7 Tactics to Prep Your Products for More Peak Season Bookings

Bookings, Products

For many tour and activity operators, the Spring and Summer months are peak season for bookings. Your business should see increased traveler interest, which means every detail needs to be buttoned up. Are your product start times, descriptions, and other information up-to-date? Are your photos high quality? Is your calendar availability current? Do your products titles tell the right story? Here are some great optimization tips to capitalize on peak season.

1. Provide Full Clarity On Your Start Times, Opening Hours & Cutoff Times To Capture More Last-Minute Bookers

Many last-minute bookings take place when a traveler is already in-destination. This is undoubtedly influenced by the rise of mobile booking. Skift research states that 35% of travelers have used mobile phones to book a tour or activity while already in-destination for a vacation—and that number will surely rise. These mobile users are seeking things to do in the moment. They may have three hours to spare before dinner, and want to book a walking sightseeing tour. Or tomorrow’s bad weather is now looking like sunshine, and they want to switch that museum crawl to a harbor cruise. To capture this crucial audience, optimize your products accordingly starting with these steps.

Set Structured Start Times And/Or Opening Hours

Setting specific start times and/or opening times is arguably the most important factor towards capturing last-minute bookers. Travelers that are already in your destination want to find things to do right then and there, often same-day. While your tour may be the perfect fit for what they’re seeking, without giving them specific start time details, they won’t truly know whether it’s a viable option. They’ll end up booking with a competitor that does showcase a start time that accommodates their immediate need.

Lower Your Cutoff Time To Accept Bookings To Under 4 Hours, “Relative To Opening Times”

A low cutoff time is the next most crucial factor to capture last-minute bookers. And together with structured start times, your products are truly unlocked to those travelers that are already in-destination, browsing their mobile devices to book a last-minute activity.

Why under 4 hours? Because our data shows that see an increase in bookings when they lower their cutoff time to 4 hours or less. Side tip: also make sure you select “relative to opening times” as opposed to “one set time” so that it automatically adjusts accordingly if you adjust a product’s start/opening time. Today’s travelers are increasingly open to sporadic, unplanned experiences while visiting a new place. The flexibility to “go with the flow.” When inspiration strikes to do something fun—or act on a recommendation from a local, perhaps—you want your tour to be an available option. A traveler may be researching their afternoon plans over breakfast. Or they may be planning tomorrow’s daytime adventure while on the flight to the destination.

Lower your product’s cutoff time to within 4 hours of when it starts (or less—the lower the better!) and you’ll keep your experience available to last-minute bookers.

Visit the products page in your Viator dashboard to set start times and lower your hours-in-advance cutoff time to accept bookings.

2. Understand What To Set As Your Inclusions & Exclusions

These fields tell travelers what is and what isn’t provided with the price of your tour/activity. Below are some best practices for these fields:

  • Keep your Inclusions and Exclusions to 10 items or less. The more precise you are, the better you’ll showcase the value of your experience and not overwhelm travelers.
  • They should not contain duplicate information that a traveler can find elsewhere on your product page (such as the duration of your experience, discounts, or languages offered).
  • Utilize the structured category selection dropdown whenever possible, as opposed to the “Other” selection.
  • If you do need to use the “Other” selection (which lets you add free text as opposed to structured selections), be sure you don’t confuse travelers by adding duplicate information or contradicting anything you’re previously stated about your product. Also, the “Other” section is not a place to put in awards or recognition—add those to your product description instead.

Examples of things to consider adding to your Inclusions or Exclusions lists:

  • Food and drinks (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, wine, soft drinks, etc)
  • Equipment (bicycle, scuba gear, Segway, snorkeling gear, etc)
  • Transportation (hotel pickup, air-conditioned vehicle, on-board WiFi, etc)
  • Fees (admission, fuel surcharge, gratuities, parking, etc)

Visit the products section in your Viator dashboard to set Inclusions/Exclusions.

3. Update Your Availability: Schedules, Prices, Block-Outs/Sold-Outs

One of the top reasons for booking cancellations is that the date/time is no longer available. To avoid unnecessary cancellations—and ensure the best possible customer experience—make sure your availability and prices are up-to-date for peak season and reflect your latest inventory. This includes updating your block-outs/sold-outs within your dashboard’s Availability tab. If maintaining your schedules and prices is an ongoing challenge and you don’t have a reservation system, consider signing up for free with Bókun.

Visit the availability page in your Viator dashboard.

4. Collect As Many Recent Reviews As Possible

Our research shows that reviews are the top decision-making factor for travelers. No matter where a customer books your product(s), they can always leave a review on Viator And the more recent reviews of your products the better, especially during peak season when many potential customers will be browsing your listings. It’s best if travelers review the specific product they booked, instead of leaving a review on your supplier listing page. 

And be sure to respond politely and promptly to all reviews—this gives travelers confidence that you’re engaged and allows you to show off your personality and quality customer service.

Visit the reviews page in your Viator dashboard to manage reviews.

5. Make Sure You Have At Least Six High-Quality Photos

Industry data shows that having at least 6-9 high-quality photos for each product can significantly increase the chances of securing a booking. Your photos reveal to potential customers what really makes your tours special. Consider things like using natural lighting for more vivid shots, telling the story of your experience through the correct photo order, proper composition techniques, plus maximizing resolution and image quality. 

Visit the products page in your Viator dashboard to upload or change photos.

6. Offer Instant Confirmation

Convenience is king, so make sure your products are instantly bookable. If you haven’t already, enable “Instant Confirmation” so customers receive automatic confirmation of their bookings. This means you won’t have to manually review and confirm each booking, saving you time and money. Alternatively, if you must stay “On Request,” make sure to accept (or if you must, reject) a booking within 48 hours at most—but ideally the quicker the better, especially if the traveler is booking last-minute.

Visit the products page in your Viator dashboard to enable instant confirmation.

7. Keep Product Titles Brief, Clear & Concise

More and more people plan and book their activities on mobile devices, so to make sure your title shows up correctly across all devices, keep them short—we’ve found that the ideal character count is no more than 62 characters (including spaces). Being concise will also help highlight what’s unique about your offering. Begin your title with what guests will do, and avoid words with multiple meanings or slang.

Being brief (and less ambiguous) also means better translation into other languages (non-English translations are often longer and more characters than English versions). Long product titles translate poorly and are harder to view on mobile devices. Cleaner translation means travelers who speak other languages will better understand your product, and thus you have a higher likelihood of capturing their booking.

Visit the products page in your Viator dashboard to adjust your titles and descriptions.

Peak Season Tips at a Glance

  • Set structured start times (or opening hours, closing hours) on all your products.
  • Lower your products’ cutoff time to accept bookings to under 12 hours when possible.
  • Add accurate Inclusions/Exclusions for each product, but keep concise.
  • Make sure your availability and prices are completely up-to-date, including block-outs/sold-outs.
  • Collect as many reviews as possible from past satisfied customers.
  • Upload at least six to nine high quality photos for each product you sell.
  • Enable “Instant Confirmation” so you don’t need to manually review and confirm each booking, saving you time.
  • Keep product titles brief for better mobile viewing and translation.