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How to Respond When Bad Days Turn into Negative Reviews


This is a guest post written by Podium

 

Today, most consumers need to see a healthy average star rating and a few of your most recent reviews to be convinced of your company’s credibility. In fact, 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading 1-10 reviews

With that said, it’s incredibly important to ensure you have positive reviews and a lot of them. This helps increase your average star rating and decrease the odds of potential customers basing their booking on a single negative review.

But, it’s not always that simple. Whether it’s a tour that started late or a customer that’s having a bad day—things don’t always go according to plan. Sooner or later, a bad day will turn into a negative review.

If and when that happens, it’s important to know how to respond. That’s why we’ve put together a 5-minute, 3-step guide to responding to negative reviews.

Step #1: Know when a negative review goes live

This step may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses aren’t aware of new reviews they receive, or that they have any reviews at all.

It’s important to know when these reviews get posted online so you can respond appropriately and ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen again. The easiest way to do so is to work with an online review management platform. For example, Podium aggregates reviews in real-time from sites across the internet, keeping you in the know the moment a new review goes live.

If you aren’t ready to get started with a review management platform, we recommend turning on Google Alerts. Google Alerts allows you to track online conversations by specified keywords or phrases in real-time, allowing you to manage your presence and hear what people are saying about you, good or bad.

This is, undisputedly, the first step in combating and responding to negative reviews. After all, if you don’t know the review exists, how can you respond?

Step #2: Respond to the negative review as fast as you possibly can

Now that you’ve read the negative review, let’s discuss how to carefully craft a response.

First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that the person responding on behalf of your business is removed from the situation that sparked the negative review. For example, if there is a negative comment about a salesperson, they’re probably not the best person to respond to the review.

This is crucial because any response to a negative review should be calmly written and well thought out. When someone with an emotional investment to the situation is the responder, the message will generally come off as defensive. We know that not every business is in a position where someone disconnected from the situation can respond, and if this is the case for your business, respond as dispassionately as possible (here are a few calming techniques).

Next, follow these few steps:

  1. Apologize (“We’re sorry to hear…”)
  2. Approach the review with a calm and collected response (cushioned-defense)
  3. Offer a proactive way to right their wrong (“We’d like to do what we can to resolve the situation…”)
  4. Ask to continue the conversation privately (“We’ll follow up with a direct message / Contact our customer service manager…”)

That should yield a response similar to this one:

“We’re so sorry to hear that your experience was a negative one. We’d like to do what we can to right any wrong. Please contact our Customer Service Manager so we can resolve your issues. We’ll also reach out to you in the next day or two to discuss how we can resolve your issue.”

Make sure you craft a response and get it posted as quickly as possible. This way anyone who sees the negative review will also see that you are a responsible business that takes care of your customers. 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week.

In many cases, negative reviews are not truly representative of your business. Responding to them in a courteous, professional manner builds consumer confidence as potential customers research your business.

Step #3: Learn from Feedback

Learning from customer feedback is one of the most valuable, long-term steps you can follow to improve your business. It allows you to gain valuable insights into your customers and make data-driven decisions about your processes. This will be valuable for positive reviews as well as negative reviews.

The process is simple:

  1. A transaction takes place and your customer leaves an online review.
  2. Your business takes note of the review (positive or negative) and responds upon receipt.
  3. If the online review is positive, your business reinforces existing processes or performs optimization. If the online review is negative, your business alters existing processes to improve the overall customer experience.
  4. Repeat.

A customer feedback loop will continuously provide insights, and in turn, your business managers can continue to alter or optimize processes.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a negative review, don’t let that stop you from embracing customer feedback. Instead, learn how to improve your business from the experience. 

Did you know that 84% of people trust reviews as much as recommendations from a friend? By following the above suggestions you’ll be building your brand and your business online and off.   

If you have any other questions, download Podium’s eBook:
Negative Reviews: A How-to Guide for Turning a Negative into a Positive.

FareHarbor and Hawaiian Airlines Partnership Takes Flight

We’re teaming up with Hawaii’s largest and longest-serving airline. Here’s what’s next for tour, activity, and attraction operators and FareHarbor.


At FareHarbor, we are huge believers in delivering effortless online experiences no matter where you are in the vacation planning process. When travelers are able to book their vacations from start to finish in one place, everyone wins. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Hawaiian Airlines to bring airline guests a seamless vacation experience from the moment they begin planning the ultimate Hawaiian getaway. 

As part of this partnership, guests booking flights at HawaiianAirlines.com now have the option to browse FareHarbor’s wide array of destination-based activities offered by hundreds of local tour operators. Travelers will be able to plan their vacation by selecting flights, hotels, transport, and main attractions within one website.

