Unleash the Costume Boxes!


With fall in full force, Lori Pingle of ZipZone Canopy Tours has but two things on her mind: how to keep her guides busy and her tour volume high. Especially at this time of year, those are challenging goals for a zip tour.

Repeat business is the key to fall success. According to Paul Cummings of Strategic Adventures, the average canopy tour generates a mere 10 to 15 percent in repeat business.

In the summer, a steady influx of new vacationers helps zip tours compensate for the low level of return customers. In fall, though, the pressure’s on.

Pingle, however, is cool as a cucumber. That’s because she knows how to boost that repeat business rate, and therefore, keep her tours full and her guides occupied.

Her secret? Themed tours.

Three Reasons Why Themed Tours Work

1. They’re Different.

Ziplining can be a “bucket list” item for many people. Once someone has done it—whether in Colorado or Costa Rica—they’re likely to mentally check the box. That’s part of the reason why many zip tours don’t attract significant repeat business. But a theme reframes the experience in a new way. This can intrigue some folks enough to consider a second zip.

But to convert that consideration into a purchase, you need to deliver something different.

ZipZone does a fantastic job at this with its Freaky Flights Tours during the last week of October. Unlike a standard tour, these zips take place at night, and offer activities that guests may not have attempted before, like lobbing pumpkins while flying through the air.

2. They Add a Sense of Urgency/Buzz.

A tour like Freaky Flights spurs interest (and hopefully revenue) not only because it’s different, but also because it’s a scarce resource.

Special events or themes create a buzz in concert with basic supply and demand principles. The more supply there is, the more the demand gets spread around. So when you devise a limited-time event around a holiday or theme, people can’t help but value it more—especially if spots are disappearing quickly.

You can convey this urgency in two key places: your website and your online checkout.

When you’re launching your themed event, you may want to build a landing page like ZipZone’s. In your description of the tour, simply including “Hurry, these spots won’t last long!” can encourage a quicker purchase.

Of course, this tactic is most effective when your tour actually is selling out rapidly. In that case, emphasize this in your online checkout. If possible, you should display the few spots still open for each tour. It’s a great way of marketing the popularity of your tour, and has the added benefit of making people act more quickly on their purchases.

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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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