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Need Immediate Assistance? Find Answers in the FareHarbor Help Center

Whether you’re taking advantage of FareHarbor’s top-rated 24/7 support, in-depth webinars, or specialized Compass guides, we’ve got you covered with all the resources designed to help your business grow.

However, when you need immediate answers to quick Dashboard questions, the FareHarbor Help Center is the tool for you.

The Help Center is a collection of video tutorials, step-by-step instructions, and helpful articles that show you how to use every part of the FareHarbor product. You can also find information about software partnerships, credit card disputes, and much more.

Here are three ways you can use the Help Center to get immediate answers to your most pressing questions so you have more time to spend on your business.

1. Keep a Pulse on Your Bookings with Calendar Syncing

Did you know you can add your FareHarbor calendar to your phone or computer? Whether you use Google Calendar or another app, this Help Center article shows you how to easily subscribe to your availabilities so you can keep tabs on your bookings and schedule. 

FareHarbor is also integrated with Zapier to automate some of your regular business tasks, like adding new customers to your email subscription list or generating QuickBooks sales receipts from new bookings. Zapier is another way to receive booking information to your calendar.

If you need one extra reminder when it comes to your schedule, be sure to download the FareHarbor app and enable push notifications to see bookings as they happen. 

2. Set Up or Adjust Your Cancellation Policy

Having a clear cancellation policy is essential for any tour or activity operator since it gives you control over how your bookings can be canceled and refunded. Luckily, it’s simple to set up your cancellation policy in your FareHarbor Dashboard.

Whether you need to make a change to your cancellation policy or want to create a new one, access step-by-step instructions here in the Help Center

Tour Operator Tip: Explore options to rebook customers or refund them with a gift card they can use at a later date. 

 

3. Protect Sensitive Information with User Settings

Chances are, you won’t be the only one logging in to your Dashboard. You can imagine how important it is for the right people to have access to the information they need to do a good job. 

Even more importantly, when staff members leave your business, you want the peace of mind of knowing you can edit Dashboard user settings to remove access to sensitive information, like payment details. 

Fortunately, the Help Center has an entire section dedicated to all the ways you can manage your users and permissions, from subscribing to user notifications to deactivating users, and more.

Whether you like to learn on the fly or you prefer to chat with a FareHarbor expert, our Help Center and 24/7 support are always available to you!

Discover Customer Booking Patterns with FareHarbor’s Built-In Reporting Tool

Do you have a good understanding of how far in advance your customers typically book an activity? How about which tour start times are most popular? 

Even if you’ve researched these topics or have seen industry statistics around booking trends, having data that pertains to your customers specifically is invaluable. 

FareHarbor’s built-in reporting can tell you when your customers are booking, which tours are most popular among your target audience, and more. 

These reports give you insights into customer behavior and booking patterns to help you test new strategies and make better business decisions. 

Advanced reports like these are one of the many perks of becoming a FareHarbor client! Request a demo today.

Determine How Far In Advance Your Customers Book

Follow these steps to run this report in your FareHarbor Dashboard.

Whether your customers typically book at the last minute or plan their activities well in advance, this report will give you the data you need to improve the customer experience and get more bookings. 

Knowing when your customers book on average is essential for planning marketing initiatives and preparing for your busy season. This report will help you determine if you primarily have early bookers or last-minute bookers.

Early Bookers

Customers who book far in advance tend to spend time planning and researching their travel. To capture the attention of this audience you must strategically schedule your marketing initiatives around that early booking window.

For example, let’s say your Dashboard report tells you that your customers’ average booking-ahead window is 60 days. Based on that data, you should start marketing your tours and activities two months ahead of your anticipated busy season. Keep this in mind for holidays, school vacation periods, and big events like farm festivals or holiday lights shows. 

Early bookers also appreciate helpful information and resources. Update your website with content about what to do in the area, what to expect ahead of the activity, and resources like maps and public transportation options. 

Last-Minute and In-Destination Bookers

Last-minute bookers might book during the week leading up to the activity or even on the day of, depending on when your booking cutoff window is.

