Put yourself in the shoes of a traveler arriving at their hotel with no plans but the one that got them there in the first place; to leave their home and see some other part of the world. Many travelers choose to book tours and activities online well before their trip, but a visitor information centre can be a beacon of hope. After all, 48% of bookings are happening once travelers are already at their destination.
You may think of visitor information centres as a thing of the past. Something younger generations begrudgingly follow their grandparents on a family vacation and a place where tour and activities businesses drop flyers and brochures hoping that someone might book from them. However, visitors centres refuse to go gentle into that dark night, and the best visitor information centres are evolving, and your relationship with them should evolve as well.
When it comes to getting your tours promoted, relationships are vital. Yes, it's wise to make friends with employees at the front desk where brochures are displayed, but what about the rest of the staff? Leveraging your local visitor centre means coming up with things that will benefit your business and the visitors centre itself.
You share a goal with your local visitors centre; to bring people in and share the joy of your community and surroundings. Of course, visitors centres know they're only a piece of the puzzle when it comes to tourist travel experiences, and just like hotels, they benefit from having the best to offer. So, show them why you're the best that they can offer.
Many visitor information centres now have active social media pages — let's use California's Marin County as an example. The Visit Marin Instagram page has over 29K followers. That's nearly 30K eager eyes looking for a reason to leave their home and visit the coastal town just above San Francisco. Any innovative local tour company would be asking themselves how to get featured on their page — and the McEvoy Ranch did it perfectly.
The McEvoy Ranch is a local tourist destination, olive oil retailer, and small-lot winery. This past summer, they invited the team at Visit Marin to enjoy a day on their property, tasting wine flights, enjoying lunch that featured their locally sourced olive oil, and visiting their store. The staff at Visit Marin created content of the day and shared it with their followers, creating a win-win for both organizations.
Many visitor information centres are centrally located, making them the perfect spot for a pop-up that draws crowds to the centre and generates interest from curious travelers. Even companies like Amazon and Macys are turning to pop-up shops to boost sales, and 80% of companies that have tried pop-ups said they were successful. Build a relationship with your local visitor information centre and create an event outside of the centre that will draw attention and attract passersby.
The goal of the pop-up should be to draw travelers to the visitor information centre and promote your tour or activity company. Say, for instance, you're offering unique cooking courses in local cuisine. What better way to draw in travelers on the go than with modestly priced — or even free — treats? Or how about a brief tour highlighting interesting places and things to do in the immediate area? Leave potential customers with just a taste of what they're looking for, and they'll be intrigued to know more about what you offer.
Be sure to make things easy for your potential customers. Many travelers book tours and activities from their mobile phones, so having a QR code available that will take them directly to your booking page will make it easy for them to plan a time to come back and see you. Or you can have a tablet handy for them to book with you right then and there. And don't forget to pump up the visitor centre while you're at it.
Your company and your local visitor information centre are both in the business of making travelers happy. Tourists visiting the centre are looking for information on how to indulge their interests and the more options the visitor centre has to offer the more successful they are. So, help them be successful by providing what their visitors are in search of.
Visitor centre employees are constantly fielding the questions, so ask them for that information.
If the centre is experiencing a decent volume of international visitors from a particular area, it may benefit you to translate your website into their native language. After all, 72% of customers prefer using a website that's written in their native language. From there you can offer specially translated tours or — if possible — a tour given in their native language. Now, you're cornering that specific market by providing something other tours are not.
Though many have adapted to the digital age, visitor information centres are brick-and-mortar institutions. And, like most brick-and-mortar institutions, they've struggled during the digital age. Find ways to help lift them up, and they'll return the favor.
Go back to those brochures that so many tourism companies drop off to visitor information centres. Offer a discount specifically for those who are directed to you by the information centre. Most expensive, high-end tours are booked well in advance, so travelers looking for adventures that start at the local visitors centre are looking for something more affordable. Offering a unique discount increases the chance of them booking with you. It also gives the visitors centre more relevancy, since they're the only ones who can dole out this gift. This will make them more likely to highlight what you're offering when curious tourists come to them with questions.
Junglebee's booking software makes it easy for your customers to book an adventure with you from anywhere. Our unique software makes it easy to manage bookings and ensures that your travelers experience a streamlined process, making their trip easy and memorable. Junglebee was built for tour operators by tour operators. Find out how we can improve your tour booking process.