Menu

The Logbook

All About Support: Insights And Advice From The Team

We have a surprise: we’ve given our online support pages a makeover! Say hello to the brand new FareHarbor Help Center. There’s a fresh homepage, a smart prediction search bar, a new ticket submission form and so much more! (Go ahead and bookmark that page now – we know you’re gonna love it.)

To celebrate, we’re putting the spotlight on the heart of FareHarbor – the Support team! See what it’s like working in the Denver office, what the team’s favorite features are and the questions they get asked most often.


What do you like most about working at FareHarbor’s Denver office?

“Denver is a great city to live and work in. There are so many great opportunities to get outside and go adventuring. It helps for us to share the values of our clients and coworkers.”
– Elle

“We interface with the majority of the FareHarbor departments since we are all under one roof! Oh, and tacos. Denver has great tacos.” – Carolyn

“I love that most people are really supportive and try to ensure employees have opportunities to learn new skills and take on different roles. I learn something new everyday that blows my mind and keeps me on my toes. It’s honestly the most exciting environment to ever work in!”
– Crystal

“Friendly folks, beer Fridays, location.”
– Seth

“Denver is amazing with the mountains and weather and the people here are laid back and willing to work hard even if it is with a beer in their hand.”
– Rachel

“The co-workers!”
– James

“I love that it is very team oriented and things are always changing.”
– Nicole

What’s your favorite feature on the Dashboard?

“My favorite feature is Reports. I love the potential to unlock projections and export to Excel. And now that we can easily group information in Reports, we can even show companies how to compare their most successful times of day and days of the week for each tour.” – Crystal

“Logic! Conditional custom fields make for very pretty book forms.”
– Carolyn

“Resources!”
– Seth

“Logic! The ability to have conditional custom fields is a lifesaver for a lot of companies.”
– Rachel

“Logic, custom calendars and Reports.”
– James

“I really like our Advanced Reports.”
– Nicole

“I just discovered that you can create multiple time-slots at the same time in the availability creator and I am pretty excited about that – we used to have to build one time slot at a time, so it’s a big time saver!”
– Elle

What’s the most common question you get about the Dashboard?

Working 24/7, 365 days a year, the Support team sees a lot of questions. Here are the ones that pop up most often (Tip: click the link to see the answer in the Help Center).

Tips from the people who know FareHarbor best.

“Less is more! Increase your booking conversions by making your book form short and sweet. And if you are ever unsure about how to go about that, our support team has some great tips!”
– Carolyn

“My greatest tip is to check our snazzy help center and take time going over the help videos.”
– Crystal

“Spend the time to get to know your Dashboard. The customizable abilities of the Dashboard still blow me away! Every company can have an entirely unique setup to help their business grow in a way that is best for them.”
– Rachel

“Learning to “own” your dashboard is a great skill – feel free to ask questions if anything doesn’t make sense!”
– James

“Don’t underestimate how much you can learn from the Help Center. There’s SO much info in there.”
– Seth

“Bring a notebook to your initial training. There’s so much information that’s taught all at once, it really helps to have a few notes to help you remember.”
– Nicole

“Every company is so unique, and each of your setups in FareHarbor are unique to you – when we ask questions it is because we are trying to learn what will work best for your distinct setup. Keep that in mind!”
– Elle

Behind The Screens: Creating Advanced Reports

For this week’s blog post, we’ve invited CTO Zach Snow to talk about one of FareHarbor’s biggest projects to date, Advanced Reports. Read on for a peek into how we tackled the process (plus, check out Zach’s personal blog for the full technical details).

Where we started

Long ago, in the early days of FareHarbor, there were no reports. There wasn’t even a calendar! But as we worked onsite with tour operators in Hawaii, Colorado, and beyond, we began to think of new ways we could display booking data to help clients monitor their business.

Our very first report, now known as Detailed Bookings, was designed to provide an easy way for business owners to get their booking information into another format. From there, we developed a few different reports based on lodging, employees, and activities, so that clients could answer common questions (like, “How many sunset cruises did I sell last month?”) quickly and easily.

legacy report

In late 2016, we realized that the time had come to revisit reporting once again. Our clients had an abundance of interesting questions to answer, and the existing reporting tools made finding those answers harder than they should be. Plus, many of our reports were actually very similar — one was grouping bookings by activity, another by employee, and so on, but all shared a similar structure.