Similar to how you would use the data for early bookers, this information can help you think about how you market your tour and activities and make other business decisions.

One of the best ways to cater to in-destination bookers is to make sure your Google My Business page is optimized and up to date with your current hours and contact information, seasonal photos, and good reviews. This improves your chances of Google displaying your business in the local map pack for “near me” searches. 

You can also attract in-destination customers by partnering with local businesses, submitting your business listing to local directories, and working with destination marketing organizations. 

When it comes to last-minute bookings, your website is a useful tool. Include verbiage on your site that walk-ins and same-day bookings are welcome (if that is the case). 

Learn Which Tour and Activity Times Are Most Popular with Your Customers

Follow these steps to run this report in your FareHarbor Dashboard.

These reports will tell you which activity dates and start times (also known as availabilities) are booked most often by your customers.

You might already think that Saturday mornings at 10am are your busiest time of day – or you have no idea which availabilities are most booked. It’s really helpful to know when all of your busy windows fall so you can best prepare.

When you have the data from these reports, you can use it to make business considerations, such as: 

  • Adjust staff schedules and hiring: Schedule more check-in staff, reservationists, or tour guides so you are fully staffed during your busiest times. 
  • Add availabilities to popular start times: If your 5pm sunset tour consistently sells out, are you able to add another tour that runs at the same time or increase your tour size? 
  • Offer expedited check-in: This is especially helpful if you get many walk-up customers. Make two check-in lines – one for ticketed customers and one for walk-ups. 
  • Market your activities accordingly: When running promos or showcasing available tours, you can provide useful information like “Saturdays fill up fast, book in advance” or similar. 

Tour Operator Tip: If you’re going to change your hours of operation or make other big updates, be sure to update the information on your website, Google My Business page, and third-party sites like Tripadvisor. 

 

These reports are great for getting a pulse on your business, whether your busy season is in full swing or you’re enjoying the off season. Use the data to pivot your strategies or see where you can improve. 

Looking for more tips on growing your business? Catch up on the latest FareHarbor webinars. 

Watch Our “FareHarbor For You” Webinar Series, Now On Demand

Have you been keeping up with the latest FareHarbor webinars? Every month FareHarbor experts host two live webinars with essential tips for helping you adjust your business strategies and use your Dashboard to the fullest.

If you missed them, not to worry  – all FareHarbor webinars are recorded and published on demand on FareHarbor Compass the following day. Here are our latest webinars, including the FareHarbor For You series and a bonus session on summer planning.

Disclaimer: Some information presented is only pertinent to current FareHarbor clients as our webinars feature tips to optimize the Dashboard. If you’re interested in learning more about becoming a FareHarbor client, you can request a demo here. (The Summer Planning webinar is relevant to everyone).

FareHarbor 101: Create a Foundation for Success

As a FareHarbor client, the Dashboard is completely customizable to you. Whether you’re a new client or you’re still learning the in’s and out’s of your Dashboard, the FareHarbor 101 webinar is a great place to start. 

This session is designed to help you better understand and optimize your Dashboard in three areas: best practices, reports, and FareHarbor resources. 

What you will learn:

  • Key Dashboard terminology (items, availabilities, and more!)
  • Book form optimizations to drive sales
  • How to use basic and custom reports

FareHarbor for You: Tools for the Reservationist

Reservationists play an essential role in any business – making and taking bookings! We want all Dashboard users to feel confident creating bookings, communicating with booked customers, canceling a booking, and other important Dashboard actions.

What you will learn:

  • How and when to overbook an availability
  • Using the manifest
  • Issuing refunds and placing credit card holds

FareHarbor for You: Tools for the Guide

Tour guides are the face of most activity businesses. Even if you don’t run tours in the traditional sense, your instructors, drivers, or activity leaders still need to know how to best communicate with customers and handle difficult situations. 

In this webinar, we discuss the top skills a tour guide should have as well as ways to enhance the customer experience, like offering to take photos for guests.