Mauricio Abreu

“A flight with Hawaiian Airlines is about more than just the journey. It’s about spreading the Aloha Spirit from the moment guests step on the plane. By integrating FareHarbor’s technology into Hawaiian Airlines’ website, customers can seamlessly plan their island adventure when purchasing their flights. Whether booking surf lessons or zip line tours, they’ll find that the magic of Hawai’i is just a few clicks away,”

-Mauricio Abreu, FareHarbor’s General Manager of the Hawai’i portfolio

We’re excited to join forces with Hawaiian Airlines to empower tour, activity, and attraction operators across Hawaii, as well as help visitors seamlessly plan their island adventure.

To learn more about our partnerships and how you can get involved, visit our FareHarbor partnerships webpage.

5 Tips to Survive the Busy Season for Tour, Activity, & Attraction Operators

As our friends in the southern hemisphere may be finding some room to breathe as they head into winter, tours and activities are starting to ramp up in the northern hemisphere for the summer season. Wherever you are, take these tips, apply them now, or save them for later and make your peak season the best yet. 

1. Break your summer into monthly goals – Define your goals and chunk your time, as well as your team’s. Mentally prepare everyone for the long days. There are so many moving pieces to your business that finding a balance between productivity and the sales process is key. If you solidify expectations and share the purpose of your goals in a way that is realistic and attainable for both you and your team, they are more likely to jump on board with you. And if all else fails, coffee, coffee, coffee.

2. Lean on your FareHarbor support system – Our team is dedicated to helping make your business run smoothly. Day or night, our customer care experts stand on the front lines ready to resolve any disruption to your business objectives. Life is beautifully unpredictable; things come up, things go wrong, but our crew of attentive problem-solvers are ready to navigate your most complex situations. Rest assured, you and your customers are in the best hands. Don’t be a stranger!

3. Automate your administrative tasks – It never hurts to improve your productivity and streamline workflow. Carve out some time to review and update your current processes, then identify any areas where you can automate. You may find tasks that used to take five manual steps that can now run seamlessly in the background. Our partnerships and integrations team can also help you tap into FareHarbor’s long list of network partners as a way to get some time back so your day can be more productive.  

4. Lean on your customers – When people are visiting your website, booking tours, and sharing your business with their friends, ask for their emails, contact information, and anything else that could be useful for your business. Gathering this information will get your business set up for success when things start to calm down heading into the low season. You can then implement email campaigns, surveys, and promotions to customers during the low season and turn them into repeat customers. 

Another way to utilize your customers is by taking advantage of user-generated content (UGC). UGC is a sure way to not only promote your business and get a few good testimonials in the process, but also take some of the content creation off of your plate. There is no higher form of flattery in the 21st century than when you see photos or videos of your tour or activity generating some buzz on social media.   

5. Don’t forget to recharge – Avoid burnout at all costs. As much as you are up to your knees navigating your way through peak season, spending every minute crunching numbers at your desk will work against you in the long run. Before you find yourself less focused and less efficient, schedule some time to re-energize by doing something you love that takes your mind off work. Go to the gym, have a relaxed meal, take a power nap, or even a long walk. There are no rules here. Any activity that eases your mind momentarily will ultimately increase your productivity.

 

Create the best experience for you, your team, and ultimately your customers by following these tips, and go crush your peak season!

FareHarbor Expands Global Reach to Hong Kong and Singapore

Our FareHarbor Ohana has grown exponentially since launching in Hawaii in 2013. From our expansion into Canada and Australia in 2017, then Europe in 2018, we have made great strides in developing our international presence.

Our commitment to bringing tour, activity, and attraction operators the best-in-class services has fueled our globalization efforts.

Now, less than one year later, we are excited to announce continued expansion into the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region and bring our services into Hong Kong and Singapore, providing region-specific bank accounts, currencies, and strategic partnerships.

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement of key strategic partnerships in the Hong Kong and Singapore areas, and browse some of our current global connectivity partners here: Hong Kong Partnerships / Singapore Partnerships 

APAC growth has been fueled by its flourishing economy and global appeal. As we aim to accommodate this key hub for innovation and hyper-growth, our goal is simple: help tour operators capitalize on the growing economy and partner in the noticeable shift toward more accessible travel experiences.

Being able to support clients in Hong Kong and Singapore marks the beginning of an important chapter in the evolution of FareHarbor. As we lean into the region, we’ll focus on putting the right people, product offerings, and partnerships in place to help power the Asian-Pacific tour and activity market. By entering emerging markets and introducing Hong Kong and Singapore to the product, FareHarbor will offer high-level support that alleviates day-to-day operational challenges, allowing tour, activity, and attraction owners to focus on their own growth.