We knew that we could build a tool that was more general and at the same time more powerful. And as a bonus, we figured we’d make them faster, too!

Asking (and answering) the big questions

So we dug in. We worked directly with a number of clients that were struggling to answer important questions using the existing reports, developing an understanding of what information they were trying to find and why they were trying to find it.

  • We worked with Teddy Clements, Head of Onboarding at FareHarbor, to understand what challenges he faced when training clients how to run their business with FareHarbor.
  • We spoke with Anders Hester, Director of Customer Experience, to get a handle on the challenges existing customers were facing, particularly around understanding tax reporting.
  • We also reviewed the ways in which our existing customers were using reports, analyzing the data to determine which reports were run most, and in which ways.

Some of the most technically interesting questions revolved around payments. For instance, “How much money did I collect on Adult passengers this week?” This is a tricky question — if you have a booking with 2 adults and 1 child that costs $125.00 ($50.00 per adult, $25.00 per child) and you’ve only collected $50.00 on the booking so far, how much have you collected on Adults?

One answer is to prorate the amount you have collected across each customer (in this case, $20.00 on each adult, and $10.00 on the child). Another method is to apply the entire $50.00 to the first Adult on the booking. After researching with a variety of customers, and comparing to accounting software, we decided on prorating.

Our Product team asked and answered questions like these for weeks, with everyone on the FareHarbor team contributing a piece to the puzzle.

We worked around-the-clock to get it right. Even when the holidays came, and we all went our separate ways to be with family and loved ones, we couldn’t help but have reports on the mind!

Finally, the new and improved Advanced Reports

After weeks of hard work, the end result was a scalable design that can capture everything our previous reports could, but also go much further.

  • We can now organize data by almost anything (activity, booking source, lodging, campaign, check-in status, etc.), whereas previously these groupings were limited to a few fixed options.
  • Our ability to group data became much more flexible, allowing us to group by any number of options rather than just one or two.
  • We can now filter on almost every aspect of a booking and its customers, letting clients drill into the exact data they need.

And even better, as we discover or create new things to filter on, new things to group by, and new data to show, we have a framework for extending reporting to those things quickly and easily.

advanced report

Actually building the software was a whole nother story, which you can read about in detail here (part 1 of a 3-ish part series).

At the end of the day, we created the recently-launched Advanced Reports, a true team effort. It’s faster and more powerful than the reports it replaced, and it’s designed for growth. And most importantly, it has been a huge success for our customers, who run tens of thousands of Advanced Reports every week!

5 Ways FareHarbor Connect Can Help You Grow Your Business

Growing your business is good; growing your business strategically is even better. But how do you find time to research and compare your options, while still staying on top of your business? FareHarbor Connect is our way of making that path to growth easier.

We’ve taken all the guesswork out of connecting with third-party distributors by building a trusted network of partners and a feature set that makes it easy to maintain relationships with each and every one of them. Best of all, as a FareHarbor client, you have all these tools at your fingertips.

1. Integrate with Online Travel Agencies

When most businesses start looking for new ways to grow their customer base, they first turn to OTAs like Expedia or Viator. And with good reason – OTAs give you direct access to thousands of customers that might otherwise never find your business. Plus, they’re a great way to get your tours in front of qualified leads.

  • With FareHarbor Connect, working with OTAs is just as easy as accepting online bookings. (Read: you can do it in your sleep!)
  • Our booking integrations allow OTAs to resell your offerings in real-time availability, with all reservations appearing directly on your Dashboard as soon as they happen.
  • Using an API Integration or FareHarbor ‘Book Buttons’, you can start marketing your tours on our network of third-party channels without any manual booking entry on your end.

Bonus: Once you’ve earned a customer through an OTA, you can use an email marketing plan to encourage them to join you again.

