• Six ways to turn guests into brand ambassadors

You’ve done a great job in growing your visitor numbers, getting tourists to buy your products and delivering them an outstanding tourism experience. Now what?

Use the email lists and data captured from these bookings to turn your guests into brand ambassadors!

Turning guests into ambassadors allows you to leverage their good experience with you for strong word-of-mouth advertising and potential repeat visitation. It encourages guests to talk readily about your brand among their communities (both social and personal) without having to pay them to do so.

The below 6 steps for developing an ambassador strategy will get you started in no time, allowing you to maintain an ongoing relationship with your customers. Tackle all 6 or chip one off to see how it works for your business!

Step 1: Score some good testimonials

Testimonials are the holy grail of brand storytelling and should be a compulsory part of your tourism marketing strategy. We all know enthusiasm is contagious so why not harness this by emailing guests and encouraging them to share feedback? More than 80% of travellers state that reading reviews encourages them to make a purchase decision so get them to do the marketing for you!

Set up your company on YELP, Google Maps, Facebook and TripAdvisor and then prompt guests to leave a review after they visit explaining why they chose your business and what they experienced. Don’t incentivise them to do so – reviews read best when they are genuine and impartial.

The best part is, this little piece of marketing doesn’t cost you a cent and could have a huge impact on the success of your business. So why wouldn’t you?

Step 2: Encourage travellers to share their stories

Rather than just using your email marketing campaigns as a product showcase, use the medium to encourage conversations between guests – past and future.

Your guests have just spent an amazing few days in your region kayaking, hiking, staying in fabulous accommodation and getting to know the locals. They’ll be BURSTING with stories. Why not ask them to share their stories and photographs with you and your potential clients? These could be published in your newsletter, on your website, on any third-party sites you’re publishing on or for social media channels – letting your customers do the talking. It also bumps up your content suite so you don’t have to do all the creating.

Step 3: Try a Reward and Nudge campaign

Some people need a little more encouragement before they’re going to talk about your business, and that’s fine. By crafting a reward & nudge campaign (also know as an engaged user campaign) you can encourage greater electronic word-of-mouth advertising.

Reward & Nudge is just marketing speak for emailing all of your past guests about an incentive or reward they’ll receive if referring friends and family to book your products. Show them a little gratification, thank them for coming on an adventure with you and offer a discount code they can share. Or perhaps if they come again and bring their friends they’ll get the experience for free next time? Whatever your tactics, it’s an easy way to optimize the reach of past customers to score new clients.

Step 4: What about flash sales or gift vouchers?

Limited offers are super popular within the domestic market. Although travellers are getting savvier and exploring multiple possibilities before booking, many domestic purchasing decisions are still made based on price, deals and discounts.

Make the most of your email databases by sharing limited-time offers. It’s an extremely effective way to offload excess inventory and bolster trip numbers in the off-season, or sell gift vouchers at particular times of year like Christmas. You could also use it as a tool to generate local awareness around a new product or service you’re offering, or tempt them with school holiday package. Get those locals in first to prompt the flow-on effect of word-of-mouth advertising.

Step 5: Inspire your customers to dream again

Even if a customer’s first trip is over, your relationship with them is not. Allow them to dream about travelling again by sharing information on new products and services you’re offering. A few we found in the inbox this month:

  • Wine, Art and Wilderness have launched a new craft beer tour in Nelson.
  • A first in New Zealand – Reid Helicopters are now offering a Heli-Yoga experience
  • The Church of the Good Shepherd and Earth & Sky have partnered together to launch a night-time experience at the famous Takapō (Lake Tekapo) heritage site.
  • New overnight yacht stay in Abel Tasman

These businesses are actively sharing info on their new products and services, and they’re certainly working to tempt us!

Step 6: Create great Facebook audiences

Facebook ads aren’t only useful for getting new customers. They’re also great for up-selling and filling the funnel with existing customers. Based on the above commentary you’ve got tips for engaging customers through email marketing, but what about general brand awareness? Keeping eyeballs on your brand stories will ensure you’re top of mind.

The more a customer notices you – the more inclined they’ll be to convert. In fact, research conducted by Facebook found that using Facebook ads in conjunction with email campaigns will extend the reach of campaigns by 77%!

Use your current CRM database to extract an email list, and then upload this to Facebook to create a new custom audience. You can also use this custom audience list to create ‘lookalike audiences’ that are similar in profile to customers who’ve already converted. It’s pure wizardry. We do magic like this as part of our data-driven Paid Media service.

To ensure you’re growing a healthy mailing list, remember to do the following:

Promote your newsletter! Make sure your website has clear CTAs that encourage users to sign up. You can do this via a standard newsletter sign-up form or try a pop-up [lightbox] that prompts users mid session.

Then send emails. People have willingly signed up because they want to hear more from you; so don’t then ignore them. Send newsletters with epic content so they’ll want to keep reading and make sure to throw in a great offer every now and then.

Use professional email marketing software.  You don’t always need to purchase or download this software, there are plenty of options that are internet based.  Pricing will depend on how big your database is and how often you send out emails. There are also free systems like Mailchimp that are great for smaller databases.

Make sure your systems are integrated. Many mailing platforms have an API which allow you to connect the sending platform with external databases, booking engines, CRMs, and any other external applications – synchronising all of your customer information. Get them organised, get your data in one place, then it makes it easier to decipher and utilize in the future.

Track, measure & optimise. Understand who is opening or not opening your emails. What calls to action have worked? What offers were more tempting than others? Learn from previous mailings and make incremental improvements based on these learnings.

  • Tamaki Maori Village
    The Maverick team has a clear passion for tourism, a wealth of knowledge with online customer experience, online marketing & ultimately booking conversions. We are very pleased with the results we have had so far.
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  • Rotorua Canopy Tours
    We have been working with Alex and the Maverick team for 5 years now - their dedication to making our business successful has never been doubted and as a result our business has gone from strength to strength because of their work.
  • Destination Coromandel
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    Alex and her team at Maverick have been fabulous in putting together our new website – which we love, and are proud to show to the world. At all stages Alex kept in touch and listened to our thoughts and ideas and built these into the site, along with all the enhancements that the Maverick design team brought to the table. We are delighted with the end result!
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