While continued expansion has always been central to our values, FareHarbor proudly remains the top industry partner that 10,000+ companies have already come to know and love, committed to providing world-class support, a team to help you grow, and a software that helps you stay focused on your business no matter where you are in the world. As always, thank you for choosing to grow with us!

To find out more on how to get started, please contact our team: https://fareharbor.com/demo/

Hong Kong Support: +852 3001 3611

4 Ways Tour Companies Can Target Customers with PPC Advertising

Winter or summer. Skydiving or snorkeling. The desire to travel and explore the world has not changed over the last century and likely won’t change in the future. What has evolved drastically is the way we plan and book travel. A disruption made possible by the internet.

The internet opened a whole world of information and mobile technology did the rest by changing the way we search and make purchases indefinitely. *Cue The Travel Customer Journey,* or what Google has identified as the newest path in which customers are mapping out their vacations.

With this shift, digital advertising is almost a necessity in order to maintain a strong online presence. Over 74% of both leisure and travel planning starts online. 57% of people claim they begin by using a search engine, so getting set up with a robust paid search strategy is critical.

The world of paid advertising can be tricky, but when done right, it can be extremely successful. Pay-Per-Click (PPC) is one of the fastest ways to validate your tour offerings and generate leads. Essentially, PPC is the ability to buy advertising from search engines like Google, and only pay when someone clicks on your ad. By identifying the keywords your customers are using to find your business, you can set up parameters to target that exact audience. Google AdWords is a great place to start learning more about keyword targeting.

By targeting qualified customers who are actively searching, paid advertising has a 50% higher conversion rate than organic search. Position your PPC ads to hit your customers during the right time in their traveler customer journey. Let’s break it down:

1. Dreaming – Introducing the Dream Team a.k.a. Your Business

These customers have just begun the trip-planning process, and are mostly looking for travel inspiration. Show ‘em what you’ve got!

Customer Problem: What Do I Need?

People turn to search engines because they don’t know exactly what they are looking for. This step in the journey usually starts with a broad search; “Fun summer activities,” “boat trips near an ocean.” They are looking for opinions, resources, and inspiration.

Marketing Solution: Define Their Need

Define that need for them. Lead them to your boat tour before they even have a chance to search the second page of Google. By utilizing paid search ads, your business will be seen using those keywords we mentioned earlier that match your ad. When they see your ad, you’re now on their  radar for further consideration. You might also make them aware of your tours through inspirational content such as blog posts and social media.

AdWord Tip: Choose generic keywords that drive volume, but not direct conversions. Aiming for ad positions 3 – 4 here will help to improve your overall cost efficiency while ensuring brand exposure.

2. Researching – A World Wide Web of Possibilities

The information-gathering stage, this is where customers begin building a list of potential activities they want to do.

Customer Problem: How can my need be met?

People have chosen a destination. They start looking for the right dates, the best flight, and all the things to do while visiting. They may have some idea of what to do in that area based off of initial research and start to compare options; “Things to do in Boston during summer,” “best boating excursions in San Diego.”

Marketing Solution: Retargeted Ads

Your customer may have learned about you already through an ad or by visiting your website. Once they’ve interacted with your brand by clicking on your ad or checking out your website in the Dreaming phase, keep your tour company name in the forefront of their minds. If a searcher visits your landing page for ATV tours, follow them around with ads showing happy vacationers riding through lush valleys. This will incentivise them to return to your site and puts you in the mix for a conversion.

AdWord Tip: Aim for more specific keywords, often with a location included in them. Ad copy should match these keywords as closely as possible and you should aim for ad positions 2 – 3.

3. Planning – Time For a Reality Check

You’ve made it to the final consideration round. This is where customers start weighing their options.

Customer Problem: Which is the best solution?

Customers have decided on a specific place they want to visit and now they are looking for the best things to do while they are there. This means they will be choosing between you and your competitors in the area. They might be searching for a tour in a specific part of town or an activity that meets a desired price range; “Summer sightseeing tour in Beacon Hill, Boston,” “cheap harbour cruise in San Diego.”

Marketing Solution:

Show social proof by displaying the number of travelers you’ve served on your PPC ads. The copy you use here should address your target market directly. What makes you stand out as the best scooter tours in Denver, or why do people enjoy booking your horseback riding tours? One of the best ways to find this information is to talk to your customers directly.

AdWord Tip: Same as the Researching phase, use more specific keywords with a location included. Match your ad copy with these keywords and aim for ad positions 2 – 3.