2. Take Bookings Directly from Hotels & Concierge Desks

We took the same concept and applied it to our always growing network of hotels and concierge desks. Once added to FareHarbor Connect, local hotels and concierges also benefit from direct access to your real-time calendar.

  • This allows hotels and concierge desks to view your availability and book their guests directly into your tours, with all booking data flowing right into your Dashboard.
  • FareHarbor Connect’s real-time availability means you can be making a reservation in-person, a customer could be scheduling a tour online and your friends at a local hotel can be booking their guests in at the exact same moment, with no threat of overbooking.

Bonus: Curious about our hotel and concierge program? Our network might already be in your local area. Just ask!

3. Affiliate Reporting & Invoicing

Now that you’ve got the bookings, it’s time to crunch the data. All affiliate bookings can be tracked through your reports, so you’ll always know the source of your bookings.

  • Reports can also be used to calculate commissions on affiliate bookings and to generate invoices that help keep track of the balance between you and your partners.

Bonus: Use reports to keep a pulse on how your third-party channels are performing. Analyze which partners are delivering the most customers, what month or season each OTA performs the best and what portion of your overall revenue comes from third parties.

4. The FareHarbor Partner Program

Get even more local with our Partner Program. With the same ease of OTA or concierge bookings, our Partner Program is a network of FareHarbor clients in your area who’ve opted to resell tours and to have their tours resold at a commission rate.

  • Most of the reselling is done through ‘Book Buttons’ located in confirmation or follow-up emails. This gives local businesses easy access to customers that have booked or participated in local activities and might be on the market for another tour while they’re in the area.
  • It’s an awesome opportunity to support tourism in your local community, with the added bonus of earning a commission by referring customers to nearby companies.

Bonus: Remember, a returning customer has just as much value as a new customer. Make sure your follow-up emails are designed to re-engage the customer with links to review and social media sites in addition to our Partner Program.

5. The Channel Development Team

That’s right, we saved the best for last! FareHarbor has an entire team dedicated to building out and optimizing these affiliate features. Even better news? They’re always here to help. Please send any questions, ideas or projects related to third-party partnerships to support@fareharbor.com or to your Channel Development Associate. They’re always ready to help you grow your business.

Bonus: Our Channel Development Team works out of our Denver HQ. Even if you don’t have any third-party questions, you can still message them to say hi. (They’re really nice.)

3 Simple Practices That Can Make A Big Impact On Your Business

As a business owner, you already know – sometimes the smallest decisions are the ones that make the largest impact. So it probably won’t come as a surprise when we say that the simple practices in this post come with big returns.

1. Rebook, don’t refund.

Whether it’s bad weather, flat tires or unruly children keeping customers from your tour, a good general policy is to offer to rebook before you refund. You’ll be surprised how many more customers you can retain with a simple policy change like this. Here’s why it works:

  • Customers are often more flexible than you’d expect, and will leap at the opportunity to switch times, days or even activities to prevent having to research and book with another company.
  • You’ll have an opportunity to upsell. Now that the customer’s locked in, it’s a great opportunity to offer add-ons or activity upgrades.
  • Winning the online conversion battle is hard. Rebooking gives you the chance to retain (and impress!) a customer that already chose you once.

Of course, there’s always situations where rebooking isn’t an option. Maybe the customer was only in town for a few days or maybe they simply changed their mind. There’s plenty of scenarios where refunding becomes the better option. But before you get there, offer to rebook.

Since we designed FareHarbor in Hawaii, where a large portion of the tours are water-based, we built rebooking to be as simple as possible. Whether booking into a new day, a new activity or rebooking into a gift card for future use, it’s always just a few clicks away.

And if rebooking isn’t an option, FareHarbor also offers completely free-to-you refunds.

2. Accept payments in full.

As a business owner, you’re always looking to strike a balance between what’s best for your customer and what’s best for your business. With this policy, you’ll be making an easy choice for both. Why? A paid-in-full ticket feels like a clear cut guarantee, whereas a partial payment can feel inconclusive. This one’s all about building trust and it does a great job for both sides.

