With the end of 2021 fast approaching, looking forward to the next year should be on every tour operator’s to do list. 2022 is set to be a year of post-pandemic bounce back and recovery, and there are going to be plenty of opportunities to seize. As you look forward, however, be sure to think not only on those opportunities but also on possible threats to your tour business. Threats come in all shapes and sizes but a great way to think about them for next year is to divide them between on and off website threats!
Instead of thinking of a complex industry, take a step back and think of something a little bit simpler: the ocean. The ocean is a vast space with many opportunities that change with the tides. You can swim in the ocean and observe beautiful wildlife, scuba dive and collect nice sea glass, or even just float around and relax. The ocean, however, is not an entirely safe place. If you’re floating around there’s always at least some chance that a threat will turn into a problem whether big or small. If a shark were to swim up to you, for example, there’s always a chance they decide to take a bite and see if you’re a tasty morsel.
Let’s first look at the threats to your website in 2022. The center of your digital presence must be treated accordingly:
Not Optimizing For Local Traffic!
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of bolstering your site’s ranking in Google’s local options for your locations. Especially with tourism, where the location is half of the equation, you want to make sure your site is ranking(opens in a new tab) in the proper areas.
Not Paying Attention to Google’s Core Web Vitals
Ignoring Google’s Core Web Vitals(opens in a new tab) can be extremely harmful to your site’s presence – especially on mobile. Seeing as they now account for 70% of weighing factors in Google’s Lighthouse reporting(opens in a new tab), you’re definitely going to want your site to score well for these. Keep in mind, however, that having relevant content is still extremely important to ranking, so only focusing on Core Web Vitals is not the master-key solution. As technical things on your website are more under your control than Google’s decision of relevance, it’s something you can focus on for improvement nonetheless.
Lacking Google Reviews
While they technically do not affect Google rankings, your Google My Business profile(opens in a new tab) shows up in organic results more often – and you want people to see the amount and quality of your reviews whenever it does. Related to this, you should also place these testimonials on your site! Having a lot of good, fresh testimonials(opens in a new tab) is always going to be a better influence on customer decisions.
Mobile in itself is not a threat, but it is definitely a threat if your site is not optimized for mobile.(opens in a new tab) There’s a lot to worry about as well when talking about mobile optimization. There are technical aspects like using next-gen images(opens in a new tab) to keep file sizes low, but you must also consider user experience especially when it comes to booking. If customers cannot easily book a tour on your mobile site, you’re in for a rough 2022. AMP Pages(opens in a new tab) are another example of something that can be done to increase mobile page performance, but there are some pros and cons to look into for those. The good news, however, is that even though mobile optimization can be the toughest fix, there is still plenty of time in the year to take care of it.
Not Tracking Website Performance
Tracking your site’s performance with tools like Google Analytics and Google Search Console(opens in a new tab) has been a staple of the web industry for a while, but not knowing what to do with that data is a huge threat. The online tourism industry is due for an increase in traffic across the board next year, which means you’ll likely have a lot of data to base new decisions on. Luckily, there are tons of free resources for both tracking services so you can easily learn how to use Analytics(opens in a new tab) and Search Console(opens in a new tab) to your advantage!
Outside of your website, you must avoid some threats to how you do business. We can all agree that the pandemic undoubtedly shook the industry, and doing business as it was before is no longer an option since some of the changes that came with the pandemic are here to stay.
Any lack of flexibility is going to hurt all types of businesses in 2022 but with tour businesses, cancellations are the main source of flexibility to focus on.(opens in a new tab) Strict cancellation policies are no longer acceptable to many customers and could stop them from booking in some cases. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to having a flexible cancellation policy(opens in a new tab). It’s important to protect your business but also avoid from pushing customers away. Other examples of flexibility are offering dateless departures or even using a buy now pay later model.(opens in a new tab)
Neglecting the Rise of the Solo Traveler
This demographic(opens in a new tab) made up around 18% of global bookings and saw a 7% increase in booking pre-pandemic(opens in a new tab). A 2020 survey of solo travelers(opens in a new tab) shows that many of them are looking to travel more frequently once travel fully returns, and they’re also planning to take longer, more sustainable trips. On top of that, 76% of travelers have either traveled alone already or are considering to do so and Google searches of ‘solo travel’ tripled between 2015 and 2020(opens in a new tab). Solo travel is undoubtedly increasing in popularity and you should make sure your business is not counting these travelers out. Having options for solo travelers is always going to work best, but consider doing solo-traveler group tours(opens in a new tab) as another great option for solo travelers to come together with other solo travelers using your company as the medium.
If you are not incorporating sustainable policies or supporting eco-tourism in 2022, you’re going to be well behind the curve. Consumers have continuously been shifting towards more eco-friendly decisions(opens in a new tab), and once travel stalled they were able to focus even more on how they should really travel. If you are not actively thinking about sustainability in every aspect of your business you can expect to lose business next year.
Some threats are going to be pervasive in both your website and your real business practices:
Your Customer Experience Should Always Be Improving!
From the moment they find your site on Google or social media, to the moment you reach out to them for a post-tour testimonial, there are a ton of steps that can always be better. Make your website easy to use, make it easy to ask questions at any point in the process, and make it easy for them to participate and experience the best in your tour.
Waiting for Customers to Naturally Give You Feedback
While this will happen, you must be actively reaching out to your customers for feedback on their experience on the tour, on the website, with your social media interactions – everything really! Similar to eco travel, you are going to actually be behind the curve if you don’t start to avoid this threat in 2022. Use your website and other tools to make it as easy as possible for people to leave feedback and then act on that feedback.
Looking ahead to next year, there are high hopes of a return to a pre-2020 tourism economy. While it may return economically, it will never be the same on many levels. Many travelers will be travelling in new ways and tour businesses must adapt. Avoiding threats is a great way to be proactive for the coming year and if you can avoid those problems, it’s going to make it easier for you to chase up any new opportunities that come with the changing industry landscape. Think of those potentially shark-infested waters. If you know it’s dangerous to swim there, wouldn’t you want to be prepared by getting a shark cage?
Find this article useful? Enter your details below to receive your FREE copy of 95 Epic Places To List Your Tours and receive regular updates from Tourism Tiger and leading industry experts.
By submitting this form, you agree to Tourism Tiger contacting you via email.