As an adventure park or zip tour operator, you wear so many hats sometimes you hardly have time to eat lunch. In what world do you ever have time to run reports and analyze business data? Not only that, but how do you know which statistics matter and which ones don’t?
I get it. I myself have a love-hate relationship with quantitative reporting. Looking at the wrong numbers can be just as misleading as not looking at any numbers at all. But here’s what I love about it: when you arm yourself with the proper data, your business will improve. When you take the time to gather quantitative insights about your business, marketing becomes less about guessing and more about strategy.
That’s where this article comes in. In seven minutes, I’ll help you narrow down the most important booking data you need to keep top of mind, and show how you can use those stats to improve your business. And the good news is: all of these statistics can be found without ever setting foot inside Google Analytics. All you need is your booking data and Excel.
To get the most out of your data analysis, you’ll want to compare the results year-over-year to look for changes at similar points throughout your season.
The first five stats revolve around the common theme of booking channel insights. In plain terms, a booking channel is the method guests use to book your tour or activity: through your website, over the phone, via distribution site like Groupon or Viator, etc.
The last three stats test your sales and marketing efforts. Do the add-ons you offer contribute meaningfully to your overall revenue? How many bookings do you discount?
If you’re looking for a how-to article that will walk you through all the steps of analyzing these stats, check out this post. If you’re still trying to wrap your head around booking and marketing data in the first place, what stats to consider, and why they matter, that’s exactly what this article is for.
By the end of this article, you’ll feel confident—perhaps excited—about analyzing your operation’s business data, and your bottom line will thank you. Being able to analyze and act on data allows you to spot marketing sinkholes and funnel more resources into strategies that actually work.
Say goodbye to marketing as a guessing game, and say hello to marketing as a science.
Booking Channel Statistics
Stat #1: Bookings by volume
It’s important to know what percentage of your business comes through your website vs. over the phone or in person. So, whether you’re in your first season or your twentieth, this is how you start to get a sense of your customers’ buying habits.
I usually try not to be too prescriptive in my articles—diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks, ya know? But there’s no debating this point: if you have online booking software, you want a majority of your bookings to happen online. There are a couple of important reasons for this:
First, your website can take bookings 24/7, and multiple bookings can occur at once. It’s easy for the guest, and comes at less cost than paying a staff member. Of course, some booking software companies charge an online booking fee on top of the credit card processing fee, so that’s something to keep in mind.
Secondly, why are you investing time and money into your website, and why even have online booking software, if it’s not driving sales?
If a majority of your bookings are not yet coming through your website, you’ll want to make sure that online bookings increase in lockstep with overall increases in your business. If you’re having a record season, but your online bookings are the same or lower than the year before, figure out why.
Stat #2: Booking value by channel
Knowing the popularity of your booking channels is one thing, but it’s also important to know the value of those channels. For starters, you’ll want to know the gross value of your back office and online bookings. By all means, drill down as much as you’d like. When I help businesses with their reporting, I look at how much money they make from mobile shoppers that book with a smartphone or tablet. I also pay attention to how much revenue the company gets through automated lead remarketing, or “rescued” bookings.
Stat #3: Average purchase and group size by channel
The next step is to move from cumulative figures to averages. For instance, the majority of your bookings might happen online, but you discover that phone reservations are actually more lucrative on average. Why? Well, when you calculate your average group size by channel you realize that big groups book over the phone more than they book online.
But don’t stop there. As a result of these averages, you run a little experiment with your phone answering system by recording a message (like Zip KC) that reminds groups they can book online just as easily as they can over the phone. In turn, you see a spike in the average value of your online reservations. Plus, you’re not relying on someone to answer every call in order to capture high-gross bookings.
Remember, you’re not crunching all these numbers to kill time. All of these statistics should illuminate key insights about your business. They should help you question your current practices and experiment with new ways to run your business more efficiently and successfully.
Stat #4: Days between booking and arrival by channel
Timing is everything, right? Operationally, there’s a big difference between a tour that services a ton of walk-up customers versus one that gets most of its reservations a week in advance. This statistic can help you plan for peaks and valleys in business by taking efficiency measures that help the bottom line.
