10 Steps To Grow Your Tour Business How one small business grew revenue by over $450,000 in one year.

Tour Booking System + Sales Formula Yields Big Results

(Chip) Welcome to our webinar today!

I’m Chip Broyles, Director of Business Development at RESMARK. I have our CEO Brandon Lake with me today, who is also the co-founder of Moab Adventure Center and an owner of Western River Expeditions, which is one of the largest rafting companies in America.

(Brandon) It’s good to be with you Chip! I’m really excited about our topic today. We’re going to be covering a 10-step formula that Moab Adventure Center has implemented this year. We’ve really seen some great sales progress as a result.

(Chip) Brandon, I’m excited to get into this, but before we get started, let me just give some quick background on RESMARK.

For those who don’t know, we’ve recently launched a brand new RESMARK platform. It’s an all-in one reservation and marketing solution that handles reservations, digital waivers, marketing automation, and distribution management.

The new RESMARK and WaiverSign platform is used by hundreds of companies all over the world. One of these companies is Moab Adventure Center.

Brandon, why don’t you give us a little background on Moab Adventure Center and get into how and why you’ve implemented this 10-step formula…

(Brandon) Absolutely! So, I’m going to back way up here, so everyone has a little better understanding of how Moab Adventure Center and RESMARK got started.

Our story really begins back in 2002.

Our operation in Moab, Utah was struggling to turn a significant profit. We had contemplated shutting down multiple times as we couldn’t seem to find the right strategy to grow this business.

About this time my wife and I, back when I had some sweet sideburns, took my mom on vacation to Branson, Missouri.

Now, here’s the interesting thing about Branson it has a population just over 11,000. It attracts over 7.2 million annual visitors. Branson has more theater seats than Broadway in New York.

During our trip, I quickly learned how they were filling nearly every seat, every night, all year long. When you booked a show like Shoji Tabuchi, they would also sell you tickets to the Acrobats of Shanghai and the Hollywood Wax Museum. If you bought tickets to the Hollywood Wax museum, they’d sell you tickets to Jim Stafford and Elvis and Frank Sinatra and it goes on and on.

Now, keep in mind this is in 2002, well before online ticketing services were a big deal. These businesses had truly figured out how to work together for the benefit of every business and as a result they’re now generating over $2 billion in tourism revenue every year.

As I return home, I realize that in Moab, Utah we’re doing exactly the opposite.

If you walked down the main street of Moab in 2002 you would find companies selling rafting tours, National Park tours, Off-road tours, Horseback riding, Rock climbing, Mountain biking, and the list goes on and on.

Not one of them is collaborating with each other, making it totally inconvenient and confusing for someone on vacation to plan a full week of activities and wasting the potential they had to be more successful by helping one another.

At the time we were selling rafting tours. And that was it. Our annual guest count was only about 3,000 people.

One day, my partner and I were on a drive back from Moab after visiting a new potential location for our property and we were discussing a new concept.

We would call it “Moab Adventure Center.”

We would sell every type of tour from the very best suppliers in the area, in addition to our own tours. The vision soon became a reality - and tour bookings shot up by 300% in the first year.

The problem was, we were taking every booking using pen and paper which, given the number of people we were booking, was totally inefficient. We knew we needed a tour booking system, but at that time, there were very few reservation systems on the market and nothing matched our vision of what was needed.

We were a small business and we wanted a tour booking system that would automate sales processes along the entire customer journey and help facilitate our supplier relationships.

After 3 years and a substantial investment in development, the first version of RESMARK was launched. The impact at Moab Adventure Center was incredible. Tour bookings skyrocketed and our cost of sales decreased substantially. But, after about 10 years of significant growth our bookings at Moab Adventure Center began to plateau, and since about 2014, we just hadn’t seen much increase.

(Chip) You might expect a curve like that in some businesses, but knowing what I know about visitation to the Moab during those years, this is probably more concerning.

(Brandon) That’s right! This might not be concerning if the we knew we had the same amount of travelers in town each of these years but it is more concerning when you see that visitation is increasing by hundreds of thousands of people over the same time period. It’s even more concerning when you see this happening on our website.

