRECT guests who want to book with their brand DIRECTLY 
  • And finally, this problem can happen when tourism businesses don’t find strategies to continue the relationship with indirect customers - like getting their contact information and email to continue conversations on email or social media.  Remember that they experienced your business too. 

These watch-outs are all unfortunate ways to lose guests and ​get bad reviews.  

The benefit of maintaining your owned-assets is that you have 100% Control. 

Your website is a great example of this because: 

  • It’s the best location for your guests to truly understand your brand, and what makes you unique and it allows you to highlight what is important to you. 
  • It's where you can inspire them the most to book with you and you control the pricing 
  • These guests become part of YOUR guest list  - and you can 100% control how you stay in touch with them.and how they will recommend you in the future. 

Here’s the interesting things about your guests: 

-Many potential guests may still visit your website or your social mediums Facebook page even though they book through an online travel site of course when it's accessible to find you online or on social media.  

This is because of a few reasons:

They are doing extensive research for a vacation, not just a day trip

  • They want to find out about you and your business – They can learn about what you are all about, what’s your story, and more visuals and details that they won’t get the full picture from your OTA profile. 
  • They want to know the people behind the business
  • They want to make sure you are a legitimate business and that you are an actively running business. 
  • When guests see a Facebook page without any posts for several months, they start to question whether you are busy or still in business at all.  Because businesses come and go all the time. 

There are many travelers out there that do like to book direct – so why not make it easy for them? 

To maximize your direct bookings --- You need an action plan in your marketing plan every year. 

You need to know what % of your bookings are direct vs indirect so you can work towards a better % that works for your business. 

There are a number of simple strategies that you can do step by step to entice travelers to book direct with you.   

 So travel partnerships are key! If you found this video helpful join our community here at Travel Life and subscribe to our many free marketing resources for tourism brands like yours. 

How travel partnerships - otas can work with you

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How to Set Price Objectives

ONE  Way to accelerate your Tourism Marketing and create a successful brand is: 

Don’t let pricing boss you around in your tourism business. 

In order to set pricing for  your tourism product or service, it involves objective pricing instead of emotional pricing.

This is one of the big problems in the tourism industry

Let’s face it –   We all have our own views and perspectives about what we think about money. It often comes from how we were brought up. 

And these views affect what we charge for our products or services. 

Sometimes we set prices for our services too low or too high for emotional reasons: 

  •   It could be because of the time and effort we put into it,
  • What we feel it's worth or what we feel we are worth
  • We feel pressured by how our competitor has priced theirs or 
  • Generally we’re worried that a guest will complain because that has happened to us before. 

- It may often feel that everyone is looking for and asking for the best deal, but chances are you haven’t given them enough VALUE to base their decision on anything other than price.   

Value is a perception, not a calculation   - Simon Sinek

 How you get your guests to see the value in your offering (beyond price) is to build a strong brand over time, -- a brand that they are inspired by. Because of your purpose, what you stand for, how you do business your strong customer service, your reviews. -- > and because of all this;  trust emerges 

To set price, it is most effective when you go through a list of steps

  1. It starts with writing down what your strategy in words based on the guest you want to attract to your business, who you are as a brand) and how you are seen/perceived in your industry. 
  2. Then, following steps to look at all the factors (like all your costs, your commissions) will allow you to think of your pricing more objectively instead of emotionally. 
  3. The last step is the communication part – because we want our guests to see the value they are getti in our room, or tour or attraction, not just a price point. 

This is where well-crafted – persuasive communication focuses on their needs. 

And getting feedback on why someone in your target market didn’t buy is a helpful way to gauge whether pricing is an issue or if you haven’t given them enough in your brand to support your price and value. 

The same process applies to promotions and discounting – by following a list of steps and creating price objectives in a smart and purposeful way, instead of an emotional way. 

When you can set your pricing in a more systematic and informed way, it gives you more confidence in it, and in general, it makes setting price less daunting. 

If you found this video helpful Join our Community at the bottom of this blog post and enjoy our many free marketing resources for tourism brands like yours. 

For more marketing tips and how to set objective pricing in the tourism industry you can find them all here. 

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The Amazing Results of Purpose Marketing

One way to accelerate your Tourism Marketing and create a successful brand is 

When you let your Guests FEEL again. When you live and work with Purpose everything changes.

Purpose Marketing is What Your Consumers Care About.

We are in a societal crisis around the world. And this affects your tourism business. 

We are living in a world of speed, quick fixes, make money fast schemes,and artificial brands and lifestyles are sold to us every day 

This is all contributing to frustration, stress , and anxiety

Now more than ever, consumers are changing their views on brands and they value the  people behind them.  

Consumers are more cynical, but they value what feels authentic, transparent and REAL to them. 

They are Conscious consumers who value real stories, and the people and the brands who inspire them,

They value brands that don’t just make money, but they are equally focused on improving the world in some way. 

This is why we need more tourism brands that have a strong purpose, a purpose driven business, not a profit only one. 

Just having great features and benefits isn’t going to cut it. 

