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Thanks for your comments and tips Fabienne, I’ll follow up your suggestions!
What a great idea to encourage businesses to pause and think about an achievement or something to celebrate!
With the end of financial year upon us, I would like to celebrate the fact that this year (my 28th year in business), I finally completed the upgrade of my Gippsland High Country Tours website after talking about it (and procrastinating) for around 3 years. The site was originally designed and set up for me back in 2003 using HTML which was the way they were done, but meant my web-manager company had to make all the changes for me over the years. He was fantastic at keeping it current and functional but the site was becoming very dated in its look and had sort of grown like Topsy over the year. The website not only needed moving to a system I can use myself to update and manage, but it needed a whole new look and a complete re-design to modernise and make content more relevent and specific.
I made good use of Tourism Tribe discussion forums and training sessions over the past 12-18 months, which helped me immensely in the planning and ensuring I covered off the most important features. It is set up on Joomla (Yes, I know everyone here favours Word Press, but Joomla works very well for me) and I’m getting better at learning what I can do with it.
The new site went live in April and I have lots of positive comments from clients and others who previously used my old site and love the new one (especially the images). Is it working for me? Not sure yet. Most visitors to the site are coming via direct referrals, links or social media, so I don’t think I’ve got the SEO right and thats the next step, but I wanted to feel confident I have the content the way I wanted it before tackling that one. I also have included a Blog page which is something new for me and it still needs developing.
So thats two challenges for me in the coming fiscal year – get the SEO right and get the Blog going to make sure the new website is really working for me. But its nice to take a moment and sit back and celebrate a milestone achievement, so thanks for the opportunity to do that.
I second Liz’s comment. Try Arthur J Gallagher & Co. They have “TRIP” public liability insurance especially targeted for Tour Operators. I have used them as brokers for many years through VTIC in Victoria, to cover exactly the sort of business you have.
This video we posted on our You Tube Channel about Processionary Caterpillars https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8iQlvPYTck has been really popular. It was intended to highlight how our nature tours can include some really fascinating wildlife encounters. although sometimes it is wildlife species that are not as well known as the iconic Australian species (ie: Koalas & Kangaroos).
Our Channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCYEX1J5yVtxvMurzO7LpaEg also includes short videos of a Bullant moving a large pebble around, caterpillars digging a hole, bird encounters and some video compilations of other tour experiences. These were all my first attempts at video editing and reminds me its time I used some of the more recent footage I’ve collected and put together some better quality videos to add to the Channel.
Stephen’s response is spot on, but as Fabienne says, businesses cannot say yes to everyone, otherwise this, like any off the cuff promotion/advertising proposal can get out of hand. I only offer Gift Vouchers (with a monetary value and conditions) to either select charity causes that I am keen to support or those where I feel the brand awareness will be good. Otherwise I use Gift Vouchers (again with monetary value and conditions) as “prizes” for some promotions I do. The uptake is generally low, but often as Stephen said, people use it to get a more expensive tour at a cheaper price, rather than try to get a short free trip our of it. (So I either get a good booking out of it for the cost of the voucher, or none at all, which means it costs me nothing) Of recent times, I’ve found charities have notified me of the winner/successful bidder for the voucher. If they don’t, no support from me in the future. View it always as a business transaction, we are not charities ourselves. Jenny
Yes, I have to agree with all of the above. There is a need for both digital and hard copy material and cutting of access to hard copy material for VIC visitors is short sited and will result in frustrated and dissapointed visitors. Lack of internet access/mobile signal is very real in regional areas and I also agree that visitors like the confirmation of picking up brochures that given them a genuine feel for a local business.
Although not local to you, I have all my printing done by Black Rainbow Printers in Gippsland, Victoria. Their environmental credentials are inspiring and they have a genuine commitment to environmental responsibility with recycled paper use, vege inks and sustainable power and water use. Quality has always been excellent. Check out their website – http://www.blackrainbow.com.au/
I am a tour operator not accommodation but I have to echo Lynne’s comment. No matter how much you love the lifestyle you MUST factor in payment for your time (even if its only a moderate payment). Apart from anything else it allows you to employ someone in your place to give you a much needed break sometime.
JennyMay 4, 2017 at 4:22 pm in reply to: Do you actively seek customer feedback? and what do you do with it? #19212
Yes, like Daniel & Russel I believe that actively seeking feedback is how we can move with our clients’ needs, grow our business and ensure we are meeting the standards we say we are. It is something I implemented immediately when I started my business over 25 years ago. I designed a paper survey based on one used by a reputable interstate touring company. Then and now I believe the most important question on the questionnaire is “Thinking about the tour, was it all it promised to be” The answer is almost unanimously “Yes” (and is most cases “Yes and more!”). This is critical to ensure I am honestly and correctly promoting my product and setting up realistic expectations which I can fulfil or exceed.
Like Daniel, I believe if you think you are too busy to seek customer feedback – make time!
I have always used a printed questionnaire which is mostly tick boxes and a few places for free text if people want to expand. Last time I checked a few years ago, the return rate (to a Reply Paid post box so free) averaged 70-80%. I tend to find people respond quickly if they have something to grumble about or if they had such a wonderful experience they are keen to express their praise.
