One of the most challenging things for many tour operators is how to stay ahead of the competition. While maintaining the high quality of your products is crucial, in such a competitive market it’s equally important to be innovative. 

We’ll use the example of the Instagram tour of Bali that we co-created with our local partner for the whole content of this post. It was the first GetYourGuide Originals tour outside of Europe and it is the best-selling tour in Asia. It has been featured in many publications, social media, Youtube channels, and also has inspired many tour operators worldwide.

It’s a tour where customers can travel to the most scenic spots around Bali in one day. A tour where they can take plenty of photos for themselves and to their followers. Above all, it’s a tour where they can experience the natural beauty of Bali and learn about the culture there. Using this case study, here are our learnings and tips that you can use to co-create the next innovative products.

1. Customer, customer, customer

It’s essential to keep your customers at the forefront when creating or innovating new products. You can always start by answering these questions: who they are, where they come from, what interests them, why they come to your destination, what they value, and how they find you.

Once you have a clear understanding of your customer profile, it’s easier for you to focus and innovate. Discover what your customers are looking for.

2. Start with data

While the sky’s the limit and we want to be as creative as possible, it’s important to be data-driven. So how do you source this data or information? It’s always good to start looking at your current customer base: go through your customer database and see if there are any patterns there. Do you have a lot of solo traveler bookings or perhaps a couple? If you run a private tour and you see a lot of 1 pax booking, then consider running a small group version of the same tour. 

One of the many perks of working as a partner with GetYourGuide is having a destination manager. You can think of them as your consultant as they really are the expert of your destination and can be an interesting partner to discuss your ideas and get inspiration. Your destination manager can also provide you with data insights and reports that help you make smarter decisions.

3. Customise your product

Most of your customers are probably going to take the tour just once in their lifetime and they want to do it in the best way possible. Once you have the right set of data, focus on understanding who your customer segments are and what they want differently. For example, we know that customers who booked the Instagram tour wanted to experience nature and learn about Balinese culture. But most importantly, they wanted to take photos. Knowing this, we created a tour option where customers could hire a professional photographer or drone pilot to join the tour with them. We also added an option where customers could rent a polaroid camera so they could have the photos for them to keep as sweet memories. 

The overall idea is to elevate the experience and make the journey more enjoyable. By doing something similar, not only you will be able to capture more revenue from the add on, but customers will also have a much better experience. 

4. Leverage on reviews and feedback

Invest time reading reviews, both about your own products and competition.

From reading customer reviews about a competitor’s hiking tour in Bali we saw that customers really enjoyed the inclusion of a massage. This prompted us to include it as an option on our own. It’s also beneficial to leverage on the guide’s knowledge and feedback since they are the ones who spend most of the time with the customers.

Ask your guide for inspiration. Most of the time customers will provide instant feedback and ask questions. These kinds of questions can often lead to new ideas that you haven’t explored or thought about before.

5. Keep testing your product

Ralph Linton famous quote: “The last thing a fish would notice would be the water” can be apply when trying to improve products. Sometimes an external perspective can give you additional insight.

For example, by testing the tour using a mystery shopper, we realized there was a lot of time being spent in the car. So we came up with an idea of a premium option, giving the customers a more comfortable journey by upgrading the tour. They could have a better, bigger and more comfortable car where they could use the included portable WiFi, charge their phone and connect to the car audio system and play their favorite songs on the road. We also offered cold beers, mineral water, and snacks in the car. Our mystery shop test also highlighted another pain point for customers: the long queue at the temple. We decided to solve this by adding multiple earlier time slots and reversing the itinerary order of the tour on some days to avoid the crowds.

By consistently testing, we keep improving and innovating the tour to improve the customer experience.