  • Requiring customers to pay in full is a proven conversion booster, as it gives the customer increased confidence in their reservation.
  • It helps reduce no-shows. When the activity is fully paid for prior to arrival, the customer is more invested in the purchase.
  • For activities or rentals with a higher price tag, this is a great way to qualify customers and simplify the payment process.

3. Move check-in tasks from pen and paper to online.

One of the biggest advantages to using an online booking system is a streamlined check-in process for both you and your customers. Done correctly, this allows your staff to spend less time managing reservations by hand, and more time creating an awesome experience for your customers.

  • If your business requires waivers, use a digital waiver service to secure all liability forms before guests even arrive. This will help speed up the check-in, especially for large parties with multiple people.
  • Create and send a unique reminder email for each specific activity. Rather than a one-size-fits-all email, create an individual email for each separate tour or activity.

This gives you the ability to prepare customers or the exact activity they’re booked into – whether that means a different meeting location, warmer clothing or to bring bottled water.

FareHarbor client? Visit our help page to learn more about adding digital waivers to your checkout and using automatic emails and texts to communicate with customers.

Or, find info on our advanced check-in capabilities, like QR scanning and mobile or desktop check-ins from the manifest.

Faces of FareHarbor: Gabby

Gabby Quarantiello: Director of Account Management


gabby

Meet Gabby. Originally from Boston, Gabby leads the Account Management team at our Denver HQ. That means she’s part of the awesome group of people that works directly with live clients to optimize and grow their business. If you’re lucky enough to work with Gabby, make sure to ask her about lobster fishing. (She’s basically a pro.)

What are you usually doing when you’re not at work? Hopefully skiing, hiking, or somewhere in the mountains! If I’m lucky I’m pulling lobster traps on the east coast in the summer.

What’s your favorite spot in Colorado? That is super tough! Every time I get to drive into the Rockies I can’t stop saying “It’s so pretty!” If I had to choose, I’d say Estes Park or Steamboat takes the gold.

What’s next on your tour/activity bucket list? Pipe dream is going on a Safari in Kenya/Tanzania. Maybe throw in a hike at Kilimanjaro but will need to train for that!

What’s your most memorable FareHarbor moment? Too many to count! If I had to choose I would say the most memorable and defining moment was getting to move to Key West to help out the transition process for a new client going live in 2015. I was fortunate to start the trip with a group of 5 others and really got to witness for the first time the DWIFT attitude spread across all the FareHarbor offices.

What makes FareHarbor different from other companies? The people and our clients. Not only is everyone who works for the company great but our customers are probably the best group of people you could ever ask to work with.

Each operator has their own unique story to share. It’s pretty fun getting to work with people who stopped what they were doing to pursue something they love.

Describe your job at FareHarbor in three words. Invigorating, Challenging, Rewarding!

Digital Marketing On A Budget

These days the world of digital marketing seems to be paved in gold. And it’s true that pay-per-click advertising is stronger than ever. Even popular social media sites like Facebook and Instagram are beginning to adopt the pay-to-play model.

Despite the changes in marketing, at least one thing remains true; time is the most valuable resource. Whether you’re operating on a small budget or just looking for ways to maximize your current efforts, we’re covering five marketing strategies that won’t make you reach for your credit card.

1. Know Your Market

facebook-insights Whatever marketing strategy you choose, having a clear, narrowly defined market will drastically improve your ROI (return-on-investment). Whether the investment you make is in terms of time or money, knowing exactly who you’re marketing to is key. It’ll keep you from spending valuable resources in areas that won’t help you reach your goals.

After you’ve decided who your market is, it’s time to dig into the details.

  • Use Google Analytics and Facebook Insights to view the demographics that engage with your business most frequently.

  • These tools are free to use and can provide data on everything from age and gender to location and device.

For example, a simple analytics check might reveal that 70% of your web traffic is between the ages of 18-35. Use this to drive your marketing strategy towards that age group by advertising on Instagram or optimizing your checkout flow for mobile.

2. Create awesome content

Writing your own content costs nothing but time. Which is great, because it also happens to be one of the most effective ways to organically drive traffic to your site.

