According to Trip Advisor, 72% of people always or frequently read reviews before making a decision on places to stay and eat, or things to do. Online reviews are just one factor that contribute to how a visitor sets their expectations for your offering before they even hit your streets. Photos on outdated travel sites, word of mouth, and descriptions on your own website all contribute to visitors’ expectations.
How can you break through all of this noise in order to set and manage realistic expectations?
Know what your experience or attraction is—and what it is not. If, for example, you offer guided uphill hikes in the local forest, describing yourself as a low-key retreat may leave some visitors disappointed or confused.
Knowing who you are, what your mission is, and what kind of traveler your offering is ideal for is an important first step to ensuring expectations are met. While you want to appeal; to as many as possible, if you try to appeal to everyone, you will end up with disappointed visitors.
Know Your Visitor
Therefore, the next key is knowing your ideal visitor because knowing the type of visitor you’re looking to—and likely to—attract will help you set and meet expectations. There are a number of ways you can get insights here. For example, you can look at your Google Analytics to see who is coming to your website—there should be breakdowns of age, gender, location, and more for you to dig into.
You can also take a look at who is actually booking with you—is there a big overlap there? And finally, what is the makeup of people who come through your doors or book your tour? It’s important to use this kind of information to help fuel your marketing campaigns—for example, offering specials for families during the weekdays, if you see many looking but not booking on your website.
Communicate Directly and Frequently
Before, during, and after your visitor gets in-market, you can do a lot to manage their expectations through strategic communication. For example:
Before they arrive: Send out an email with a pre-arrival guide. If it’s a tour, include a recap of the tour — how long it will be, what kind of clothing they should wear to prepare, and what to pack (or not). You can also highlight add ons to enhance their time with you — can they add on a lunch or pay for a photographer to join & help capture the experience? Let them know!
After their visit: Following up with visitors after their time with you and asking for their feedback is a great way to round out their trip. If the visitor did have an issue, a personal email after is a small but thoughtful touch that can go far. You can also send out incentives to help spread word of mouth with their friends or suggest additional tours they could take with you.
Direct Bookings Lead to Managed Expectations
When guests don’t book directly, you might not have access to their email address. This can really limit your communication strategy. What’s more, you can’t always control the way your attraction is described or your tour explained on third-party sites. And when a traveler goes on a third-party website, they are bombarded with even more options (aka competition) for things to do in that city. That’s why a strong strategy for managing visitor expectations is to get them to book direct.
With a direct booking, you own that customer experience, communication, and can ensure a truly amazing experience. If you want help driving more direct booking, contact us!