The Early Bird Gets the Worm: Tactics to Drive Early Season Bookings
When your busy season or event is just around the corner, you’re likely filled with anticipation for the upcoming months. And you’re not alone—potential customers are eagerly planning their summer or winter activities and are looking for things to do in your area.
In fact, some of these customers just can’t wait to snag tickets for their tour, activity, or event. These early bird bookers can help you jump start your season, build momentum for the months to come, and enjoy some early cash flow.
If you want to generate more early bookings, follow these tips to build pre-season excitement for your tours and activities.
Why Promote Early Bird Bookings?
Whether your seasonal business is about to open for the summer or you’re coming up on the peak of your annual bookings, promoting early bird bookings is a great tactic to boost sales.
By hyping up your season opening, you create buzz around your business and secure bookings ahead of time.
This strategy also works well for seasonal or one-off events like fall festivals, Christmas train rides, or special activities that you anticipate will sell out quickly.
Plus, promoting early season bookings is a great way to establish expectations with your customer base. For example, if your season is short and fills up fast, or your event has very limited availabilities, the earlier you start promoting it, the better the chance of your audience absorbing the message—and acting on it.
Here are some ideas to successfully drive bookings ahead of your season.
Offer an Early Bird Discount or Incentive
You want to reward early bookers for being on top of their booking game. The best way to do this is with a discount or incentive like a reduced tour rate, free add-on like lunch or transportation, or a two-for-one offer, for example.
As you think about how you’re going to market your tours and activities to early season bookers (more on this in a moment), reduced rates or freebies make your message more powerful. A discount gives customers the extra incentive they need to make that early booking and get your season rolling.
Collect Emails from Interested Parties
When it comes to building presale excitement, gathering the email addresses of interested parties will set you up for success in the long term.
Reach out to your current customer base (anyone who has opted in to receive marketing emails) with an overview of your upcoming event or seasonal openings. Invite them to sign up for more communications about presales or early bird discounts.
This way, they will be first on your list to learn about these deals, and you know they are an interested party who wants to receive more communications from you.
You can also put a signup form on your website with brief content describing what customers can expect from these emails, like exclusive access to discounts and first access to tickets and preferred tour dates. You’ll want to keep this up year-round so you’re always collecting the emails of interested parties and growing your email list.
Post a Countdown
Let customers join in on the anticipation of your season by posting a countdown clock on your website and social media. Countdown to the start of your event or season and regularly share the countdown clock as the date approaches.
Use the countdown sticker on your Instagram story and drive followers to your website where they can make a booking.
A countdown is just one example of how to use your website real estate wisely! Banners across the top of your site are a great way to announce that tickets are soon to be on sale and create that presale buzz.
Use FOMO as Motivation
Scarcity—as well as the fear of missing out (FOMO) on your activity—can be an excellent motivator that encourages customers to purchase their tickets ahead of time.
When potential customers believe there are limited tickets or time left to get a discount, they’ll be more likely to book in order to secure their spot.
Play with the idea of FOMO or scarcity in your marketing copy across channels to light a fire under potential early bird bookers.
Offer a Last Chance Extension
Speaking of scarcity, consider offering a last chance extension of your discount or sales window to catch any customers who might have missed it.
Extending the promotion unexpectedly might nudge those customers in the right direction with one last chance to book.
If getting more early season bookings is a goal of yours this year, try to adapt these strategies to your business to get your season started with a bang.