One of the questions we get frequently is whether or not email is worth the investment for tour businesses with little to no repeat business.

While emails sent after the tour is taken will probably annoy your customers more than help them, there are email marketing techniques you can use to generate more revenue and create value for your visitors. Here are three email campaigns that will most benefit tour operators who seldom get repeat business.

A General Welcome Email

A general welcome email is an email (or series of emails) that new customers or email subscribers get from you when they join your mailing list.

It should be automatically sent the day after you send your lead-magnet to a prospect, or the day after all your booking confirmations are delivered to your customer. That prevents both parties from being inundated with emails and reduces the chance that it will be overlooked.

In this email, share your personality; give them a little taste of who you are. Tell them thank you for joining your list or booking a tour. Set expectations that you will not be spamming them regularly with emails. Share resources with them from your partners about how they can maximize their stay in your area. Ask them to follow you on social media, and by all means, share your most popular tour options with a call to book.

Why send a welcome email? Studies tell us that 74% of people are expecting one from you, so you aren’t likely to annoy them. It helps build their acquaintance with your brand, decreases spam complaints in the future, and gives you the opportunity to segment your audience.

But my favorite reason is this: MIG reports that a welcome series with an offer can boost revenue by 30% per email.

Upsell/Cross Sell Between Buying and Taking Your Tour

The highest opportunity for your business lies in the sweet spot between when your client purchased the tour and when they actually take the tour. If you are not upselling or cross selling in that special target timeframe, you are leaving money on the table.

Consider this: Amazon makes 35% of their revenue from upsells and cross sells. What if a you could increase sales by 35% annually just by investing a few hours in an upsell/cross sell series?

Remind them that theirs is a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and they need to experience it to the fullest.

  • Did they buy your afternoon harbor cruise? Can you up-sell them to the sunset dinner tour?
  • Did they purchase a guided kayak tour? Can you cross-sell them on a bike tour the next day?
  • Do you offer VIP upgrades?
  • Would their party of six be better served with a private tour?

Let’s talk logistics.

First, you don’t want to up-sell someone on a tour or experience they’ve already purchased, so be sure your workflow automation checks for that before sending the marketing email. Here is an example:

If customer purchases kayak tour, wait until 3 days before tour date. Check to see if they purchased the bike tour. If they did, exit the workflow. If they did not, send bike tour cross-sell campaign.

Second, think carefully about the timeframe for your upsell or cross sell. The ideal time will be different for every business; you have to consider what’s right for yours. For many operators, it will be 3-5 days before your customer takes the tour. However, if you are selling to cruise travelers coming into port, for example, you might need to reach out a 4-6 weeks prior to the tour date.

Your probability of selling to existing customers is 60-70% – compared to a new prospect, which is 5-20%. Here’s your chance to work smarter; not harder.

Browse Abandonment For Leads

When considering your email investment, don’t forget to account for prospects and leads – not just customers. Use lead magnets to showcase your expertise and encourage potential buyers to leave you their email address.

Once again, the value here is not in sending them (yawn!) a regular newsletter. The real value is in monitoring those people as they return to your site and poke around, so that you can automatically send them information about the tours they review. Meet them in the moment.

Imagine these two scenarios:

ONE: Someone comes to your website and shares their email address with you because they are considering a trip to your city, and they’ve started the research phase. You follow up with a welcome email (good job!) and next month they get your seasonal newsletter. Too bad they’ve already returned from your city – you’re a day late and a sale short.

TWO: Someone comes to your website and shares their email address with you because they are considering a trip to your city, and they’ve started the research phase. You follow up with a welcome email (still a good job!) But in this scenario we can see that they came back to your site the next week, checking out your white water rafting trip…but they didn’t buy.

Now imagine that your email system noticed that they were poking around and noticed that they have not purchased from you, so it automatically sent them an email. “We noticed you were looking at the catamaran tours. Is there something we can help you with?” the email states. It also shows pictures of happy customers, a few 5-star reviews, and a Book Now button.

That is marketing in the moment – when they are ready to hear from you. With an 80.9% higher open rate and 50.5% higher
click through rate than traditional emails, it pays to talk to prospects on their timeline, not yours.

Any Other Reasons?

Why, yes!  If you don’t have a lot of repeat business, it still makes sense to invest in a quality email marketing tool for the analytics it provides.  Open rates are good.  Click-through rates even better.  But how about analytics that show the approximate revenue attributed to each campaign?  This can be life changing.  See which campaigns work, and which don’t – according to revenue, which is really what you’re driving towards. Not opens or clicks.  

Is This Possible for Small Tour Operators?

Until recently, this type of sophisticated technology was very expensive and only available to those with willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for custom development.

Today, it is available affordably for FareHarbor users through TourAdvantage .

TourAdvantage is a new turnkey email marketing solution designed just for small to mid-sized for tour operators.

Be the master of big marketing efforts, maximize direct bookings, and position an advantage over other local
attractions with larger marketing budgets with:

  • Real-time email and e-commerce integration with FareHarbor
  • 40+ easy to follow video tutorials tailored to the tour operator experience
  • 30+ accelerator workflows and email templates

Watch a demo, and try it free for 30 days.
Email marketing will increase your bottom line – and it’s no longer hard or expensive.

Lesli Peterson
Latest posts by Lesli Peterson (see all)