Many companies are making mistakes in processing tour feedback. This is directly impacting the reputation and referrals of tour operators and OTAs. Let’s look at how to optimize your feedback loop and grow your business. Reviews are THE seeds to referral and repeat business.
Compose a “review team” per tour
Reviews are a luxury to truly reconsider the guests’ expectations: Read and interpret them well. A dedicated team on each tour will help your organization to use the data efficiently. This team should consist of:
- Two high performing tour guides running this tour
- The business development person in charge of this tour
- One of the sales and marketing staff, who promotes this tour
- A customer service person who is in constant contact with your guests
- If possible, involve one of your most important local suppliers
With clearly defined highlights and deliverables for each tour, the “review team” can distill the customer’s perception from the reviews. The diversity of the review team can read between the lines and finetune the tour.
Use feedback to Improve Your Tour Product
Your review team can categorize, analyze and value the most impactful way(s) feedback comes to you. Define which type of feedback tells you really what you want/need to hear. With this analysis and definition of preferred feedback channels, your methods to use and steer feedback can be modified and help to improve your tours.
Reviews can be divided into roughly 3 types of feedback:
- Immediate feedback, on-the-spot “evaluation”. This can either be written or person-to-person. A great way to capture the emotions of your guests is via your tour guides. Involve top-performing tour guides to improve and optimize tours at location
- Appreciative feedback. This feedback shows happy travelers, saying THANKS to you and your guide. The tour guide makes or breaks your tour. TGs have a huge influence on the amount of appreciation you get as a tour operator and stimulate referral and repeat business.
- Coaching feedback combines the above ways of feedback and is primarily used to further motivate, inspire and support your organization and/or tour guides to grow capacities, improve on-stage performance and increase revenue options.
Invest in capacity building training to improve reviews
Now is the time to select your preferred pool of tour guides. Sounds hard and it is! Go through your reviews and hold them against your pool of tour guides. Who gets the best reviews? Your feeling may be different from the written reviews. Words clearly describe the difference between excellent, good and average.
Decide on the minimum number of guides you need to run your products. Refrain from starting with new guides each time. Instead, invest in excellent tour guides. Set up a coaching/buddy system and set parameters to reach the training goals based on reviews. Follow through!
Train this group based on the highlights and deliverables you need to see reflected in their future reviews. This grows their capacity and their commitment to you. For ideas on appropriate eCourses check out EastguidesWest.
Transform your Feedback Loop in a tool to Increase Revenue
- Transform your feedback loop into a revenue increasing tool by using and training your tour guides to capture and register what the guests are truly saying to you
- Ensure your guides KNOW what you want to hear
- Discuss with the review team how certain issues can be turned around or improved
- Use the positive and raving wordings in the reviews to sell your tours
- Monitor with your sales team if and how the figures are changing
Structure feedback forms around performance indicators to receive quality reviews
Tour operators depend on excellent service delivery. That excellent service comes from your tour guides. Using the performance indicators in structured feedback forms targets ‘per tour’ goals from unsatisfactory – or below average ratings – to 100% satisfaction raving reviews.
Without soliciting for “excellence” your tour guides on-stage can tell you, what guests really (dis-)like. The review team should steer feedback forms on the best and weakest performance indicators “on stage”.
Written By – Sjannie Hulsman-Louwers– Co-Founder & Owner, EastguidesWest.
ITMI-certified in tourism, Sjannie holds an Executive MBA of Rotterdam School of Management, a Master in European Tourism Management and a Bachelor in Tourism and Economics. She worked in the tourism and professional services industry for over 30 years and gained her experience all over the world. As a Tour Director herself, she has many practical tips to share.