As a tourism business, it’s essential to know your customers.
What are their spending habits? What kinds of destinations suit them best? What are they looking for in a holiday or visit?
Crucially, how can you use that knowledge to help them purchase your product or make a booking?
Knowing the answer to that question is of enormous value to your tourism business…
Understanding What a Customer Wants and how to Provide It!
I know this isn’t easy, but it’s completely achievable. We’re here to support you; you just need to take the proper steps.
It can be hard to get to know your customers if you work with clients from all over the world.
Developing an accurate marketing strategy means you’ll get to know your customers better. It’ll also help you create targeted, engaging marketing campaigns.
That way, you’ll start building profitable relationships that last over time.
In this guide, I’ll help you understand who your customers are, what they want, and how you can give it to them!
1 Why is it Vital to Know Your Customers?
Understanding your customer needs is essential for businesses operating in the tourism sector.
Successful companies understand what they need and use the proper marketing techniques to sell their products, services and destinations.
That means getting to know customers on a micro level, where you look into individual feedback and buying choices. It also means examining macro data like demographic buying trends.
That can be hard to do when you’re in the middle of the day to day demands of your job.
In my experience, however, it’s a critical step towards success.
Knowing your customers means you know what they like and what they need. That way, you’ll be able to create a better experience for them, and they’ll want to come back.
Once you know them, you’ll be able to focus on starting the tourist experience before they even book!
What Does Knowing Your Customer Mean?
It means recognising your customer’s needs, concerns and expectations. It also means knowing how your tourism business can best meet those needs.
That’s especially important for businesses in the tourism industry.
The tourism industry is all about providing outstanding customer service and building loyalty.
That’s hard to achieve if you’re unsure what your customer wants.
It can be almost impossible if your website doesn’t give you the tools to track your customer interactions!
Ask Your Customers How They Heard About You
A practical first step to getting to know your customers is to ask them how they heard about you.
That’ll help you track your marketing efforts and identify which ones work and which ones don’t. It’ll also help you understand your customer base better.
The most important thing is to use the information you gather to improve your business.
Let’s get into working out exactly what your customer is thinking…
2 Ask Your Customers What They Think
It can feel a bit daunting to ask your customers outright about what you’ve got to offer. However, you must rise to the challenge!
Your reward will be valuable customer feedback. That’ll give you a wealth of new knowledge about specific aspects of your services.
Market research like this can generate invaluable data, but only if you ask specific questions.
You’ll need to decide what kind of responses you need and develop a relevant strategy in return.
A well-compiled customer survey can reveal some incredibly illuminating opinions and data. Customers are used to leaving observations online, and we’ll come to that later in this post.
However, unless your customer is interviewed with purpose, using direct questions, you’re unlikely to get the data you need.
How to get the Answers you Need From Your Customers.
I can’t stress this enough – specific questions get specific answers. To ask the right questions, you should:
- Identify common questions, concerns, praise or criticism in posts and reviews and formulate questions that dig deeper into these.
- Speak directly to a sample of recent customers (perhaps you could incentivise them with a discount on their next booking)? Listen to what they have to say and build your questions as a response.
- Use mystery shoppers to go through the booking process and gather their informed feedback to build your specific questions.
Once you’ve worked out your questions, you’ll need to decide how to ask them…
Use surveys and questionnaires. Surveys and questionnaires are a great way to collect feedback from your customers. They’re easy to administer and can be used to gather various information.
Interview your customers. Interviews are a great way to get to know your customers better. You can learn about their needs and wants, as well as their thoughts on your business.
Use focus groups. Focus groups are a great way to get feedback from several customers. There’s often a value in generating feedback through discussion, and listening to those opinions is crucial.
Create online polls. It’s never been easier to use your own social media channels to ask those crucial questions. That’s also a great way to add variety and engagement to your posts, so it’s a win-win!
Put Yourself in Your Customer’s Position!
It’s essential to understand customer demands. Put yourself in their shoes, and examine how your consumers interact with your business.
That includes your website and email communications and the staff and partners your customers encounter.
It’s worth regularly going through the booking process and visiting your destinations in person.
The better you empathise with your customers, the better your question strategy and the relevance of any answers.
Don’t forget; your customer wants to have a fantastic experience from start to finish. Learn the secrets of the 5 phases of outstanding tourism experiences here.
Optimise Your Customer Service and Build Loyalty!
If you have an in-house Customer Services team, add a standard set of questions to their engagement scripts.
These could enquire about customer likes and dislikes regarding products, services or destinations.
Don’t be afraid of asking how a customer would improve your offer. The responses you gather can be valuable insights for informing future marketing strategies.
