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Working With Tour Operators

Whether you work for a hotel, restaurant, or tourist attraction, pre-formed groups can be a large part of your bottom line. As a result, many organizations spend a great deal of their time and budget marketing to tour operators. A tour operator is typically defined as “a professional company who develops, markets, and operates tours for organized (pre-formed) groups, ie. a senior center.” One tour operator can market to a few hundred clients interested in a wide variety of interests and destinations.

In our “just in time” world, the best way to market to tour operators today can be summarized in one word – quick. Two quick ways to market to operators are web pages and profile sheets.
Most companies have a web page. With 24/7 access, tour operators have increasingly come to rely on web pages for instant and current information. So use web pages to market to operators.

Web Page Suggestions

  • easy to find group section
  • keep group info up-to-date
  • include calendar of events
  • list pricing, deposit/payment info
  • detail special group programs/packages
  • email link to group sales rep
  • link to current group profile sheet
  • don’t forget group phone number
  • include dining options – coach parking/directions/map
  • ideally list info for at least next 12 to 18 months (prices, traveling exhibits, programs, etc.)

Your profile sheet can be a great reference source for tour operators. The profile sheet reduces what could be a great deal of information to the most basic “no fluff or hype” format. In just a few minutes a profile sheet may answer many operators questions.

Profile Sheet Suggestions

  • regularly update with most current info
  • easy to read format and layout
  • faxable, if possible
  • have profile sheet link on web page
  • the fewer words the better, use bullet points
  • provide 4 or 5 sentence description
  • color and photos enhances appearance
  • include current & next year pricing
  • list special group programs or packages
  • don’t forget dining options
  • what’s new section helpful
  • guest drop off & parking info
  • easy to find group contact info
  • phone, fax, email & web page

Miscellaneous Marketing Suggestions

  • timely annual mailings
  • specialized e-blasts are inexpensive
  • co-op marketing with other companies
  • keep local Visitor’s Bureau “in the loop”
  • FAM tours gets operator “foot in your door”
  • sales blitz to targeted destination
  • niche market special programs/exhibits
  • join professional associations
  • create packages with other organizations
  • develop “behind the scenes” programs
  • spend budget on marketing not free mugs
  • try to develop “something new” every year
  • carefully choose marketplaces to attend & research which operators to meet with

With our “on demand” mindset, fancy award-winning marketing pieces do not necessarily sell your product. For tour operators today, timely and relevant information usually closes the sale. By KISSing, Keeping It (your marketing) Simple Sweetheart, you can do a better job of making your sales goals with a modest, but effective budget.