Although interactive content has always been important, recently it’s become even more crucial than ever before and has risen to a new level as a way to maintain and increase engagement for tour operators on their websites, via their social media channels as well as through emails. Interactivity on your tourism platforms leads to an increase in your engagement rate and the data captured as well as improving brand loyalty. In simple terms, interactive content encourages users to actively engage with your brand rather than passively consume it – it captures their attention and encourages them to take action.
Accordingly, it shouldn’t just be in times of crisis that you should look to increase your interactivity on your platforms. Customers are more likely to share and engage with businesses that produce content that is genuinely helpful, this ultimately leads to more growth. These are some of the best examples of how interactive content can benefit you in any circumstance, at any time:
Interactive Video & XR
If you work in travel and tourism and you are reading this then you have certainly heard about virtual tours, and may have even taken a virtual tour at some point in time. You may even be considering offering a virtual tour, or you already do. Virtual tours utilise video technology that allows people to explore a museum, art gallery or even a part of a city or national park from their home, office or wherever they are.
Integrated into the use of many virtual tours is interactive video. This lets visitors make choices as they choose their paths around places such as a walking tour of a city or a museum. You get to choose your route just as you would in the real world!
Interactive video can also be used to explore destinations you’ve always wanted to visit(opens in a new tab) but from the comfort of your sofa. During the interactive shows, you get to choose what kind of holiday you want. These videos provide a virtual insight into both the potential destination as well as activities or tours you could take. You can choose from luxury to budget, chilled to adventurous or from taking a cooking course to a day on the beach, the possibilities are endless – sounds like fun!
Linked to that is Extended Reality (XR), which will almost certainly be the future of virtual tours. XR is only set to grow as its hyper-realistic experience makes online tours a much more attractive proposition in a sales portfolio. There are three types that places such as galleries and museums currently utilise or will look to do so in the future:
- Virtual Reality (VR) – many of you will be familiar with this already – users immerse themselves in a virtual world via a VR headset.
- Augmented Reality (AR) – Here’s an interactive experience mixing objects that reside in the real world and are enhanced by computer-generated perceptual information in a real-world environment.
- Mixed Reality (MR) – a mix of VR and AR, offering interactive content that you can control.
If you want to see this kind of technology in action then look no further than Gala360(opens in a new tab) which allows you to take tours all over the world. With an electronic device such as a mobile phone or laptop as well as a VR headset (essential for the immersive experience), you can really immerse yourself in the tours on the app. It is an experience many of us have had, but it is becoming increasingly more realistic giving it that real wow factor!
Less familiar to many is the world of augmented reality. AR and MR is a live, direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented or supplemented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data. This basically allows us to experience what we usually see on a device screen, on any surface in the real world in hologram form. Pokemon Go is probably the most famous example of the impact and immersive experience augmented reality can provide. It even helped tour operators sell more tours(opens in a new tab), and the possibilities for the tourism industry here are plentiful. In new environments, people are about to learn quicker in near first-hand experiences through Mixed Reality whether that about a city, a culture or a historical landmark.
By interacting with your customers directly and regularly you can create a real sense of loyalty. For tour operators, this can present as a challenge but as with any business having a mailing list(opens in a new tab) is a good way to keep your customers informed of your latest news. Although some see emails as quite basic, you can increase your click and engagement rates by making them interactive by including elements such as embedded videos, polls, charts or even some fun games(opens in a new tab). Moreover, interactive emails are a great way to get your clientele excited about a variety of tourism products you are marketing. For example, you can integrate some of the aforementioned ideas to showcase a new tour you are trying to promote.
Accordingly, a great way to encourage interactivity via your emails is to collect feedback. It’s a win-win because it gets your customer to engage with your material, and you’ll come away with potentially valuable information and insight. You can also get your clientele involved in the tour-making process by surveying or polling their experiences on your tours via email such as asking them what was their favourite or least favourite part of their experience. For example, if you were looking to put together a premium tour of a city made up of the best bits of your other tour products then you’d like to survey those who have taken your tour and find out which bits proved the most memorable. Lastly, another benefit of surveys is collecting demographic data, such as age range, how they heard about your tours, where they travelled from etc. This is invaluable information for future targeted marketing.
Their answers may provide you with unrivalled insight into what parts of your tours work best and which parts don’t. You could even create an additional tie between your emails and blogs by asking your readers if there’s anything they’d like you to write about. But if writing is not your thing, let us take care of it whether it’s blogs(opens in a new tab) or any other content creation needs(opens in a new tab) you may have.
Social Media Contests
Social media engagement is absolutely key to attracting customers and helps maintain loyalty to your tourism website. Hosting contests via your social media platforms(opens in a new tab) is a great way of keeping your current customers interested while also attracting new ones.
One fun way to do this is by hosting photo contests, which are an effective way of getting your customers engaged with your tourism brand. It also provides you with a great way to productively advertise your tours via social media. Prizes can include travel vouchers for your tours or perhaps some essential equipment to take a trip with you in the future.
If photo contests don’t sound like your thing then how about a writing contest that looks to reward those who can give the best write-up of your tour? Other ideas include classics like lotteries, prize draws or rewards for filling out a survey – just pick the one you feel most comfortable in running.
Infographics are a fantastic way to condense your sales pitch. It gives potential buyers a chance to process information faster and in a more entertaining way than simply reading a description of a tour, especially when shared via email or social media.
Why not use them to display testimonials from Trip Advisor in an interesting way? Or you could also use an infographic to present the results of a poll or survey that highlight the USPs of the experiences and adventures that you offer. There are so many interesting options for you.
They can also be used to give advice for trips through how-to-guides, hints and tips about a local area, or general information about the company.
Simply put, a great infographic is worth a thousand words. They can provide a great snapshot(opens in a new tab) of your tour offerings or business in a fun and creative way on either your website or social media platforms. It can also be used to incentivise people to sign up for your mailing list or newsletter.
Interactive Content of the Future
Whatever you decide to do, including at least one interactive element to your online sales drive is becoming more and more crucial. The vast majority of marketers agree that interactive content is essential now and moving forward.
The future of interactive content will depend a lot on how quickly technology advances and how affordable it becomes. Many believe it lies in the world of XR and something called Articulated Naturality Web(opens in a new tab) (ANW) which will allow us to explore the virtual boundaries. ANW will allow for real-time dynamic content combing many emerging technologies for an intuitive user experience. For example, if you’re doing a tour of a city and you want to know the best restaurants in the area then you can hold up your device to your real-world setting and you’ll see inside the place (think of it as x-ray vision) and see how well those restaurants rate on Yelp or Trip Advisor. You can also do this for hotels and museums – potentially helping both the customers and tour operators in making better choices. Moreover, technology such as Microsoft Mesh is set to provide us all with the ability to virtually appear in any setting(opens in a new tab) with other people and interact with them almost like you would in the real world – which looks and sounds incredible!
Interactive content exists in many forms, and across platforms, with options available for technophiles and even technophobes. As demonstrated in recent times, investment in such technology now may prove a way of getting ahead of competitors in the future.
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