Introducing The Travel Activity Industry Starter Kit

Whether you’re a one man tour operator or a thriving travel agency, a growing business can be tough to manage. Fortunately, the right tools can make a world of difference.

To help make your life easier we’ve partnered with some of the best software and service providers to give you over $10,000 in savings on everything you need to run your travel activity business.

Do you need help managing your marketing, customer service, or day-to-day operations? We’ve got you covered. Want deals on new domain names or an activity booking engine for your website? We’ve got that too.

So what are you waiting for? Visit the Travel Activity Industry Starter Kit today to get instant access to incredible savings!

3 Easy Steps To Better Social Media Marketing

Does the thought of marketing your business on social media make your head spin?

Though it may be tempting to shy away from social media marketing because of the time investment, it’s hard to ignore the positive affect it can have on the growth of your business.

How effective is social media marketing? According to a recent survey, 78% of consumers said their purchases are impacted by posts from companies they follow on social media.

Another study found that Twitter users who visit a retailer’s website have a significantly higher intent to buy.

Though this kind of data makes a compelling case for being more active on social media not every business has the time to implement a comprehensive social media campaign.

With that in mind I’m going to help you maximize your time by breaking your social media marketing efforts down into these 3 easy steps:

  • Choose the type of content you want to share
  • Find and create content
  • Automate your posts with tools

Read on to learn how to easily manage your social media marketing so you can have more time to focus on selling experiences.

1. Choose the type of content you want to share

First and foremost we need to build our foundation. To do this we’re going to brainstorm what kind of content to post across all of our various social media channels.

In general it’s a good practice to have a nice balance of different types of content. Ideally, your posts on social media should include a mix of content from other people, content from your business, and personal content which shows your business’ “fun” side.

We tend to do the same across our social media accounts. For example if you go to our twitter account you’ll see:

Content from others

vacation-lile

Content from us

brain-money

Personal Content

guam-bg-tours

To begin, create a spreadsheet with 3 columns and give each column one of the following headings:

  • Content from Others
  • Content from Us
  • Personal Content

Next, come up with ideas for types of content that fit into each category and add them into the appropriate column. To help you get the ball rolling we’ve put together a spreadsheet of content ideas that would work for a typical tour or activity business.

social-media-content-ideas-for-the-travel-activity-industry

Feel free to make a copy of the spreadsheet and use this as a launchpad for additional content ideas.

Keep in mind, when creating content to share it’s important to ask yourself whether it provides value for your target customer. Not sure what kind of content your customers are looking for? This study highlights the top reasons people give for following brands on Twitter.

Two great examples of companies that add value to their social media followers are from our customers, Chief’s Luau and Trilogy Excursions.

If you visit the Facebook page of Chief’s Luau you’ll see them sharing other people’s content in the form of photos their customers have taken.

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Likewise, Trilogy Excursions does a great job of creating and sharing their own content. Their blog is full of useful resources for visitors to Maui, like this post on understanding Maui’s unique weather.

Action items – Create a spreadsheet of ideas on what type of content to use across all of your various social media accounts

2. Find and create content

Now that you have a spreadsheet full of ideas for types of content you want to share let’s create a process to gather all of the different shareable content into a few places.

My 3 favorite resources to find great content are:

  • Feedly
  • Twitter lists
  • Facebook page likes

Using Feedly to organize blog posts

One of the best tools you’ll find for automating your social media marketing is Feedly. It’s a free service that organizes the posts from all of your favorite blogs into one place for you to read.

For example, if you take a look at the screenshot below from our Feedly account you’ll see we have a category called “Ideas” which includes all of the posts from blogs that are relevant to the travel activity industry.

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Now all we need to do is spend a few minutes scanning for content that would be valuable to our customers and their industry.

Using Twitter lists to find shareable tweets

Twitter lists are also a great source of content. You can create a list of Twitter accounts that are known for composing great tweets so every time you log into Twitter you just need to look at your list for content to share.

Start by creating your own list like we have. In the screenshot below you’ll notice we have a list called “Content Ideas” which includes tweets from the U.S Tour Operators Association and Google’s Travel Team among others.

content-ideas

Creating your own list can take time so I recommend you subscribe to lists that other people have created to give yourself a head start.

Using Facebook to find shareable content

According to a recent study, 30% of U.S. adults get their news from Facebook. Knowing this, why not use Facebook to find and share content your customers are looking for?

To get started switch to your business page and “Like” pages that create content that would be valuable to your customers.

A good place to start would be the official tourism page for your state. If you lived in Hawaii for example you could like the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s page.

