When exploring the world of assurance, insurance, liability, refunds, policies, and fine print, it can be easy to confuse the wood for the trees. What assurances can you provide that will get people over the line to purchase your tour or activity? What are the customer doubts that you need to dispel? This is probably a question that you as a business owner are asking yourself constantly. While some guarantees require little more than a handshake agreement, other promises require some financial backing. It’s at this point that using the dreaded insurance company becomes a necessity. To help you explore all of your options we’ve provided a brief insight into assurances that you might make and insurances that you might purchase (or also make but we’ll get to that later).
Providing Assurance Without Insurance
People are more anxious than ever before and not just because of the pandemic. Anxiety disorders are on the rise(opens in a new tab), being found in 20% of the population, and travellers aren’t immune to this. This means that providing securities to make your guests comfortable enough to book with you is important. The reality is, a large part of consumer trust in the travel industry has been eroded as a result of being unable to access refunds or complications with cancellation policies. Now, travel companies need to go above and beyond to regenerate consumer confidence not only in hygiene and sanitation standards but in businesses.
An assurance might be as simple as offering a flexible cancellation policy with a voucher in return. Or charging a 10% cancellation fee for a money-back guarantee. If there is anything that consumers love, it is a choice. Give them the option to pay more if they want to feel more secure. Or go beyond that. Give your customers the confidence to purchase tickets without feeling the need to pay extra. Not only does this give them a discount but it also has the potential to create loyalty(opens in a new tab) and generate all-important word-of-mouth leads.
Other promises might include locked-in pricing so that in the event that they need to cancel, the guests know that they won’t have to pay more for a different day. Airline companies are notoriously bad on this front, offering a flight credit on a flight that was purchased during a sale only to realise the cost has increased substantially since (I’ve fallen victim to this myself).
Trust needs to be built at every stage of the experience as well as the purchasing process. While it is definitely necessary to be creating a secure and safe environment for your activity, if you’re focusing all your attention there then you might be losing trust elsewhere. Consider providing early bird discounts(opens in a new tab) for those booking now and providing a referral discount to encourage customers to invite friends and family to your experience, while feeling rewarded and valued by you.
Information is King
Much anxiety comes from the unknown. Being able to keep your guests informed and up to date will help to ease their concerns. This could mean having up to date information on travel guidelines or writing a daily blog about any news, requirements, restrictions, or changes. You’ll also need to be updating your frequently asked questions to match the queries that you’re receiving or expect to receive. Our TigerCare team(opens in a new tab) has been busy adding temporary COVID pages and banners for many of our clients’ sites and having a developer is an easy way to ensure your website is always up to date. Get in touch with us(opens in a new tab) to see what we could do for you.
Another great example of this is Elvis’ home Graceland(opens in a new tab), where they have provided tips for before arrival and during the visit. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and consider what is required of them and how this will impact their experience. Is there something about your offering that needs to be changed? Group size? Mask requirements? A great tip from the Future of Commerce(opens in a new tab) is to segment your customers into categories in order to better understand their needs and concerns. This will allow you to target certain concerns and make the guest feel acknowledged and comfortable.
Another recent innovation is the COVID-19 widget, which is updated regularly to provide information for international travellers on requirements for chosen destinations. The Smartvel(opens in a new tab) feature can be integrated onto your website, giving clients the ability to select their destination and origin to understand what restrictions are in place, such as requiring quarantine or a negative COVID test. This is also one of the recommendations made by the World Travel & Tourism Council(opens in a new tab) (WTTC) in their protocol for the new normal of travel. Having a website managed with TigerCare(opens in a new tab) provides you with options to constantly update your information and keep your guests in the know. Get in touch(opens in a new tab) with us to find out more about our website packages.
Insurance, Refunds, & Cancellations
No matter how much trust you build in your brand, there is always the opportunity for something unexpected to arise and a promise won’t always cut it. Travel Weekly(opens in a new tab) is providing a great source of legal information for those in the tourism industry. Their legal brief column answers questions about supplier liability, re-wording terms and conditions, and what kind of refunds you are required to provide. It is essential that you update your company’s policies to match the current context. Whether this is including sections on, “cancellations in an event outside of the provider’s control,” or something more specific, having something that you can refer back to is not only good for your staff but for consumers to feel a sense of transparency.
If it comes to a point where providing insurance is necessary due to your overhead, variable costs(opens in a new tab), consider having your own before seeking out a company. We saw some great examples on the Tour Operators United(opens in a new tab) Facebook group. Request access to the group to see some great discussions and tips shared by tour and activity operators from all around the world. Create your own equation by estimating how much you would lose in the event of providing a refund and by charging all of your customers a percentage of this. Of course, if you don’t want the liability, then an insurance company might be the inescapable route. Consumers Advocate(opens in a new tab) has done research on the best travel insurance providers, which is a good place to start.
There is one more alternative before signing up, consider partnering with an insurance company and providing referrals for your customers. You might be able to tailor an insurance package specifically for your tours or the tours you’re selling, which means that the customer again has the choice to sign up or not. Make sure to read all the fine print! As mind-numbing as it can be, it is a necessary evil and a good way to understand where you stand.
Giving your customers the needed assurances to get them to book is a complex task. It is important to listen to their concerns, think about what is required, and understand what you need to continue to run your business.
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