What you will learn:

  • In-house services and partners to help tour guides be successful (Compass, Fotaflo, waiver partners)
  • Essential tour guide skills like sense of direction and local knowledge
  • Dashboard actions such as setting up notifications for tour guides

Bonus Webinar – Smooth Sailing: Your Guide to Summer Planning

Whether your summer season is just getting started or you’re already looking ahead to next year, the tips in this webinar will help you have a successful busy season. By preparing your staff ahead of time and marketing your activities to the right travelers, you’ll see increased bookings and a strong online presence. 

What you will learn:

  • Ways to reach your hiring goals and how to find the best candidates
  • Which audiences to market your tours and activities to (hint: plan around school schedules!)
  • How to ask for reviews and referrals to get in front of new customers

These are just a few of the many webinars we’ve hosted this year. Head over to Compass and take a look at the other can’t-miss sessions currently on demand. And don’t forget to follow us on social media to see what new webinars we have lined up for you next month.

Are OTAs Right For Your Business? Find a Balance with Google Things to do

Compass Sneak Peek

 

Online travel agencies (OTAs) can help you bring in more revenue, reach additional audiences, and fill open spots on your tours and activities. But these third-party resellers also may take high commissions, so it’s well worth weighing the pros and cons before deciding to partner with an OTA. 

Fortunately, FareHarbor has helpful tips on how to determine if OTAs are right for your business. And, if you do decide to use OTAs, FareHarbor offers distribution programs where we handle the associated contracts and API connections for you as part of our free client services. 

How Your Business Can Benefit from OTAs

If you regularly have excess openings and want to capture more bookings, OTAs will put your offerings in front of customers who might not find your business otherwise. When you’re not able to maximize the full capacity of your tours and activities, you’re leaving money on the table! 

Building partnerships with third-party resellers is one way to create additional streams of revenue and reach in-destination travelers and last-minute bookers. This is largely because OTAs often target customers who have just booked a flight or hotel in your area and are looking for activities to round out their itinerary.

You also benefit from doing less market and audience research since you can take advantage of the OTAs’ large user base. Plus, these sites are typically well optimized for mobile, where the majority of bookings happen. 

Before you decide to work with OTAs, there are a few more questions to keep in mind. 

Can You Afford the Commissions?

If more bookings are exactly what you’re looking for, OTAs might be a good fit for your business. But before you sign on the dotted line, make sure to consider the commissions associated with OTAs. These typically average 20% or more of your retail price. You shouldn’t rely on OTAs too heavily as a single source of revenue while letting your direct booking goals fall to the wayside. 

Evaluate your current business needs to help you reach a decision by asking yourself these questions:

  • Do you need a substantial boost in customers? 
  • How much would OTAs benefit your bottom line with their associated commission fees? 

This decision is all about striking a balance to ensure that it is the right move for your business.

Have You Done Your Research?

From Viator to GetYourGuide and others, FareHarbor is integrated with over 100 global and regional OTAs to help you build revenue. If you’re still wondering if OTAs are right for you, start by researching which partners you’d like to work with.

Here are a few things to consider for each OTA:

  • The sign-up process and necessary contracts and agreements 
  • The terms and conditions as well as cancellation policies 
  • The number of visitors they get and the rate at which they’re booking activities
  • How to get your tours and activities on their platform 

If you’re already a FareHarbor client, take a look at our current OTA integrations on Compass.

Striking a Balance: Use Google Things to do

Do you like the idea of using OTAs, but worry about the high commission fees? Google Things to do (Google TTD) is a great solution! 

A replacement for Reserve with Google, Google TTD lets you list your tours and activities for free as part of a program that takes bookings directly through the search engine. Google TTD allows you to use the benefits of Google search to capture more bookings, similar to how your tours and activities would be listed on an OTA.

Even better, FareHarbor’s Connectivity Team will help you get set up on Google TTD and service your connection for its duration. This ensures that all bookings from Google flow into your FareHarbor Dashboard. 

OTAs might not be the right fit for your business, but Google TTD gives you a taste of what these partnerships are all about – without breaking the bank. 