Given that even my older clients are now moving to using digital devices, I will be shifting to an electronic version shortly. Unlike Russell, I don’t want them to provide their response as they leave me. I want them to have time to reflect a little and be able to look back on the whole experience before they provide feedback. However I agree that if I don’t get responses back within the first week or two, its unlikely to happen. Email contact asking for their feedback 24-48 hours later will be my aim as I move to the digital surveys.
What do I do with them? Read and digest the contents, summarise all responses from a tour to pick up on any central themes. Thank everyone as part of tour follow up and respond to criticism/suggestions quickly. As a small operator, post tour feedback is something I have the luxury of being able to do and it helps build strong relationships with past clients. Over the years there are so many things I have changed in my business due to responses from clients in my questionnaires. Many are only small things, but have been constructive and created real improvements. It really helps me understand their needs and expectations. It also tells me when I am doing things right of course, which is very rewarding.
I have some pretty detailed stats on source of clients, which relate to my advertising and promotion work, but it might suit your question too. My business is multiple day (overnight) nature tours, which people usually book well in advance (months ahead). My clients come from other parts of the state and interstate, rarely local and I do not operate a shopfront booking office.
Averaged over the past 10 years 67% of my clients are repeat clients. Of the new clients (the other 33%) averaged over the past 10 years-
48% of these new clients came direct to me via Word of Mouth
30% of these new clients came direct to me via paid print advertising (specialist magazines)
12% of these new clients came direct to me via various forms of electronic media (my & other websites, social media)
9% of these new clients came direct to me via other or unknown sources
1% of these new clients came via a travel agent
Bookings direct to me means they make contact to book through my website enquiry form, email (over 90%) or telephone (less than 10%). Most of my new clients have been on my database for a period of time (sometimes years) after their first enquiry.
I hope this is helpful, let me know if you want me to expand on this more.October 18, 2016 at 6:45 pm in reply to: Facebook making it harder to collaborate with business pages #16529
Yes this is definitely an issue for me when I try to show my support for other local tourism businesses and community groups by liking or sharing their posts. I have liked (as my business page – not my personal one) a good list of local and like-minded businesses and community groups. When I look at my business’s page and “See Pages Feed” from pages I have like, I get shown posts only from a fraction of the pages I have liked (sometimes as few as 4-5 pages and often ones I do not really connect with at all). I have to physically search the other business’s pages to see what they are posting. This is enormously time consuming and as Nerida and John commented above, it means my responses are not timely at all. I am not sure what they hope to be achieving via this and I see that it is reducing the sharing of posts and is not something that would be replaced by paid advertising.June 25, 2016 at 12:44 pm in reply to: Travellers would rather take their mobile device on a trip than a loved one #14415
I look forward to seeing the video when its available, with Seniors making up around 80% of my clients. Its been interesting noticing their transition to digital over the past 10-15 years… Recently its become apparent that many in the older seniors age brackets, who “did not do computers”, now have smart phones and therefor email access (which they do use)!June 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm in reply to: Help us shape the future of our online community,take 5 minutes to have your say #14309
How easy was it to buy your Tourism Tribe membership from us? It came as an offer from my regional tourism assoc. I was already aware that tourism tribe existed but not sure whether I was interested, so this was a good opportunity to try it.
How happy are you with your purchase? I have found it useful. I have used the forum for some specific problems (either my question or looking at responses to questions from others) and have referred to some of the tutorials for help, so yes I am happy to be involved.
How well do we understand what you want and need? Not sure. I appreciate being able to ask a specific questions and get responses from a number of people. It allows me to ask something that is really specific to my business. I’m really not interested in “Friends” and “connections” seemingly for the sake of it though…
How well do we communicate? I appreciate the emails letting me know when there is a new forum question (and webinars coming up). I’m not sure you communicate other things that are available on the website quite as well. Finding time to trawl around the website looking to see what is available is a time luxury most of us don’t have. Simple indexes of topics under the headings would be good.
How likely is it that you would recommend us to a friend or colleague? Yes I would recommend if I felt they would benefit from what is on offer. They do need to have time to invest to find out how it works.
Thank you to Caolan, Marie and Peter for adding to this topic. There is lots to ponder and apply to my specific business situation. I do have a web developer who is very familiar with my website needs so his advice will be very valuable, but I was keen to get some tourism specific thoughts to help me gain a broader idea of the advantages and shortfalls of these two CMS’s. I’ve learnt heaps already! Thanks again, Jenny
Wow, thank you everyone. There is a fair bit of information here to digest. I’m not sure about Fiats, but I think my question is a bit like asking whether Holdens are better than Fords…! I wont actually be setting this up myself, but ease of maintenance will be important as that’s the bit I will be doing myself. However its also important that I understand where there are limitations to how the site will work for me and what I expect from my website. I can see there is plenty more research to do. Shane, I like idea of trying a free WordPress site to see how it works,so will follow that up. Lynne I may well take you up on the offer of a chat later once I have got my head around this a bit more. Thanks again and I’m not in a hurry to make a decision on this so any other comments are still welcome!