4. Booking – First, Second, and Third Impressions Matter

Customers know exactly what kind of experience they’re seeking, and are ready to book!

Customer Problem: How do I buy?

Once customers have made it to the booking stage, they want everything to be as easy as possible. Your PPC approach answered their need, solved their problem and showed them the benefits and features of your tour company! At this point, they are tuned into your company and like what you have to offer; “Bobby’s Boston Walking Tours in Beacon Hill,” “Sunny Dock Cruise Line in San Diego.”

Marketing Solution: Strong Call-To-Action

Retarget one more time and drive urgency by showing deadlines for deals. Everyone likes a deal and chances are, your customers are searching to find one. Even at the luxury end of the tour and activity market, nobody is above a little incentive. If they were on the fence, this might be the very thing that tips them over to book your jet ski rental. SOLD!

AdWord Tip: Use highly specific keywords, often with terms like “book” or “purchase” included in them. Higher bids and higher ad positions are recommended here due to the lower overall volumes and the likelihood of these keywords converting.

 

Curious about getting setup with PPC and other marketing services? FareHarbor has recently partnered with TRK, a team specialized marketing for tour, activity, and attraction businesses. Head over to toursandactivitiesmarketing.com to see more…

Mapping Your Customer’s Digital Journey

Booking vacations can be an exciting experience, but it can also require a lot of research from the traveler’s perspective. Customer journey maps are a great tool to visually represent your customers’ experience from beginning to end, but what exactly are they, how do you create them, and what is the best way to use them for your tour, activity, or attraction business?

Journey mapping uses pictures to represent the process to better understand the flow of experiences a customer has with your business where words can not. It can be a challenge to get in the minds of your customers and untangle the ten or more steps it took for them to get from landing on your homepage to finalizing their booking when your expectation was that it should only take one or two steps. Wherever the confusion may be, customer journey mapping can help lay out the process and identify the touchpoints from start to finish. By practicing journey mapping, you not only help establish a consistent narrative across multiple channels but also surface the needs and pain points of your customers to ultimately align their journey with your overall goals.

Since the typical customer journey can no longer be represented in a linear model, it’s important for businesses to understand the current process customers are experiencing from the first to the final touchpoint. The ease of digital movement between multiple channels is becoming increasingly more popular, and customers are weighing their options now more than ever, so mapping can be hard to visualize. But no matter the representation tool, Excel sheets to post-it notes on a whiteboard, it’s important your for your map to make sense to all those who will be using it.

Stages:

  1. Set clear objectives for the purpose of your map
  2. Identify customer personas and define their goals
  3. List out all touchpoints
  4. Define the “micro-moments” of your customer’s journey
  5. Take yourself on the customer journey
  6. Go back, assess, and make changes

1. Set clear objectives for the purpose of your map

Before jumping into the visual aspect of the map, it’s important to step back and ask yourself why you are creating this journey map in the first place. Define your goals. You can start by answering questions such as these as an initial guide.

  • Am I trying to drive awareness toward my tours and activities?
  • Are too many potential customers being lost to competitors?
  • Is my tour company easy to find when using online search engines?
  • Am I driving consideration to my tours, but losing potential customers because the booking process is too hard to follow?
  • Do I want to create a network of repeat customers?
  • Are people sharing positive reviews of their experiences on my tour?

Once your goals are clearly defined, it can be helpful to create personas for each of your targeted customers.

2. Identify customer personas and define their goals

Personas help give a clear understanding of who you are trying to reach. By stepping into the mind of your ideal customer type(s), you can develop the language and psychographic around who you’ll be speaking to. Within the travel space, there is a wide range of personas you could be speaking to, ranging from business travelers to family vacationers to solo adventure seekers. The easiest way to identify your customers is by talking with them. Getting feedback through questionnaires is a good method to get direct answers. To get you started, questions can include:

  • How did you hear about us?
  • Where were you first drawn to on our website?
  • How easy was our website for you to navigate?
  • How could we have made your experience easier?
  • Did you end up booking a tour/activity/etc. with us?

By building out personas, you not only identify the best methods of communication for each customer type but can also save time investing in certain channels where you may not have an active audience. If your ideal customer isn’t engaging with your business or similar brands on Twitter, then you don’t need to invest in Twitter. If customers aren’t downloading the boating manual prominently displayed on your website, then you can use that space to develop a well-thought-out piece of content based on your customers’ high levels of engagement. So how do you identify where those high levels of engagement are?