Stat #5: Cancellations
Cancellations pose a big risk to your business. As you’re going through all your channel stats (volume, value, averages, days, etc.) you might also want to inspect the statistics for unfulfilled reservations. The more you can establish a profile for commonly cancelled reservations, the more you can institute policies to better protect yourself.
For example, maybe you discover that a vast majority of cancelled bookings are reservations that were made over the phone more than two weeks in advance. To limit your risk, you decide to require a deposit for reservations that fit this description.
As a business, it’s important to diagnose your failures just as much as your successes.
Alright, you’ve conquered the first portion on booking statistics. Now we’re going to shift gears and look more closely at your marketing and upselling efforts, namely tour add-ons and coupons.
Tour Marketing Statistics
Stat #6: Add-ons as a percentage of your revenue
Add-ons are a great upsell tactic, especially for tours working on slim margins. You can start to judge the efficacy of your add-ons by comparing the revenue they generate to your tour’s total revenue.
If the percentage is low, what might it take to make add-ons a more successful sales tool? Is it worth purchasing and storing inventory like t-shirts and water bottles if they generate a paltry sum? Could you better market your add-ons to prospective customers on your website and social media channels, or even through Google AdWords? These are just a few questions to get you thinking critically about your add-on efforts.
Stat #7: Most popular add-on by volume and value
You can’t fully evaluate your add-on program before you know which add-on(s) is/are carrying the team. I’ll show you a couple examples from some zip tours that I recently analyzed.
Zip Tour A:
|By quantity||As % of add-on revenue|
|SHORT SLEEVE T-SHIRT + TAX||19%||20%|
|TRUCKER HAT + TAX||1%||1%|
|TRIP PHOTOS + TAX||46%||60%|
|BUFF + TAX||1%||0%|
|LONG SLEEVE SHIRT + TAX||8%||12%|
Zip Tour B:
|By quantity||As % of add-on revenue|
|Helmet Cam – Basic Rental||58%||44%|
|Helmet Cam – Plus Rental||12%||13%|
|Helmet Cam – Deluxe Rental||30%||43%|
I look for add-ons with a disproportionately positive impact. Take a look at Zip Tour B’s “Helmet Cam—Deluxe Rental,” for example. It’s only 30 percent of purchases, but it’s 43 percent of all add-on revenue! That means even just a modest increase in Deluxe Rental add-ons will cause big waves on the balance sheet.
On the flipside, most people opt for the “Helmet Cam—Basic Rental,” but it doesn’t generate the majority of the add-on revenue. That’s a mismatch, proportionately. If your tour company faces a similar situation, what could you do to move the economics more in your favor?
One last interesting thing to note: You’ll see in Zip Tour A that this business offers a “Ranger Tip” as a possible add-on. For this add-on in particular, I’d mix in some of that channel analysis that we focused on in Stats #1-4. I’d want to see the difference in revenue between Ranger Tips purchased through the online checkout and those purchased in the back office. Chances are, most back office Ranger Tips are added after the tour, and therefore after the customer has felt the full value of your guides and the experience. If you find that customers tend to tip better when gratuity is added in the back office, I’d simply hide Ranger Tips from your online checkout and advertise it more strongly once the customers are on-site.
Stat #8: Coupons and discounts as a percentage of your revenue
I personally love the psychology of using coupons as a business tactic to acquire new customers, nurture one-time buyers into repeat patrons, and more. (I mean, I wrote a whole ebook on the subject.) But the same thing goes for coupons and discounts as it does for add-ons: you’re looking for disproportionality; no one wants to sell their tours short.
It’s hard to know how many customers your coupon convinced to book, and how many would’ve booked no matter what. That said, as long as the percentage of bookings with coupons is higher than the percentage of revenue you’ve sacrificed, I think your coupon campaigns are in the clear.
For instance, if a third of your bookings have coupon codes applied to them, but those discounts only amount to 15 percent of your revenue, that’s a healthy relationship.
To wrap things up…
All these statistics give you more insight into your customers and their booking experience—how they book, what they book, and when they book. That’s rule #1 of marketing, after all: know your audience.
Use these insights to challenge your current business and marketing practices. Ask questions and test new (data-driven) hunches on small scales. Your experiments might just point you toward a richer or easier way of running your tour. Let me know what happens by commenting below!