  • Build an audience by writing relevant and original blog posts, and then sharing that content on social media. The goal is to both drive potential customers to your website, and to re-engage past ones.

  • Try writing about a topic that’s both important to your industry and that you know well. It’ll help drive clicks through to your website and build your reputation as a knowledgeable source.

And we haven’t even got to the best part. Content marketing plays an essential role when it comes to your website’s SEO. Google relies largely on keywords to decide how to rank your website.

Blog posts provide exactly the material that Google needs – keywords to indicate what your site is about, opportunities for users to visit and interact with your site and of course, strong link building as people share your content.

3. Put your social media sites to work

social media marketing Social media marketing is all about building a genuine connection with your customers. Go beyond that single intent of making a sale and use your social sites to create a community around your brand. Share images from your day-to-day, highlight customer stories, show gratitude for reviews and engage with customers over comments, likes and photos.

It’s your opportunity to really get to know your customers and to give them a chance to get to know you. Remember – especially in the tour and activity industry – customers aren’t buying a product, they’re buying an experience. Create a social media strategy that plays into that. Here’s a few basic tips to get you started:

  • Add a few, relevant hashtags to help get your content in front of a new audience.

  • Be consistent in terms of brand voice, scheduling and interaction.

  • Use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer that offers social media scheduling and listening tools.

  • Respond quickly to customers, answer questions and offer basic support when appropriate.

  • Deliver valuable content. Keep your audience engaged by offering a mix of photos, videos, infographics, blog posts and promotions.

4. Build out an email marketing campaign

There’s dozens of free email marketing services that make reaching out to new customers and retargeting past ones as simple as a few clicks.

  • For generating new customers, try adding a newsletter sign-up form to your website. Offer something of value, like special email-only promotions or a company newsletter with recent updates, schedule changes or interesting content from your blog.

  • If your goal is to recapture past customers, try inviting them to follow you on social media, write reviews or to join you again with a return customer discount.

No matter what your goal, keep these general guidelines to keep in mind – write for a specific goal, keep the copy casual and always give people an easy option to unsubscribe.

5. Focus on building lifetime customers

Did you know that it costs about 5 times as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one? Yet most marketers admit to focusing on customer acquisition over retention. Creating lifetime customers not only helps generate revenue, it helps build up your brand.

Of course, the easiest way to encourage customers to buy from your business again is to pair an awesome experience with amazing customer service. If you can manage that, you’re already off to a great start. After the experience ends, the key is to stay engaged. Rely on the strategies reviewed above and you’ll have no trouble keeping your customers active and interested in your business.

Spring Cleaning: 11 Ways To Clean Up Your Web Presence

Next week, we’ll officially say goodbye to winter with the arrival of the Spring Equinox. To get you in the spirit, we’ve put together a digital spring cleaning list. From your website to your confirmation emails, we promise you’ll get you that deep-clean feeling by the end. Let’s get started:

Website

green-https-lock

1. Add SSL certification to your site. If your site doesn’t already have the green HTTPS lock, it’s time to make the switch. Not only are consumers learning to look for the lock, but Google Chrome has started marking non-SSL sites (HTTP only) that collect passwords or credit cards as non-secure.

2. Check your Call-to-Actions. Make sure your ‘Book Now’ button is visible from the homepage of your website. You should always have at least one CTA above-the-fold (visible without scrolling), typically in the header or center of the page.

Make sure it’s a button, not just a line of text, and that it is designed with some visual contrast.

Booking Form

booking-form

3. Evaluate your mandatory custom fields. When it comes to the checkout, the rule of thumb is keep it simple. Revisit your booking form and see if there are any required forms that you can cut out. Remember, the true purpose of the checkout is to convert, not to collect information for marketing.

4. Reduce your booking cutoff times. The beautiful thing about real-time availability is that you can capture those seriously last-minute bookings (that happen all the time).

If you offer any tours or rentals that have the flexibility to accept walk-ups, make sure your calendar allows those bookings to come through. This allows the customer to both check and book last-minute availability, where seeing a ‘Call to Book’ option might sway them the other way.