3. List out all touchpoints

Most travelers these days are using multiple channels across multiple devices to book. Understanding all of the places where your customers interact with your business is a very important aspect of creating your journey map. According to Think Google, 94% of leisure travelers switch between devices when booking a trip. This means keeping everything from pages of your website on desktop and mobile, as well as any social channels, paid ads, emails, or third-party review sites top of mind. It’s helpful to list all touchpoints YOU believe customers should be using along with any data you can gather from backend research. Google Analytics can be a valuable tool in this step to see where a majority of your traffic is coming from. Any overlap between what you see as necessary channels and the backend research can be used as a good baseline for the channels to focus on. We’ve broken down the customer journey into six “micro-moments” to understand which touchpoints to you can focus on.

4. Define the “micro-moments” of your customer journey

This is where you can begin to piece together your map. You have your goals clearly outlined, and now you can align to your customer’s goals. Different personas come with different experiential expectations. Get to know your customers and understand their expectations throughout the whole journey by walking through these micro-moments.

  • Dreaming

The stage where you grab the consumer’s attention — your visitors are discovering their options and getting inspiration from channels like social media, pictures, and ads. They are scrolling through social media feeds sending friends photos of inspirational travel destinations.

  • Research

The stage where consumers start looking into specific activities. Examine where your personas are searching for activities in your niche. 74% of families use search engines for researching travel options, making Google Ads a good tool to get in front of traveling families, while 87% of millennials use Facebook to make travel decisions, making user-generated content (UGC) a valuable resource.

  • Planning

By now customers have determined where they will be going and are aware of your company and the activities you offer. They start weighing their options and figuring out how the experiences you offer fit into travel plans compared to other options.

  • Booking

Your company is the best fit and they’ve locked in a booking! You landed the customer and they are feeling excited for the experience you’re going to be providing them.

  • Experiencing

You provide the perfect catered experience before, during, and after your tour or activity. They are posting live photos and are already planning their next activity with you.

  • Sharing

Advocacy stems from the great experience that you provided to your customer. You’ve secured a brand ambassador  and TripAdvisor just sent you a notification that you just received a glowing five-star review.

Now you’re ready to take all of the ingredients from the previous stages and bake the cake. Here your map will come to life. As mentioned, the way you display your customer journey map is entirely discretionary, but feel free to use this as a template.

5. Take yourself on the customer journey

For every persona you’ve developed and every touchpoint you’ve identified, go through the journey. Put on your “first-time user” goggles and ask yourself the important questions as you’re walking through the user experience from every angle.

  • Are you clicking into the website but then closing out before booking a tour?
  • Are you easily guided to the checkout?
  • Do you feel like you are receiving the right amount of support?
  • Can you identify the overall goal of the website easily, and how many clicks did it take to get you there?

By answering these questions and then analyzing your results, you can show where customer needs are not being met before a potential customer ever visits your platform.

6. Go back, assess, and make changes

A cartographer’s work is never done. Your map should be a constant work in progress. By setting aside time to review your map, you are able to identify gaps, pain points, or opportunities quickly and ideally keep growing your business. Keep in contact with your customers, value their feedback, and always keep improving!

New Tools to Take Away from Hawaii FareHarbor Conference

One week has gone by, and if you were unable to attend FareHarbor Conference in Hawaii, you missed out (and we missed you!). It was a full day packed with engaging one-on-one discussions, speaker sessions, and a networking happy hour for the decades.

Our team was excited to get back to our roots and spend time connecting with over 300 incredible attendees who made FHConference a wild success. There was a real sense of Ohana, and it was great to see everyone contributing to the conversations around Hawaiian tourism. Seeing the excitement within the Hawaii market reaffirmed FareHarbor’s commitment to keep delivering real and transformative value through everything we do. While it’s nearly impossible to capture all of the one-on-ones, presentations, and networking that went on, here are a few tools that were covered at the FareHarbor Conference to bring back and apply to your business.

Grow Your Business

In this digital age, it’s no longer an expectation to be technologically optimized; it’s a requirement. So how do you stand out in a super competitive industry like travel and tourism? Building a strong online presence is necessary to reach new customers, retain old ones, and help you stand out. Here are a few tools mentioned during the conference to get you started:

Email Marketing – According to Statista, 90% of American adults use email. Email within the travel industry specifically yields a high open rate of 20.69% according to MailChimp. The benefits of email marketing for your tour business can include building brand loyalty, attracting new customers, and allowing you to compete with larger tour companies. Head over to Compass, our online suite full of resources to grow your business, to learn more about email marketing and get started with your first email campaign.

Google Analytics – With more and more travelers looking to book activities online, having an optimized website can do wonders for your business. Using Google Analytics in conjunction with your website can provide valuable insights into the best way to run your site. As a free online tool, Google Analytics can help you track your web visitors’ behaviors and analyze your traffic. There are thousands of ways you can slice and dice the data you have available in Google Analytics, so let us help you! Head to our help page to get started with setting up a free analytics account.