That kind of active engagement and genuine care is what builds brand loyalty.
The question is, which kind of strategy will help boost your tourism business?
3 Know your Customers’ Needs and Build a Strategy
Okay. You’ve worked out why knowing your customer is vital to your travel business, and you’ve identified questions to ask.
Perhaps you’ve done some independent research to support your findings.
The next step is to create a practical, step by step strategy for bringing together the responses you get.
So many companies stumble at this point. They ask the questions, read the answers and then don’t know how to act on what they’ve discovered.
Here’s my six-point strategy for the whole process:
- Gather together the responses under each question heading
- Identify the common threads within the answers, whether positive or negative
- Develop a statement for each typical response, clearly summarising the customer experience
- Place these statements into logical groupings that deal with similar issues or responses
- For each group, generate an action point that will improve customer experience
- Take that action forwards and monitor its effectiveness using further data gathering
Of course, if you’re dealing with significantly high response volumes, you might need to use samples rather than every response. Either way, it can be time-consuming.
However, it is critical in instigating effective and relevant change.
You can add more value to this process by using your data to generate an ideal customer persona (see below). Not only that, but you can use the entire process as a powerful social media marketing strategy.
That way, your efforts are of even more value.
4 Developing an Ideal Customer Persona
When I work with clients to create an ideal customer persona for their travel business, it’s often very revealing.
Sometimes the client knows their customer base well. More frequently, we start from scratch and build a persona based on data and client experience.
Once you’ve followed the previous steps, you should have a pretty good idea of your ideal customer persona.
That means that you can base your marketing and product decisions on their interests, budgets, and concerns moving forward.
Use your research combined with social media analytics and feedback from online reviews. Asking a few simple questions will enable you to identify people likely to be interested in your product or service.
Focus on Customers’ Tastes, Budgets and Preferences
Using your existing data to inform your approach, you need to start identifying the key attributes of your ideal customer.
Try asking some of these questions and seeing what kind of persona comes up:
- How old is your typical customer?
- How do they interact with technology?
- What kind of budget are they likely to have?
- What persuades them to make a purchase?
- What do they look for in marketing materials?
- When do they engage most with the booking process?
- What causes them to be afraid?
- What stops them from completing a transaction?
- How do they leave feedback?
- How likely are they to be repeat customers?
Once you’ve developed some informed answers, work with a team to write a paragraph summing up your ideal customer.
A few images can also help you visualise the target for your marketing!
At Straight Up Websites, we often give our ideal customer personas a name. We don’t use job titles, as that tends to narrow the options, but we create helpful archetypes:
- Last Minute Linda
- Value for Money Val
- Luxury Experience Len
- First Time Traveller Tim
Okay, these are kind of fun and a bit simplistic, but you get the idea.
Once you’ve taken away a job title, you can focus on identifying the challenges your customer personas face. Then you can work out how to solve them.
Doing this research can develop a clear idea of your target customer and what they’re expecting.
That will help you sell your product or service and build more meaningful relationships with them.
That takes us to the last step, which is to use this knowledge to boost your tourism marketing…
5 Use Social Media to Meet Your Customers’ Needs
As we all know, social media is a powerful tool for reaching your clients and promoting your tourist destinations.
Once you’ve identified your customer’s needs and modelled an ideal persona, you should use social media to your advantage.
Posting the correct information to the right potential customer is the final step.
Focus on using the platforms favoured by your ideal customer. Then use your knowledge of what they’re looking for to define your posting strategy.
If they want action holidays, that’s your focus. If it’s reassurance about transfers and site security, generate threads that show your commitment.
Remember, you need to use a sophisticated blend of data, experience and creativity to pitch this properly.
If you monitor your results and develop your strategy, that will come with time.
Make Analytics Work for You!
Remember that you should use social media analytics to track online feedback from customers.
That can be extremely helpful for developing a continued understanding of how customer needs might change.
Additionally, tracking online feedback can help you identify any new problems your customers are experiencing.
Conclusion: It’s Never Been Easier to Harness the Value of Knowing Your Customers
If I’m being honest, it’s never been easier to harness the value of knowing your customer.
They’re a powerful resource, and your tourism business needs to get used to using customer data effectively.
Need help with developing your ideal customer persona? Let us know. We are here to support you on your journey.
The good news is that using the strategies I’ve outlined here makes it entirely possible to understand customer behaviour.
By making subsequent changes to your marketing strategy, you can see a significant impact on your sales!
Comment below if you have any questions!
Have you used these strategies to get to know your customer better? Has that made a positive difference to your social media strategy? We’d love to hear about your experiences!