Why Your Tour Branding Shouldn’t Stop Once Guests are on the Tour

So much thought goes into tour branding; the colors, the tone, the brand mission, the images, the story…however with most tours, all of that unique branding disappears once guests arrive on the actual tour and are alone with their guide.

Prefer to listen & watch?  This article has a video version.

Truly special and unique experiences are the ones that get valuable word-of-mouth marketing.  And that doesn’t mean you need to have really random and unique tours.  It’s about bringing your unique lens and mission to whatever experience you offer, be it white water rafting or a beer tour through Prague.

A bonus effect to making your brand more memorable, is that experiences with strong branding make it much easier to keep consistency across guides, across tours, or even across cities/countries if you expand.

Below are three steps to branding your tour.

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How to Brand Your Tour Experience in Three Steps

1. Communicate your brand to your team.

It’s easy to forget that at the end of the day, it’s just your guests and your guide out there on the tour. Which makes it imperative that they fully understand not only your brand, but how it should be integrated into the tour.

The first step is to set internal facing ‘why’, purpose & values. If you already have these set, but in customer-facing form, you’ll need to re-write them so that they make sense for your guides.

For example, a customer-facing ‘why’ might be;

“We help you stay active on your trip by combining the must-see sights with the best local jogging routes.”

With a slight edit, the internal-facing version might be:

“We get health-obsessed travelers out of the boring hotel gyms and out into our city by turning a jog into a sight-seeing experience.”

It’s a very subtle difference however the first one probably won’t resonate with guides at all.  The ‘you’, in that first version is the customer, whereas the ‘we’ in the second version includes the guide.

While values can take a bit more work to rewrite, they can be built into the employee experience from hiring to onboarding to team meetings to evaluations.  Your customer, in this exercise, is your guides.  And if you don’t incorporate the values into their experience, how can you expect them to incorporate them into the guest’s experience?

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2. Integrate brand points into your tour.

One of my favorite tools to create is a branded tour checklist.  This should include points that your guide should hit, broken up into each section of the tour;

  • Before the Tour
  • Tour Intro
  • During the Tour
  • Tour Ending

For example, let’s pretend you run a food tour and one of your values is; ‘Promotes Local Eating’.  In the ‘During the Tour’ section, you might put;

  • At each food stop, make sure to point out the local ingredients and explain what about this dish you won’t find in the next town/region over.

Or maybe one of your company values (again, internal facing, not for customers) is; ‘Always Ask Questions’. In the ‘Tour Intro’ section, you might put;

  • Remind guests that you WANT them to ask any and all questions (and let them know the best times to do, e.g. in between stops, or at any time if you have a preference)

Beware the temptation to fill this list with ONLY housekeeping items (e.g. ask guests for allergies, mention the brand at the beginning, collect guest emails at the end of the tour).

Also beware of adding too many items, the longer the list is, the less likely guides are going to incorporate it (you don’t want to be giving them more work).  The points should be general enough that guides can still incorporate their own style and personalities.

3. Turn guides into Brand Ambassadors.

This step is more of an aspiration, the end result if you communicate the brand to your guides properly. When working with tour operators and their teams on internal branding I always say that my ultimate goal is for a guide, when asked what they do at a party to say “I work for X company and it’s so amazing!” As opposed to saying generically “I’m a tour guide”.

Ways you can do that?

Make your guides feel like part of the company, there should be value in working with you. You can do that through a regular newsletter, team meetings, and just generally keeping them in the loop of the larger company, being transparent and making an effort to educate them on general industry acumen (you’d be surprised how many guides have never even looked at the tour they give on your website, a really vital thing for them to manage expectations).

When you have guides proud to wear your branded gear and telling your customers about other tours they can take with you, you know you’ve done it right.

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2022-08-29T22:07:15-04:00January 11th, 2022|