Position Now for 2021 Pre-Bookings
And Capitalize on Your Fall 2020 Local Season
Adventure tourism brands that can operate domestically are seeing strong local bookings and some entirely new customer audiences. These brands are carefully navigating the stressful landscape of changing state protocols and limits on operational capacities. Meanwhile, many adventure tourism brands—especially those that cater to international visitors—are still not able to either run many trips or open at all. Both scenarios present unique considerations and opportunities.
This post shares strategic tips to:
- Help adventure tourism brands with restricted or no operations to aggressively position themselves to pre-sell 2021 trips; and
- Help adventure tourism brands with current local operations maximize their fall 2020 business.
Strategic Marketing Tips to Pre-Sell 2021
Remember the 5 stages of travel that Google identified in its “Micro-Moments that Reshape the Customer Travel Journey” series?
While booking and experiencing trips may be very limited or closed right now, your brand still has the dreaming, planning, and sharing of trips to work with—and this article will show you how to do so in a way that helps position you for a strong 2021.
People are dreaming about that next trip. They might be planning it, too. The trick is to put yourself in their shoes and remember that they’re more apt to pencil things into their calendars given the uncertainty of the future right now, rather than pull out that permanent marker.
So what’s the best way to show up for them? With options, and a pencil.
1. Review, make adjustments to, and/or expand your current trip/tour offerings.
Obviously there is keen financial pressure and difficult cash flow if the majority of your 2020 paid reservations had to move to 2021. Strong marketing of some adjusted tour offerings can help recover more customers, either this fall if you’re operating now, and for 2021 pre-bookings.
If you can operate through 2020 within your mandated protocols, bring your attention to pivoting your adventure brand’s messaging to local tourism and focus on proactive marketing content.
Now is absolutely the time to also aggressively focus on pre-booking for 2021. This isn’t a fix-all, mind you, and we’ll touch on that more soon… for now, review your current trip/tour offerings and ask yourself:
- How can you emphasize small group options? If you offer any activities that can be done solo or with minimal group numbers, how can you bring these to the forefront of your website and marketing efforts?
- How can you make private tours a primary focus? By allowing customers to “go private!” you not only stand to bring in more money per booking, you also support the changing needs of the general public. Consider how The Yacht Week took standard live aboard cruises and turned it into a Build-Your-Own-Adventure concept that allows people to customize their experience and make it entirely private among friends.
- How can you add new, remote, or less-crowded locations for your trips? If you can “take the road less traveled” with a new or adjusted trip and build its messaging around this, you may appeal to the needs of your customers.
PRO TIP: Don’t make private tours an after-thought for your business. Positioning it as a strong offer will put you at the forefront of peoples’ minds in 2021. And note that “private” can mean entire trips, e.g. a group of 6 guests on a multi-day walking tour, and it can mean your own “private raft” of only your group of 6 people with extra shuttle support.
2. Revisit your booking and cancellation policy, and make sure it will work for your company and your guests.
People simply won’t book future plans in such an uncertain environment without feeling like you have their best interest at heart. Remember, they’re looking to make plans in pencil, not permanent marker. Review your change policy and ensure that it’s easy to understand, offers fair flexibility, and is something you would easily agree to if you were your own customer. Check out our Adventure Brand Tips for Cancellations & Refunds for more ideas.
3. Update your website content (and don’t forget SEO on all new content) to highlight 2021 pre-bookings, along with your expanded and new tours/trips—and your flexible booking policies.
When someone lands on your website, they should see content that reflects:
- You’re taking pre-bookings for 2021.
- A hassle-free, streamlined booking process: your customers can make their plans in pencil!
- 2021 options that include private tours, low-crowd options, etc.
You will not want to forget about optimizing your new and expanded tour offerings for SEO. Make sure those great new trips are found and are the answers to what people are asking about. Check out our article on SEO Basics for Your Brand to help you get started.
4. Develop a comprehensive 2021 pre-booking campaign that brings together both online and offline marketing efforts. This is your strategic roadmap for Q3, Q4 2020 to impact 2021.
A successful 2021 pre-booking campaign will include many of the following:
- Email marketing
- Social media organic posts
- Paid advertising
- Podcast interviews
- Leverage guest blog posts
- Press pitches
- Media interviews
These moving pieces should come together into one cohesive marketing roadmap; identify your goals and develop the strategy that will support those goals. Your goals should take into account not only what you’re trying to achieve in the following months, but who you’re reaching and what that messaging will look like, then map that strategy out with a calendar. Once this is done, you can begin creating the necessary assets and content you’ll need to tell your story.
5. Leverage the “sharing” piece of your customer’s travel stages!
What happens after someone has experienced your adventure?
Worst-case scenario is they fall into the ever-mysterious Bermuda Triangle of Customers, disappearing from your radar, never to be seen again. (If you see this happening to you, reach out to us… we know how to fix this.)
