Shared Experiences Strengthen Connections at FareHarbor Spark: Our Top 3 Takeaways
On October 19 and 20, 2020, over 800 tour, activity, and attractions professionals came together at FareHarbor Spark, a fully-virtual event that united diverse perspectives from more than 30 countries around the world. We challenged one another to find sustainable solutions to adapt to this year’s unprecedented challenges and reimagine a more inclusive future for our industry. Attendees explored new ideas from industry thought leaders, connected through shared experiences with peers, and ignited the spark to rebuild our industry.
Check out our top takeaways from this immersive two-day event and actionable resources for your business.
1. Demand for local, “COVID-safe” activities is here to stay.
Though we may not be able to venture far from home during these times of uncertainty, the basic human desire to seek out new experiences persists. As a result of COVID-19, our definition of exploring has shifted from flying to a far-off destination to packing up the car and taking a closer look at our local surroundings. In 2020, 8 out of 10 bookings processed in July, August, and September were for people who live within 250 miles of the activity they booked, almost double from 2019.
In addition to proximity, demand is currently driven by an activity’s perceived safety level as consumers seek out activities they feel comfortable engaging in during this pandemic. In fact, demand for local and perceived “COVID-safe” activities is up 95% year over year, and we don’t see this trend slowing down any time soon.
Knowing that the appeal of local, safe activities will remain strong in 2021, it’s important to ask yourself, “how can I appeal to my safety-conscious neighbors?” Explore our guides on the topic for actionable steps you can take.
- Providing Safe Experiences: Implementing Cleanliness & Sanitation Standards
- Communicating Health and Safety Policies on Your Website
- Adding Health & Safety Policies to Online Directory Listings & Social Media
- Google My Business COVID-19 Checklist
- Grow Your Business With Local SEO
2. Resilience is directly tied to success.
This year’s challenges have pushed the boundaries of our adaptability, both as individuals and as an industry. From turning your kitchen table into an office to implementing contactless technology and redefining your company’s training procedures, we’ve all had to adjust to extraordinary new challenges.
Of the operators surveyed at Spark, 68% said they’ve become more flexible as a result of COVID-19, and we hope this trend continues. During these unprecedented times, businesses that have been able to adapt most efficiently have seen the most success. Whether it’s shifting your schedule to offer more private options or redesigning your offerings to be more flexible, your ability to adapt could be your greatest defense against future bumps in the road.
When crafting your own adaptation strategy, there is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your business, your customers, and solutions that will allow you to keep up with the changing times while staying true to your mission and identity. We have a variety of guides and webinars to help you adapt to new circumstances, from marketing and SEO strategies to Dashboard tips. Get started with a few of the guides below.
- How Tour Operators Can Adjust Content Strategies for COVID-19
- SEO Tactics for Small Businesses During COVID-19
- SEO, Marketing, and Business Tips to Combat Coronavirus Impact
- Managing Your Dashboard for Success
- Checklist: Handling Credit Card Disputes
3. Profit and principle are not mutually exclusive.
It’s no coincidence that two of our highest attended sessions at Spark tackled the pressing social topics of diversity and inclusion and sustainability. In a lively roundtable discussion, industry leaders from Booking.com, Black Travel Alliance, and Invisible Cities explored accessible approaches to creating a more inclusive industry, while publishing powerhouse and sustainability pioneer Lonely Planet encouraged us to consider how even the smallest actions can help reduce the travel industry’s environmental impact.
As an industry, we must hold ourselves accountable for the wellbeing of the diverse communities, cultures, and environments that inspire us to travel. At Spark, we aimed to provide actionable resources for attendees to better themselves, their businesses, and the lives of those who depend on them (and yes, we believe that you can accomplish each goal without sacrificing the other)!
The benefits of creating a more open, accepting, and environmentally-responsible industry speak for themselves, but your bottom line can benefit from embracing diversity and protecting our planet at the same time. By creating a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all employees and potential customers, you can tap into entirely new or previously underserved market segments. Your commitment to sustainability ensures that future generations have the opportunity to experience the natural wonders of our planet and appeals to the increasingly environmentally-conscious consumer.
If you’re not sure where to begin, simply opening up a dialogue within your business can be a great first step. Now is the time to take a step back and reevaluate your approach to inclusivity and sustainability, knowing that even the smallest changes can help to improve our industry and lead to a more prosperous travel industry for all.
At Spark, we were reminded that the tour, activity, and attractions industry is resilient, able to adapt, and eager to build a more inclusive, sustainable, and brighter future together. We at FareHarbor believe that every one of us has a role to play in revitalizing tourism and that together, we can turn challenges into opportunities. Use the tips and resources in this guide to continue your journey toward growing your business and pushing our industry forward.
Ignite your Spark!