FareHarbor clients can learn more about Google Things to do, including optimizing your listings and setting up ad campaigns, on FareHarbor Compass.

5 FareHarbor Custom Calendars to Support Every Member of Your Business

One of the things we hear most from tour operators about the FareHarbor Dashboard is how customizable it is – especially when it comes to your bookings calendar.

FareHarbor’s intuitive Dashboard features various views, filters, and display options that let you take control of your bookings and display them as a custom calendar

Not only can you save and toggle between multiple calendars, but there’s no limit to how you can arrange bookings and other calendar essentials to meet your business needs.

Whether you’re already a FareHarbor client or you’re thinking about coming aboard, get inspired by these five ideas for custom calendars that will best serve your team. 

1. Custom Calendar for Reservationists

If you’re the person who primarily takes bookings for your tour or activity business, you’ll love this custom calendar. 

Configure your calendar to see an overview of every booking and open availability on a single-day or hourly basis. There’s also the option to “zoom out” and view open slots over a wider range of dates. 

Whether you’re making a booking over the phone or looking for an opening to squeeze in a last-minute, walk-up customer, our Dashboard experts will help you build the ideal calendar to fit your specific business needs.

2. Custom Calendar for Multi-Location Businesses

Reviewing booking information for multiple locations can be confusing. We recommend creating a custom calendar for each location where your business operates to enjoy a more streamlined experience. 

This feature offers quick information at a glance, allowing you to view open availabilities or compare bookings between the different locations. And, if your team gets an inquiry about availability at a given location, you can switch to the corresponding custom calendar to best assist them. 

This type of custom calendar is also great for businesses that share resources, like equipment or tour guides, between storefronts. 

3. Custom Calendar for Individual Guides & Employees

Do you have multiple tour guides or employees who need an easy way to view their schedule? Give them each a custom calendar so they only see the tours and activities assigned to them.

Not only will this offer a more streamlined experience, but it also allows your tour guides to stay organized and save time since they’re able to view everything they need to know about their daily schedule with one click.

Plus, the FareHarbor Dashboard lets you save each person’s custom calendar as their default calendar so it’s automatically accessible from the moment they log in. 

4. Custom Calendar for Equipment Rentals & Inventory

Need to get a quick visual on your available resources? Create a custom calendar that gives you a snapshot of what equipment is booked and on hand throughout the day.

This calendar is great for businesses that get frequent walk-up customers and last-minute bookings.

5. Custom Calendar for Gift Cards

Create a calendar with only gift cards to track how many have been sold or redeemed. Filter by item and select your gift cards for a simplified calendar that tracks a flat number of bookings. 

Whether you’re trying to improve your tour guides’ Dashboard experience or be able to navigate your bookings faster, you can do it with FareHarbor’s custom calendars.

For detailed instructions on creating custom calendars, view this guide on FareHarbor Compass or sign up for a live demo to see how FareHarbor can work for you.

Compass Sneak Peek: What Makes a Great Tour Guide?

Tour guides can make or break a guest’s experience. Who you choose to run your tours says a lot about your business. Guests don’t get the opportunity to meet everyone behind the scenes of your operation, so you’re trusting your tour guides to act as the face of your business.

Whether you’re hiring new staff members to get ready for your busy season or you’re hoping to inspire your current tour guides to keep up the good work, read on to learn the most essential characteristics that make a tour guide stand out.

The Best Tour Guides Are…

Local Experts

Out-of-town customers probably don’t know a lot about your area. An excellent guide offers more than just information on their chosen tour, but is eager to share everything from recommendations on where to eat to other can’t-miss experiences around town. 

This local knowledge creates an authentic tour experience that makes guests feel excited about the area, and even more likely to recommend your activities to their friends and families. 

Storytellers 

Nobody wants to listen to a tour guide who sounds like they’re reading from a script. A skillful tour guide weaves fun facts, points of interest, and local secrets into one memorable tour so that the customers do not feel like they are simply learning a lot of information, but rather that they are part of the experience.

They ask and answer questions, engage guests in conversation, and have customers on the edge of their seats with their storytelling skills. 

