Published March 13, 2017
Imagine coming across a 5-year-old photo of you standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon. Memories of the trip instantly surge back, allowing you to relive parts of the experience through reminiscence.
As loyalty group travel planners, you should always tap into this lasting power of travel. After a group trip with you, members will forever tie that joyful feeling of eating pizza in Italy or the awe of the Rocky Mountains to your organization. Instead of letting that memory fade with time, do what you can to keep it strong.
Continue to engage your travelers post tour using targeted follow-up tactics after each tour. These strategies will keep your tour fresh in travelers’ minds years after the trip so they can’t wait to tell their friends they have booked yet another adventure with your program.
Ask your group to reflect on their tour before it officially ends at the farewell meal. You can hand out surveys asking groups to rate everything about the trip from the hotels to the attractions to the guides. Leave plenty of room for comments so you can fully understand their ratings.
Evaluations allow you to understand how much your travelers enjoyed the trip and what ways you might improve future tours. When you are asking them to provide their thoughts on the tour, go ahead and ask them about future trips while you have their attention.
“We come up with 12 destination options and give a survey to our members to let us know what they are most interested in,” said Nicola Wissler, education and workforce development manager for the Visalia Chamber of Commerce. “It helps us plan for future trips. If there is consistent interest in one trip that we can’t do yet, we’ll save it for a future year.”
Prioritize the answers of past travelers, since these members are more likely to book your tours in the future.
In these handouts, don’t just ask about the tour and future destinations; also let them know what upcoming trips the organization is promoting now, before the euphoria from the present tour has worn off.
After a vacation, people tend to fall back into old routines, so a well-timed email filled with photos from your recent trip helps travelers reconnect with the group. You can either send some of your photos from the trip or send out a Dropbox invitation so everyone can post their photos in one place.
Make sure you at least send out a group photo you took somewhere during the trip, since they may not have such a photo. People tend to treasure photos, so if you want a souvenir that won’t be thrown out, send some images of their trip by email or mail. Carolyn Grieve, business development and adventure coordinator for Arvest Bank Benton County, used photography not only to jog people’s memories about their recent trip but also to spread the word about the bank’s tours.
“I created a brag book of each trip that they would be telling their neighbors and friends about,” said Grieve. “I put pictures of everyone that went on the trip as a memory tool for my customers. I had a number of people after that called me and said they didn’t know the bank offered trips until they saw their friend’s brag book.”
Social media can also engage your group and others post trip. For example, one Facebook post from your page that tags other members will allow the travelers and their social media connections to see the image. With social media, you can even post something a year later as a reminder of last year’s fun that might encourage them to go ahead and sign up for another trip.
Experiencing the grandeur of a destination together can bond people in ways that can’t be duplicated. Veterans of group travel know how quickly strong friendships can form on the road, which is why you should help cement those ties after the trip.
When you send out photos post trip, include the email addresses of the other travelers in the information. If your members agree to share their contact information, it is an easy way for the group to keep tabs on each other.
Travelers who made friends on one of your group tours are likely to book other trips, since they know they can make those close bonds on a tour where they might not know anyone else. Some travelers might even develop lasting friendships, where they book tours together to stay connected.
However, if for no other reason, you should always follow up with your members post trip because you benefit from the authentic connections made during these tours as well. Many group travel planners admit these friendships are their favorite part of the job.
“I love keeping in touch with groups after the trip,” said Amy Klus, assistant director, alumni travel for Northwestern University. “The group I went to Florence with still emails each other, and that trip was a couple of years ago. The best part is making those personal connections.”