Once you have identified which markets your product might appeal to, it’s a good idea to review the actual product experience you are offering and identify any areas that might need refining to better meet the needs of those markets.
Visitors from international markets have different needs and expectations to the domestic visitor market. Understanding these will help you deliver a great experience and better appeal to the visitors you want to target.
For example, when it comes to dining, an American visitor might expect salad before a main meal and a Chinese visitor might eat dinner early, served with tea. When looking for Australian experiences, a German couple might seek out authentic Aboriginal experiences and a group from India might focus on visiting iconic city locations. Some markets will prefer to be driven in premium vehicles to see the sights, whereas others will prefer a more active or adventurous mode of transport.
From your research you should have a clear idea of your international target markets and what visitors are looking for.
What should you know?
- Their travel style or segment: Fully independent travellers (FIT), groups, couples, families, or people visiting friends and relatives (VFR).
- How long they stay: For example, short breaks, a week or two, or a once in a lifetime trip.
- Cultural nuances: The language spoken, preferences for dining or bedding configurations and expected service standards.
- Experiences they are seeking: Food and wine, Indigenous culture, coastal experiences, nature and wildlife.
Review the experience you offer
With a picture of your target customers in mind, have a critical look at your product and think about the refinements that you can make. Look at your product through your customers eyes, imagine your someone stepping into your business for the first time.
Consider all aspects of your product and the experience that you provide for both the distribution partners that you work with and their clients, the customers that visit you.
Customer expectations and travel trends are constantly changing. You need to continuously refine your product to make sure it is meeting the needs of your current customers and the potential international customers that you want to attract.
- Product presentation: First impressions count, and international visitors are often well-travelled with high standards. How does your product compare?
- Customer service: At every touch point from booking to pre arrival, on arrival and post visit. How can you improve the customer experience?
- Experience delivery: How can you make your product more immersive, experiential and educational for all visitors?
Tip: You can also tap into feedback from your staff and from previous customers, including online reviews, to help you review your product experience.
Refine and enhance your product
Here are some possible refinements that you might consider to better meet the needs of international visitors:
Review your tour frequency and timings
- Make sure your tours’ start and finish times suit your target markets
- Assess market demand for additional departures or days.
Review your tour itinerary and look for opportunities to enhance it
- Review market and trade feedback on your tour itinerary and consider suggestions to refine or improve it
- Look at what’s new in your area and consider opportunities to incorporate new or different content that may interest your target market
- Pre-arrange the purchase of any catering or transport tickets so you avoid queuing and delays on the day.
- Review the commentary you provide and seek opportunities to update with new content in line with market interest
- Review the delivery style you and your guides use to provide commentary, consider how well it suits your market and how it could be more polished.
Incorporate the five senses into your product
- Provide opportunities to touch, taste and smell as well as see and hear
- Hands-on activities where guests can participate rather than just observe.
Unexpected elements can add value to the customer experience
- Learn about your markets’ preferences and deliver them where possible, e.g., a particular type of snack or comfort
- Behind-the-scenes ‘wow’ experiences.
The state of your tour vehicle reflects on your business and is an important part of the customer experience
- Keep vehicles clean and well-presented, inside and out
- Repair or replace worn seat covers or parts
- Provide free Wi-Fi connectivity (where possible e.g.., tour vehicle)
- Address any repair needs promptly.
Aim to create an appealing entrance – this is your all-important first impression.
- Images, sounds and landscaping can help build a sense of excitement at your attraction’s entrance
- Repair, upgrade or replace damaged or faded signs and images
- A fresh coat of paint can be a cost-effective way of refreshing the entrance.
- Simplify queue systems and try to reduce queuing time, or offer fast-track entry for inbound bookings
- Consider adding shaded areas
- Explore options to positively engage your visitors during queuing.
- Ensure ticketing staff are welcoming, friendly and well-presented
- Provide all staff with customer service training including cultural awareness of your target markets
- Offer attraction information detailing exhibits and show/tour times (e.g. signboards, maps, brochures) at the point of entry. Include translated materials and signage if available
- Consider allocating ‘roaming’ staff across the site to interact with guests and provide directions and information.
Create or upgrade interpretation to enrich the visitor experience in your attraction
- Timed daily presentations and events
- Guided tours to address a particular market need, e.g. limited time on-site, up-close experiences
- Signs and other interpretation explaining exhibits on display
- Audio and video presentations
- Directional signage and maps.
Review your facilities and ensure they are at their best
- Repair or retire features of your site that are broken or untidy
- Ensure public facilities are regularly cleaned and well maintained
- Check your bins are emptied regularly to avoid overflowing
- Replace interpretation that is out of date.
Cater to your guests’ use of technology
- Provide free Wi-Fi
- Make it easy for visitors to charge electronic devices
- Provide speakers that can be used with smartphones or tablets
- Consider including options to stream or airplay content to in-room televisions.
Look for ways to refresh your reception area, as this forms the first impression for your guests
- Clear away clutter
- Play music at an appropriate sound level
- Bring in art, décor or potted plants to brighten the space
- Consider fresh paint on walls
- Consider new furniture or upholstery.
Consider improving or increasing some of the services you offer guests
- Provide all staff with customer service training including cultural
- awareness of your target markets
- Recommend local tours and attractions, offer to make bookings on behalf of guests
- Recommend local restaurants, offer to make reservations and consider offering room chargeback facilities
- Provide destination information on arrival e.g. dining, tours, attractions and maps
- Provide personalised letters to guests to welcome them on arrival or thank them on departure.
Include thoughtful extras where possible
- Provide a welcome gift on arrival, e.g. fruit, a bottle of wine, fresh flowers
- Complimentary use of robes/slippers
- Minibar items or menu options that show you understand your target markets’ needs
- Quality toiletries
- Complimentary reusable bottled water
- Transfers from nearby centres.
Incorporate local experiences
- Use local food or wine in your menu if possible
- Provide an opportunity to meet local personalities or experts.
Maintain or upgrade room features and facilities where required
- Clean kettles, hairdryers, irons and other equipment and replace any broken items
- Check bedding and towels and replace any worn or stained items.
Consider refurbishing your rooms, particularly if feedback shows they are in need of a refresh
- Change room layout
- Consider new soft furnishings such as bedspreads, cushions and rugs
- Consider new art and décor in the room
- Change curtains or blinds to create more light
- Upgrade beds, pillows, towels and linen if required
- Upgrade or replace kitchenettes if required
- Upgrade televisions and electrical equipment
- Upgrade bathroom fittings.