Sure, a brand may have all the benefits that a traveler is looking for – and it meets their  needs. 

But often brands are chosen because of gut feel  - meaning how your brand made that guest FEEL 

Because these travelers were INSPIRED by your business, not by the what you do and how you do it, but WHY you get up in the morning to run your tourism business.  That is purpose marketing at its finest. 

A Great concept to explain this is golden circle: (by Simon Sinek)

image of the golden circle from Simon Sinek

Start with Why by Simon Sinek - The Golden Circle explains what is wrong with how businesses run.

 Most businesses have it all wrong, because they are focusing on communicating from the outside in.  

They talk about what they do-- their services, then the how – How they do it – like their strengths and their USP

 but few businesses do a good job of clearly communicating their why --- 

AND making money isn’t a reason for Why you should do anything and that won’t inspire any guest toward your business 

Money and profits are results of What you do. 

Your WHY is about your contribution, your impact,  your purpose and it will have an impact on others too.  

The WHY inspires people period. 

 It is why you get up every morning, to go to work and do your work. Its what fuels and what motivates you. 

Purpose driven marketing means you market your brand with your Why in mind First,  which actually leads to much better marketing

because it supports your features and benefits --the What of your business and how you do it (your strengths) 

 –and it goes deeper into the WHY of marketing.  

the better way to run a business - an image of the golden circle with focus on your Why not What and how

 When you START WITH WHY instead of the what and the how drives the behavior of not just your guests, but of you and your staff. 

The guests you want to attract come your way, because you connect with them and they resonate with who you are,

 they get you and what you stand for.

Purpose also leads you enjoying your work more, because you have something to get up for in the morning.  

Stress and frustration no longer have the control that they once had on you.

 Because you find value in the work you do and so do your staff because they play a big part in it. 

Many owners and operators in the tourism business get into this business because they like to Travel. And let’s face it, Tourism can be a fun business. 

But your purpose is bigger than that -- how you excite and inspire your guests to see the  world differently is more powerful than just enjoying travel.  

And when your business has more purpose, clearly communicated to your guests, YOUR profits will follow too. 

Did you know that: 

90% of people that work in businesses, that they believe have a strong purpose, report strong financial results?  

So a successful tourism brand starts with purpose --- which leads to attracting guests that get you, 

and profits follow , so you can do the work that you love. 

A purpose driven business- Are these not the best reasons to get up and go to work in the morning? 

quote by simon sinek - people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Watch the find your why Ted Talk here

Join our community at Tourism Marketing That Works to find out more about purpose driven marketing and ask questions from our community of tourism professionals like you.

For more ways to accelerate your tourism marketing, get new tips and resources to improve your marketing every week.        

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The Guest Journey: What You Need to Know

 I want to talk to you about a common problem I see often in the travel and tourism industry.

It is when hotel, tour, event, attraction and transportation operators assume every guest is always ready to buy.  They are not 

Often, businesses try to sell something to a guest who isn’t even aware of them yet.

This is like meeting someone for the first time and expecting to go on a date with them.

This scenario is when Advertising and Marketing can get really frustrating for tourism brands, and many give up.

See,  potential guests go through a journey, to find a brand, learn about a brand and then decide whether this brand can meet their needs and if they trust them

and that journey takes time.

Think about how you research, discover and then evaluate businesses when finding something that you are looking for.

If tourism brands don’t understand these buyer steps and how to help guests, it will result in wasted time, energy and money.

If this problem resonates with you, we have a great community group of tourism professionals.

In this group, we to discuss and solve tourism marketing problems.

Join our group at Tourism Marketing That Works,  its completely free – it’s a place we can all learn something new. 

For more common problems in the Tourism Industry you can find them here.

The guest journey- Image of travelers and how they buy

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Your Tourism Target Market Is Not This

There is a common problem in the tourism industry and its when travel and tourism brands:

choose “every traveler” as their tourism target market. (also known as your target guest or target audience)  

This strategy does not work.

It is impossible to be relevant to everyone, so why do they exhaust your efforts and waste money by trying to attract everyone?

I get it, it's hard enough to find new guests – and maybe tourism businesses don’t want to be picky – after all, who wouldn’t want to take a new guest at any time? 

However, not all tourism brands will fit every guest. And not every guest will fit a tourism business.

So that is ok, because guests - your tourism target market-  have different wants and needs.

When you try to appeal to everyone, it costs more in marketing dollars, it costs more to develop your tours to suit different audiences, and you spend money on room amenities specific to your audience.

So in order to avoid these issues, you need to choose a specific tourism target market - choose your ideal guests and ​develop guest personas.

A guest persona is a description of your ideal guest and it goes beyond describing their demographics. your goal here is to understand what makes them tick. A guest that we want to ENGAGE with instead of INTERRUPT THEM. 

Why You Should Create a Guest Persona to create your tourism target market

So, we can speak directly to the person(s)  that best resonate with your brand. 