5. Consolidate dynamic pricing. If you’re currently offering dynamic pricing options for weekdays, weekends or groups, consider establishing a uniform price for your activities. Dynamic pricing can affect abandon rates, as it prompts the customer to re-evaluate their decision in an effort to get a better price.

Emails

6. Clean up your email subscriber lists. You’ve been collecting emails from customers past (and future!), but when’s the last time you actually looked those over? In just a few minutes, you can audit the subscriber list in your preferred email marketing platform for inactive email addresses or typos.

If you are a FareHarbor client and don’t use an email marketing service, you can check your email marketing list by pulling a Contacts report from your Dashboard.

7. Review your confirmation, reminder and follow-up emails. Haven’t checked these in a while? Now is a good time to review them for any outdated information, broken links or opportunities to improve.
Update confirmation emails in FareHarbor >

Social Media

social media edits

8. Update your descriptions and header images. This is all about fresh content. If you haven’t updated your pages lately, take a minute to swap in your latest photography or highlight that new 2017 offering.

FareHarbor Backend

9. Try a new Bookings view. Even if you’ve already customized your Bookings calendar, you may want to try out the new Grid view, which lets you organize and group information exactly how you want it, and even choose the number of days you see at a time.

10. Add new seasonal employees. Gear up for your spring season by adding new users and removing old ones.

11. Perfect your Manifest. Remove unused columns, add a summary row, or clean up your custom manifests to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need. Read all about these options and more on our help page.

Best Practices For Managing Online Reviews

Last week, the Phocuswright report taught us that 57% of tour and activity operators consider online reviews to be their most effective marketing source. We’ll be the first to say – we’re not surprised. The landscape of travel marketing has dramatically shifted. Today the customer journey almost always starts with an internet search. While your website, photos, videos and social media accounts are all on the radar of potential customers, nothing forms an opinion like an online review.

In fact, more than 90% of consumers depend on online, local reviews to help form their decision about a business. Much like getting a recommendation from a friend or co-worker, potential customers trust online reviews to provide an honest, first-hand account of your tour or activity. Their end goal – feeling secure that your business brings the value and experience they’re looking for. In other words, reviews are just as important to the customer as they are to your business.

Here’s a few simple actions you can take to make sure both you and your customers get the most out of them.

1. Respond to every review, positive or negative.

When customers share their experience via an online review it serves two purposes; to inform others customers and to communicate with the business owner. In not responding, you’re missing out on both a valuable touch point and an opportunity to lead the conversation.

Whether the review brings praise or criticism, it’s direct feedback from your customers – and that’s always a powerful tool for improving your business. Show them you’re listening by crafting a personalized response that touches on each individual point made in the review, rather than sending a canned message.

If you encounter a negative review, respond objectively. Be kind, professional and accepting of their perspective. The worst thing you can do is respond in a way that will discourage potential customers from wanting to do business with you. Yes, negative reviews are difficult and can be hurtful to a business, but they’re also an opportunity to improve.

When the review warrants more than your acknowledgement, try offering a small discount as an invitation for a better experience. This can be as simple as, “We apologize for your poor experience, that’s uncommon for us to hear. We’d love to make it up to you with 20% off your next booking. Please contact us privately for specific details.”

Take the same approach for positive reviews. Use the feedback to figure out what’s working. It’s just as important to know what you’re doing right as it is to know what you can improve on.

Create a document where you log both positive and negative feedback coming in from reviews. When it comes time to build a new marketing plan, update website copy or train new employees, you’ll have a clear list of customer-perceived strengths and weaknesses, suggestions and improvements.

2. Set aside time to manage reviews. Every. Single. Day.

To keep review sites from becoming a one-way conversation, you need to make yourself available. Let people know that they can rely on a timely response from you by making time to manage reviews, every single day.

Remember that almost every customer searching for your business will first look to online reviews. This is a valuable first impression. In terms of establishing trust and credibility, your odds go way up when they see that you’re involved in the reputation of your business and that you care about your customers’ opinions. Plus, when you’re hit with the occasional negative review, you’ll have the chance to respond and repair any damage before it even starts.