Now every time they post content it will show up in your business page’s feed and you can share it with your page’s followers.

Action items – Create a Feedly account and add blogs to your feed. Create a Twitter list of content ideas or subscribe to someone else’s list. Using your business Facebook page, like other Facebook pages that create really good content.

3. Automate your posts with tools

If you’ve followed the steps above you should have some great ideas and sources of content to share, but unless you’re logging in daily your tweets and posts can be few and far between.

Ideally you would want to identify the content you’re going to share in batches using the steps above then schedule that content to post automatically into the future.

Fortunately, there’s a free tool that allows you to do this. Using Buffer you can add content you want to share to a queue which will post the content to your various social media accounts over time.

Here are a few ways we’ve found Buffer to be really helpful:

  • Adding content to our queue via their Chrome extension while browsing online
  • Adding tweets to our queue from within Twitter
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  • Adding Facebook posts to our queue from within Facebook
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If you want even more ways to supercharge your social media marketing look into integrating your Buffer account with IFTTT.

Action items – Sign up for a free Buffer account. Install the Buffer browser extension for Chrome. Add our big list of travel quotes into Buffer.

Now that you have your content ideas, sources, and automation set up here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your social media marketing efforts.

So there you have it! We’ve outlined a better way to do social media marketing in these 3 easy steps:

  • Choose the type of content you want to share
  • Find and create content
  • Automate your posts with tools

If you’ve followed each of the steps above you’ll be well on your way to connecting with your customers on social media. Best of all, you’ll have more time to get back to doing what you love!

Over to You

  • Do you have a process to keep your sanity when doing social media marketing?
  • Want even more content ideas? Follow us on Twitter.
  • I’d love to hear your methods! Let’s chat in the comments.

Oh, Before I Forget…

I hope that these steps help make it easier to manage your social media marketing.

If you enjoyed this guide, I recommend that you download the PDF I made so you can read it away from your computer.

101 Inspirational Travel Quotes

We know how hard it can be to find great content to share across all of your social media profiles. So to make your life easier we put together a list of 101 Inspirational Travel Quotes for you to use.

These quotes were carefully selected by our team to help you inspire your customers and remind them of the amazing experiences that you offer. In fact, these are some of the exact same quotes that we share on our social media profiles.

So what are you waiting for? Copy all 101 Inspirational Travel Quotes into your social media management tool of choice (we love Buffer) and schedule them out into the future so you can get back to delighting your customers!

Why the World’s Biggest Brands Sell Experiences and Why You Should Too

Running a business in the travel activity industry is not an easy task. Besides all of the day to day operations you still need to make time for marketing and customer acquisition. This is a problem that nearly every business struggles with.

Fortunately, I’m going to show you some simple tricks that will make struggling to find customers a thing of the past.

Armed with the knowledge you will gain from this post you can build a business that is a customer acquisition machine allowing you to turn new customers into repeat customers and generate more referrals than ever before.

Don’t worry I’m not going to give you one more thing to add to your daily to do list. I’m going to do something better and show you how you can sell more activities with a simple change of perspective. Let me explain.

As humans we place more value on experiences than goods and services. So why sell a service when more people are willing to pay more money for an experience?

Tours and activities are services and customers can choose between many businesses selling the same service. If you want to stand out from your competitors, sell experiences, or the benefit that your customers will get from buying your service.

Fortunately a lot of studies have been done on the subject of selling experiences and I’ve gathered some of the best to give you an idea of how you can apply this concept to your business. In this blog post I’ll show you:

  • Big brands that have used this strategy successfully
  • Where the demand for experiences came from
  • Scientific data that proves why selling experiences works
  • How you can use it to grow your activity business

Let’s start by taking a look at some pioneers who sold experiences to build some of the most well known brands in the world. These CEO’s and founders had the vision to create lasting experiences for their customers and they were rewarded handsomely for it.

Who else is doing it?

Walt Disney took a huge risk when he built Disneyland which, as we know today, is a risk that paid off. One reason for Disneyland’s tremendous success was the fact that he retained control over his guest’s entire experience. He even went so far as to build Disneyland in such a way that made it impossible for a guest inside of the park to see anything outside of Disneyland.

The one thing I learned from Disneyland is to control the environment.

Walt Disney

Though Disney might be the most famous example of a business that sells experiences rather than goods and services there are plenty of other examples of businesses built with very little money that succeeded because they provided a unique experience for their customers.

While Disney managed to build one of the most valuable brands in history by creating memorable experiences for his customers he had the benefit of creating a new market rather than standing out in an existing one.