Funny & Personable

Even if the tour covers serious topics or moments in history, guests still appreciate a tour guide with an affable personality and good sense of humor. 

Jokes aside, an effective tour guide can hold everyone’s attention, relate to all kinds of people, and keep the atmosphere friendly and fun throughout the tour, even in the event of problems like a bus breaking down or a scheduled attraction being closed. 

Good With Directions

Having a sense of direction isn’t just about being good at reading a map. Tour guides with a great sense of direction know all the little shortcuts and best routes through town, and they don’t get turned around in the event of a road closure or route change. 

When guests inevitably ask for directions to another location after the tour ends, tour guides with a keen sense of direction are happy to help them find their way.

Culturally Sensitive

It goes without saying that the best tour guides are respectful of different cultures and work hard to educate everyone in the group about the local culture. 

They make everybody feel welcome regardless of their background and create a dialogue around different customs and ideas.

Passionate

When someone loves their job it shows, and that is no different for tour guides! A true passion for interacting with people and showing them an incredible time is what sets exceptional tour guides apart.

A tour guide who is clearly enthusiastic about the industry goes above and beyond. They stay after to talk with guests and inquire about their trip, and go the extra mile to make a customer’s experience the best it can be. 

How to Spot an Amazing Tour Guide

The quality of the tour guide is evident right from the start of the tour, when they make introductions. A good tour guide will introduce themselves, but an outstanding tour guide takes the time to quickly memorize everyone’s names and learn a few things about them, like where they’re from or why they chose to come on the tour or activity.

Here are a few more ways tour guides stand out on tour:

  • Show guests off-the-beaten-path locations and “secret” spots, like the best places to eat, and authentic places guests should visit after the tour.
  • Describe to guests what makes the tour or activity so special, drawing on knowledge from past travels and life experiences.
  • End the tour by inviting guests to return and asking for their honest feedback. A great tour guide wants to know how they can improve and what parts of the tour guests liked or didn’t like.

Do these sound like the kind of employees you want on your team? With some interview preparation and the right questions up your sleeve, attracting excellent tour guides is a breeze. See sample interview questions and additional hiring tips on FareHarbor Compass.

Compass Sneak Peek: Reduce Credit Card Disputes with Tips from the FareHarbor Payments Team

Collecting payments is essential to doing business. So when a customer files a credit card dispute, you want to act quickly to protect your company. Not only are disputes costly, but they’re also stressful and time consuming.

Fortunately, the FareHarbor Payments Team is here to help with their top tips on preventing disputes before they happen.

Common Reasons Customers File Disputes

You may think credit card disputes only happen when a customer doesn’t receive a product, but they can occur in the travel industry as well.

In fact, 1 in 8 disputes filed by cardholders in 2019 were in the travel industry (Chargebacks911).

A customer may file a dispute before or after they participate in the tour or activity. Take a look at these common reasons for disputes.

  • Product unacceptable: The customer claims that the service you provided was not as described, or they were dissatisfied with the experience.
  • Services canceled: The customer claims they were charged even after they canceled their tour or activity.
  • Unrecognized: The cardholder doesn’t recognize the charge on their credit card statement and reports it as fraud. (This can happen when someone borrows a friend or family member’s credit card and the person doesn’t know or remember).

These are just a few reasons you might receive a dispute. Log in to FareHarbor Compass for more examples.

The Payments Team’s Top Tips for Preventing Disputes

1. Write a Detailed Cancellation Policy

Publish a thorough cancellation policy on your website. The policy should include who the customer can contact to make the cancellation, as well as a specific window of time by which they need to cancel.

You also need to share the cancellation policy in your confirmation and reminder emails.

FareHarbor Client Tip: Through FareHarbor, customers can easily cancel their activity and collect a refund or gift card, helping avoid issues that might lead to a credit card dispute. Follow these steps to activate this feature on your Dashboard.

2. Practice Good Communication with Customers

Being transparent about the experience details helps prevent disputes. Send a confirmation email after the customer books, and also send a reminder email closer to the tour date so that guests don’t miss it.