1. Back to our point about our tips about branding:  Our goal is that we want the guests to come to you that GET YOU. 

They will be the ones that like you more  BECAUSE THEY WILL enjoy their experience with you and likely to come again and recommend you. 

2. The second reason why we will go through this exercise is that the information you gather in the creation of your guest personal will be tremendously valuable to you.

It will allow you to create better and more relevant:

  •        Website Copy
  •       Facebook and social media content
  •       Customer service and responses to guests
  •       Advertising and your sales materials
  •       Tours, or amenities you offer
  •         It will SAVE Money instead of a blanket approach of trying to be relevant for everyone. 

 Without a doubt, your facebook ads, your google adwords, your sales materials will be a waste of money if you don’t go through this exercise.

If this problem resonates with you, we have a great community group of tourism professionals in hotel, tour, attractions, events, and transportation businesses. In this group, we discuss and solve tourism marketing problems. We would love you to join us, its completely free – it’s a place we can all learn something new. 

Send us a comment if this tourism problem resonated for you and if you need help defining your tourism target market, let us know.

To get access to all of our tourism marketing problems you can find them all here.

tourism target market - a common problem in tourism that needs to be resolved

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What Is Branding? It Is Not This.

What is branding?  Before we get to this I want to talk to you about a symptom that relates to this. I want to talk to you about a common problem I often see with Tourism businesses. It is when hotel, tour, attraction, event or transport owners and operators: create a name, logo, and URL for their brand and then they assume their communication work is done. 

Branding is a significant component of your communication to your guests and it is so much more than these three things.

  1. Guests aren’t influenced to buy you just by your name or your logo.
  2. And they certainly won’t find you on the internet
  3. They won’t buy your brand if they don’t get you or understand you
  4. Or if they don’t trust that you can meet their needs or problems

 It takes a lot more than a name, logo and a URL to build credibility and authority for a business. And to persuade a guest to book, to remember and recommend a business in the future. So, Branding has a lot of work to do to communicate all this, it needs to go beyond the logo, name, and URL. 

A brand is like a personality - and it is a lot more than how it looks. 

A brand (a tourism business,) must help move guests from consideration to conversion --- which means convincing them that your brand is right for them.  

Does this answer the what is branding comment a little bit better? Do your potential guests understand your brand beyond just a name, logo and a URL?

If this problem resonates with you, we have a great community group of tourism owners, operators and managers. In this group, we discuss and solve tourism marketing problems. We would love you to join us, it’s a free group, and you can join us here at this link -- all you need to do is click on the link provided in the copy.  

Check out more of our common marketing problems here:

Pricing mistakes in the tourism industry

The causes of a wasted advertising budget

Interested in watching more common tourism marketing problems?  You can find all our videos here.

A common tourism marketing problem explained: What is Branding

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Pricing Mistakes In The Tourism Industry

Pricing your tourism products or services is not an easy task, and often  pricing mistakes in the tourism industry can result (i.e. Pricing too low or too high)

Watch this video below to find out the problem that I see all the time with hotels, tours, transport companies, attractions, event owners and operators

Do tourism brands need to resort to price discounting their products and services or matching their competitor’s price points on a regular basis? 

It doesn’t have to be that way. 

Setting prices for tourism services can feel uncomfortable.  And sometimes our own personal beliefs about money can impact whether we set prices emotionally or set prices objectively.

Some tourism businesses believe that low prices are the only thing that guests seem to care about or pricing lower than your competition is the only way to bring guests in the door.

This is not true. 

Maybe these businesses haven’t given guests anything else to think about other than their price.

Pricing is all about perception. It requires looking at your ideal guests and several factors beyond what your competition is doing.

In fact, you'd be surprised to know that if you price the same as your competitor but you seem a bit better than them (in your marketing, and in their overall first impression) often this leaves an impression in their minds whether you are a trustworthy brand and these potential guests wonder what they are missiing.  Again pricing is a perception - and in this case you just left money on the table

To avoid pricing mistakes look at all factors when setting a pricing strategy.

Are you setting your price emotionally (based on your view of money) or objectively by looking at all the quantitative factors? Factors such as:

  • Your fixed and variable costs?
  • Your sales and profit goals?
  • Your commissions from all of your partners and OTA's (even your transport commissions)
  • Seasonality for high and how season and the rates your OTA's change on their websites to account for the seasons.
  • The demand for your product or service
  • Your competitors pricing strategies (not to meet it, but to understand it)
  • What is your guest is willing to pay?
  • It also includes the  value you can put into your offering that your guests see as important (of value) to them.

As you can see there is alot that goes into pricing that needs to be thought through and considered instead of matching or dropping your price.

So are you looking at all the pricing factors in your business instead of just dropping price?

If this problem resonates with you, we have a community of tourism business owners, operators, and managers that want to discuss and solve tourism marketing problems like this and many more. 

We would love you to join us  by using this link here.

Here are more common problems in the tourism industry that might be affecting your business.

The causes of a wasted advertising budget  

For more tourism marketing resources click here

Guy realizing he has made big pricing mistakes

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