Navigating the Slow Season: Extend Your Seasonal Operation Into a Lucrative Business All Year Long
Whether you operate a snowmobile tour in Colorado or a dolphin cruise in Florida, there is a chance you experience downtime at some point during the year. Seasonality is an obstacle that the vast majority of tour and activity operators face.
Don’t let this precious downtime time slip away. If it’s only a few weeks or even a few months, navigating the off season should be a time for proactive planning for the upcoming season, from marketing to SEO and everything in between. If you want to know how to make money and steadily promote your business during your slow season, we have the answers!
Get Caught Up & Get Connected
Regardless of your location or the nature of your business, there are ways to adjust your business strategy to continue attracting customers all year long. For starters, this downtime provides an ideal window of opportunity for you to connect with our team at FareHarbor. While you aren’t as busy running your tours or activities, let us get things dialed in for next season, bring you up to speed on additional avenues for revenue, and make sure you are taking advantage of everything we have to offer!
Pro tip: Start building out next season’s calendar now! With hotels, flights, and other travel items being booked about 12 weeks in advance, customers want to book tours and activities ahead of time too. Capture those early-bird customers by building out next year’s calendar now!
This downtime also allows you to catch up on market research and think about what worked well in the previous season and what you might want to change or improve upon for the upcoming season. When it’s the height of busy season you may not post as regularly on social media as you would like since you’re consumed with the day-to-day tasks of running a successful business. Use your off season to nurture relationships with current and potential customers – work your social media platforms and send emails to customers to keep them engaged with your business, and get them excited for next season. Learn more about how to practice social listening.
Shoot For the (5) Stars
This is also a time to catch up on responding to reviews. This is something we recommend doing on a regular basis, to provide a timely response to the reviewer, but if you didn’t have time to do so, now is your time to respond to reviews — both negative and positive. Not only does this help with customer loyalty and social proof, but it has been proven that responding to Google Reviews specifically will help with your local SEO ranking. Learn more about how to respond to reviews.
Modify Your Offerings & Embrace the Holidays
If your business does not operate throughout the year, there is still an opportunity to open up for short periods of time to celebrate and embrace holidays such as Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, and more. If you need some inspiration, take a look at some of our favorite, less common holidays celebrated year-round. Think of ways that you can modify your current offerings to attract customers to a holiday-themed tour or activity with your business.
If holiday-themed events aren’t your thing, don’t forget about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. These are all perfect opportunities to promote gift cards or encourage guests to book in advance for next year.
Even if you run a boat cruise and you aren’t typically open in December, there are ways to get around the cold and drive in customers looking to do something special and unique to celebrate that time of year. Turn that boat into the Polar Express! Decorate the boat with Christmas lights, bundle up with blankets, pass out hot cocoa, and watch the bookings roll in!
An added bonus of offering holiday-specific tours and activities — you might attract more locals to these tours. If you don’t typically attract locals to your business, this is a great way to entice those customers to book with you and join in the holiday fun, right in their backyard!
Partner With Other FareHarbor Clients
Not interested in running holiday-themed tours during your off-season? That’s fine – there are other ways to keep the ball rolling. More than likely, you are in an area where other FareHarbor clients operate their businesses. If you offer jet ski rentals and can’t stay open in the winter, then pair up and resell a local food tour on your website to make a commission when you can’t operate yourself. If you aren’t sure how to go about that, you can reach out to the FareHarbor team and we will help guide the way.
If you are interested in partnering with other FareHarbor clients in the area, we have all of that already lined up for you. If you haven’t already heard, we’ve rolled out the FareHarbor Distribution Network to bring tour and activity operators together in their communities with the goal of filling more seats and creating new ways for you to fill your pockets (even when you’re closed).
Offer Slow Period Discounts
If you already operate year-round but find yourself slowing down significantly during certain times of the year, one of the easiest things you can do is offer seasonal promotions. Seasonal promotions will help bring in customers who might not have booked otherwise, or who were on the fence about booking with your company. Offer discounts for those days or periods of time that are slower than usual and be sure to advertise those prominently deals on social media and your website.
For example, if you are an ATV company in Arizona experiencing unusual amounts of rain, post a photo or video on social media of someone having a great time riding through the mud and mention a 10% off promo code to get people coming in despite the wet weather! If you are a zip line company and it is unusually hot, find a way to involve water guns and promote a discount via a fun photo on Instagram.
Rain or shine, hot or cold, there are ways to turn nearly every situation into a unique opportunity to capture business. Spin it to your advantage, slap a deal on it, and send it out to your followers!
Promoting Seasonal Discounts
If you are looking for ways to keep customers interacting with your business while you’re closed or hitting a dry spell, brainstorm an awesome user-generated content campaign asking customers to post a picture from their experience on your tour or activity and tag your company.
Turn it into a contest and reward the winner of the contest with a free tour, a unique discount, or cool swag to entice people to interact with your campaign. This will create off-season buzz around your company and create more engagement online with your customers!
Coming up with regular promotions can be tough! There are a couple of main categories that you can focus on to dial those in:
- Holiday & Seasonal Promotions: Offer themed discounts for Black Friday or Valentine’s Day, etc.
- Family Promotions: Offer deals that allow families to be able to afford to bring the whole crew!
- Lifestyle Promotions: Offer a military, senior, or student discounts.
- Returning Customer Promotions: Reach out to customers who have already joined you before and try to gain repeat business!
- Local promotions: Honor your local community and offer promotions for that segment of potential customers.
All of these promotions can easily be built out in your FareHarbor Dashboard by your FareHarbor Support Team! Let us know what you are planning to offer and we can build it out for you in your Dashboard.