In 2014, we see a slight drop in overall sessions. In 2015 an even bigger drop In 2016, still dropping. Now, in case this isn’t sinking in, all these red numbers - those are not good.

(Chip) Yeah, I’m thinking, if everything was green, that would be better.

(Brandon) Now in 2017, things start to fall off even more. So, in 2018, we put together a new formula to turn this around. By the end of the same year, we also launch the new RESMARK platform and we’re ready to see the impact of all of it.

This is what we’re going to talk about today. It’s a 10-step formula that completely turned things around for Moab Adventure Center and one you can use to grow your own business.

(Chip) I’m getting excited. I feel like we should play some music from Rocky right now.

(Brandon) I know! I love this stuff!

Now, we’ll have future webinars to dig deeper into each one of these steps, but today, we’re going to briefly touch on each.

The results you’re about to see relate to Moab Adventure Center, but I want everyone to understand that the concepts we’re discussing aren’t just for Moab Adventure Center or only for tour companies. They really apply to any experience.

I’m hoping you’ll find you can apply them to YOUR business.

So whether you’re selling Tubing experiences for kids or tractor pulling for seniors, I’m hoping you’ll see some application for at least some, if not all, of these steps.

Let’s get into it!

Step 1: Drive online booking traffic

We started by asking one simple question. What is it that our potential customers are asking about your business, your industry, or your location? For Moab Adventure Center, it’s all those people driving through Arches National Park each year and staying in Moab, Utah. What do they want to know about the area?

Where does most of the world go when they want to know something? Google, right?

People ask everything to Google.

You know how you can start a query in google and google will predict what you going to type based on other similar queries. It’s crazy what people ask. Take a look at this. People are asking google what would…an accountant would use a spreadsheet for? I mean, really? They ask, what would an alien look like?

My favorite, what would a chair look look like if your knees bent the other way? I know you’re trying to envision this right now. I had to look. There it is.

All the answers to world’s most important questions.

Now, back to what matters for our business.

Using some SEO tools, we find out what are people asking google about Arches & Moab.

These were some questions we found to be common:

-What should I do in Moab?

-Can you drive through Arches National Park?

-Where to camp in Arches National Park?

-Lodging in Moab

-Best Mountain Bike Trails in Moab

-Top Restaurants in Moab

Once we know the questions, what do we do? We answer them by building content.

We build the content on our website.

In our case, we built pages about driving through Arches National Park, Lodging in Moab, and The best mountain bike trails. In all, we built 1,220 pages of content and refined each of them for speed and optimal content (which we’ll cover in another webinar devoted entirely to this topic).

The result?

We’re getting top organic rankings on driving through Arches National Park, Moab lodging, Bike trails in Moab, and hundreds of other keyword phrases. This gives us a 29 percent increase in new users coming to the website from organic traffic. That’s 42,000 more users from organic traffic.

That’s 42,000 more users from organic traffic and $354,000 more in revenue.

(Chip) Now that’s not really free because you had to build the content.

(Brandon) That’s right. But unlike a paid ad, when we stop paying, we still get results.

But the increase in revenue didn’t come simply from having more traffic.

Notice the increase in revenue is much greater as a percentage.

(Chip) Wow! That’s a 64% increase.

(Brandon) Compared to a 29% increase in users. So, what did we do to convert so much more of the organic traffic than before?

Step 2: Initiate contact


Marketing is about conversations. It always has been. So, how do you get the conversation started? We implemented 3 ways to initiate contact. Of course, our main goal is that someone hits the site and books several tours right away, but when that doesn’t happen immediately, these 3 items are key.

First, we made our phone number super easy to find. In our case, we put right at the top of the website inside a box that draws attention.

Second, we added live chat to our website. We tried to make it obvious and even make it appear automatically, like someone walking up to you in a retail store.

And third, we came up with something valuable to our customers. We offer to email it to them. It’s an “Insider’s Guide to Moab.” It has information on restaurants, things to do, an area map, lots of fun information that only an insider would know.

People love it!

We’ve had this guide for several years, but this time, we tried something new. We put this form on the bottom of almost every page on our website. It’s incredible how many more leads we’re getting.

To build the form, we go into RESMARK.

