Building a Better Tour

How to Build an Emotional Connection with Travelers

Post by
Samantha Hardcastle

August 17, 2021

How to Build an Emotional Connection with Travelers

If you think it’s your amenities that make your tour valuable, think again. It’s actually your ability to foster a strong emotional experiences and relationship with guests – that’s what they desire above all else. Harvard Business Review has found that as customer’s relationships with a brand deepen, their customer value increases. 

“Our research across hundreds of brands in dozens of categories shows that the most effective way to maximize customer value is to move beyond mere customer satisfaction and connect with customers at an emotional level – tapping into their fundamental motivations and fulfilling their deep, often unspoken emotional needs”. In fact, fully connected customers are 52% more valuable, on average, than those who are just highly satisfied.

For example, let’s say you price your tours at $50 a tour and your guests are satisfied with what you offer. That’s really just the beginning. On a lifetime value basis, emotionally connected customers are more than twice as valuable as highly satisfied customers. So there’s an incredible margin of growth available for you if you focus on creating an experience with heightened emotional connection. Depending on where you focus your efforts, you could potentially double the price of your tour. 

But not just that. HBR also found that moving customers from highly satisfied to fully connected can result in customers who are:

  • At least three times more likely to recommend your business
  • Three times more likely to return 
  • Less likely to shop around
  • Much less price sensitive 

Moreover, according to a survey by Forrester Research, companies that aim for emotional connection beat their competitors by 26% in gross margin and 85% in sales growth, with customers feeling more engaged and appreciated.

Unfortunately, emotions can be a complex and fickle thing. They aren’t necessarily easy to measure or track, and every single traveler you engage with will have a different emotional landscape then the person before them. That being said, there are a handful of emotional motivators that drive travel behavior according to HBR. Some examples of these include:

  • Feel a sense of freedom & thrill
  • Enjoy a sense of well-being
  • Be the person I want to be 
  • Stand out from the crowd 

So what does this mean for you and your tour? How do you effortlessly move from the ‘satisfied’ level to the ‘emotional’ level? By focusing on fulfilling these motivators, you are creating an experience that addresses higher emotional needs. This goes beyond being simply liked or trusted. So here are a few things to consider for your tour. 

  1. Increase your EQ: Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the first step in delivering emotional value. How can you create an emotional bond if you don’t know or understand how your guests are feeling? The best thing you can do for your business is sit down and contemplate what is going on in your ideal traveler’s life right now. What are they struggling with? What negative emotions are they experiencing? And what does your guest need as a remedy to this? Your experience has the potential to be the remedy, but first you have to really understand where they are at in life and where they desire to be. 
  2. Re-examine your Journey: In this article we explored the power of peak & defining moments:  moments of heightened emotions, rising action & engagement, possibly some tension, heightened sensory stimulation, and a strong surge of excitement. There may be a big ‘aha’ moment or even something life-changing that happens here. Without these moments, you’re more likely to stay in the ‘satisfactory’ realm. 
  3. Create a Strong Bond: Feeling a sense of belonging is one of the strongest emotional surges there is. When your guest is able to experience a real connection on your tour, whether it’s to their friends & family, a stranger, your culture, or YOU – that is when the real emotions spark. Especially with the last 1.5 years with so many people living in isolation, this is more important than ever. Build in moments of bonding to ensure that your guests are feeling an emotional connection throughout your experience. 

Starting here will give you some good ways to go beyond simply satisfactory and begin to engage your guests on a deeper level. When you start to view your tour through an emotional lens, you will see opportunities to deliver more value. The more and more you elevate your tour with emotions in mind, the more guests will be drawn to your experience over the competition. The opportunities for growth are endless! 

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