The tours and activities industry is crowded. Operators like you have to jockey for traveler’s attention and win their bookings. And these days, more and more travelers are making their booking decisions online. An online presence has become a necessity for every tour operator, otherwise you are missing out on a large swath of travelers.
When you list your tours and activities for sale on an Online Travel Agency (OTA) like Viator and Tripadvisor, you have to put your best foot forward. On an OTA you are in direct competition with other operators and have to optimize your listing to have the best chance for receiving a booking. The more effort you put into creating and optimizing your listing and products, the more likely you are to succeed.
In this post we are walking you through the best practices that will help you increase your chances for ranking higher, and make you more attractive to bookers across Tripadvisor and Viator.
Show Your Product to the Right Travelers
There are a lot of different factors that go into determining which products rank highest on Viator and Tripadvisor. You can increase your chance for ranking as high as possible by creating a product that meets certain criteria. The process to create a product isn’t difficult, but there are certain areas you need to pay close attention. Here are some tips and best practices for increasing your chances of climbing up the ranks.
One of the most important areas to focus on to ensure you show up for the right travelers is the destination and location fields. Whether someone is planning for a trip a few months away or is in-destination and looking for a last-minute activity, you have to have your location information accurate to appear in their searches.
When creating or optimizing your product make sure the departure point and hotel pickup is accurate and structured. Also, completely fill out the itinerary section. These areas of your product give travelers an idea of your location and where they will be going.
Category & Themes
Your category is an incredibly important field to make sure is accurate. The category lets travelers know what type of product you are offering. You can choose tour, activity, ticket/pass, rental, and transportation. What you choose affects where your product appears for users searching on the site.
Your product should include 3 of the most specific options that describe the tour for your themes. Some examples of themes include “food & drink,” “history & culture,” and “entertainment.” There are other options that will let you get more detailed. The right theme will allow your product to be sorted into the right results and give travelers an idea of what kind of tour/activity you are offering.
In the “What makes your product unique” section you will be asked to check whether your product is private or shared. What you check there will impact where your product is seen, as travelers often search for activities based on whether they’re private or not.
Accurate availability for your product is crucial. Users are searching for specific dates that they will be traveling and only want to see experiences that are available on those dates. To ensure you show up in as many results as possible set your availability for at least 6 months in advance, if not more. Accurate availability will ensure you capture travelers who are in the early stages of research and those who are also in-destination.
Your cutoff time is how soon before your experience starts you will accept a booking. Setting this time as low as possible opens you to more travelers, especially those looking for last-minute activities. Travelers are increasingly booking at the last minute on their mobile devices; if your cutoff time isn’t low enough, you won’t appear in those searches. Research has shown that operators who lowered their cutoff to four hours or less saw a 27% increase in bookings.
Do you offer your tours and activities in multiple languages? If you have tour guides who speak different languages be sure to add as many as possible to your product. Travelers coming from around the globe want to know which experiences offer their language.
Make Your Product Appealing to Travelers
Optimizing your product to appear in the right results—and improve your chances of rank as high as possible—is only half the battle. Once you’re getting viewed by potential customers, you need to make sure travelers click on your product and book with you. Let’s take a look at some ways you can make sure your product is as appealing as possible.
When selling your tours online to travelers, first impressions are everything. Think of your product title as the book cover of your experience. Though every component of your listing needs the same thorough attention that you put into your actual offering, the title might be the most important of all. A strong title not only helps potential customers find your product, but it also summarizes what’s unique about it. Here are some ways to make your title stand out.
- Include keywords: Your title will attract more travelers if it includes the destination where the experience takes place, what type of activity it is, and any attractions, sights, or landmarks that you visit along the way.
- Be brief: Many people find and book activities on mobile devices, so to make sure your title shows up correctly across all devices, keep it short. We’ve found that the ideal length is no more than 62 characters (including spaces).
- Be unique: Ask yourself, What do I want travelers to remember about me or my product? How can I highlight what I bring to the experience? What’s unique about my product? What key factor will really catch the eye of potential customers? Do I have a specific focus that few other operators have?
Industry data shows that having at least six to nine high-quality photos for each product significantly increases the chance of securing a booking. Photos reveal to potential customers what really makes your experience special, and should be an accurate representation of what they will get to see or do. The most successful product listings show happy travelers enjoying the activities included in the experience. Alternatively, beautiful pictures of sights, landmarks, or landscapes that are the focus of the experience are inspiring too.
Here are some tips to get you started:
- Use natural light for more vivid photos.
- Use candid shots to make customers feel a closer connection.
- Take time to think through and set up your shot. Consider the time of day that offers the best light. Plan ahead for any logistics that may present challenges for shooting. If your tour or activity takes place at night, think about how you’re going to make sure everything looks good in the dark.
- View test shots on a computer, as what looks okay in person might look odd in a photo.
- Take level shots, not at extreme angles.
- Pictures of empty spaces where you’d expect people to be
- Shots of customers or staff looking directly at the camera
- Action shots of customers where they look frightened or overexcited
- Wide-angle or panorama shots
- Overly busy compositions
- Stock photography
Interested in more photography tips? Watch this video starring an expert!
Description and Itinerary
To be effective selling your tours online to travelers, you want to be very thorough. The more information you provide in your listing, the better. Travelers want to know everything about your experience: what they will see or do, where they will go, and what makes it the best way to spend their time in your destination. Write a compelling description or itinerary that includes the specific places or landmarks that travelers will visit, and any activities they will partake in. Be sure to specify start and end locations.
A strong, accurate description or itinerary (or both, as the description can include the itinerary) also helps market your product to your target audience by listing it on the most relevant pages, so that travelers who are more likely to book your type of experience will see it. A good description gives travelers an accurate idea of what to expect, giving you a better chance of getting a good review.
Reviews are one of the most important assets your business has. They give potential bookers an unfiltered view of what to expect on your experience. 87% of people say that reading reviews is very important or fairly important in their decision making process. Work hard to get reviews from your customers because they have an outsize influence on future bookings.
Here are some ways to obtain reviews from guests:
- Collect guest email addresses to later request valuable feedback about your experience.
- Connect with your guests immediately after the experience and ask them for a review (Viator and Tripadvisor automatically solicit reviews on your behalf when your customers book on our site.)
- Have a smartphone, tablet, or laptop available that customers can use to submit a review at the end of an experience.
- Have your Tripadvisor or Viator page link handy. Perhaps hand out a business card or a QR code that links to your page.
- In your outbound emails, include links to places where customers can leave reviews.
- Don’t forget to thank customers who took the time to leave a review.
The more reviews you gather, the more evidence you provide to travelers that your experience is worth their time.
Whether you’re creating a new product, or have many existing ones on Viator and Tripadvisor, take the time to properly optimize all aspects of your experiences, it could make the difference and lead to a booking.
COVID-19 Resource Page
Visit our continually updating COVID-19 resource page for:
- More information on our efforts to support you
- Links to industry news
- Ways to prepare today for tomorrow
Click here >