Under CruiseControl, we can build unlimited lead forms. They’re super easy and you have all the fields you want, plus custom fields. Then you copy the embed code and put it in the website.

Now, whenever anyone fills out the form, we are notified and their contact information is automatically added to RESMARK. In fact, if they already had a record. Their information is updated with the new request.

We’re now driving more traffic to the website and we’ve implemented 3 easy ways to initiate contact.

Which brings us to our next step.

Step 3: Follow-up and convert the lead into a booking

Within cruise control, you can set up as many lead follow-up emails as you want. Here you can see the first few emails we have set up for Moab Adventure Center.

To create a message, you simply click “New Message”. Select the type of message you want. Enter your parameters as to when you want the message to trigger. This can be days, hours or minutes after the lead is created. Then customize your message.

The key with these is to try and be helpful and personal. You can see in this email, we’re sending a link to a video. Here, our operations manager, as a Moab local, explains how to make the most of your time in Moab.

Other emails like this one are super short and simply ask a question.

(Chip) So, it looks like the goal with this one is really just to start a conversation.

(Brandon) That’s exactly right! The intention of the other email example to drive them back to the website. Messages like this are simply to start a conversation so we can help them. And it’s great to use both types.

(Chip) So what happens when someone books?

(Brandon) That’s the beauty of having CruiseControl built directly inside RESMARK! As soon as a person makes a booking, the follow-up emails stop automatically and a different string of messages begin.

This process is what we refer to as marketing automation. It’s automatic because RESMARK takes care of it for us.

Nucleus Research conducted a study, revealing that sales grew by 14.5 percent for companies when marketing automation software was implemented. Those same companies experienced a 12.2 percent reduction in marketing costs. Now, generally, marketing automation can be quite challenging to set up. But, as you can see, when you have this built in to the same tour booking system where all your bookings happen, the process becomes much more simple.

As so many of these messages will keep driving your potential customer back to your website.

Step 4: Make booking tours and activities easy

How much of a difference does this really make? Take a look at this. After we implemented what I’m about to show you, along with the new RESMARK platform, we saw our online revenue increase by over half a million dollars.

Here’s what we did.

First, wherever we list a tour, we make sure there is a simple path to purchase. A prominent call to action that you DON’T have to search for. When we present various pages for each tour we make sure that button is in the same place for every page.

We also present the same button in multiple places on the page. Once again, if we have a similar page for a different tour. You’ll find consistency. This all seems super simple, but it’s amazing how often it gets overlooked.

Now, in addition to this, you of course want to ensure that the tour booking process itself is as easy as possible.

I’ll do a quick walk through of our online tour booking process, using the booking flow I have embedded here from RESMARK.

- Click book my adventure

- Select any pickup options

- Enter my quantity

- Select a date

- Select my preferred start time

- Click “add to cart”

- Review my selection

- Enter my information

- Agree to the policies

- Complete my order with any payment that is due

Now, one thing you’ll notice here is that RESMARK didn’t ask for information from all the participants. Resmark ONLY asks for the customer information on this initial step.

The reason is, the more information and decisions that people have to make during the tour booking process, the fewer people actually make it through checkout.

So, again, the tip here is to “make the tour booking process easy” for your customers.

Step 5: Collect the participant data

Now, you’ll soon see why this part of our formula is so critical for steps 6 and 7, but let me quickly show you how we collect participant data. After I submit this payment I’m actually taken to the confirmation and my booking is complete, but then something immediately pops up.

I’m told that one or more guests are missing required details.I love this step in RESMARK and what is about to follow, because it makes all the difference to our marketing and customer service.

The person clicks “View Guests” in the little window. They are taken down to this section of the page where they’re prompted to enter missing details for each guest. Now, using the custom fields in RESMARK, I can collect anything I need to operate this tour, but I’m not yet worried about all the important contact information.

At this step, the person simply fills out the fields I need to operate this tour, clicks save, and is brought to this point.

They see that they need to sign some required documents prior to their participation. This is where we see WaiverSign really beautifully built right into RESMARK.

They click “Get Started” and they fill in all the information that will be used in the process of signing their documents. This is where we’re going to get phone numbers, date of birth, address information.

Once they’ve filled that out, they click next. They read through the document. Apply their signature and they are done!

