Drive Better Business with Social Media


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First Impressions

Crowd-sourced websites that offer user reviews of businesses have become standard. About 280 million travelers consult TripAdvisor each month, and the site now houses 4 million lodging, restaurant, and attraction reviews. Yelp posts equally high user stats. With numbers like this, it’s crucial to listen and be aware of what guests are saying about your company.

“I know people that live and die by what’s on Yelp, and many of them cannot wait to go somewhere and write that review, good, bad, or ugly,” says Caplan. “Yet a lot of operators are surprised that there are reviews for their business on Yelp—they had no idea of what Yelp even was.”

He adds that companies need to be aware of negative reviews and be ready to jump in with an apology and invitation for a return visit.

Regos says Oars, a whitewater adventure firm based in Angels Camp, Calif., well understands the importance of guest reviews. The company follows up with its guests within a few days of their visit, encouraging them to post reviews on the Oars website. Those that do are immediately prompted to also share the reviews, photos, and videos to TripAdvisor.

“The process is seamless and has really made it easy for people to leave reviews while the experience is still fresh in their minds,” says Regos. “This is a great strategy for any adventure operation that wants to leverage the power of customer reviews.”

Make it Easy to Buy

The statistics on mobile usage and activity among consumers underscore the critical importance of having a mobile-friendly website. “If you have online booking on your website, but the booking isn’t mobile-friendly, people will move on to something else, and we see it more often than not, unfortunately—companies are not making it easy for people to buy from them,” says Paul Cummings, president of Colorado-based consulting firm Strategic Adventures.

Cummings says some of his clients get 40 to 50 percent of their web traffic via a mobile device, yet he recognizes the strain on available resources for start-ups and smaller operations. Software plug-ins are an affordable way to make a website mobile-friendly. Filling out and signing waivers online is also a big advantage to having a mobile-friendly website.

Using social media to drive online sales is a lucrative tool for some companies, and can double as a helpful planning tool. Cummings says some of the smaller parks in more remote areas drive advance sales in order to get a better idea of how many staff to have on hand. But having a wait-list can be an even better strategy for busy parks, where it’s paramount to make sure no spot goes vacant.

New platforms available in the past few years have helped kick-start online sales. Cummings says he has been working with Xola (, an online solution that allows service providers to manage reservations, payments, calendars, and scheduling. “These guys are a little different than most of the reservation companies, because they are software people first, coming into the adventure market, rather than adventure people trying to get into software,” says Cummings.

“The cool thing about [Xola] is that they are more than willing to open up their development software and make adjustments for clients as necessary, so they’re really able to tweak their internal working to meet the needs of the adventure market,” adds Cummings.

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About Author

Troy Hawks contributes to Adventure Park Insider, Ski Area Management, and a variety of other publications and websites. He has held editorial positions at business magazines serving outdoor sports and recreation as well as manufacturing and textiles. Most recently he was communications manager for the National Ski Areas Association and editor of the NSAA Journal. He also serves as a communications consultant for several clients. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire, he now lives in Denver, Colo.

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