How Tour Operators can help more anxious first-time travellers

How the travel industry can help more anxious first time travellers

Outside of my blogging world, I have 15+ years of experience in the travel industry. I’ve worked for tour companies for 6 years and I’ve also been on 10 group tours.

I’m a group tour expert.

I have noticed that not all tour companies consider the anxiety of a first-time passenger in their marketing. They mostly concentrate on showing how incredible the trips are, what they’ll see or do.

A businesses main focus is to bring money in, or they wouldn’t be in business. I get it.

But, if you don’t understand an anxious first-time passenger then they’re not going to book. That’s a lot of new potential new customers you’re missing out on.

I want to change that!

I’m on a mission to get tour companies to understand the mindset and anxiety of a first-time booker. This will help them feel more inclined to book and potentially book again.


READ MORE: 5 Steps to get your travelling alone for the first time


If a passenger enjoys a trip with a certain company the first time around, they’ll book again. If not, it might put them off booking with you again or limits them booking with another company at all.

So how can you ensure passengers enjoy their first tour with you? Research, Reassurance and the right marketing.


Find your top tours for first-time passengers

Let’s make things SIMPLE for your new customers by selecting 3-5 tours. Narrow down the endless amount of trips you have on your website to make things easier for them. If you have several destinations then maybe pick one tour for each country depending on how many tours you have.

Most new travellers want to know the most popular choice. This makes choosing a trip less overwhelming and easier for them to pick a trip.

These 3 trips shouldn’t be picked by your staff or from your sales data. They should be trips chosen by your past passengers. This will show new passengers that these trips were recommended by previous first-time travellers like them.

The tours shouldn’t be based on popularity. You will have trips that sell more than others based on price etc but that’s not what they’re looking for. They want to know they’ll have a good time. So they should also be ranked by enjoyment.

There’s no point listing 3 popular tours if your first-time passengers didn’t enjoy them. You want first-time passengers to go on a trip because they’re guaranteed a good time. Recommendations from previous passengers make them feel safer and reassured.

By doing this it will help return business, increases customer satisfaction, give you better reviews and gets more recommendations for the company.

Here’s what you can do to get this information and what you should do with it.


Do a customer survey

There’s no better way to gather information from your passenger then by sending out a survey through your mailing list. A Google form or Survey Monkey will help you collect all the information you need to get your top tours.

What do you need to find out?

  1. If this was their first trip ever? (rule out anyone who says no)
  2. What trip did they go on? (helps find your top tours)
  3. How did they rate it out of 10? (to get a true top 3)
  4. As a first time traveller, what did they think of the trip? (for testimonials)

Once you gather this information, you can do a simple formula to work out the top tours based on popularity and rating.


Ask them on social media

You can also use social media to gather this information. There are so many platforms which have polls, questions, etc that you can ask passengers and get instant feedback. No waiting for people to open their emails.

Facebook – You can do a poll or create a graphic for people to comment on. You can boost the post to get more people to see it.

Twitter – Also has polls but only up to 4 but can be retweeted for more engagement.

Instagram – You can create a post for people to comment on or an Instagram story for people to swipe up to directly link to a survey.

Alternatively, you can link to the survey on any of these platforms to get more specific answers.


Make an incentive to get answers

You’ll probably get more answers by throwing in an incentive to your passengers. A voucher is usually the best choice to get more passengers to answer the survey. They love a freebie. Just don’t forget to announce the winner on social media.


Shout about your top 3 tours to new travellers

Once you have your results, now it’s time to tell the world that your passengers recommended them.

You should create a badge or icon to go on the trips when they’re listed with the rest. This should show that they’re your top tours voted by your first-time travellers.

By making these tours to stand out, will give these pages better views from first-time visitors. They’ll stick out to them, make it quicker for them to pick a trip and easier for them to make a decision to book it.

Give these trips a dedicated page in your brochure. You can also add the badges to their main page for extra coverage.

Shouting out about these tour on social media will give you a lot of engagement. It’ll show your existing passengers that you took their information seriously and value their opinions.


Create informative videos to answer passengers questions

You’ll be surprised by how many passengers will research your tours or company before booking. Like, thoroughly research.

They want their first trip to be safe, memorable and be everything they’ve dreamed of for years. So they don’t want any surprises. They’ll have a lot of questions. A LOT of questions!

They’ll research the internet for those answers or ask you directly. A lot of time can be spent on the phone to anxious passengers and most of the time they won’t be ready to book yet.

Think of the time you’ll save by having that information out there for passengers to research in their own time. So when they call, they’re calling to book.

You don’t want to force a passenger to book before they’re ready. They might cancel early and take the hit on their deposit. They might not even go at all, which is a waste of their money and no glowing review for you.

You can help them with this process by making informative videos. Quick videos based around one topic each. This will help them find exactly the information they want and will help you rack up the view count.


So what videos should you make and what topics should you base them on?


Talk to your sales team – they know them best!

I spent years in travel sales before entering the world of marketing. I can tell you know, that the sales team are an untapped source of knowledge that gets consistently forgotten about.

Your sales team talk about your tours day in, day out. They know everything about your trips but most of all they speak to your passengers all the time. The talk to them on the phone, email, live chat or social media. They know them better than any other department will ever do.