They’re then taken right back where they started. You’ll notice the record is now green and cannot be changed again unless the person calls the company.

(Chip) So, we’ve gathered the customer information which is great because we have some additional contact and demographic information for our customer, but we would usually get that anyways, right?

(Brandon) That’s true. But, the magic of the formula, really starts with getting data for these additional guests. It gets even more exciting when many of our reservations have several participants. Using WaiverSign we can collect contact and demographic information for every one of them.

You can view the real-time results of that data collection directly in the tour booking system. In fact, when we started using WaiverSign together with Resmark, we’ve tripled our email database and collected all the other valuable data for these guests.

(Chip) So, this really makes a difference as to how you can interact with not just the customer, but also the other guests?

(Brandon) That is the key. And that is exactly what will make the difference in our next steps of the formula.

(Chip) So, hold on a minute. Before we go into these next steps, let’s review where we’re at in our formula.

Step 1 was to drive online traffic. We built lots of pages to answer the questions that our potential customers were asking. As a result, we saw the big increase in organic traffic.

Step 2 was to initiate contact. We make sure we have a prominent phone number, an obvious chat function, and a simple lead form.

Now that we have more leads, we need a tour booking system to follow up and convert more sales (Step 3). Using RESMARK, we set up several automatic emails to follow up with our leads.

Step 4 was to make booking EASY. We made sure we had prominent, consistent booking buttons, and the easy tour booking process from RESMARK. As a result of all this, we saw this massive increase in sales.

STEP 5 was to collect participant data. We did this by using WaiverSign after the booking was completed. Which helped us to collect information for each participant. As they signed their individual waivers. This gives us more contact information, not just for the customer but for every adult participant on the reservation.

(Brandon) That’s it! And as we mentioned before, having that contact information for every participant is key to these next steps.

So, once we have this, we are ready to move to STEP 6.

Step 6: Begin the tour and activity experience

Now, most of us might think of the experience as the tour or activity itself. But we have a window of time when we can further strengthen our relationship with our guests. That window occurs between the time of booking and the start time of the activity itself. The window might be less than 7 days, meaning they’re likely in town already and we have a chance to only have maybe one or two touch points before the activity. The window might be more than 7 days, several months or over a year in advance, in which case, we might have an opportunity for several touch points.

We have to think about both groups.

In RESMARK, we have 2 sets of messages. Messages that are sent out a certain number of days after purchase or booking. Messages that are sent out a certain number of days before the activity.

Now, while some of these are reminders about unsigned waivers, payments due and other time-saving messages, within these time frames, I really like to send 3 types of messages.

First, I like to send messages like this one that up-sell other experiences. The more these people experience with us, the more connected to their overall experience they will be and the stronger our relationship.

Notice the little send option at the top of the screen. You can actually choose whether you want your messages to go out to the customer only or ALL the other people on the reservation as well.

(Chip) So, this is why gathering that contact information for all participants is such a big deal?

(Brandon) Right! It might be my my wife who opens the email and says, “Hey, let’s some other activities.” And that makes a big difference! I’m usually setting each email to send to all participants for most of these emails.

Second, I like to send messages that help set expectations. If we ever get any negative reviews, they are more often related to a gap with expectations regarding water levels and weather - both things that are completely out of our control.

This one goes out just before thee trip if someone has booked a full or half-day rafting trip.

(Chip) I like that! I could see this make a really big difference in reviews.

(Brandon) Third, I like to send messages that provide information that is truly helpful for our guests. In this email, we provide a link to a video of our CEO talking about the best ways to get to Moab and get around while in town.

(Chip) I can see how setting this up would really help set you apart from the competition and make your guests grateful they chose Moab Adventure Center.

(Brandon) And it totally does! We get so many comments about the helpful communication received before before the trip. We love it. And the beauty of it is that it’s always consistent because RESMARK is sending it for us automatically, every time.

(Chip) But what if you don’t want to send an email for a certain activity?

(Brandon) Great question! One really cool thing about RESMARK is that you can set messages to send only when certain activities are booked or even send different messages for each activity. You can also see exactly what messages every contact has opened and even the exact links they’ve clicked, including the date and time they clicked them.

Pretty awesome stuff!

