A Complete Guide to Holiday Marketing for Tour Operators
We tend to think of the holidays as a time to unwind and celebrate with family and friends, but for most business owners, it’s the time to put your head down and focus on your holiday marketing campaigns. After all, the holidays (especially those at the end of the year) are some of the most profitable times of year for businesses.
In addition to increased revenue, holiday marketing exposes your brand to new potential customers who encounter your campaigns while researching holiday gifts and experiences. It can also strengthen your relationship with existing customers as you offer them special deals and promotions. Remember, repeat customers are one of your most important audiences!
It’s never too early to start planning your holiday campaigns. Follow this guide to prepare for holiday marketing on your website, PPC ads, social media, and beyond!
Major Holidays for Shopping & Booking Online
Depending on your location, you may have a variety of holidays throughout the year that you can plan your marketing campaigns around. In general, the end of the year tends to be packed with holidays, with the fall and winter festivities in the northern hemisphere and new year celebrations around the world. Here are some major holidays to keep in mind for marketing campaigns.
- Halloween – October 31: This holiday is perfect for fun, playful campaigns.
- Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday – the fourth week of November: This week has become one of the biggest for holiday sales, when people expect to find great deals and stock up on holiday gifts as well as household goods and even travel.
- Giving Tuesday – December 1: This day is dedicated to charitable donations and is huge for nonprofits. As a tour operator, you can get in on the positive vibes by donating a portion of your sales to a local nonprofit!
- Christmas and New Year holidays – December: The whole month of December is full of festive cheer, and it’s a great time to offer special promotions as the year comes to an end and travelers plan trips for the new year. It’s also a good time to capture customers looking for fun things to do in your area while they’re on break from school and work!
- Shop for Travel Day and Plan for Vacation Day – January 12 and 26: What better time to offer a deal on your tours and activities?
Looking for more creative opportunities to market your business? Check out our list of less common holidays.
Once you’ve decided on the holidays you want to focus on for your marketing campaigns, it’s time to start planning your strategy. Let’s dive into all the platforms where you should promote your holiday deals.
Create a Festive Mood on Your Website
First and foremost, give your holiday promotions and discounts pride of place on your homepage and throughout your website. Holiday shoppers will be looking for the best deal, so you want to make sure they can see the value in booking an experience or making a purchase with you right away.
A couple holiday-specific edits to your website can make a huge difference. Create a festive mood by updating your photos and featuring your seasonal activities (like a holiday train ride) front and center. This will get your customers in the holiday spirit and get them excited to book your timely activities.
In addition to your seasonal tours and activities, be sure to feature your gift cards prominently on your homepage. Shoppers will be looking for fun experiences to give to their loved ones. Read up on how to set up gift cards on your Dashboard.
If you have the time, you can even reinforce the festive spirit by updating the colors of your CTAs and other elements on your website! Be sure to plan ahead so the holidays don’t sneak up on you.
Share Valuable Resources on Your Blog
Have you ever felt at a loss for gift ideas or holiday activities and turned to the web for some inspiration? Plenty of potential customers will be doing the same around the holidays. This is a great opportunity for your business to be discovered by new customers! Plan some holiday-themed blog content, such as exciting holiday activities in your area or creative ways to celebrate a special occasion. Do a little keyword research to see what users are looking for, such as “what to do in Denver for the holidays.”
Of course, you want to find opportunities to promote your offerings in these blog posts. Do so naturally, such as including your holiday cooking class in a round-up on fun things to do in your area this season. But remember that blog posts should primarily be a useful resource for the reader. This will not only help them rank better in Google, but it will establish you as an authority.
Get Merry on Social Media
Holidays are all about the visuals — fireworks for Fourth of July, spiderwebs and ghosts for Halloween, snowflakes and lights for the winter holidays. And social media platforms are the perfect place to lean into holiday imagery to get customers excited about what you have to offer. A well-timed photo of your autumn hayrides could be all it takes to get a follower to book an experience with you!
Like all marketing campaigns, a little planning will go a long way. Some tips to keep in mind:
- Plan out all your holiday campaigns for the year in advance on your content calendar. You don’t want to be scrambling to put something together a week before a major holiday.
- Align your visuals across platforms. Make sure your social media posts are visually consistent with your website, email, and other platforms to provide a seamless experience for customers.
- Use paid campaigns to drive conversions. If you have room in your budget to create some Facebook and Instagram ads or boost a few posts, use it wisely to reach a wider audience with your holiday specials.
- Don’t forget about platforms like LinkedIn and Pinterest. The holidays are the prime time for holiday crafts, recipes, and other hands-on activities that are popular on Pinterest. If this aligns with your business, take advantage of this time of year to promote your offerings on the platform! LinkedIn is a great place to promote any team-building activities. Many businesses look for fun activities to engage with their teams around the holidays, making it a great time of year to promote any offerings that are ideal for corporate groups.
- Encourage engagement with user-generated content (UGC). Whether you’re running a giveaway or just want to get some great photos from your customers to share on social media, UGC is a fun way to showcase your holiday tours and activities.
Nurture Existing Customers with Email
As we mentioned at the start of this guide, repeat customers are one of your most important audiences because they already know your brand and are more likely to book with you again. Email is the perfect way to nurture this relationship and promote your holiday specials. Some ways to use email around the holidays include:
- Tell your customers about your upcoming holiday events and seasonal tours and activities, like holiday light cruises.
- Give existing customers first access to promo codes or any deals you’re offering for the holidays.
- Share your holiday-themed blog posts full of valuable information with your newsletter subscribers.
Reach New Customers with PPC Ads
While email allows you to get in touch with existing customers, PPC ads give you the chance to reach new audiences who are searching for keywords related to your offerings. If you don’t have the budget to run ads all year-long, save it for the holidays and run seasonal ads just in time to catch holiday travelers and shoppers with your specials and promotions.
If you’re a little rusty on ads, read up on how to set up Google Ads and Facebook/Instagram ads. The most intimidating part of ads can be figuring out how to allocate your budget. Smart Bidding is a valuable resource that will help you spend your budget wisely while saving you time — something we all need more of during the holidays!
Optimize for Seasonal Local SEO
Optimizing your website and Google My Business (GMB) listing is important all year-round. But if you haven’t revised your local SEO strategy in a while, be sure to do so in time for the holidays.
Updating your GMB is especially important if you have different hours during the holiday season. While you’re at it, check that your address and contact information are up to date. You don’t want to miss out on any bookings from “near me” searches because your information wasn’t accurate.
If you’re targeting any holiday-specific keywords such as “fall foliage tours,” be sure to incorporate them on GMB as well as your website. For a refresher on all the most important elements of your profile, refer to this GMB checklist.
Go Spread That Holiday Cheer!
We recognize that this is a long list, and that’s because there are a lot of moving parts to a successful holiday marketing campaign. However, with a little forward planning and an organized calendar, you’ll be well on your way to making the most of this profitable time of year. Simplify the process with this checklist to promote your tours and activities during the holidays.