Adventure & Tourism sector in India has grown exponentially in the last few years. Among them, the Trekking & Hiking category is receiving a lot of attractions. This is because slowly & lately people are preferring natural experiential trips to the luxurious ones. This sudden boom in demand has created the opportunity for tourism in the untouched places of India till date. With demand comes the service to cater it & thus the establishment of Hiking & Trekking Business. The fuel for every business is its promotion strategy so that the right set of the audience is created at right time & finally generates revenue. In this blog, we shall focus on how can your Hiking & Trekking Business create a strong brand presence.
A) How to decide your trekking event?
The important aspect of promotion is to decide the right destination for the right type of event at the right time. First, you need to select the destination as to where you want to organize in India. Time is nothing but the season that shall favor your trekking event. Accordingly, you must decide whether you want to organize a trek on weekends or a longer trek.
Weekend treks are predominantly organized within 100 km of a major metro to attract urban population whereas long duration treks are organized to attract core adventure enthusiasts.
Popular destinations where trekking & hiking usually takes place all around the year with best seasons favoring them is shown in tabular format below:
India has 4 regions for treks: Himalayas (Ladakh to Himachal), North East (Sikkim, Arunachal, Darjeeling), Sahyadri (Western Ghats) and Nilgiris (Ooty, Kodaikanal). Popular destinations where trekking & hiking usually takes place all around the year with best seasons favoring them is shown in tabular format below:
B) Understanding your Target Audience
The most important factor that influences a customer in choosing a trek is the popularity of the destination. The customer would search for must-visit destinations, word of mouth, past visuals and look to people who have visited those destinations in the past.
Next step of the customer is to look for top trek operators who organize the trek in the chosen destination. For customers, to choose a trek organizer, there lies an inherent trust factor – the customer would research in excruciating detail before making a choice.
The factors that usually influence the customers in choosing the trekking tour are:
a) Online popularity of the organizer, testimonials, and reviews by past customers.
b) The cost of an adventure tour and the value for money.
c) The services and amenities offered (e.g. pickup and drop facility, meals, etc.)
d) The cost of related products (e.g. airline tickets, bus tickets) which are not covered in the tour cost.
e) The budget or income of target customers.
f) The difficulty level of the trek.
g) The tour operators’ team and guides experience level
Based on the above factors the behavior pattern of customers vary in terms of expenditure, interest, amenities provided etc. The most important thing here is how should you package your event product for these set of audiences. For solving this issue, we created four segments of customers ranging in the age group of 18 – 70 years as shown below
From the above chart, we can take down certain insights as:
a) When you target leisure trekkers, offer flexibility by adding both physical as well as cultural activities.
b) For Trekking Enthusiasts focus on challenges your trek can offer. Provide plenty of information about the trek, the level of difficulty, the elevation, the weather they can expect etc.
c) Young Leisure trekking travelers are good money spinners as well as they have a strong online presence. The best way to target them is by providing luxurious packages having tie-ups with good resorts for the stay.
C) How strong is your online presence?
At Townscript, we further deep dived into the customer segments & made a weighted calculation of their research trends. We covered almost all the channels where the customers mostly tend to inquire about adventure tours.
From the above chart, we can easily deduce that having an online presence of your business is the best way to attract trekking & travel enthusiasts. Therefore, we shall strongly focus on how can we exploit the online medium at our best use.
1) Did you create your Website & is it Mobile Optimized?
Unless you’re a business owner who is not interested in growing your brand, you need to have a website.
These days building a business website is easier than ever with tools like WordPress, Shopify, etc. and it doesn’t cost much money. However, not having a website would adversely impact your brand recognition.
Having a business website isn’t just about selling your goods and services — it’s also about providing something of value to potential customers. Did you know that active and budding trekkers prefer to explore the organizer’s website before making a decision? This is the single most important reason to have a website in the trekking business!
It’s important to have a website that is mobile optimized, provides your event details as well as an integrated booking system. Townscript (Event Registration Tool) allows easy integration with your website complete with a booking and payment system & you are charged a small fee only when a transaction takes place.
2) Are you promoting your event on social media? Are using the right social media tools?
Having a Facebook page today is as important as having a website if you are in the trekking business. In addition to Facebook presence, having an Instagram presence and integrating it with your Facebook page would consequently develop the interest in the potential trekkers.
Implementing a social media strategy majorly on Facebook will greatly increase your brand recognition since you will be engaging with a broader audience and help you in building Facebook as a lead generation engine. Get employees, business partners, and sponsors to “like” and “share” your Facebook Event Page and Instagram profile. Simply having people interact with your content will increase brand awareness and begin building your reputation as a business. Create Facebook events and linking them to your website helps in increasing the reach and visibility of the latter.
Regularly post stories on both Facebook and Instagram, update videos, and upload past events photos and pictures. Ask your customers to review your page as well. Each post that is shared will be introduced to a new network of individuals, which can lead them to become potential customers, and the more people who know about your event, the better.
One more important tool that Facebook offers is paid and sponsored ads. Facebook powers you to run multiple types of ads on the basis of your targeted goal i.e. engagement, leads, traffic, etc. Your efforts with Facebook Ads will bring new traffic to your website. Facebook Ads will help you more frequently capture qualified leads or make sales.
3) Is your ranking highest in search results? Are you ranking higher in search results?
SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is all about getting your website to appear as high as possible in search results. You can do this by:
- Thinking about what your target customer would search for on Google, and incorporating these keywords into your website content.
- Is your landing page optimized for the right keywords that will increase the chance of finding your website through organic searches?
- Creating a separate landing page for each set of keywords you want to rank helps in you better ranking in search results.
- Creating unique content that hasn’t been published elsewhere online
- Writing blog posts with unique content and right intent helps you in creating more engagement with your potential audience.
Google Adwords (an advertising service by Google) helps the businesses in establishing their ads on Google. This service largely focuses on keywords. These keywords are the trend patterns of how trekkers search for a Trekking Tour company on Google. Utilizing these words in your ads, blogs, the website helps in increasing your website ranking on search engine.
D) Are you aggressively using Whatsapp?
Rajat Uppal National Marketing Head Red FM said: “WhatsApp is the new SMS”. It has slowly become the most wanted marketing tool for any business. Communications for the target customers in trekking sector is majorly informal. And it goes without saying which is the best tool to reach out to the audience in this category. Many trek organizers give equal or greater importance to WhatsApp for engaging with the audience, increasing repeat participation and making their existing customers as their brand ambassadors for getting new participation.
1. WhatsApp for customer communication
If you do your follow-ups over WhatsApp instead of phone calls you get 40% more response. Furthermore, this gives the opportunity to be a little informal. You can easily create groups & keep updating the trekkers about event insights, itinerary etc.
2. WhatsApp for Marketing & Promotions
You can use WhatsApp to send images, video clippings of your latest trek. Make use of WhatsApp for your existing Loyal customers. A direct connect to customers with engaging & attractive videos, images of nature surrounding your trek is the ultimate USP for your event.
A simple Google search will show hundreds of trek organizers in India offering a wide range of trekking and adventure events across the country. As a Trek organizer, it is extremely important for you to provide a competitive advantage to your customers. This can include season suitable trekking activities, flexible booking, complimentary breakfast or just a free WiFi! Agreed, this would require you to cut margins but this would go long way to make a lasting impression on your customers! Also, with social media more popular than ever, marketing & promotions on social media is irrefutable. Travel and vacation were the most used hashtags on Twitter & Instagram in 2017. Proper SEO can go in a long way making you visible without any additional cost. Marketing and Promotion and a customer-centric approach by understanding customers and their needs can do wonders for any company and trekking business are no different!