3. Accurately Advertise your Tour or Activity

To avoid customers disputing based on unmet expectations, make sure you are clear in advertising the tour or activity. 

4. Refund Fraudulent Payments

One of the best ways to stay on top of potential disputes is to keep an eye out for fraudulent payments. They can be hard to spot, so be on the lookout for bookings where the name on the credit card doesn’t match the name of the person who made the booking. If there is other information that doesn’t match (like email or phone number), you may have stumbled on a fraudulent payment.

Tour Operator Tip: Always check the first and last name of the credit card used and make sure it matches the booking name. When checking people in, you should collect cash or refund in full anyone who cannot provide the credit card used online.

5. Keep Track of Guest Activities 

One of the most effective ways to fight a dispute is to prove that the customer did in fact attend the tour or activity. Make these best practices part of your daily routine.

  • Compare guests’ IDs with the credit card they used to make the booking.
  • Ask guests to sign a receipt or waiver to streamline the booking and check-in process. Wherewolf and SmartWaiver are two waiver systems that seamlessly integrate with FareHarbor.
  • Customize your FareHarbor manifest to quickly check customers in.
  • For more expensive bookings or those with greater liability (like jet ski, boat, car rentals, or helicopter tours), scan a copy of the customer’s ID and keep it on file in a secure location.
  • After the tour or activity, keep necessary documentation detailing incidents like accidents or damages caused by the customer.

My Business Got a Dispute. What Happens Next?

Despite your best efforts, disputes happen, and the FareHarbor Payments Team has your back. We’ll notify you of the dispute and help you put together an evidence packet to fight it. 

Although no two disputes are the same, these tips should put you on the right track to avoid them before they happen. Learn more about this topic on FareHarbor Compass.

6 Holiday Marketing Tips for Tour Operators this Season

The holidays — especially those at the end of the year — are some of the most profitable times of year for businesses, and as a business owner it is important to put some of your focus on your holiday marketing strategy. It’s never too early to start planning your holiday campaigns. Follow this guide to prepare for holiday marketing on your website, pay-per-click ads, social media, and beyond! 

Depending on your location, you may have a variety of holidays throughout the year that you can plan your marketing campaigns around. In general, the end of the year tends to be packed with holidays. For example, Black Friday through Cyber Monday has become, arguably, the most popular weekend of deals for goods, tours, activities and more!

Once you’ve decided on the holidays you want to focus on for your marketing campaigns, it’s time to start planning your strategy. 

Create a Festive Mood on Your Website

Your holiday promotions and discounts should be front and center for shoppers to see on your website. You can also add a few holiday-specific edits to your website. Create a festive mood by updating your photos and featuring your seasonal activities, for instance a sleigh ride. This will get your customers in the holiday spirit and make them excited to book your timely activities. 

Share Valuable Resources on Your Blog

Have you ever felt at a loss for gift ideas or holiday activities and turned to the web for some inspiration? Plenty of potential customers will be doing the same around the holidays. This is a great opportunity for your business to be discovered by new customers! Plan some holiday-themed blog content, such as exciting holiday activities in your area, to try to increase traffic to your site.

Remember to promote your offerings naturally in your blog, such as including your holiday cooking class in a round-up on fun things to do in your area this season. 

Get Merry on Social Media

Holidays are all about the visuals — fireworks for Fourth of July, spiderwebs for Halloween, snowflakes for the winter holidays. And social media platforms are the perfect place to lean into holiday imagery to get customers excited about what you have to offer. 

Like all marketing campaigns, a little planning will go a long way. You don’t want to be scrambling to put something together a week before a major holiday. Setting a small budget to boost a social media post and increase conversions or gathering user-generated content to enhance engagement are simple, yet effective ways to spark holiday sales!

Nurture Existing Customers with Email

Repeat customers are one of your most important audiences because they already know your brand and are more likely to book with you again. Email is the perfect way to nurture this relationship and promote your holiday specials. You can use emails around the holidays to tell customers about seasonal activities, give them first access to a promo code, or share your holiday-themed blogs!

