The Octopus Method – Part 1 of 3

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It’s been months, maybe years, and you are finally here. You have your very own tourism business with an office, guides, and some paying customers! The thing is, your business probably won’t flourish if you only rely on word-of-mouth. What you need now is a solid online marketing campaign.

With a sea of competition selling similar tours, how do you stand out from the crowd? A great place to start is to familiarize yourself with concepts like The Octopus Method. What is The Octopus Method? Glad you asked!

Unlike us simple beings, an octopus uses its eight tentacles to complete a variety of different tasks simultaneously; thus making it more efficient and effective. While it is presently impossible for us to grow a few more limbs, it is quite doable to utilize a similar concept of spreading out a brand’s online presence far and wide. Instead of focusing on one or two labor intensive online marketing strategies, make your tour’s presence known in as many channels as possible.

You’ve made progress on this already by listing your profile(s) and trip(s) on GuideAdvisor.com, and taking advantage of the marketing strategies and the digital support tools offered. There are a couple of additional proven strategies that you may not have considered yet that will also build out your reach. We’ll walk you through a couple in this post, and a few more in Part 2 and 3 of this series, so sit back, relax and pick up some more tricks about where and how to successfully list your tour business.

Start With Google and Bing

Listing your business on Google My Business is a vital and free next step you can take to promote your tour online. Not only will it list your tour business in local searches, but it will also show your business’s information on Maps and Google+.

Want an insider’s tip? Recruit at least five (satisfied) customers to review your business on Google. While you should eventually aim for more, a minimum of five reviews will ensure that your business will have a visible star rating.

And while Google might be the largest search engine platform, it certain isn’t the only one out there. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans are using Microsoft’s search engine to scour the internet — that’s right, 20% of users in the US are using Bing for their internet searches.

How should you reach that 20%? You guessed it — list your business for free with Bing Places for Business. Not only will Bing list your tour business’s name and contact information, but it also allows you to include content such as photos and videos.

Get Listed on Daily Deal Sites

Discount websites are an excellent way of improving your business’s online web presence. Why? They reach a massive audience for starters. How massive? Well, Groupon alone has tens of millions of subscribers. Not only will your tourism business reach a large audience by using Groupon, but many times Groupon will provide a quality link back to your website, which will in turn help improve your website’s SEO value.

Still a bit skeptical about Groupon? Check out this article to put your mind at ease.

Another great perk of discount sites is that they offer a chance for your brand to go viral. For example, if someone signs up for a deal on LivingSocial, they are prompted to share a link of that deal on their social media outlets. Sure, they are motivated to do it with the hopes of getting the deal for free — but they are simultaneously helping you reach an even larger audience.

…And List Your Tour Business Everywhere Else

The whole idea of the Octopus Method (or “The Billboard Effect” as it is also known in the travel industry) is to be seen — all over the internet. Now that you have the basics down, it’s time to really branch out and list your travel business on any and every valuable and relevant outlet. And like everything else, make sure that what you are presenting, in this case, your website, is actually presentable (which is something we at TourismTiger can help with).

While there are an endless amount of sites aimed at promoting tour businesses, you picked a great starting point with GuideAdvisor.com. With over 42,000 views of their website a month — and a 15% increase in views monthly — they are fast becoming one of the most valuable platforms to list a tour on. In fact, they recently did a case study on one of their clients — the results of their Premium Listing speak for themselves.

Another great option is Online Tour Agencies (OTAs). Why are they such an important distribution channel? Because they are a one-stop-shop for customers who want to quickly book everything using one platform. This means that OTAs have the ability to reach a massive international audience — an audience that would be difficult for you to reach without their help.

Read this post to learn more about the benefits of working with OTAs.

Spoiler alert: Stay tuned to learn about the do’s and don’ts of review sites coming up in Part 2 of this Series.

Comments

  • Andrea
    Reply

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks for your feedback and I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had a bad experience with Groupon! I do agree that there are many factors that one should weigh out before using a daily deal sites — and customer service definitely can make or break an experience.

    I would also say that smaller tour operators in particular should err on the side of caution before using such sites, because as you mentioned, Groupon customers can sometimes be bargain hunters who might not come back.

    I would say that there are tour operators that can positively benefit from such daily deal sites though. For example, tour operators with a large and consistent customer base might want to utilize daily deal sites to get more customers on ‘dead dates.’ Also, utilizing these sites can be a good option for smaller tour operators who are more focused on brand awareness than anything else.

    The thing is, some daily deal sites just don’t work for certain tour operators — which is fine! If this is the case for you, there are many other ways to develop a solid online presence, build up your brand and get more sales — all of which we’ll speak more about in the next two posts of this series.

  • Jim Reich
    Reply

    I have used Groupon, Deal Chicken, Living Social and a handful of other deal sites. Although I have used Groupon the most. What I have found is that Groupon customers are more difficult than customers who pay full price, they are not willing to pay for add on or additional time to their tours, they tip very poorly if at all, the don’t come back ever at full price, and they never refer other people to us. Additionally, Groupon as a corporation offers horrible customer service. In the last year alone, I have gone through at least 6 different dedicated account reps, and not once have been notified that my old rep has moved on and I have a new point of contact.

    Any other recommendations that have the visibility that Groupon has but gives us a more quality of a customer who sees the value in our tours, and is willing to pay for that service.

    Thanks for your insights.

    Sedona Red Rock Adventures
    Wine Tours of Sedona

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