PPC Advertising (Pay-per-click) – According to Ipsos MediaCT, 80% of travelers start shopping for tours to book for an upcoming vacation by searching online. Having a paid search strategy could greatly benefit your business growth. By visiting FareHarbor’s Compass page dedicated to showing you how to get into PPC, you’ll learn how to control your advertising costs, optimize your ads, and increase your conversion rates. Don’t wait to start boosting your business.

Distribution Channels

The number of ways to promote your tours can seem daunting, which is why we offer easy ways to connect your activities to third-party resellers, including Online Travel Agents (OTAs), other tour companies, and local connections within your area. These useful tools allow you to work with businesses to reach travelers in different market segments and increase your reach.

API and Affiliate connections – By using our Application Programming Interface (API) connections, partnering with online travel agencies like Expedia or Viator can be easy. Availabilities between platforms are updated in real time and can be seen from your FareHarbor Dashboard. To learn more about setting up your API, get in touch with our connectivity team today.

Reserve with Google – FareHarbor’s recent integration with Reserve with Google is a revolutionary way to connect Google search users right to your activities. When travelers search for an activity using Google Search, Google Maps, or Google Assistant, they will be matched with your available offerings and an option to book right from the Google page. FareHarbor gets your business on Reserve with Google and gives you full control to manage which activities are available for booking. Get discovered and booked through the world’s largest search engine by reaching out to our team today.

Partner Program – Grow and support your business by connecting with local resellers in your area who are also using the FareHarbor platform. Our Partner Program is a regionalized network of FareHabor clients who opt-in to resell and be resold by one another for a commission. We introduced this program as a way for you to easily gain more exposure for your business, all while earning commission on referrals. Learn about existing Partner Programs and how you can get involved.

Dashboard Training

Our Dashboard track focused on a bunch of new features that were introduced over the past year. We’re always trying to take the customer’s experience to the next level, and the following Dashboard additions make improvements to the overall ease and accessibility of your bookings on both the front and back end. Select a feature below to get started!

Thank you to each and every person who made FareHarbor Conference Hawaii a success. We can’t wait to see the value you bring back to your business and your team to make a difference. Make it stick by applying these tools!

If you missed the FH Conference in Hawaii, we’ll be heading to Orlando in October 2019 for conference number two. Stay tuned for updates and sign up for more information by visiting fareharborconference.com.

How Instagram Can Help Your Small Business & 3 Tips on Getting Started

This morning I woke up to a sunrise like no other. Gold and pink hues spread out across the expansive baby blue sky in every direction and the reflection of the cocktail of colors brought out blues in the distant ocean that words can’t do justice.

The stone-paved roads of Capri began to appear, winding from side to side down to the water’s edge. And then, in an instant, the text message that popped up on my phone ruined the moment, blocking the view of the sunrise in my Instagram feed and casting me back to reality. But you can bet ‘see a sunrise in Capri’ was added to my travel list.

Instagram has gone from something fun we do when we travel to an entirely separate reason to travel, and the tourism industry is picking up on the trend.

Technology has made planning and booking travel easier than ever. In fact, more than 70% of people are using their smartphones for the entire process, from destination inspiration to booking tickets, and Instagram is the epicenter for that initial planning piece. It’s been estimated that users are less than 10 clicks away from seeing an image on Instagram and booking a ticket to go to the location pictured in the post.

The more technology evolves, the smaller the world gets and the sense of wanderlust that social media creates plays a large factor. As easy as posting a great picture sounds, the irony is that it takes a lot of knowledge to understand how to curate the perfect “authentic” Instagram travel experience.

Why Use Instagram For Small Businesses

About 67% of avid travelers look to Instagram for inspiration on their next destination. Some call this growing trend social-media tourism. Between 2009 and 2014, Trolltunga, a jutting Instagram-famous cliff in Odda, Norway, saw a huge spike in the number of visitors largely, if not completely attributed to its ‘instagrammability.’

Trolltunga’s visitor count rose from 500 to 40,000, mainly including hikers and bikers who stand in the long line of visitors every morning waiting to get the perfect Insta-worthy shot which you would probably never expect from the vast, desolate, and open area the lens captures.

Today a picture is not just worth a thousand words. It can be worth thousands of actual dollars. With just one post, someone can change the way we perceive a city, an experience, or an entire area of the world, whether that person has five followers or five million.

The evolution of the average person’s social reach has become so expansive that we now pay people to try out our product, have them turn it into a promotional experience and call them ‘influencers.’ Influencers have this ability to look at their audience and understand the value that they bring to every single one of their followers.

