The Tour Operator’s Guide to Seasonal Promotions

9 Dec 2014     |    Taz Bareham

In the tours and activities industry, you will face varying high and low seasons. Surprise! Well, it’s not that much of a surprise, but it is often overlooked. Usually, the high seasons revolve around the holiday months and you’ve got the low and shoulder seasons for the remainder of the year.

Like every other sane person in the industry, you probably want to maximize your bookings throughout these differing seasons. A great way to do this is to launch seasonal promotions.

But how do you go about launching seasonal promotions?

1. Set up the promotion

Well isn’t this another surprise! Yes, to launch seasonal promotions, you first need to set it up!

Coming up with a great promotion idea, targeting different segments.

  • Lifestyle-based promotions. Do you want to capture a segment that is part of a particular lifestyle? Offer student or military personnel discounts. You could even try backpacker discounts during low seasons.
  • Family promotions. The holiday season is the perfect time to target families because that’s when they all get together. Offer discounts for children under 12 years old.
  • Club and association discounts. There’s probably an association for your specific industry. For example, you can offer members of your local diving association a seasonal discount.

Having the tools to help you manage your promotion.

  • If your online booking software is like Rezdy, it should allow you apply promotions to bookings, and tell you how your promotion went. It’s done automatically so you can set it and forget it.
  • A very time-consuming workaround is to process bookings manually, inputting data into spreadsheets and manipulating your data at the end of the promotion. This is not ideal because when things get busy, it’s easy to make an error.

2. Let the world know

Once you’ve created your campaign, you need to let the world know it exists. Similar, to how one of my best friends told every girl at a bar that he was single(It didn’t quite work).

Choose a promo code that’s easy to remember (eg. XMAS10).

  • Display it prominently on your home page as a banner.
  • Tell all your distribution partners about the promotion, and provide them with the code. Inform local Visitor Information Centres, Travel Agents, and hotel concierges.
  • Email all your past customers.
  • Email all your new customers by including it in your reminder and follow-up emails.
  • Schedule in social media updates promoting the offer (you can use Hootsuite, it’s free!).
  • Try running ads on channels like Facebook and Google.

If it’s a last-minute endeavor, using daily deal sites to get the word out can work very well.

3. Bring customers back

Seasonal promotions are a great way to bring back past customers.

Research conducted by Sumall found that you should promote repeat business by

  • Creating coupons, because if a customer uses a coupon once, they’re 3x as likely to use one again.
  • Encouraging a high initial purchase (using promotions geared for new customers).
  • Allocating a quarter of your marketing budget to purchase incentives for repeat customers eg. retargeting ads via Google Adwords or Adroll.

So remind customers that it’s time to come back! For example, you can let your customers know that the weather conditions are perfect for parasailing, or that now is the perfect time for spotting whales on their migrating route.

Leading up to the launch of your seasonal promotion,

  • Give customers a discount voucher for when they come back.
  • A month before the new season starts, send them an email and remind them that their coupon is still valid.

It’s important to push for a second sale with each and every customer.

4. Focus on shoulder-season

Shoulder-season is the period between the low and high season, the great in-between. This period is great for businesses because demand is returning but competitors have not yet ramped up on promotional activities.

To be successful in this period, create promotions that:

  • Deliver value-based pricing. Don’t get stuck on being the cheapest, you’ll just end up cutting all your margins. Instead, offer promotional packages that set your activity apart without adding too much course. For example, free pickups from the hotel.
  • Leverage local events. Use promotions in conjunction with local events such as marathons (e.g. City to Surf in Sydney).

If you enjoyed this article – The Tour Operator’s Guide to Seasonal Promotions – then follow the Rezdy blog. There are a lot of marketing tools and resources designed with businesses like yours in mind.

Start your free demo or trial of Rezdy today.

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Read our blog on ‘5 ways to attract tourists to your tour or experience business’ here.