Tag Archives: Social Media

How Group Tour Operators Can Utilize Social Media

In today’s world, social media plays a significant roll all-around us and there are some amazing benefits that come along with utilizing this type of marketing. FACT: your target audience is using social media and most likely using it on a daily basis. It’s also a fact that social media influences consumers when trying to decide where they want to visit and what they want to see and do on their travels.

A group tour visiting Glacier National Park.

As a tour operator, utilizing social media on a group tour can be simple and fun. It allows you to create and share the story that you want and connect with your audience through the stories being told by the attendees on your tour. It’s a great way for potential clients to see exactly what they will be experiencing. Using social media on your tour and having your attendees engage with social media will allow you to show your audience that experiencing a place on one of your tours is the absolute BEST way to travel.

Taking a tour on an iconic red bus in Glacier National Park.

We’ve rounded up a few of the best ways to utilize social on your group tours…

Encourage social media sharing. Share your business handle and the social media icons that you are currently using on all marketing collateral. This allows you to have direct connection between you and your tour guest. Be sure that you have clear signage encouraging your group attendees to engage and share their experiences in real time by tagging your business in their photos. By having your clients post for your business it gives you another platform to highlight your tour offerings and showcase your expert knowledge of the region you are visiting.

Create a hashtag. It’s always beneficial to have a hashtag that is associated with your business allowing you another way to monitor how your business is performing on social media. Another way to utilize hashtags is to create a specific hashtag that focuses on a particular tour, trip or product that are unique for your business. Having your client’s use your hashtag turns them into ambassadors for your brand and creates exposure for your business.

Engage. Once your group tour attendees share their experiences on their personal social channels you need to like their photos, comment on their posts or share their photos with your business pages. Engaging is key to creating conversation about your business and gives you the opportunity to showcase your expert knowledge. Tip: If you plan to share their content, be sure to have clear messaging that states once they use your hashtag or tag your business in their photos this gives you (the tour operator) permission to share their photos on your own business page.

Monitor the conversation. Now that your group tour attendees have utilized social media while on your tour and tagged your business, it’s important to monitor the conversation and keep checking back on the posts to see if there are questions from others about your offerings. You don’t want to implement this system and then do nothing with it. In order to get it right, you need to commit time and effort in maintaining each social channel to keep your engagement strong. Update your channel regularly and keep the conversation going.

Now go out there and start implementing social media on your group tours and watch the magic happen. If you have specific questions about social media we are always here as a resource. Oh, and be sure to follow Western Montana’s Glacier Country at @GlacierMT on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, or follow our hashtag, #GlacierMT on all social media channels.

Happy hashtagging!

NG

Top Benefits of Using Social Media for Tour Operators and Travel Agents

It’s no secret that social media has had an impact on today’s marketing landscape, causing all of us to embrace this “new” way of marketing or risk being left in the past. As the Public Relations and Communication Manager for Glacier Country Tourism, I’m happy to tell you that Glacier Country Tourism was an early adopter of social media in Montana. As one of the first DMOs in Montana to utilize social media for marketing outreach, we launched our social channels in the summer of 2009 and have seen steady growth and a strong ROI since then.

With our consumer channels firmly established, we knew it was time to grow our program and utilize social media to reach the business-to-business markets that we work with on a regular basis, including tour operators and travel agents. Knowing that we needed to grow our B2B program and implement social media as part of those efforts, we added social media outreach in fall 2014 and formally launched a well-rounded social media business-to-business plan in March 2015.

A group of international tour operators on a FAM tour in Montana.

A group of international tour operators on a FAM tour in Montana.

While it took work, research and planning as we were embarking on something new, launching our B2B social media program was one of the best things we’ve done in the past 20 months. And while it continues to grow and evolve, it’s helping us be thought leaders in our industry as we push the envelope and embrace social media fully to market Western Montana. After all, as the marketing atmosphere progresses, it’s important that all of us grow with it.

If you’re a tour operator or travel agent who is still deciding on whether to use social media to market your business, here are the top benefits of implementing social media as part of your business and marketing strategy…

1. Social media provides a direct connection between you (and your products) and the consumer. Fact: your target audience is using social media, many of them on a daily basis. One in five minutes spent online is on social media, providing you more opportunities than ever to connect with your customers. Additionally, it allows you to create genuine relationships and a place for conversations between you and your already-existing clients (as well as prospective clientele).

2. You can establish yourself as an expert. People want to work with the best in the business or industry. Social media provides you the opportunity to showcase your expertise on specific tours, regions, seasons and style of group or FIT tours. Basically, it allows you another forum in which to showcase your expertise, whether it be the Real America region (Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming) or the sandy beaches of Florida.

3. Social media makes you human. Okay, we already know that you’re human, but utilizing social allows your target market to get to know the people behind your company. There are so many possibilities here, whether it be doing an employee spotlight on a weekly basis, doing an instagram story as one of your product managers explores Montana or showcasing what makes your company special. And remember, humans do business with humans. Be human, always.

4. It can contribute to your bottom line. When done appropriately, social media channels can help increase sales. Think about it like this: social media provides inspiration on where to travel, when to travel and what to do. You can tell the story of the destinations and products you represent, while also showcasing your expertise on that region and inspiring travelers to book a trip to that destination with you. 

5. Social media can (and should) support your offline marketing efforts. I’ve probably said this 1,000 times: social media should not exist in a silo by itself. Instead, it should support your traditional marketing efforts. Put it to work and integrate it with your traditional marketing, including print ads, events, catalogs, tariffs, brochures, maps, newsletters and trade shows.