Many review sites give the option of sending email notifications when a new review comes in. Enabling notifications makes it that much easier to make sure you never miss a review, no matter how many review sites you use.

3. Follow-up every tour with a review request.

From adding review widgets to your website to passing out “Review Us!” stickers or business cards, there’s a way to turn almost any customer interaction into a review request. But we find that the most effective ways to encourage reviews are also some of the most simple.

As a general rule, the more often you can add a personal touch to your tour or activity, the better. This makes the classic in-person request hard to beat. It’s a natural sign-off and easy to work into your final goodbye. Plus, it’s personal enough that the customer will be more likely to log-on and leave a review.

No matter what approach you decide is right for your business, we suggest that you always send a follow-up email requesting customer feedback on your preferred review site. This email should be straightforward with a direct call-to-action. You can also use this email to link to your social media pages, to offer a return discount or to simply say thank you.

Send your follow-up email a few days after the customer’s tour to maximize engagement. You’ll already have an edge as the customer will be on their desktop or device when they open the email, making their five-star review just a few clicks away.

As a FareHarbor client, this can all be done directly through your Dashboard. You can automate custom follow-up emails to be sent out directly after the tour or even a few days later.

If TripAdvisor is your top performing review site, we suggest adding TripAdvisor Review Express to your lineup as well. Review Express is another email automation tool that sends a review request directly from TripAdvisor.


Of course, your five-star tours mostly speak for themselves. These tips are just here to help you make the most of the awesome reviews you’re already receiving.

5 Statistics That Are Defining The Tour And Activity Industry

Back in November, Phocuswright, the travel industry’s leading research firm, conducted an in-depth survey covering key trends of the tours & activity industry. We’ve been anxiously awaiting their analysis, as Phocuswright is the global authority when it comes to travel industry research. In fact, their work has been covered in major news outlets like Forbes, CNN and The New York Times. And now, they’re giving us a comprehensive look at the industry we love the most.

As many of you donated your time to helping Phocuswright get the data right (you’re the best!), we wanted to share a few can’t-miss-highlights from the report:

  • Online tour & attraction gross bookings will more than double from 2015 to 2020, growing from 11% in 2016 to 21% in 2020.

Key takeaway: We love this! Customers are using desktops and mobile devices to research and book more than ever. So what can you do to capture these bookings? Make sure you’re prepared by adding SSL to your site, optimizing for both desktop and mobile and having a conversion-minded checkout flow.

  • Travel activities account for 9% of global travel revenue, are the third-largest travel segment and are growing faster than the total travel market.

Key takeaway: The shift from poolside margaritas to surfing, snorkeling and banana-boating your way through vacation is real. Travelers are seeking experiential travel – active adventures, educational tours and adrenaline-packed experiences are now an essential part of the getaway. Play into this by building up the full experience of your tour or activity by sharing beautiful Instagram posts, adding customer stories to your Facebook page, and interacting with customers on Twitter.

  • 57% of businesses consider traveler review websites as their most effective marketing channel.

Key takeaway: It’s hard to dispute this one. Reviews matter. In fact, 92% of consumers read online reviews. The good news is that an awesome tour and great customer service usually do the trick. If you’re looking for a little more advice, check out our interview with TripAdvisor’s 2015, #2 tour in the country, Real New York Tours. Or, if you’re with the 40% of tour operators that find SEM (search engine marketing) to be a highly effective marketing channel, take a minute to read over these essential AdWords tips.

  • In the US, an average of 40% of customers are domestic travelers, 31% are international travelers and 28% are local residents.

Key takeaway: When it comes to local travelers, US-based tour operators receive an average of about 20% more traffic than the rest of the world. Put that data to work by shifting some of your marketing focus to people looking to explore their own backyard. Register with local business directories, add neighborhood discounts to your site and target locals with digital ad spend and copy.

  • Only 13% of reservations from distribution partners are made via real-time connectivity.

Key takeaway: If you’re already partnering with FareHarbor, you should love this statistic – it means you’re ahead of the curve. With FareHarbor Connect, you’re already able to accept real-time bookings from our network of third-party distributors. Bookings from Viator and Expedia Local Expert flow directly into your Dashboard, no manual work needed. (And if you’re not already taking full advantage of our partner network, just get in touch.)


