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This may be surprising, but the Tourism Tiger staff love to travel. When we’re not living vicariously through your tour website’s photos and descriptions, we’re out in the wild seeing new places and making new memories for ourselves.

We come from five continents, have lived in dozens of countries, and have traveled to countless places so it is safe to say that we know about travel. We’ve written before about how to meet varied customer expectations(opens in a new tab). Now we’re bringing you even more personal experiences to help you understand the needs and wants of a diverse group of travelers. Check out our survey, its results, and what our answers mean for you.

Do you like going on tours while traveling?

  • 5 said yes
  • 2 said no
  • A lot of us said “depends”

Those yes people already like tours so we can safely ignore their opinion here. Let’s look at the people you have to win over. What can you do?

“Speak our language!” says Kata, “I’d also take a tour if I didn’t speak the language of the location, like when I took a walking tour of Florence, Italy.” If your Chicago walking tour has a Portuguese option then you’ll get all of those tour-loving Portuguese speakers. But you’ll also likely get those Portuguese-speakers who would go guideless in Lisbon.

As for the no votes, Saveliy prefers, “Traveling on my own. Total freedom, space for spontaneous trips, etc. However, sometimes I want a guide to show me through the sights,” and Gareth says whether he’s up for a tour depends on where he is.

The takeaway here? Show people why they want a tour, not just why they want a tour with you.

What was your favorite tour?

  • Margarita, Venezuela
  • Stud Travel in Ukraine
  • Valparaiso, Chile
  • Kiruna, Sweden
  • Tatio Geyser Field in the Atacama Desert
  • Historic tours
  • Turtle sanctuary on the Galapagos Islands
  • Seville, Spain
  • Hagia Sofia in Istanbul
  • Anything dark tourism

Okay, so it’s hard to find a lesson or a pattern here. We’ve got city tours, types of tours, nature tours, and architecture tours from all over the globe. So we can safely discard the where and focus on the why. What is it that made these tours stand out to us?

Andie loved that her tour, “Took us to such amazing places, taught us so much about the locals and the history of Valparaiso, gave us tips and insights on restaurants, hostales, attractions, even night clubs! I can now go to Valpo on my own and feel like I can pass along all of that knowledge to my friends and family!” This is really key if you want locals and semi-locals to come on your tour. You need to give them information and help them to feel like an insider.

Tim agrees that insider knowledge is what makes tours great. “I stayed on a reindeer farm with a Sami (indigenous Swede) and was able to experience his life for a brief couple of days. The experience was like a fairytale.” That is an experience he would never have without a tour company.

Bora’s favorite tour was, “One that I went to in Seville, Spain. We went on a city walking tour and although it was raining for the most part, the tour guide still managed to make the tour very interesting. We went through numerous sights in the city, and our guide was really engaging and knowledgeable about the history of each place we saw and also very funny which made the tour even more fun.” You can’t control the weather, but here’s another vote for being knowledgeable.

The takeaway? Know your stuff. This should really go without saying, but our staff’s most memorable tours were ones where people knew their area and were able to share that knowledge. That is a low bar and you should be able to soar above it.

Have you ever taken a tour more than once?

I’ve taken an Auschwitz tour twice (yes, that was me with the “dark tourism” answer above). Why would I do that? I was living in Poland and when people would visit we’d go to Krakow and they wanted to see it.

Saveliy and Kata agree. They’ve both taken tours multiple times. Saveliy liked his tour company so he went with them again. To him, the company was more important than seeing a new place. Kata was more like me. She’s done the tour of Pablo Neruda’s house with visitors, though she admits that, “I also just really enjoy seeing the house again.”

That said, we are the only three to have done the same tour more than once. This means that the vast majority of your business is going to be from one-off customers who you’ll probably never see again. But you never know who is there to accompany a visiting friend or who might report back to their local friend. Or, if you’re really memorable and their friends are also travelers, you could get personal word-of-mouth recommendations.

What should you take away from this? I’m not sure, myself. I want to tell you to keep us repeat tourists in mind, but I acknowledge that we make up the minority. That said, Andie still knows the name of the company that led her favorite tour. Even though she hasn’t repeated it (after doing two tours in one day!), she surely recommends them to people traveling to Valparaiso for the first time.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

There was a good mix of answers here. Some cities, some countries, a lot of beaches, and even one who prefers snowy holidays. The thing that connected them all? The people. Most of us mentioned the people who we were with as a reason for liking that location.

What is your take away? A couple of things. First, you can make a tour work anywhere because it will always be someone’s favorite place. If you market your company correctly to the people interested in that type of place and tour (island, city, nature, etc.), you’ll find success. You don’t have to compromise and do city tours if you’re a country boy.

Second, make yourself one of those people who make a tour memorable(opens in a new tab). Andie still remembers the name and branding(opens in a new tab) of the tour she took in her favorite vacation spot and now she recommends it to everyone who goes there. This is especially important for leaving solo travelers with a good impression of your area. Kate tends to dislike tours, but she remembers the tour guide who she spent a day with in Istanbul. The tour itself doesn’t stand out, but she has a great memory of having a coffee with the guide after the tour.

Do you prefer to go to the same place or new places?

No surprise here: people prefer going to new places. Let’s ignore those people. They might take your tour once or they might leave you reviews(opens in a new tab) or recommend you to people they know who will be traveling near you. But we all know that most people aren’t repeat customers.

So how do you get those people who are interested in returning to the same vacation spot to come back to you? Let’s see what they say about going back:

Kata says, “Often, the places that I go to visit are either so complex that they deserve another visit or they bring such wonderful simple pleasures that I deserve another visit.”

Tim says, “My preference is often to establish myself in a new place and use it as a base to travel to surrounding locations.”

Gjergji says, “I prefer to visit new places, but I think it’s fine to travel to a place more than once because you get to know the place better and you can start seeing that place by yourself without a tour guide, which translates to less money.”

Your take away? Kata has done tours multiple times and she goes back to complex places. She would sign up for a next-level tour that goes deeper into the story. Tim and Gjergji are happy to spend a lot of time in one location (either for a long period of time or on separate stays) so someone like them would benefit from a deeper tour as well. Either to lesser-known areas or day trips nearby.

The overall lesson

There are a lot of words and experiences above, but they all come down to one main message: passion. If you’re passionate about what you do, that will shine through. You don’t need to reinvent yourself and force a fit. You will find people interested in whatever you are interested in. Don’t move to the city because NYC walking tours do well. Stay on your mountain and lead hiking tours. Your passion for hiking and your home will show through and you’ll get those like-minded tourists who want a mountain holiday.

That passion will help people to remember you. And the one thing that we all agree on is that it’s the people that make a holiday memorable.

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