6. You become a storyteller and news source. With various platforms available to tour operators (I’d recommend considering facebook, twitter and instagram for businesses-to-consumer marketing), you have tremendous opportunities to tell your story and the story of the destinations, tours and offerings you represent. Think of social media channels as a platform for spreading the good word; they’re a place that allows you to highlight tour offerings, announce new tours and showcase your expert knowledge.

7. You don’t have to tell your story alone. After you’ve booked a trip or tour for a client, encourage them to share their on-the-ground experience on their social media channels.  Ask them to tag you or use a destination’s hashtag or handle when sharing content. Or, if it’s a group tour, create a specific hashtag and ask group tour attendees to share their experiences in real time. This turns your clients into phenomenal ambassadors, while creating exposure for the types of products you offer.

A few other helpful tips when adding social media to your marketing strategy:
-You can’t wait any longer to add social media to your marketing plan. You need to start now.
-Start small and be selective. You don’t have to be on every social media channel. Pick the most important channel for reaching your market and begin there.
-Have a plan. Outline your goals and create content that helps you reach your primary and secondary goals.
-Update your channels regularly.
-Utilize hashtags to reach your audience.
-Share good content. Be sure the images you’re sharing are strong and match your brand style and messaging.
-Have questions about how to effectively use social media? Feel free to tweet me at @MontanaTia.

Your turn: what other must-do tips and benefits have you seen with using social media?

See you on social,
TT

6 Reasons for Tour Operators to Join #RealAmericaChat on Twitter

Truth time: social media has changed today’s marketing landscape. Instead of doing what we’ve always done, we’ve all had to find ways to be more creative, to deliver real-time information that’s helpful and to help spread the word about what it is we do, whether that be a DMO marketer (like Western Montana’s Glacier Country) or a tour operator who sells the United States to international and domestic clients.

A red bus tour on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

A red bus tour on the Going-to-the-Sun Road in Glacier National Park.

Here in Montana, we’re big proponents of utilizing the power of social media to connect with our visitors, prospective travelers and partners. We’re also using social media to connect with our business-to-business partners, specifically tour operators. In fact, we know there’s so much merit for using social media in this way that we regularly participate in a twitter chat that’s specifically designed to connect domestic and international tour operators with suppliers in the Real America region of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming: #RealAmericaChat.

And if you haven’t heard about the chat, or if you’re not sure why you should participate, here are 6 reasons for you to join #RealAmericaChat

1. It connects you directly with suppliers in the Real America region. There are numerous on-the-ground reps in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming who want to work with you, and many of them are joining the chat. While you may see a handful of them in person once a year, the chat gives you direct access to multiple businesses across the region.

2. Participants are delivering real-time information on relevant topics. Chat topics vary each month, with topics that have been chosen specifically to arm you with the latest information on the region. Upcoming topics include winter, hidden gems, annual events and festivals, First Nations of the Real America, cowboy experiences and more.

3. It only takes one hour per month. We’re all busy, but we all have one hour each month to help grow our business. We host #RealAmericaChat on the first Wednesday of every month at 8 a.m. MST (3 p.m. BST) and we strive to stay on time and on track to deliver the most relevant information to you—our tour operators who are doing business in the region.

4. Four states, one chat. If you work with folks in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming, chances are you’ve seen that the four states like each other and enjoy working together. We know that many of our international visitors want to see more than one place when they’re here and what better way to give them the best experience possible than by working with each other to create multi-state itineraries and experiences. Plus, suppliers from all four states participate in the chat and share information on their area. Instead of having to send individual emails to multiple people (sidenote: we still love and welcome email correspondence!), the chat puts you in direct contact with suppliers from the four-state region all at once.

5. Participation in the chat will make you an expert. After each month’s chat, you’ll be armed with the latest information on the Real America region, making it easier for you to build itineraries, create custom trips for your clients and be known as the contact for planning a trip to Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota or Wyoming.

6. You get to ask questions + get real-time answers. At the end of each chat, we ask what you want to learn more about or receive additional information on, with state or regional reps following up with you on your specific area of interest.

For the latest information on the chat, be sure to follow @RealAmericaChat on twitter or sign up for our tour operators newsletter here

A few other helpful tips:
-To join the chat, log into twitter on the first Wednesday of every month at 3 p.m. BST (8 a.m. MST) and search hashtag #RealAmericaChat.
-Use tweetchat or tweetdeck to follow along during the chat, as there is sometimes a delay in the twitter browser. Sidenote: you don’t need to set up a new account to use tweetchat or tweetdeck; just login to your twitter account and then go to www.tweetchat.com or www.tweetdeck.com. Bonus: all three platforms are free.
-Use #RealAmericaChat in your tweets during the chat, so everyone can see them.
-If you’re using tweetdeck to join the chat, create a column for #RealAmericaChat. All of the tweets that are tagged with that hashtag will automatically populate into that column, making it even easier for you to follow along.
Say hello! Let’s say you don’t feel comfortable tweeting into the chat (especially if it’s your first time joining). Well, not a worry! Feel free to pop in and say hello and let us know who you are and where you’re from. We’re sure that before long, we’ll be twitter buddies.
-Representatives from state and regional offices in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming regularly join the chat. For Montana, be sure to follow Marlee Iverson, Kim Birrell and Debbie Picard. For North Dakota, follow everyone’s favorite cowboy Fred Walker and Travel North Dakota. In South Dakota, say hi to Cole Irwin and South Dakota Tourism. And in Wyoming, follow the J team: James Scoon, Jenn Adu and Jenny McCullough.

Hope to see you all at the next #RealAmericaChat! Until then, feel free to tweet me at @MontanaTia.

See you on twitter,
TT