Standing out in a crowded marketplace can be hard, though not impossible. Take Coldstone Creamery for example. Coldstone Creamery’s former CEO, Doug Ducey, built a global brand by selling experiences in a very crowded marketplace.

By creating “the ultimate ice cream experience” with singing employees and desserts that are made right before your eyes Ducey managed to grow the brand from 74 to 1,000 stores. While their company’s growth is impressive by any measure what’s more impressive was their ability to sell a product (that hasn’t changed much over the years) far better than their competition could.

Legendary entrepreneur, Richard Branson, is no stranger to success either. With over 360 companies under the Virgin umbrella, a company he founded, he must be doing something right.

So what’s the secret to his success? According to him, all you have to do is build a company that stands for fun. Branson realized early on that customers were willing to pay more for experiences, which allowed him to take advantage of new opportunities, like starting an airline.

The greatest entrepreneurs don’t sell products; they sell an experience like fun, happiness, or a comfortable, inviting place to enjoy a cappuccino. What experience does your product offer?

How did we get here?

So how did we get to a point where goods and services just don’t cut it anymore? According to B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore, authors of “The Experience Economy”, services have become increasingly commoditized much like goods have.

This commoditization of services have compelled businesses to find new ways to create value for their customers. Pine and Gilmore consider this the next step in what they’ve termed the “Progression of Economic Value.”

progression-of-economic-value-296x300

As you can see from the illustration above staging experiences for your customers is the next step in the progression of economic value. Essentially, it’s a natural response in the marketplace to customers who are demanding new offerings.

Goods and services are everywhere becoming commoditized; what consumers want today are experiences — memorable events that engage them in an inherently personal way. That’s good news, of course, for the tourism and activities industry, for such companies have always been in the experience business!

The great thing about giving customers what they want is they are willing to pay a premium for it. Not only are customers willing to pay more for what they want but they are also willing to spend a larger portion of their income as well. In fact 55% of total luxury spending is on experiences, and this trend is growing year over year.

Experiences aren’t just luxury purchases reserved for the rich and famous either. Something as simple as eating at a food truck could be considered a new and exciting experience.

Apparently there are a lot of people who would agree because food trucks are on pace to generate 2.7 billion dollars in revenue by 2017. This is equal to between 3 and 4 percent of total U.S. restaurant sales! Not too shabby.

So why are food trucks so popular? A survey by Emergent Research found that more than 80% of survey respondents used words like “fun, exciting, and unique” when asked why they chose to dine at a food truck over a restaurant.

So now that we understand where the demand for experiences came from let’s take a look at the psychology behind why experiences sell so much better than products and services.

Why does it work?

Have you ever felt that the anticipation leading up to a vacation is just as exciting as the vacation itself? Well you’re not alone. A Dutch study found that the simple act of planning a vacation boosted happiness for eight weeks!

Not only does vacation planning make us happy but so does the vacation itself. According to a recent study conducted by Expedia, 80% of Americans said that vacations make them happier than weddings, birthdays, and even cats. I know, the last one is hard to believe.

Unless you’re a workaholic I would be surprised if a vacation didn’t make you happy but can you believe that 9 out of 10 Americans said that their happiest memories are formed while on vacation? That’s a powerful statement considering that Americans only use an average of 10 vacation days per year.

So why do vacations (and other experiences) make us so happy? To understand this it helps to compare experiences to other things that we spend our money on, like material possessions.

1. Experiences get better with age

Over time we tend to only remember the highlights of our experiences and not the boring moments. This creates a fond memory of the experience which we hold dear to us. That doesn’t happen with material possessions however. You don’t usually say “I love those shoes because I wore them on my river rafting trip.”

2. It’s harder to compare our experiences with other people’s experiences

Social comparisons can shape our view of positive events in our lives. This can be either good or bad depending on what they’re being compared to. For example the excitement of buying a new iPhone can wear off quickly once you see someone with an even newer model.

Unlike material possessions, no two experiences are alike. This means they are more resistant to social comparisons and the positive memory associated with your experience is less likely to fade if your friend comes along with a story of a great experience that he had.

3. Experiences carry more social value

Have you ever noticed that it’s not acceptable to talk about big purchases in a social setting? No one likes a bragger but everyone loves to hear about the adventure you had climbing an active volcano in Hawaii.

Shared experiences, or even great stories of our experiences, increase our social value which helps build social relationships and in turn makes us happier.

How can this help me?

Now that we understand how important experiences are to us and why they’re so important let’s apply that to your business.

