September 14, 2021
“Make friends with your local hotel concierge” is often the advice you hear as a tour and activity operator. These are the gatekeepers to travelers and their recommendation is worth their weight in gold.
On top of this, the hotel landscape is evolving. Here’s a fun fact: 67% of high-income travelers would rather pay for activities than a nicer hotel room. So by putting your tour in front of hosts and hotel concierges, you’re actually doing them a favor. Your tour is something that can add immense value to their guests.
This approach may take some time, but it can be a huge source of bookings for your tour or activity. Most hotels take a very low commission, and a lot of businesses find it a great way to build awareness too. But how do actually go about partnering successfully? Here are some things to consider and plan for.
The truth is, many collaborations and partnerships are the result of serendipity. Being in the right place at the right time and hitting it off with the right people is how businesses often succeed. You can’t expect to hide away and get people talking about your business at the same time.
If there’s a property high up on your collaboration list, do you frequent the property often? Can you go hang out at their cocktail lounge or partake in a public event/experience they offer? Getting your foot in the door literally begins with getting the foot in your door! Once you’re there, you never know who you may bump into that can help you.
In addition to this, some tour leaders have found success becoming a part of local networking groups. Oftentimes you can find ones that are tourism/hospitality related. You may not meet the person directly, but you may meet someone who can make an introduction.
Hotels are always looking for ways to engage their guests in unique ways. But they don’t always have the time or resources to come up with those ways themselves. They need creative tour guides (like yourself) to bring them unique and exclusive tour offerings.
For example, a foraging tour guide in Asheville, NC relies on local partners with abundant land to forage on. They wisely reached out to one of the biggest hotels in the region and created a special tour exclusively on their property. Take a look:
“From season to season, different types of bounty nature provides becomes abundant and ripe for the taking. Find your own culinary ingredients as you explore the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina with, founded by famed forager and educator Alan Muskat.
Dependent on the experience you choose, you will learn how to safely identify, gather, serve, and preserve wild mushrooms, plants, and other extreme cuisine as you walk through the woods. Deliver your found ingredients to our Guest Services desk when you return to the Inn and our Chef will create a personalized complimentary appetizer just for you.”
This is the perfect example of a hotel and tour coming together! Can you think of ways to bring your activity to a local lodge? Consider small inns and B&Bs too – large hotels aren’t the only ones looking to surprise & delight their guests.
We often think the best thing a guest can do is tell their friends and family or leave a 5-star review. But what if your guests rave about your tour to the hotel they’re staying at? Concierges and hotel owners are busy and sometimes wear several hats. Hunting for fun activities for their guests isn’t always their first priority. A testimony from happy guests can often put you on their radar.
Asking can be as simple as saying to your guests “if you enjoyed your time today, we would really appreciate it if you mentioned this activity/tour to your hotel concierge or host.” Most travelers don’t even realize or think to do this because they don’t know how much a tour can benefit from it. A simple ask is often all it takes to get the ball rolling. Of course, it also helps if you can give them a business card to pass along as well. Especially if your tour has a more general name that might get lost in translation.
Implementing all three of these tactics over time could result in great things for your business. Not everyone takes the time to do them, and they will tell hotels that you are serious about becoming a trusted partner. Do you have some ideas that have worked for you to get on a hotel’s radar? Share your ideas in our new online community! This is a spot where tour and activity operators can come together to share what’s working and help each other grow. Membership is free – sign up today!