Updated: Jul 14, 2021
Attention Tour Operators. Here's something to learn about Marketing your Tours by Mark Ennor.
After the past 20 years in Regional Tourism, as an Adventure Tour owner/operator including 13 years as marketing initiative founder (52+ Things to do in Greater Port Macquarie), I have seen the fast-paced change of how operators get themselves found (or not!) through good and bad advertising means. I’ve seen the trends change with how visitors book their experiences.
I’ve been through it all, made mistakes, and blown lots of money on knee-jerk marketing ideas or fallen for advertisers’ sales pitches!
Most tourism operators are owner/operators, much of your day is running your business at the coal face whilst trying to keep the ‘business’ running in the background. On top of this, you will have your family and personal life to try and fit in. On top of this full schedule, you have to make sometimes quick decisions on how to spend your precious money on advertising.
When it comes to change, especially technological change (even when you know it will benefit you) it often gets put directly into the “too hard basket” or “I’ll get to that when I have time” or “I don’t understand how it works so I’ll just keep on with what I know”
The most successful operators move with the times. The definition of a successful Tourism operator is the one who is busy most of the time, not just in peak periods.
The ones who utilize the resources offered to them that are there assist them and the industry as a whole.
Whilst everyone had a hard time of it in 2020 there has never been such support and proactive initiatives happening to boost and help operators, especially in Regional Areas.
Even Tourism Australia, whose job it is to promote Australia to the world, is promoting “holiday here this year”. Destination NSW’s marketing initiative “the Long Road” (promoting road trips). States and Territories giving vouchers to their residents to spend on accommodation, attractions, and restaurants to keep the Tourism Industry afloat.
Some of the things that make an operator balk at change or looking to join a new campaign are cost and time. “Can I afford it?” “Do I have the time to think about this?” “My business is busy now so why bother looking at anything else”.
Like I said earlier, I’ve been through all of this. I ran a horse trekking business in a secluded valley out of public view, I could never rely on people knowing about us by just driving by. I had to be pro-active with marketing, get involved in the industry, be open to new and changing technology, get my head around forgoing commissions to companies selling my experiences. Eventually learning that you need to stop, think, assess and act. At least pass it on to someone in your business or even family that can act on opportunities that are presented to you, you can’t afford to miss out. Otherwise, you will spend your time, marking time!
I’ve always known (again from experience, plus knowing so many other operators) that being a small business owner, every dollar you spend on your business you want to see a return on investment, you have an emotional attachment to your money because it comes out of your back pocket! Unlike the tourism bodies (Govt) that get given budgets to spend, if they blow it one year on initiatives that don’t work, they get another budget for the next year and have another go. Tourism operators often get accused of being a feisty bunch (I was one too!) exactly for this reason, feeling like you’re being fleeced of your working dollars to join initiatives that you aren’t sure will work.
After enduring a severe drought ending up with bushfires in 2019, we had to shut down our horse riding operation, sell off our horses and move on.
The most natural step for me was to use my experience and passion for Regional Tourism and set up a platform dedicated to Regional Australia keeping it low cost and effective in its reach. It’s a two-way thing, ALL operators want to get found (not just the ones who can afford to advertise) and travellers (plus locals) need to be able to find EVERYTHING that there is to do from the one-man-band Kayak Tour, a small eco-cabin in the mountains to the major attractions and Resorts dotted around Australia.
The demographics of travellers has broadened in the past 12 months with people hitting the road in big numbers, we may have lost the Internationals for now but all is not lost. Tapping into the self-drive market is key for Regional Operators.
This is where BookitDoit comes in. It has been set up as a categorized directory with 14 categories, 87 regions, and 268 areas around Australia. Operator listings have been pulled in from the Australian Tourism Data Warehouse (ATDW). Operators are encouraged to ‘Claim’ their listings (for free or paid at just $10 p/w), place a booking button on their listing (at just 10% commission), and collaborate with other operators in their areas to offer digital itineraries. And you will find it is the lowest cost platform in the industry!
The more operators that do so will ensure the strength of the initiative and success for you, your region and regional Australia as a whole.
If you haven’t already, search for your business on the BookitDoit website, claim your listing and invest in the future success of your business and Regional Tourism.
Regional Australia never booked so good!