8 Tips For Tour Operators Marketing On A Budget

July 05, 2020
Lucas Ennis (he/him)
4 min read

To adjust for the times, tour operators have recently had to rethink various aspects of business, including their marketing strategy and cash flow. For many, it’s meant getting smarter about spending while the industry is paused and income is slow.

As the world gets closer to opening its doors once again, travel companies should keep promoting their brand to put it front of mind for travelers, even if it means marketing on a budget.

The good news is that doing this cost-effectively is entirely possible with a bit of creativity. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Tips For Marketing On A Budget

1. Take To Social Media

Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube are ideal for tour operators. Your travel experiences provide clients with unforgettable memories and open them up to new perspectives. Beautifully crafted imagery and videos showcasing this are a great fit for their social feeds.

After all, it’s on these platforms that travelers search for exactly this - inspiring content that allows them to escape the ordinary, imagine an experience for themselves, and possibly begin planning their own adventure.

Experiment with scheduling posts for different times of the day. Try different post formats, for example, quizzes, inspirational content, videos, competitions, team profiles, or destination showcases, to see what works and sees the most engagement.

Most importantly, interact with your followers or audience. Reply to their comments and keep up the conversation.

It’s free to post on these channels if you plan on reaching people organically. If you find that you aren’t getting as much traction as you were hoping to with your content, then keep adjusting your strategy. Have a look at what your competitors are doing to generate engagement as well.

There is also the Facebook advertising route, although you may need some help with this if you are new to it. Because you can allocate a budget to your campaigns on the platform, you spend as little or much as you are willing to.

2. Connect With Potential and Existing Clients On Email

An email address provides you with a direct link to reach potential and existing clients. If you are marketing on a budget, then sending out your latest offers to your existing client base can be a cost-effective way to promote your new tours. There’s no need to spend budget generating leads and this is a list of people who have taken your trip and are already big fans.

Using a tool like Mailchimp, you can automate and extend your reach with less effort. For example, you can set pop-ups on your blog’s lead magnets to collect and segment email addresses from your audience.

Aside from promoting your tours via email, it is also a good medium to keep in touch with your valued clients. You can provide them with updates about travel in your area, information on projects you are working on, ask for reviews, and share features on your guides or team, among other things.

Overall, keep a good balance of useful and promotional to avoid your messages being marked as spam.

3. Partner With Other Local Businesses To Run Promotions

Partnerships with other local businesses are an affordable way to give your own a boost. You can develop relationships and put agreements in place with other complementary service providers in the area to offer your tours to their clients and vice versa.

As an example, you could forge an agreement with specific accommodation providers to recommend your tours to their guests while you send your guests to stay at their accommodation. This way, you can assist each other in promoting your businesses.

4. Spend Time Blogging

As a tour operator, you have no shortage of potential subject material for sharing on a blog. The stories and inspiration you can provide can be turned into an inexpensive method of marketing for your business.

The benefits of content marketing are numerous. Not only can you build relationships with your audience through shared stories and insights, but you can also improve your website’s SEO giving it better visibility online, as well as increase your brand awareness.

Your content should always be valuable to your audience. After producing it, share it via your social media channels as well.

5. Try Video Marketing

Video marketing is effortless for travelers to engage with. Whether it’s snippets from your tours, a complete promo video, or even an instructional video for something related to your product, video format is both engaging and easy to digest. For marketing on a budget, you can produce engaging content that draws in visitors to your website and gets eyes on your business.

You don’t need specialized equipment to record content for your business. A decent phone will do the trick. Canva can help you design a beautiful cover, and InShot can assist with the editing.

Video is of course, perfect for sharing on social media, your website, and on YouTube. Upload the original file to YouTube, and then share the content across the rest of your platforms from there.

6. Pitch To Local News Sources

While travel will be looking local as restrictions begin to ease, you need to figure out cost-effective ways to market to your neighbors.

In this case, a viable option can be to pitch to local news sources and place an advertisement in a publication (online or print) that the community supports. As people become eager to get out of the house while staying close to home, travel in the surrounding area will be the immediate solution.

7. Host A Webinar

As an expert, you may have interesting insights to share with your audience. Hosting a webinar can encourage people to listen in and get to know your brand better, as well as help you to establish yourself as an authority in the industry or area.

8. Display Social Proof Online

Social proof is valuable marketing collateral for your business. Reviews and testimonials, client photos and video, can all act as an assurance to peers that your brand is worth trusting and investing in.

This doesn’t cost anything either. All you need to do is take the time to contact previous clients, then ask them to share their content online and tag you in it.

Final Thoughts

There are many ways for you to do marketing on a budget for your business. Whatever options you chose, keep marketing, and make sure that driving value for your audience is at the core of your strategy. Now more than ever the relationships you have are going to see to your business success.