Although we’ve only covered a fraction of the data covered by the Phocuswright report, it’s clear that the future of tours & activities is bright. Of course, we’ve always believed that, but we’re excited to finally have trusted data to prove it.

Now that we have had an inside look at the industry – past, present and future – let’s put the data to work.

All data sourced from Phocuswright’s Global Travel Activities 2014-2020: Tours & Attractions Come of Age

Tour and Activity Businesses: Make 2017 Your Best Year Yet

The New Year is officially in full swing, meaning there’s no better time to put your 2017 goals into action. To help you decide exactly what those goals should be, we asked a few people from our team to weigh in on how business owners can ensure this year is one of their strongest years yet. Here’s what they came up with.

Get your site the green HTTPS lock.

green lock Especially on websites where a transaction is being made, customers are learning to look for the green HTTPS lock at the top of their browser. This lock is enabled by a form of security technology called SSL (Secure Sockets Layer). While the FareHarbor booking process is 100% secure without the addition of SSL to your site, it acts as a visual indicator that your business is a trusted online merchant.

On top of building trust, adding SSL to your site can help boost your search engine optimization efforts. Much like your customers, Google has learned to trust sites that have added SSL and tends to rank them more highly.

Is your site missing the green lock? Adding SSL to your website is a simple process that can be easily be done with the help of your web developer or through your hosting management. If you are a FareHarbor client, you can read up on website security and adding SSL here.

Collect more reviews.

review express

Research shows that 92% of consumers read online reviews, and 90% say their buying decisions are influenced by what they read. By these numbers, nearly your entire online customer base depends on reviews of your business to help them decide to book.

Ready for the best part? Review sites are free for your business and the customer. That’s an incredibly powerful marketing tool that can increase site traffic and sales with nothing more than a little elbow grease. While offering an epic tour and remarkable customer service is always the best way to encourage reviews, there’s also a few tricks to the trade.

Here at FareHarbor, our favorite way to collect reviews is by connecting to TripAdvisor Automated Review Express. Once you’ve connected your business to the program, your customers will receive an email at the conclusion of their activity that comes directly from TripAdvisor. The automated email will encourage customers to leave a review about their experience – and it’s quite good at getting results.

As a FareHarbor client, adding Automated Review Express couldn’t be easier. You can simply email us at support@fareharbor.com, and we’ll take care of the process for you. Otherwise, you can sign your business up for the program via TripAdvisor.


If you choose not to use this service, we still suggest sending a follow-up email that encourages customers to review their recent experience. This can be done manually, through an email automation service, or through your FareHarbor Dashboard.

Get organized.

custom calendars fareharbor

Every interaction with your customer should be considered a valuable touchpoint on their end-to-end journey. So while checking-in guests or fielding questions about meeting locations may seem like a routine process to you, it’s much more than that to the customer.

In fact, 84% of customers report getting frustrated when their guide or agent doesn’t have the necessary information. And 13% of those frustrated guests claim to tell 15 or more people when they’re unhappy, while 72% will tell 6 or more people when the experience was positive.

So the question is, how to get organized? For FareHarbor clients, we suggest setting up custom calendars and manifests to ensure that the information you need is quickly and easily accessible.

With a custom calendar, you can save a set of filters and display options to create a Bookings view personalized for you. This allows you to drill down by activity, get a quick view of all tours with available seats, or see tours that a certain staff member is assigned to. Spend less time searching through bookings and more time focusing on your customers.

Custom manifests work in a similar way, allowing you to add columns, filter information, and summarize data to create a daily snapshot of your activities. With a custom manifest, you can quickly see which guests have not been checked-in or who still have a balance due, check email statuses, create a summary of custom field answers, and much more.


Use one or both tools to ensure that all the details that matter are just one click away.

Bottom line

All of these tips are designed to improve a different piece of the customer journey. Whether it’s the first impression or the last, they all present an opportunity to make the experience great. Put them into effect, and watch customer satisfaction and revenue rise.