Nine ways to growth hack your tour and activity brand in Asia

Anita Duffin on 18 January 2019

B2C online marketing tactics for experiential travel brands in Asia Pacific are not always straightforward. This is true when comparing places like Southeast Asia to more homogeneous markets like the UK or China, for example. 

Some stakeholders like to use the word ‘growth hacking.’ But alas, too many are simply just using it to sound smart and progressive at trade shows. However, just because it’s a hyped term doesn’t mean it’s not real and beneficial. 

Here’s a broad definition: ‘Growth hacking is a process of rapid experimentation across the marketing funnel, product development, sales segments and other areas of the business to identify the most efficient ways to grow a business.’  

For operators in Asia, this relates primarily to getting the right message to the right audience at the right time and in the right place (e.g. web and mobile), all while offering a simple-as-pie way for them to instantly book. 

In no particular order, here are nine ways to growth hack your tour and activity brand in Asia. 

1. Get a strong domain


When it comes to picking out a domain name (URL) for your brand’s website, the objective here is anticipate what your audience will often type into Google. First, do some research to know what your customers are truly hunting for via search engine. 

For example, if you can ascertain that your guests are likely to key in “top outdoor adventures in Cambodia,” then you would do well to purchase a domain like www.cambodia-adventures.com (or something similar). 

Some experts argue that having a strong domain name is the single most effective way to get your audience to land on your page. 

Tip: Don’t worry if your original site doesn’t match with the desired domain. You can still just get the domain (provided the price is reasonable) and have it redirect to your main site, or even just turn it into some kind of clever lead magnet.     

2. Foster a community instead of buying ads


Instead of spending an arm and a leg on perishable Facebook advertisements (which must compete with all your Asian competitors), try building a ‘Group’ for free. Rounding up all your past and potential customers into a Facebook group is a way to get your ad messages and seasonal promotions out to them each quarter without spending a dime. 

Be advised, this will require some focus on incentivising your audience to join the group, but if successful, your long-term ad spend decreases, while customer engagement and retention may rise significantly.

3. Capitalise on contests


Savvy operators know that digital content marketing (via blogging, images and videos) is a must-have for an Asian audience. Be smart about how to get the best bang for your buck. Run a competition to get priceless organic distribution and a bona fide stockpile of great content to repurpose. 

There’s no need to pay people individually to write, post and share about your brand. Trying to do this can become astronomically expensive if you’re aiming to harness the power of hundreds—let alone thousands—of content creators. 

Instead, build a contest whereby bloggers, vloggers or amatuer photographers get to experience your activity, and then must post about it and share the content on social media. 

Tip: Set the rules so that your brand also gets the right to reuse all the submissions. 

When all is said and done, you should be able to take stock of your achieved exposure, and also have an arsenal of content that you can repost on your company’s owned media assets (blog, YouTube channel, etc).         

4. Kick ass with keyword planning


Learning how to use Google Keyword Planner may sound like a truly daunting undertaking, but once you start getting the hang of the basics, you’ll be glad you did. In addition to helping you win the SEO game across multiple Asian markets and languages, it can also help you know which month and which targeted location users are searching most for your experience package. This will prove priceless as you make a roadmap to wisest possible annual marketing spend. 

5. Make a game out of it


If you run a rock climbing camp in Laos, then your North Star metric should be getting large groups to book online. In terms of customer onboarding, you could try ‘unlocking’ experience benefits when users book in groups of 15, 20 or more. 

One example could be offering free photography of the climbers in action. Another could be comping guests with free lunch catering if they reach a head count of 11 or more. 

6. Incentivise social sharing


This one is super simple but can be effective. Gain increased organic exposure by offering a discount to netizens who share your branded content on social media. This can lead to new customers but can also help retain previous ones who, in turn, can become digital evangelists for your brand.   

7. Chat them up


In terms of increasing your site’s conversion rate, some operators fail to remember that web visitors are humans, and thus respond well to conversational interactions. 

Installing an automated chatbot to say hello to web visitors can work wonders in terms of converting apprehensive visitors. 

Tip: If you don’t want to spend on complex tech like chatbots, there are many free and simple live chat apps that can let your team have real-time dialogues with on-site visitors.   

8. Offer something free and super useful


One of the best ways to get people to visit your website (and thus more likely to book and make referrals) is to give something away for free. But it shouldn’t just be some useless widget. Think hard about what your target clients really need before they come.

For example, if you run a surf school in Bali, then offer a free downloadable e-book on mastering the basics of the sport. People can read it on their mobile or tablets during the plane ride. Remember, the thing you’re giving away needs to prioritise being useful over all else. 

9. Don't let them get away


In the end, most people who come to your site won’t end up converting. This is fine, but don’t just leave their information on the table. Use cookies to gather their data and inform subsequent targeted social media ads. 

This can help remind users who failed to convert why they were interested in your tours or activities in the first place. The goal here is to re-engage them and hopefully flip a few conversions out of it.    

In theory, growth hacking is great but indeed, you’re very busy and this is only one dimension of your business at large. Get in touch with a top tech solutions provider that specialises in helping tour and activity operators like you in Asia. 

About the author

Anita Duffin
Working as a journalist and communications specialist in Asia for over 15 years, Anita's words have delivered travel industry insights, introduced cover story people profiles, and inspired travellers to experience the roads less travelled. Her Asian path continues as Communications Director for BeMyGuest, with no visible desire to return to her Australian homeland, except for fab holidays.