First, ask yourself, is your service a commodity? What makes your hiking tour any different than what your competitors offer?

Think about what sets your service apart from what your competitors offer and play that up. If there’s nothing that sets you apart then it’s time to brainstorm!

Consumption today is not rooted in things, it is rooted in experience. Those merchants who understand this mindset will be the ones racking up sales.

Since we’ve already established that people want to spend their money on experiences how can you use that knowledge to your advantage? With psychology of course!

You can start by making small changes to the language that you use when you’re on the phone with a potential customer or when they walk into your shop.

One way of doing this is to make a connection in the customer’s mind with your services and their desire for new and exciting experiences. You can do this by using language like “Would you like to add another experience to your itinerary?” or by answering the phone with “Thank you for calling XYZ Company. Would you like to hear our featured experience this month?”

There’s also lots of subtle wording that you can use on your website to persuade customers to make a booking. For example, how much thought did you put into the names of your tours and activities?

Does your list of activities read like a product catalog? If so you could be missing out on some easy wins with your customers. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes. Would you rather pay for a “4 Hour Kayak Tour” or a “Half Day Kayaking Experience”?

A great example of this type of language in action can be found in this marketing campaign by Denmark’s tourism website which reminds you to use all of your senses to “experience the atmosphere of a country.”

Instead of selling you on a destination that you may never have heard of they remind you of how good it feels to visit a new place (recalling an experience.) The narrator paints a picture so clear that it makes you long for that feeling again.

This is just the tip of the iceberg too. There’s lots of other ways you can stand out from your competition and develop customers for life by creating an exceptional experience for them. All it takes is a little extra time with your marketing hat on and the results can pay dividends!

What do you think?

Should this shift in mindset come naturally to the travel activity industry? What are some ways activity suppliers and travel agencies can use the experiential nature of the industry to increase sales?

I would love to hear your thoughts!

Introducing ActivityRez

We’re excited to introduce the future of activity reservation systems. ActivityRez is a Software as a Service (SaaS) web application that was built specifically with the activity industry in mind. Enterprise reservation software is no longer something that is only available to the airline industry or travel agencies with big budgets. With ActivityRez you can literally get your activity business or travel agency up and running within the day and have all the tools you need to grow and scale your business quickly.

For activity providers the ActivityRez Point of Sale and web booking engine give you the ability to automate bookings while reducing your costs. You also have the ability to connect with reseller agencies around the world so they can see your activities and associated inventory as you see it. These features are essential towards taking your activity business to the next level.

If you’re a travel agency, ActivityRez’s Point of Sale allows you to quickly and easily get your agents up and running so they can start selling activities. Do you want to reduce your time spent per sale? The ActivityRez POS lets you see the actual inventory, in real time, of the activity providers whose activities you’re selling so you can book with confidence knowing that seats are available. No longer is there a need to spend all your time on the phone confirming availability, thus allowing you to service your customers more efficiently. In addition, ActivityRez’s powerful Ad hoc reporting feature puts all the information you need to make smart business decisions at your fingertips.

Who We Are and Where We’re From

ActivityRez is made up of a talented team who understands the activity industry as well as you do. We’re located in Hawaii, the mecca of tourist destinations, so we have our finger on the pulse of the industry. Our team combines years of design, development, and industry experience; all resulting in software that was built with the activity industry in mind.

Since our company was founded, we’ve worked with some of the largest travel agencies in the world. Based on their feedback, we’ve continued innovating to create a product that will scale as an agency grows. In addition to working with big travel agencies, we can also count small mom and pop activity providers among our list of clients. The feedback we’ve received over the years from our clients, big and small, has allowed us to create a product that provides the most value to your organization no matter what role you play in the activity ecosystem.

The Future and Our Promise

What’s in store for us in the future? We have a ton of features and enhancements on the horizon that you’re sure to love. Those features will shine through as we promise to continuously innovate. We don’t want to be a software company that becomes stagnant. At ActivityRez, we believe our customers should have technology that is constantly adapting to their needs and changing with the times. With our solution you can be up to date with the latest web enhancements and business best practices.

Our goal is to provide our customers with software that can power the largest travel agencies in the world, but is accessible enough for the small activity provider. Why? Because here at ActivityRez we understand that in order for you to succeed, you need a technology partner that has the vision and industry knowledge to help you get there.

We trust that you will find ActivityRez to be the best activity reservation software on the market, because we believe it is. With nearly 15 years of research and development going into our product we can say that with confidence…and we’re confident our customers will too.