Reach New Customers with PPC Ads

While email allows you to get in touch with existing customers, pay-per-click (PPC) ads give you the chance to reach new audiences who are searching for keywords related to your offerings. If you don’t have the budget to run ads all year-long, save it for the holidays and run seasonal ads just in time to catch holiday travelers and shoppers with your specials and promotions.

Optimize for Seasonal Local SEO

Optimizing your website and Google My Business (GMB) listing is important all year-round. But if you haven’t revised your local SEO strategy in a while, be sure to do so in time for the holidays. 

Update your GMB if you have seasonal hours and ensure that your address and contact information are up to date.  If you’re targeting any holiday-specific keywords such as “holiday light tours,” be sure to incorporate them on GMB (like in your company description) as well as your website. 

It’s now time to spread that holiday cheer! We recognize that this is a long list, and that’s because there are a lot of moving parts to a successful holiday marketing campaign. However, with a little forward planning and an organized calendar, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of this profitable time of year. Simplify the process with this checklist to promote your tours and activities during the holidays. 

6 Black Friday Marketing Strategies You’ll Want to Implement This Year

Did you know 83% of all bookings happen online? (CondorFerries). Black Friday and the upcoming holiday season offer the perfect opportunity to evaluate your digital marketing strategy and capitalize on trends like this one! 

Many people associate Black Friday with a mad rush to your local super store to get the best deals. However, in tandem with the trend toward online shopping — and gifting —  experiences and activities have become much more popular! In fact, 63% of U.S. adults would rather receive an experience than a material gift (Eventbrite and Harris Interactive) – Great news for tour and activity operators!

Are you planning on offering deals to increase sales this holiday season? If so, read on to learn about our 6 Black Friday marketing strategies that will help you finish the year strong. 

How to Be Successful This Season:

Optimize your booking flow

As a tour operator, you know how important it is to have your booking flow set up correctly to maximize bookings. Before you start a Black Friday marketing plan, you want to make sure your most popular activities are highlighted. Note that these could be different than usual if you are not currently in your high season. Place seasonal or most popular activities front and center – then you’ll be ready to kickstart your Black Friday marketing plan. 

Extend your sale

There’s no need to limit yourself to a one-day sale! Consider starting your sale earlier or running it longer than just the one-day Black Friday event. This will attract more customers, especially since their holiday weekends can be hectic. More customers on your site means more conversions!

Take advantage of email marketing

Use email marketing to let your customers know about your Black Friday event and maximize your sales. To ensure everything runs as smoothly as possible, here are some extra tips for making your holiday email marketing campaign successful!

Tease your promotion 

This goes without saying, but make your copy and graphics exciting! A great way to do this is teasing the sale in the subject line without giving away the amount. Subject lines like: “Get ready…You’re about to get a discount” will be intriguing to your customers. Remember, a click on your email brings customers one step closer to a click to your website and to making the final sale.  

Make it feel exclusive

While you’re likely offering your discount to everyone, try to weave in language that makes the deal seem exclusive and personal to the customer. Send an email with a personalized subject line like “Hey Jane, your exclusive offer is inside.” With so many deals happening throughout Black Friday weekend, you want to stand out from the pack and create a connection with your customers!

Grow your email list

To reach even more potential customers, work on expanding your email list in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. One way to do this is adding a temporary pop-up or footer to your website: “Are you interested in Black Friday deals? Join our mailing list!” 

Get noticed with pop-ups

Although pop-ups should always be used sparingly, they can come in handy during a major sale since they help create urgency for customers on their shopping journey. For example, if someone has an activity in their cart but hasn’t purchased yet, a pop-up trigger that reads “You don’t have much time left in our sale!” may be that final push to score a conversion. 

Pro-tip: Only use pop-ups for a short amount of time since intrusive pop-ups can hurt your conversion rate. To learn more about designing successful pop-ups, read up on best practices in this FareHarbor Compass guide.

Spread cheer – and sales! – on social media

Advertise your promotion across all online platforms. You could also ask for feedback on social channels to encourage previous guests to leave a positive comment. Social proof is key to getting first-time customers to convert.

