This week I have been travelling around southern Scotland and northern England in my van, experiencing the best of the UK heatwave and local tourism offerings. Another reminder is that local travel can inspire even after a lifetime of travelling the world.
During several calls with tourism businesses, I got various answers to this question: why do guests buy from you? None of them mentioned what I consider essential to marketing and selling well.
The underlying reason guests buy anything, including your tour or experience, is psychological tension. Guests feel tension between what they currently are experiencing and what they want to experience. A guest has a current reality that they are living in, but in their mind, they have a desired reality they want, because they
imagine life would be better than their current reality by purchasing a tour or experience you offer. Guests buy experiences and tours to resolve this psychological tension.
A tour operator who pays for a coach to help with their business does so because they feel psychological tension between the tour operation they currently have and the tour operations they imagine having in the future. They might have tour operations that are good by industry standards, but they feel chained to them. They think that it’s a bit too much hard work and they are the one who has to make every sale. They meet other tour operators who have just been on a long international holiday with their families. The dissatisfaction builds up into psychological tension. This tension drives them to buy something that might help resolve it.
You have all had guests who focused on the price or payment terms or cancellation policy, and all these things are essential. Still, they often conceal the underlying psychological tension at the true heart of guest purchase decisions.
The more you as tour operators understand this underlying tension, the easier it is to make sales. Experience providers that are clear about the tension they resolve for guests create better marketing materials, charge better prices, have more effective sales communication and deliver better guest experiences. Understanding this tension in your potential guests is essential if you want to succeed in building an exceptional tour operation.
Pain and dissatisfaction is a form of tension. You want something to stop or change. A different type of tension is desire or longing, which comes from wanting something you do not have but want. We have all been angry over the last two years at certain times, which comes from something not working the way it should. The travel industry springs to mind!
In short, every time a guest buys from you, it is an attempt to close this psychological gap between current reality and a desired, better future.