So, once you’ve up-sold other activities, sent helpful communications to your guests, set expectations, and your guest has had the experience they always dreamed of. You’re ready to move to the next step.

Step 7: Solicit sharing

After you’ve really created this relationship with your guests, not just through the activity itself, but the whole interaction with your company, this step becomes very natural and even more effective.

We solicit sharing in 2 ways.

The first, of course, is to get all our participants to share their experience in the form of a review.

Now, I’m sure everyone is doing this, but the fact that we now have contact information for every participant from our digital waiver integration, our chances of getting more reviews goes way up.

In our case, we send a message to every guest that makes it easy to share reviews on trip advisor, Facebook, yelp, and google.

The next way we ask people to share might not be something that everyone is doing.

We make it easy for them to share their stories on our website and then, share those published stories with their friends.

An email is triggered by RESMARK after the trip. The guests are directed to our website where they can upload and picture and write their story. Some stories are short and sweet. Others are much longer. Each of them end up creating content for the website that helps with search results.

In fact, we do the same thing on our Western River Expeditions website and posts like these have created over 3,000 pages for us.

Then you start to see some rankings for words like freaking awesome. Which, sure enough, has about 300 people that type in that phrase every month!

(Chip) and that is freaking awesome! What a great way to automatically build content that drives traffic.

(Brandon) That’s exactly what I love about it!

You’ll notice that these first 7 steps of our formula feed each other and create a cycle. We often like to portray it like this.

It’s the journey of our guests and RESMARK facilitates each step of the way, allowing us to see big increases in satisfaction and revenues.

The last couple steps of our formula bring customers into this cycle from a slightly different angle. Let’s run through these. For Moab Adventure Center, they’ve provided some significant results.

Step 8:Get bookings from other local sources

Using RESMARK TrueConnect, we were able to give complimentary RESMARK accounts to both outside travel agents and local hotels and even other tour providers. So far this year. This has generated over $143,000 in additional revenue from local sources. And this is only those who logged in directly to the system without even having to take any of our time on the phone.

Step 9: Sell tours and activities from other local sources

Using RESMARK TrueConnect, we’ve been able to not only have other companies sell for us, but we’ve also been able to sell the tours from other local suppliers. Since we’re looking directly at their real-time availability, as if we were just an extension of their office, we’ve been able to sell with far less friction and inefficiency. The result?

The new RESMARK platform has helped us generate over $313,000 in additional revenue over selling the same supplier tours the previous year.

Step 10: Repeat, report and refine

We use the reports in RESMARK as well as our analytics reports and continue to constantly improve this process.

(Chip) I love it. From the numbers, this formula has really turned things around for Moab Adventure Center. When you find something that works this well, it only makes sense to keep doing it and continually improve it.

I’m looking forward to hearing more of what you continue to learn in coming months as we continue this webinar series and dig into each of these steps!

Thanks Brandon! We’ve touched on some really important practices today that can really make a difference for a lot of companies.

Before we close today, let’s take a few questions. I’ve already received some as we’ve been talking. Feel free to send any question you have via the chat.

Questions
Q: I’ve been using WaiverSign for the past 6 months and I love it. After hearing this, I’m thinking about maybe upgrading to the full application so I can have my participants register online and have everything in one tour booking system. What is the upgrade process and how easy it?

A: Contact support at help@waiversign.com. They’ll turn everything on for you. They’ll help you’ll get your events or activities set up as well as your payment processing…

Q: Can you turn permissions on or off for each user in RESMARK?

Q: How much flexibility would my reservations staff have in customizing in-house bookings on the fly? Can they do things like change pricing, change payment due dates, or other details?

A: Edit pricing, change deposit and balance amounts and due dates, customize discounts, add comments, personal the confirmation email, even edit the product name on a per-reservation basis. (chip) We would be happy to run through all of that on a demo.

Q: Do you guys have any kiosk / check-in features?

A: Resmark check-in, waiver sign kiosk

College basketball tournament, 30 kiosks, 50,000 waivers in 48 hours.

These are some great questions! For any of you interested, we’d be happy to get on a personal demo and show you how your products would look in RESMARK, see if it would be a good fit, and help you get this 10-step formula in place.