How Tour & Activity Providers Can Learn the Art of Understanding Your Customers

How to Profile Your Ideal Customer Through Personas

To survive as a business in today’s digitally complex world, you absolutely need to have a strong virtual presence. This is even more critical for tour operators, who not only have an abundant amount of digital channels to navigate through but also have customers dispersed all throughout the world.

The digital world is quite complex and only those who are fully present in the intricacies of marketing will succeed in what’s already a heavily saturated market.

Before you choose your marketing activities, you need to know WHO your customers are and WHERE they are. All marketers know the importance of identifying a target market but most tour operators only think they know their target market. Some implement strategies targeted to the wrong audience without even knowing they’re doing such. Some keep their strategies so broad in the hopes of capturing a farther reach but all that does is just adds noise to a customer who was and will never be interested.

Tweeting about your tours? Great, but not if your customers don’t use twitter.
Running an ad in a local newsletter? Great, but not if your customers are digitally influenced.
Only having a website? You’re already behind the curve.

It’s no surprise tour operators are overwhelmed in trying to navigate through our hyper connected, content dense, and influencer driven competitive online market.

Don’t Market More. Market Smarter.

The increase of marketing channels and competitors has made marketing a form of art. And only by having a laser focused distribution strategy, will you be armed with the confidence and strategies you need to run a thriving business.

Here’s How To Get Started.

Filling out a customer persona profile is the first step in building out an effective marketing strategy. Download our Customer Persona Template for free here.

Personas are fictional characters that embody your customers. It visually lays out the various needs, goals, challenges, values and patterns of your customers. Creating such a profile is a lot easier said than done because if you don’t already have any customers, you may not even know where to start, which is fine because customers change and you’ll need to adjust this consistently.

If you’re already a running business, you have one key advantage in creating a customer persona: your current customers. Think about the people who have booked your tours or activities and put yourself in their shoes.

  • Who are they?
  • How old are they?
  • Where do they live?
  • Why are they there?

You’ll most likely come up with several different personas. And that’s okay. There might be a twentysomething year old student traveling for the summer, a family with kids, a professional on a business trip, or a couple on a weekend getaway. Write out their entire story. This brainstorming exercise will take some time but it is worth the investment. If you don’t, you run the risk of a poorly executed marketing plan.

In order to paint a clear picture of your target persona, you’ll need to find answers to very specific questions:

  • age, gender, marital status, location
  • their goals and values (both in general but specifically as it pertains to your tours or activities)
  • their sources of information: books, magazines, blogs, tv, radio, etc
  • challenges and pain points: what keeps them up at night, what struggles are they facing
  • their traveling journey: how do they find “what to do”, what are the objections to the sale, what questions do they ask during the stages of travel (dreaming, planning, booking, pre-travel, in-destination, post-travel)

If you get stuck, and chances are you will at the beginning, seek out the answers directly from your existing customers. Casually bring up some of these in conversation and get to understand them better. Clearly, you don’t want to ask directly “What are your pain points?” But there are many subtle open ended questions you can ask to steer them in the direction you want them to go.

Note: your existing customers may NOT necessarily be your target persona. The target persona is your “ideal customer” – the customer that you want to see on your tours. For instance, if you run a pub crawl tour and a family of 4 was one of your customers, you clearly wouldn’t want to start mapping out the persona based on them.

Going into this granular level of detail is an absolute critical task and will be one of the biggest keys to your success. Fail to implement this strategy and your entire business could potentially fail.


Always Keep Your Distribution Strategy in Mind

Once you have identified this specific person as being your ideal customer, you ONLY need to be communicating with them. You’ve already identified who they are, now it’s time to think where they are. Take a look at your “Source of Information” section and drill that even further. This is where your marketing plan is executed. For example, if your ideal customer is not on facebook, don’t invest time in facebook. If you’re ideal customer is not reading or being influenced by local blogs, regional tour guides or community magazines, don’t invest in advertising there. This would help minimize the chances a family of 4 goes on your pub crawl that is better suited for a younger demographic. If you aren’t specific with your messages, then you are not optimizing the chance of a ticket sale

Mapping out your customer eco-system not only helps you get to know your customers more personally but it sets the foundation of how you can attract and thrill them.

Going through this brainstorming session is advantageous for many reasons:

  • it can help guide the tone and substance of your content
  • identify wants and needs
  • can open up new opportunities for content creation

The effects of a great distribution strategy are invaluable. Investing time in setting the foundation will have a domino effect of success.

Digital Marketing is Hard

Your greatest asset is focusing on your running your business. We handle the rest.