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Here at Tourism Tiger, we know the importance of standing out. As part of our onboarding process for all new clients, we go through the details of what sets them apart(opens in a new tab) from their competitors. Each of the companies we work with offers a truly unique experience, whether that be because of the type of tours they provide, the places they visit, their staff members, their amenities — even the price! However, even though we recognize these differences, that doesn’t necessarily mean that customers can! So how do you set yourself apart in the ever-growing tourism industry?

We know that the task of defining your unique selling proposition (USP) — i.e., the main factors that set you apart — is a tricky business, so we’ve tried to break it down step by step. Here’s how to get started today:

Step 1: Define your tour business, and take note of what you think sets it apart

This probably seems like obvious advice, but it’s important to start by doing an internal audit of what you think your business’ USPs are before you start looking for new ones. If you were on an onboarding call with us, we would ask you questions like: what would you say makes a person choose your tours over the competition? Are you the first of your kind, offering trips to hidden locations that other companies don’t know about? Do you price your tours at a rate such that they’re more competitive than your neighbors? Perhaps your guides are so bubbly and well-trained that they can make even the most apathetic guest interested in the subject.

Get creative because this is probably the most difficult part of the process. Write down any points of differentiation you can think of, including details about how you would describe them to someone who is debating booking with you or with your competition.

Step 2: Compile a list of USPs based on testimonials from happy customers

Check out your TripAdvisor, Yelp, Facebook, or Google My Business profile — whatever you have that allows former tour-goers to leave reviews — and see what customers are saying. Do they constantly reference your guide’s sense of humor? Are people raving about your inclusions, like pick-up/drop-off or snacks? Has more than one person touted your expertise as a company?

Write these down, and highlight where the USPs cited in the testimonials overlap with the USPs you came up with yourself. These will likely be the most important factors your customers look to when making a decision. Feel free to “steal” USPs from your customer reviews, too — maybe they’ve come up with one that you never would have thought of!

Step 3: See what your closest competitors are saying

Look at how other tour operators in your area are marketing themselves. Particularly focus on companies that have been in business the longest. Do they also talk about their expert guides? Do they take guests to your “secret” locations? Are they offering a better bang for your buck? Look at where your USPs overlap with those of your competitors, and cross those off the list. We’re looking for unique selling propositions — with an emphasis on “unique” — so we don’t want to brag about the same thing everyone else does. Use your fellow operators as inspiration, but be careful of too many similarities.

Don’t be disheartened, though, if there is a lot of overlap between your USPs and those of your competition. Many of these can be reworked a bit in order to showcase your true differences.

Step 4: Brainstorm new points of differentiation

Look at the USPs that overlap with your competitors and, if you feel strongly about any of them, see if you can highlight them from a different angle. For example, if both you and your fellow businesses tout their customer service, talk about how your company is available 24/7 for questions. Mention that your staff provides suggestions on other activities to do in the area when the tour is over. Highlight how your guides will bend over backwards to please your guests. Specify exactly how you’re bigger/better/cheaper/stronger than other tour operators.

There is always something you do better — be that complimentary transport, inclusive ticket prices, several language options, etc. It could even be something as simple as visiting one more destination than other operators, hence offering a better-valued product. You don’t have to completely diverge from the competition, but be careful not to repeat what has already been said.

This is where your testimonials come in handy, too. Back your claims up with evidence so that a potential customer has reason to believe you over your competitor. Remember that list of USPs we compiled from earlier testimonials? These provide the social proof for why you’re better than your competition, so don’t be afraid to reference them in your marketing materials.

Step 5: Make your USPs a mainstay of your marketing strategy

Now that you’ve finished the list of your USPs, it’s time to decide on which you should emphasize. I recommend selecting three to five of the ones you’re most proud of that can be backed up by testimonial evidence(opens in a new tab).

These USPs should be front and center of your website, brochures, and any other branding potential guests might see so that they don’t have to spend a lot of time hunting around to find out why they should book with you. For inspiration, check out these examples from a few of our clients:

Big Sur Adventures(opens in a new tab)
Three unique selling propositions for Big Sur Adventures including "Top-of-the-Line Equipment"

Northwest Montana Adventures(opens in a new tab)

Three USPs for Northwest Montana Adventures including "Customer Service"

Wemindji Tourism

Three USPs for Wemindji Tourism including "On the James Bay"

Notice how these USPs are eye-catching, easy to read, brief, and uncomplicated! Northwest Montana Adventures didn’t need to name every stop on their tour — summing it up with “Breathtaking Views” was enough. Japan Halal Day Tours’ emphasis on the “Money-Back Guarantee” tells those looking to book that they believe enough in their product to put their money where their mouth is. And you know that Big Sur Adventures won’t be putting you on just any old electric bicycle, since they boast “Top-of-the-Line Equipment”.

You already run a stellar tour business, so differentiating yourself from your competitors doesn’t have to be difficult or even take up much of your time. Take what you already know makes your business special, and share it with the world! By then, you’ll hopefully stand out as the premier tour operator in your area.

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