During May-August, 2020, despite COVID, we’ve been thrilled to see our tour, attraction, and activity clients bring in an average of $7.90 in revenue from every $1 they’ve spent on Facebook & Instagram ads (a 7.9 average return on spend).
Driving returns like this—particularly in 2020—requires well-timed ad campaigns with messaging tailored to specific targeted audiences, and landing pages that back up that message. We’ve found that getting a solid return on any advertising happens by striking the right note with the right person at each point throughout the year. Sometimes people just need an excuse or extra motivation to get out and do something fun—and you can give them that excuse.
- Showcase the Season
- Spotlight Scarcity
- Take the Weather Forecast Into Account
- Highlight Life Changes & Events
- Know Your Guests’ Buying Behavior
- Remarket To People Who Abandon The Booking Process
1. Showcase the Season
For many tour and activity operators, a change in season should bring a change in imagery and messaging. Here are a few examples we’ve used:
In late summer, encourage families to make the most of what’s left of summer break. Family schedules are changing, and kids will be spending more time sitting indoors day and night. Not that a 13-year-old needs to be reminded that school is starting soon, but sometimes parents need a little nudging to do one more family adventure before school is in full swing.
If “virtual” schooling is big in your area, especially in 2020, that presents another great messaging opportunity during the school year. Many of our clients offer great alternatives to screen time. We’re calling this out specifically in our ads for activities in close proximity to school.
Help your customers dream of crisp fall air and foliage. Everyone loves the beauty and vibes that fall brings, so help your customers dream a little. Show them how your activity is one that can help them make the most of the great weather and beauty, and you may end up filling up those fall tour times.
2. Spotlight Scarcity
If your tours are regularly selling out, or nearly sold out for a coming weekend, tap into FOMO (fear of missing out) by letting your customers know that they should act soon.
We’ve found that customers are far more likely to book if they know there’s a chance that a tour they’re interested in might sell out. For example, let’s say you have a few spots left on different tours this coming weekend, and you regularly sell out your weekend tours. It’s worth creating an organic post or ad like the example below for two reasons:
- There’s a much better chance of selling out your tours if you get this message in front of the right people. The audience most likely to buy here would be those who recently visited your website or started the checkout process, but didn’t purchase. Facebook allows you to show this ad to that audience.
- Showing ads and organic posts like this to your audience and fans can help change their behavior. If they frequently see that your tours are about to sell out, they’ll know that they need to book in advance. That helps both you (selling out earlier helps you set your staffing levels and reduce marketing spend) and them (nobody wants to miss out on their weekend plans).
Pro Tip: If your booking engine has a waitlist feature like Xola, Rezdy, Bookeo, or Peek, consider incorporating that call to action option into your ads. That way a sold-out tour isn’t necessarily a dead end. The platform will email those on the waitlist when a spot opens up.
3. Take the Weather Forecast Into Account
Sometimes something as small as a reminder that the weather is looking beautiful for an outdoor activity is just enough to convince your fans/audience that this is the weekend to go out and give your experience a try.
This goes both ways. Let’s imagine that there’s rain in the forecast the next 7 days. While that’s not ideal, doing your adventure in the rain may have it’s advantages. For example, here’s an ad for Highlands Aerial Park that talks about some of the advantages of ziplining in the rain.
While we don’t expect rainy-weather ads to convert as well as sunny-weather ads, which is more likely to convince someone to buy: this ad, or someone’s assumptions about what zipping in the rain would be like?
4. Highlight Life Changes and Events
You’ll have to dive a little deeper into Facebook Ads manager’s “Detailed Targeting” tool for this one, but it’s worth it. Three examples (of many) include:
- Recently Moved: Target people who recently moved to the area to make sure that your experience is top of mind for neighborhood newcomers. You might even consider a discount for those newcomers as a way to welcome them to town.
- Recently Engaged: Run a bachelor and bachelorette party campaign for people who recently got engaged (or who have a close friend who recently got engaged). Facebook even allows you to specify how recently the individual got engaged.
- Upcoming Birthday: Create an ongoing birthday party campaign and show it to people with upcoming birthdays (or to people who have close friends with upcoming birthdays). Facebook also allows you to show ads to people who have birthdays during specific months, so one fun thing to do is create month-specific campaigns where, for example, you might say to someone in June: “Have a July birthday coming up? The birthday boy (if you’re targeting males) zips half off when your group size is 8 or more! Come give us a try…”
5. Know Your Guests’ Buying Behavior
Your seasonal cycle of guests should be considered when setting up ad campaigns. This one also requires a little bit of digging in Facebook’s “Details Targeting” tool. Here are a few examples:
- Target older couples when school’s in session: If you know that older couples love to experience your activity in the fall, then focus on advertising to engaged or married people 55+ years old starting in August and September.
- Target families during school breaks: For example, if an elementary school nearby has a break coming up, then you should target parents with elementary aged kids with messaging that says “Come try our experience during fall break!”
- Shift your messaging to be more gift-oriented over the holidays: Position your experience as the perfect gift over the holidays—who wouldn’t want a food tour voucher over a pair of socks?!
6. Remarket to People Who Abandon the Booking Process
Your marketing funnel is your process of attracting, convincing, and converting your customers. Tailoring your messaging for particular stages of the funnel allows you to make the most of every cent you spend on advertising.
Using your ad platform pixels, you can create custom events that will tell you when someone begins and ends the booking process on your website. Using these custom events, you can show ads to people who start the booking process, but don’t finish it. On average 2/3rds of people who start the booking process, don’t finish it. Remarketing to people in the phase, often generates more than $20 in revenue for each dollar spent on advertising.
Increase your conversion rate even more by offering customers something based on their interactions with your brand. One example of how we’re doing this is a tour company is selling out nearly all their tours every day right now. This has resulted in a lot of people going to their website, starting the booking process, realizing that there wasn’t a tour time available, and abandoning the process. To recapture this revenue, we created a time-restrictive offer where they can purchase tour vouchers for 20% off. The beauty of this we get to recognize the revenue today, and we don’t sacrifice margin since on average we only see 70% of vouchers get redeemed.
We’ve seen these strategies, and many others, drive growth for tour, attraction and activity companies. If you want to learn more about growing your direct business, read this guide: How to Get me to Book Your Tour or join our newsletter for fresh insights each month.
Finally, during the pandemic we are offering free setup for our Full Service Managed Advertising a fast, efficient way to grow your tour business. If you’re interested in getting started, drop us a line.