Acceptable scenario is they follow you on social media and join your email list.
Best-case scenario is they become a brand ambassador who shares about their experience in one of the following ways:
- Social media posts
This is what we call user-generated content (UGC). It is one of the strongest assets you have at your fingertips for supporting both your fall season marketing efforts and your 2021 pre-booking marketing efforts.
Dig into the user-generated content your followers and customers have created over the last few months or years. Find social media posts, great reviews, etc., and save them/file them; pull quotes to freshen up your testimonials; schedule reposts into your social media calendar. Then use this UGC on all your channels: share to your social media accounts, post on your website, feature in your emails, and add to your Youtube videos. Share the fun that others can look forward to in 2021 on a regular basis.
Need help finding this gold mine of user-generated content? Check out these helpful, step-by-step guides for how to find and share UGC on Facebook and Instagram:
- Adventure Brand’s Guide to finding User-Generated Content on Facebook
- Adventure Brand’s Guide to finding User-Generated Content on Instagram.
6. If you have a small onsite shop with retail products to sell, consider expanding it into an online store for 2021 that can be easily developed and managed on your website.
Outdoor retail stores are selling out product left and right as new customers flock to “get outdoors” instead of doing their traditional vacations this season like going to Disney or camps. Jump into this wave, eCommerce can be a prominent channel for adding incremental sales, communicating with customers, and forging a sense of community around a brand. Digital marketing can both help boost online sales even while your doors are closed, as well as entice consumers to visit your store once you reopen.
PRO TIP: Have 2020 inventory you want to move out for 2021 stock? We suggest staying away from steep discounts, which jeopardize brand equity and overall reputation. Consider ways to reward loyal customers with gifts or other types of giveaways to surprise and delight them!
7. Review and strengthen your adventure brand’s sustainability practices. Customers care!
While this may not immediately strike you as an important consideration for strong 2021 sales and positioning, consider this research insight document done by IBM and the Nation Retail Federation in June 2020: “Nearly six in 10 consumers surveyed are willing to change their shopping habits to reduce environmental impact; nearly eight in 10 respondents indicate sustainability is important for them. And for those who say it is very/extremely important, over 70 percent would pay a premium of 35 percent, on average, for brands that are sustainable and environmentally responsible.”
This reinforces the need for brands to provide clear, detailed information about their processes, operations, and products. Create blogs and videos illustrating your brand’s sustainability practices, and leverage these through social media, email marketing, and your website.
8. Explore partnerships or new groups to expand your offerings.
Partnering with organizations and groups (think: schools, clubs, non-profits…) can be a terrific opportunity to attract new customers, boost your sales, and possibly create an entirely new revenue stream for your business. This is also a time to think creatively about offering something that meets the needs of your community, like an alternative to summer camps.
Strategic Marketing Tips to Pre-Sell Fall 2020
If you’re currently open and operating, take advantage of these tips to maximize your Fall 2020 season.
You’ve proven you can run at half capacity. You’re marketing to driving distances, or maybe domestic flights are still operational, too. How can you use some of these tips to help support a strong Fall 2020 season?
- Make sure Fall offerings are prominent on your website. Use your most visited pages to call out Fall.
- Pre-Trip Communications: Our clients are seeing a lot of first-time adventurers joining them; if this is true for you as well, this is a great opportunity to review your pre-trip funnel. Are you calling out your online store, where they can enjoy a first-timer discount? Are you sharing supportive information on what to expect and what to bring?
- Post-Trip Communications: Turn your summer customers into fans! Be sure to add details about your fall season to your post-trip review request/return guest sales funnel to encourage them back. Don’t forget to ask them to tag you in their photos on social media… then leverage, leverage, leverage!
- Fall Campaigns: Develop a strong Fall 2020 paid campaign for social media and Google Ads that targets new prospects within driving distance of your establishment. Need help? We’re here for you.
- Ongoing Campaigns: Reinforce Fall products by mentioning them in your ongoing marketing campaigns: email, social media, onsite, PR, etc.
Customers are dreaming about their next adventure; they’re ready to plan it, too. By showing up with that pencil and good options, and leveraging some great user-generated content people have created in the “sharing” phase of their travel journey, you can kickstart your 2021 bookings… and make the most out of the remaining 2020 season.
PRO TIP: This December we will be speaking at the 2020 America Outdoors Conference on “How to Create a Strategic Marketing Roadmap to Guide Your 2021 Success”. Here is the session description:
Have great marketing ideas, but not sure how to align them to achieve your business goals? Not sure how to prioritize marketing channels and tactics into an annual plan that is cohesive and easy to implement? This workshop offers a proven process to map your business goals to quarterly strategies and tactics across each marketing channel, and create an easy-to-follow roadmap for your initiatives.
We are here to help you start and implement an effective roadmap!
Want more tips specific to adventure companies during this period of disruption?
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