Create value with add-on items

To up the ante and create an even more special experience and value add for your guests, consider offering a complimentary glass of wine, equipment rental, extra hour of service, t-shirt or anything that makes sense for your business. 

We know that planning your marketing strategy for Black Friday can seem intimidating, but it truly is a great time of year to capture additional bookings and share your incredible tours and activities with new guests. Following some or all of these suggestions will help increase those conversions! 

For next steps on how to set up your promotions on your website, check out our FareHarbor help page on creating campaigns and promo codes and take full advantage of the gift-giving season with this holiday promotions checklist on FareHarbor Compass.

Is Link Building a Part of Your SEO Strategy? It Should Be!

We all know that a high ranking on the search engine results page (SERP) is vital for increasing organic traffic to your website. And any well-rounded search engine optimization (SEO) strategy should incorporate link building — a multi-step process of creating quality content, understanding what your audience wants to see, and getting a sense of how your competitors rank for similar keywords and content. 

What makes link building effective is the quality of sites you choose to link to and, more importantly, which sites link to yours. Your reputation matters, so you want to link to and get links from trustworthy sites. 

Keep reading for tips to find the right website owners and bloggers to work with, how to establish a relationship with them, and ways to make the process go as smoothly as possible.

Steps to Develop Your Link Building Strategy

1. Understand Your Audience 

To find success with link building, you first need to learn who your audience is. Use Google Analytics demographic data to find out who your target audience is and discover key insights!

2. Find Online Competitors

Next, explore the content of your online competitors, including local businesses and those that rank higher on Google. Make note of the types of content they produce and what websites they link to. This will help you to get a sense of the type of content you should create and which websites to reach out to.

3. Reach Out

While it is possible to acquire backlinks organically, oftentimes, getting quality backlinks to your website comes down to simply asking for them! Reach out to local directories, websites, and travel bloggers and ask them to share your content. (Find some tips on how to do this below.)

4. Get Social

While you’re waiting for responses to your outreach, take matters into your own hands and share your content on social media. When deciding where to post, focus on the platforms where you’re likely to reach your target audience. 

Now that we have gone over the basics of link building, let’s dive into how to create your outreach strategy.

How to Put Together Your Link Building Outreach Strategy

Find Resources Within Your Niche

Look for influencers in your area on social media and try to find people who share content similar to yours or enjoy participating in the activities your company offers. 

Pro tip: Start by looking for local groups on Facebook or follow hashtags related to your area on Instagram. 

Use Your Target Keywords and Common Topics to Inform Outreach

Search your target keywords on Google, then take a look at the websites that use them. Some results will be your competitors, but there are likely other resources using these keywords as well, and these would be the perfect websites to reach out to.

Blog About Your Industry & Location

As an expert on your area and industry, you have the unique ability to create blogs that contain insider knowledge, helping build your brand and increase visibility to your business You can also write guest blogs for other websites — reach out to city guides and local websites with your blog idea and see if you can write a blog post for their website. 

One of the most challenging aspects of any link building strategy is outreach. Here are a few tips to help the process run smoothly!

Tips & Tricks for Successful Outreach

  • Write an intriguing subject line that will catch the reader’s attention.
  • Focus on small websites that don’t have a huge audience yet and are working to gain traction within your community. You’ll notice them linking out to other resources, guest blogging for other websites, and participating on social media. 
  • Feature the website or blogger in your content (if you see a way to work it in naturally). Sometimes an influencer will be more intrigued to write about you if they are able to get their name out there too!
  • Provide social proof. Sharing a blog with a ton of comments or a Facebook post with many likes helps people see your website as authoritative and deserving of a link.
  • Send a friendly follow-up email if you haven’t gotten a response.

Now you have the necessary tools to begin your link building strategy, increase traffic to your site, and higher your conversions! But if you are looking to elevate your link building strategy and other SEO and digital marketing tactics, head over to Compass and browse our resource library with hundreds of free guides for FareHarbor users.