By tapping into those valued areas, influencers reach new audiences on a personal level and convey a relatable, authentic point of view that makes followers feel as though they are being recommended an experience by a friend.

In certain respects, thinking along the lines of an influencer is something your business should be taking into account every time you push out a post. Find that niche your audience values and play to it. Is the adrenaline that rushes through previous jumpers evident in every skydiving video you post? Or have you captured the calm blue waters and green mossy unknown that waits for your customer on their next paddle boarding adventure? Finding that sweet spot for your audience is key to crafting the perfect post with our guide on how to use instagram for business!

3 Tips to Start Using Instagram for Your Business

Tip #1: Get creative with storytelling.

In this day and age, you don’t need to be a photographer to capture high-quality photos that tell a cohesive story. People have an eye for content with human aspects that brings them to a place where they can imagine themselves traveling and discovering. Take a second to stop and think like a customer. What would make you pause in the middle of your tour to capture an image to post to social media? Nail that authentic “Instagrammable” moment and pair it with a crafty caption that matches the tone of your brand.

You have up to 2,200 characters to tell an engaging story, and one of the components of the algorithm that sends posts to the top of users feeds is the time spent on a post. The longer someone spends on your post, the higher you’ll show up in your followers Instagram feed. This isn’t to say you need to use 2,200 characters in every one of your posts, but composing a full sentence or two rather than a few emojis can help you climb the ladder. A good caption can be the difference between a post that gets overlooked, and one that breaks through the clutter with a unique emotional or engaging spin. 

 

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If this pic is giving you equal parts awe and anxiety (we feel you), don’t worry — there are more relaxing ways to discover Yosemite National Park. From hikes to driving tours, experience California’s natural beauty in the way that suits you (no tightrope required). Check out the link in our bio and plan your trip. 📷 by @bradynations #GetYourGuide #LoveWhereYoureGoing

Tip #2: Social media is meant to be just that, social.

When you are actively engaging with your followers, adding accounts with similar interests, and interacting with users in your area, you’re almost guaranteed to see an increase in engagement and followers on your own account.

In turn, your business name will show up for similar content around Instagram. For example, a group visiting from out of town posted a photo of their deep sea fishing trip from the day before and tagged the fishing charter they used. You had left a comment on one of the charter’s pictures and all of a sudden the group lands on your Instagram page full of heavy jet skiing imagery wanting to take a jet ski ride themselves. Next thing you know, you’ve given that group some instant gratification and they have given you your next five bookings.

Tip #3: Take advantage of Instagram stories.

Here is one of our favorite Instagram best practices for businesses! First off, Instagram stories are placed at the top of app users’ feeds when they open the app which could not be more ideal for visibility. Next, since stories are meant to be taken in real time, the quality doesn’t have to be as high as your normal posts. Perhaps the most important aspects of Instagram stories are the authenticity and trustworthiness they can bring to your business. Stories can be a great way for you to brag about your business a bit with some user-generated content.

Instead of filling your business’ Instagram page with people mentioning or tagging your Cajun crocodile swamp tour, you can create advocacy and show your current fan base some love while showcasing your tour and building credibility with those who may book in the future. Save these types of stories under a ‘highlight’ album for your followers to reference past the 24-hour live window.

What kind of inspiration are your posts feeding the hungry travelers when they open Instagram? Is it a calm morning in Capri? A blood pumping UTV trip in Aruba? Whatever it may be, we hope these Instagram business ideas will help you begin to paint that picture. The one thing to remember when growing your social presence on Instagram is that it won’t happen overnight, but getting the ball rolling will get you on the path to building an organic traffic goldmine.

To learn more about social media’s impact on the travel industry and how you can stay ahead of your customers, be on the lookout for our webinar dedicated to social media and growing your business! Find out more on our webinars page.

The Top 3 Tourism Takeaways from The Arival & IT Berlin Conference

Just days back from Berlin, we’re still on a tourism and travel high from joining the Arival and ITB conferences. Both of these events brought exhibitors representing every corner of the world under the roof of one amazing city. Our expectations were exceeded when we were joined by the 160,000 attendees who all gave us some serious insight into our industry and current travel trends.

In between logging countless miles (or kilometers) walking the exhibition halls, the FareHarbor team held it down in Berlin visiting with partners, clients, and new and old friends alike. As we keep expanding into Europe and other areas of the world, it’s important to stick to our FareHarbor roots and develop those genuine connections we were founded on, and we were very happy to find that those came very naturally during our time in Berlin. From visiting with tourism boards, tour operators, and sitting in on different segments, we noticed a few trending topics emphasizing sustainability and overtourism in the travel space, technology continuing to expand for operators but not at the cost of exceptional service, and bridging the gap between all in the tourism industry.

