41 minutes | Sep 22, 2020

Tourism Business Tips During Covid | Tourism Tim Warren & Dan Austin | TBS 81

  Do you wonder what are some best practices on customer and cash retention, marketing and promotions, optimizing your operational systems or your lead and sales conversion funnels? Then join multi-award winning, family owned tour operator founder Dan Austin with Austin Adventures and Travel Business Success Radio Podcast founder & host “Tourism Tim” Warren with almost 60 years combined experience in international and domestic tour operations and leadership in a candid tip-filled conversation on top tourism business tips during Covid to help you survive and thrive in the these challenging times. Dan and Tim have known each other since 1995. They both have passion for travel, tourism and now they are both involved with tour companies. They used to connect every month on Saturday’s to talk about tourism business, marketing, operations, etc. and are now here to share their best tourism business tips during COVID. Dan Austin is the founder and CEO of Austin Adventures. He ignited his passion for adventure travel in 1976. His travels soon took him to Alaska we’re he owned and operated a mid-sized construction company. He gained valuable experience working out difficult logistics and long distance problem solving. “Tourism Tim” Warren is the founder of Adventure Business Consultants. For over 26 years, Tim has dedicated himself to helping current and future tourism stakeholders worldwide to start, grow, and prosper. He’s also the host of the Travel Business Success Radio Podcast and Tourism Marketing TV, and the author of Double Your Tourism Bookings Online Program. Marketing & Communications (Corona Virus Tourism Marketing Tips) When did you start communicating with existing guests as COVID 19 set in? As the COVID 19 Pandemic started unfolding in most businesses, Dan Austin started to reach out to his guests. He and his team focused on a really aggressive campaign with a total from outgoing sales efforts to outgoing communication efforts. And they started making it more personal. How did you communicate?  They dropped the standard template emails. And started sending out personal emails to their guests and really became honest with them.  What did you share?  They also quickly changed their cancellation policies and deposit policies. What were the impact on your cancellations and refunds for 2020? A: Anticipate They started reaching out to their guests on the first week of March. They communicated with them even before their trips were due. They asked questions like – “What are you looking for?” “What are you most comfortable with?” Consider Corona Virus Tourism Marketing Tips like these – reach out to guests early. They also had guests that wanted to cancel their trips because they don’t know when they could travel again because of the pandemic. 60% of their guests said they would wait and see if they could travel, 12% rescheduled for later in 2020, and 12% rescheduled for 2021. B: Be honest  They implemented an open dialogue with their guests. They also quickly changed their cancellation policies and deposit policies. C: Communicate  Their guests appreciated the fact that they posted on their homepage – here’s what we’re doing, here’s what we’re willing to do now or what we can do to push back final payments. Their guests are also very easy to work with and willing to compromise to come across mutually beneficial arrangements. How Communications look now with existing customers, alumni & prospects and into the future Dan and Tim love trying out new corona virus travel marketing tips and ideas. They had this unique idea which is called virtual adventures. Instead of the virtual training webinars, they have created virtual adventures for kids.  Guest Promotions (Tourism Business Tips During Covid) Tell us more about your AA Kids & adult virtual tours?  With the help of his Dan’s daughter, Casey, she hosts the Virtual Adventures every week and they’re getting 1000 plus  kids at those webinars every week. They have parents and several staff members that have kids and they are really challenged with working from home and handling these kinds with the normal of virtual learning, and they needed a break. So Dan Austin and his daughter created this virtual adventure for kids.  Staying relevant. Be a top perceived quality & safe brand  They aren’t selling anything but they are educating the kids about how cool Yellowstone is. It allowed them to stay relevant and continue to reach out, provide services, and build a loyal base. “Keeping the Dream Alive” They are getting feedback from the parents and the kids are starting to talk about the virtual adventure webinars. It is kind of a soft sale. They aren’t selling anything but they educate the kids about Yellowstone. Selling the Dream – Tourism Business Tips During COVID Tell us more about When & How you are planning to start selling? They have started their first outgoing consumer facing or sales email which is basically wasn’t a hard sell. They just listed their 2021 dates are up on the website. They wanted their guests to have something to look forward to. They are letting the consumers dictate when they’re ready to start being sold. And in the interest of staying relevant, they’ve have created new product that fits the market a little bit better and focused more on promotion. PR and press is absolutely another way to stay relevant. Operations: Tourism Business Leadership & Logistics  Many of us are in shock and a bit froze, what are you and your team doing to keep forward momentum? For them, it was literally just to keep moving. They cannot sit around. They got to keeping thinking of all the different aspects of the business – How are you going to market? What are we going to cancel? What are we going to run? How are we going to manage inventory? What are we going to do to actually run a tour? Communicate with your guides. For Dan, they did virtual cocktail parties every Friday afternoon and getting their guides’ input – what are they seeing, feeling, and when it comes to actually executing trips, they empower their guides to help them figure out the new normal. It is kind of a focus group of tour guides that helps them to create their action plan. They also studied airlines, hotel industry, and other sectors that are affected with by it and put together a comprehensive plan. Leadership and Staff self-care  Dan motivates his time and gets on doing weekly team meetings via Zoom to bring them together and discuss a few corona virus travel marketing tips. And with the meeting proper, they talk about the things they need to get done. And if there are opportunities to address things that we have not done or been wanting to do. They’re using this time to actually accomplishing some of that now.  Dan intentionally puts his emotions aside and be upbeat, optimistic, positive, and reassuring to build the team morale. Before they start the meeting, they go around the table and each one tells something good or any accomplishment they have lately. Each team member shares their experiences dealing with different customers where they also get to share those positive experiences. When someone is feeling down and lacks enthusiasm, Dan talks to each of his sales people, and tell them to not call the guest if they’re down. And if they encounter difficult customers/rejections/cancellations from customers, Dan encourages his staff to get away from the desk, go for a walk, and clear their mind until they are in a right state of mind.  Optimizing Tourism Business Work flow  Operations Six months ago they decided to go paperless. They started utilizing Google Drive. And now that they are working remotely, people had to learn to use the cloud.  Embrace the need of technology. They learned zoom meeting and literally just embracing the technology and staying organized. They communicate over email and they use slack for instant messaging Dan believes this is the right opportunity to re-engineer their business and take this chance to step back and really take a real close look at the systems. Staffing  While travel companies are feeling the pain right now due to cancellation of trips or move to another schedule, the agent community is feeling even worse because literally they are not getting paid until that guest travels or in nobody travels, that means no paychecks.  Dan came up with an idea of paying half of their commission at the time of booking. That allowed them to express that they really see their agent community as partners. Tourism Marketing & Advertising – Tourism Business Tips During Covid For the first time in 25 years, Dan is keen on not printing catalogues to use as their marketing and advertising material. They want to make sure where their money is going and making sure that there’s an ROI on every penny spent.  Make sure to know exactly where your budget and expenses are, at all times. And make sure that the staff knows where you’re at. Travel Marketing Training Here’s How to Double Your Travel Leads, Bookings & Profits Live Recorded Training with Tourism Tim & Peers
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