All for One and One for All

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Why Do We Bother?

So, we know that as consumers, many of us trust what our peers say about a product far more than what a company says. But what compels people to share their opinions so freely in the first place? Here are a few reasons:

  1. to start a conversation and connect with a brand on a personal level
  2. to showcase a part of their personality to their own networks
  3. to contribute knowledge to a community
  4. to win a prize or reward
  5. to let off steam and feel heard

You probably just cringed at that last point. Many of us in the tourism and services industries have a deep paranoia around negative reviews. Anything, anything but negative reviews!

That fear comes with far more costs than rewards, however. Moreover, negative reviews can even be an opportunity for your brand to shine. (Go to minute 22 of my marketing video chat to hear why. It’s at the bottom of this post.)

Now that we know why someone would talk about your brand online, let’s cut to the chase: how do you engage this audience and use its content to enhance your marketing?

Make It Easy for Followers to Talk to You

There are a few parts to this objective: First, you absolutely need a profile on platforms where customers are generating content. This means you need to know your audience and where they communicate—that’s key. The sheer number of social media platforms out there easily overwhelms even the savviest of marketers. But deciding which ones really matter isn’t a Promethean task. Just get to know your customers and where they live online. The obvious channels to work on first are Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Are your guests using channels other than these three? The easiest way to find out may just be to ask.

Once you know where your customers e-congregate, give them opportunities to post on your profile.

I love the idea of in-store photo booths. If you have a lounge area at your zip tour or adventure park, you might consider setting something up like the beverage brand Fanta did. They had advertisements on the street prompting people to take a selfie. After participants published their images on Instagram with a Fanta-branded hashtag, the billboard would spit out a take-home photo from a built-in printer.

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Provide your guests with a fun opportunity to post content that features your brand.

You could take this premise and make it as high- or low-tech as you please. What if instead of a photo booth, you had a bin of fun photo props and branded selfie frames?

What you do matters less than how you present it. It’s more important to create shareable moments when your guests are most likely to participate. Though it’d be great to get pictures on the course, for example, logistically it probably doesn’t make sense.

For this strategy to work, you have to plot out the customer’s experience. From the moment she arrives at your park to the moment she leaves, how can you promote chances for user generated content?

Could you create opportunities during the check-in stage? Or maybe you’d like to capitalize on high spirits after the tour. Think about the different inflection points during the activity and find organic ways to prompt a photo, video, or post that could build your brand.

On a zip tour or adventure course, there are plenty of Kodak moments. But getting reviews can be trickier.

Don’t be shy about mentioning TripAdvisor at the end of your tour. Your guides have spent the last couple hours forming a genuine relationship and offering a memorable experience for your customers. After all that, a quick review isn’t too much to ask.

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About Author

Julia Barrero is a contributing columnist for Adventure Park Insider and the head of marketing at Xola, the booking and marketing software that zip lines, adventure parks, and other tour operators. Julia is also the lead writer behind Xola University, a business and marketing blog for tour industry professionals. She claims to have a writer's heart and a scientist's brain, which makes her a natural marketer. She specializes in data analysis for tour and activity companies. Through her blog posts, she hopes to turn tour operators everywhere into Jedi Marketing Masters.

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