FareHarbor’s Top Takeaways from Arival and ITB

Operators in all areas of the travel industry are putting a higher emphasis on sustainability and overtourism. Areas such as Costa Rica, South Africa, and Venice who have relied heavily on ecotourism in the past have have come forward and began to take new approaches into preserving their rural populations and increasing environmental protection. Costa Rica themselves are sustaining their energy sources by using  99 percent renewable energy and have recently undergone massive reforestation efforts to counter the overtourism in ideal areas for European hiking and beach holidays. Other’s have joined in the sustainability efforts including the home to FareHarbor headquarters, Colorado, asking all who travel to the outdoor activity focused area to leave all plastic bottles at home, or better yet, get rid of them altogether. The main question to come from these discussions: Who will be the ones to take responsibility and be the agents of change?

Technology continues to build on the ease of travel and areas of booking – and not at the cost of good service for their customers. People are excited about the advancements of tech in travel and that definitely showed at a conference as massive ITB with the introduction of the Technology, Travel, and Activities forum, the eTravel World area growing by 20 percent since last year, and in our experience, technology and activities being the most talked about topic throughout the conference. FareHarbor’s own, Drew Barrett, took the stage at the Tech, Tours, and Activities forum and was able to give some insight into why a mobile friendly experience is crucial for booking activities and tours online with one important statistic. 70% of travelers use their phone while traveling. The people booking last minute, or two days ahead of time make up 63 percent of all activity bookings which is moving mobile friendly reservations to the top of a lot of operators to-do lists.

Celebrating International Women’s Day while in Berlin presented a great segway into how the tour and travel industry is making strides in bridging gaps across the board. Being the worlds leading travel trade show, ITB has opened a number of doors for voices around the world. As a company who supports the utmost inclusive environments for all, we were excited to be apart of an industry that across the globe, more women work in than men and income disparities are smaller than other industries. Also coming from the Global Report on Women in Tourism, our industry offers women a better chance of reaching executive positions and further, becoming successfully self-employed. The LGBT+ tourism community has also not only made strides in the ITB space, but the tourism and travel world as well, noting that more and more countries are legalizing or embarking on recognizing civil partnerships between same gender partners. This has lead to a boom in LBGT+ travel in a number of countries.   


And for all of those tour operators asking for FareHarbor to make a move into your area of the world, we’re coming for you and we’ll be there soon! In the meantime, we’re so glad to have been a part of ITB and Arival in Berlin and we’ll be back next year with more stroopwafels! Many of the speakers on these discussions mentioned above recognize the travel industry still has a lot of room to grow and improve, but as a whole, we are headed in a great direction. We believe this is the case for everything we took away during our time in Berlin, and we can’t wait to see what next year brings! Find all of these highlights among many other discussed at ITB by visiting the ITB eLibrary.

FareHarbor Partners with Reserve with Google

Our distribution network just got an exciting new addition! We’re happy to announce that we’ve partnered with Reserve with Google to make your tours bookable on Google Search, Maps, and the Reserve with Google website.

What is Reserve with Google?

Reserve with Google allows users to buy tickets for tours, activities and attractions directly from the Google Search, Maps and the Reserve with Google platforms.

With the new API integration between FareHarbor and Reserve with Google, you can add a book button to your Google listing to sell your activities with live, real-time availability. Any bookings will flow directly into your FareHarbor Dashboard; no added work necessary!

Reserve with Google

Why are we so excited about this partnership?

The connection between FareHarbor and Reserve with Google makes it easier than ever for your customers to move from researching to booking an activity, which means nothing but good things for your business.

  • Gain exposure to new customers as they browse Google Search, Maps and the Reserve with Google platforms.
  • Offer your tours, activities and attractions in live, real-time availability directly from the Google platforms.
  • New bookings flow seamlessly into your FareHarbor Dashboard, including availability, customer information and payment.
  • Reserve with Google bookings are commission-free!

How can I get my business listed on Reserve with Google?

If you’re a FareHarbor client, you’re already halfway there! This booking capability is available (and free!) to anyone on FareHarbor. Just get in touch with our Support team if you’re interested in learning more.

The only other requirement is that your business is registered on Google. Registering your business on Google is both a really simple process, and a smart move for any business looking to gain exposure to online customers.

Great for both your customers and ours, this partnership is something we can all get excited about. We can’t wait to see how Reserve with Google helps you grow!

If you’re not already on FareHarbor and are interested in learning more, please get in touch with our team.