CHIANG RAI, 1 July 2021: “Do you sometimes wonder if you’re making mistakes” that could be avoided? Rezdy, a booking software vendor, poses the question in an email blast that disturbs my senior moments over a morning coffee and biscuit.
Usually, my index finger hovers over the delete button for just a second as I deliver my verdict — read or trash? What mistakes? Curiosity eventually gets the better of me.
Rezdy sets out its credential as the “world’s leading independent booking software and distribution platform, designed exclusively for tours, activities”, so that lets me off the five mistakes hook. I couldn’t organise a tour to save my life, but you guys out there who do just that every day without batting an eyelid might find these peer observations worthy of a five-minute read.
Five Mistakes Tour Operators are Still Making in 2021 targets travel firms and dishing out the home truths MaxTour founder Mathew Meier, courtesy of a Rezdy email blast.
Here are the five biggest ones you will want to shore up urgently.
“It’s the little box a client s to agree to terms and conditions which is an essential part of the booking process. To make a contract binding, you need to get them to sign it. But electronic signatures are tricky, and most courts ruled over and over again that “browsewrap” will make your terms and conditions unenforceable.
“When you package your purchase now button with your TOC, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Your terms and conditions need to be separate from the purchase button to give yourself a better chance at actually enforcing your TOCs.”
Not updating cancellation policies
“It is 2021, and the travel industry is on shaky ground. Bookings and trips are way down, and there are not any firm dates on when volume will return to pre-pandemic levels.
“Airlines have eased their cancellation and fee policies for the better (let’s hope these changes are permanent). Too many tour operators have not updated their cancelling policies to reflect the state of travel in 2021. The shorter your non-refund period, the better. The last thing we need is a guest feeling pressure to join a tour or activity when feeling unwell just because they are locked into a noncancelable trip.”
Too many fields in the booking process
“Once you have gained the trust of a potential guest and they are ready to book, you need to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. Many booking processes are longer than they need to be, or they have way too many fields the guest needs to fill out. The longer your process is, and the more fields you have, the more likely the guest will abandon their cart.
One of the biggest violators of this theory is asking for the first and last name of everyone that is joining your tour. If a group of 6 is booking the tour, there is no need to have the first name and last name of all six people! By only requiring the first and last name of the lead traveller, you could cut down 10 fields for a party of six.”
Not using user-generated content
“User-generated content (UGC) is one secret to running a winning direct booking campaign. By using UGC on your website and social media accounts, you not only boost your conversion rates but you gain an unlimited stream of relevant content to post. UGC can be anything from showing guest reviews on your website to reposting Facebook posts on your company account. Your guests are on social media, and they are definitely posting content from your tours. Getting permission and reposting your guests’ content on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok is a simple way to constantly fill your own feeds with high-quality content that will help you drive more direct bookings. For an added boost, highlight these feeds on your website to show potential bookers what going on your tours looks like from the perspective of the guest.”
Using hero sliders
“Sliders in the above-the-fold section of tour operator websites are something I see all the time. (A hero slider is defined as a large, featured series of images prominently displayed on the homepage.)
While they may look good, they have been proven again and again to hurt conversions. And in the end, this needs to be the primary goal of your website, to get people to convert into guests that join your tours.
By using sliders in the hero section, you are moving further away from this goal. It has always seemed counterintuitive because those sliders look so good. But almost no one watches past the first slide, and there are lots of studies that back up with hard data that sliders have no place on a modern website.”
A condensed version of a blog by Matthew Meier, founder of MaxTour in Las Vegas. When he is not running the day-to-day operations, he loves getting out and taking guests on tours of the Grand Canyon.