Talk to them! They’ll know exactly what kinds of questions they get asked all the time. Take those questions and make videos out of them.


Make videos based on your FAQs page

You probably already have an FAQ page filled with questions. Use them! Those questions are on your FAQ page for a reason. They’re asked a lot already.

Make a video for them. Not a lot of people actually read the FAQ page which is quite annoying for a business but they will watch a video.


Embed them into your website

Once you’ve made these videos, embed them onto your website. Add them to your FAQ page, your new first-time traveller’s page or even the playlist on your home page.

Make them accessible, viewable and can help you rack up those views.


Re-purpose videos for social media

Video is the leading form of educational content. Especially now with YouTube, fast-growing app TikTok and new Instagram Reels.

Once you’ve made the video for YouTube, take that footage and repurpose it. Turn it into a TikTok or an Instagram Story, IGTV or Reel. Put it on Facebook or Twitter.

You can even take quotes out of the footage and create images for Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lastly, ensure you make a video pin and image pin for each video. Pinterest is a great traffic driver and can bring pinners to your video or even website.


Have a dedicated page on your website to first-time travellers

By making a website page dedicated to your first time passengers your acknowledging their concerns and excitement. One this page should be everything they need to answer their questions, help them pick their dream trip and feel reassured to book it.


READ MORE: How to prepare to travel alone for the first time


Create a URL with great SEO to make these trips super searchable. First-time passengers will be looking for this information so you want to ensure they find it.

So what should be on this page?


Display your top tours

Obviously you want to showcase your top tours that were voted by your past passengers. You also want to add the badge or some information to show that they were voted by them and not you.

First-time passengers feel more reassured when the trip they are looking at has been recommended by someone who’s actually been on it.


Testimonials from first time passengers

Add encouraging and inspirational words from past passengers who have been on the trip. Especially ones from previous first-time passengers. These glowing recommendations will give them reassurance.

You can even add Instagram or twitter handles. So if they want to discuss the trip with them personally they can speak to them privately. I’ve spoken to many people like this before booking my trips. I’ve even had tons of messages myself who have found me that way. Remember to get their permission first.

Bloggers who have been on your trips are always a good shout out because it’ll help their following, they’ll have tons of great photos on their blog or Instagram of the trip, their trusted and they don’t mind all the messages in their inbox.


Show helpful, informative videos about the trips

All those FAQ and informative videos you’ve made can go in here. Not all of them but a select few. Personally, a playlist works better which will automatically play onto the next video and takes up less room.

Other videos which would be good include:

  • a cinematic video about your tours
  • a video about your tour leaders
  • a video about vehicles or accommodation.


Be more diverse on Press Trips

Personally, I’m fed up of seeing skinny, beautiful, blonde, white female travel bloggers on press trips. That’s coming from someone who is blonde, white and female.

That’s one type of person. Therefore there should only be one blonde, white female on any trip if any. Not a group of them. Yes, I’m shooting myself in the foot for future trips but hear me out.

backpacking indochina - angkor wat temple


Your passengers are diverse so your Press Trips should be too

How many of your passengers are blonde? How many of them are white? How many of them are female?

Even if a huge chunk of your audience does fill one or two of these columns, you’re forgetting about the rest. Your audience may look like this because that’s what your marketing is based on.

You should be featuring bloggers, influencers and creators from different backgrounds. That means different genders, hair colour, skin colour, etc.
If your passengers are different, your press trips should reflect that.

You’ll have passengers who are black, white, bald, ginger, plus size, gay, straight, from different countries around the world, speak different languages, rich, poor, disabled, have kids, single, divorced. Branch out!


Hire/Invite bloggers who write content aimed for first-time travellers or a niche audience

I see the same old faces on press trips now and none of them really aimed for first-time travellers.

They’re confident and professional travellers. Their content is typically aimed at existing travellers looking for travel location ideas.

The most annoying thing about some travel bloggers is that they make travelling look so easy. Yes, travelling is exciting but that’s only after you’ve done your first trip.

If you’re embarking on your first ever trip, that’s nerve-racking and scary, as well as exciting.


READ MORE: Travelling solo for the first time with anxiety


First-time travellers want the truth, they want the facts and don’t want things sugar coating. They also don’t want to hear from a blogger who’s travelled to every country twice. Or from someone who gets paid to give a review. Sometimes they don’t even know is true or write a good review so they get another free trip.


Invite more mental health or wellness bloggers

You know what your passengers look like, but you don’t know what’s going on in their heads. That’s why you should always include a mental health or wellness blogger on your trip.

A passenger can take a long time to book from the time they first contacted you. They might be struggling with anxiety or trying to figure out if they can mentally do the trip.

They can even be embarrassed with all the questions they have so they try to spread them out.

This is where mental health or wellness bloggers really can help you and your passengers. They create informative content and show the pros of why they should book or why a trip can help them. Showing the benefits but also telling the truth or being real with their audience.

Looking for a travel blogger with anxiety?

I currently have an IGTV series called “Let’s Talk” about travel anxiety. It features a blogger, creator or influencer every week who travels with anxiety. The series aim is to show our audiences that they’re not alone and how they’ve battled through it on the road.


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Natasha Atlas
Natasha Atlas

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