Peak Season Preparation

Pre-Booking Tips and Customer Engagement

In Alberta, the tourism peak season typically starts during the summer months. As we gear up for peak season, there are some important things you need to do to get ready. ITA is excited to launch development blogs to help support member businesses moving forward. Our first blog focus is preparation for the summer season by highlighting member’s stories, sharing pre-season preparation tips, and links for tourism marketing/communications tools and resources.

This blog will cover recommended practices such as utilizing pre-season booking and deposits (getting customers to book sooner and pay a deposit to secure booking), as well as pre-season marketing tips.

ITA Member Highlight Story with Quinn Soonias from Drift Out West Fly Fishing

ITA met with the owner and operator of Drift Out West Fly Fishing, Quinn Soonias, located in Southern Alberta. Drift Out West Fly Fishing is an Indigenous tourism business that exposes visitors to the beauty and excitement of fly fishing on the Bow River. Quinn graciously shared insights on securing pre-season bookings to help member businesses with their peak tourism season strategies this summer. Drift Out West Fly Fishing relies on word of mouth from past customers by offering a discounted rate when they recommend Drift Out West to new customers, keeping an ongoing relationship with returning customers.

Quinn recommends taking advantage of social media by posting regularly before peak season to market what your business is offering this summer. The fly fishing season is only six months of the year, so Quinn offers pre-season bookings to secure year-round revenue. This year poses a challenge to be innovative with marketing to domestic targets as 80 to 90% of Drift Out West’s customer base is from the United States and cannot travel due to COVID-19 restrictions. Quinn has been creative by sending Drift Out West Fly Fishing gear such as stickers and T-shirts to a weekly Thursday Night Live Fly Tying, hosted by Fly Fishing Bow River Outfitters on Facebook and YouTube, where beginner fly fishing enthusiasts can learn how to tie flies and watch fly tying techniques virtually. The group does shout-outs to Quinn’s business regularly and does giveaways of Drift Out West’s merchandise to gain new customers for the upcoming season.

“Keep ongoing relationships in the new season”

– Quinn Soonias

Tips for your Business Heading into Peak Season

Destination Canada finds that 1 in 4 domestic travelers are seeking an authentic Indigenous tourism experience, so how can your business market to local targets? Can your business provide an incentive for peak season package offerings/bookings this summer by partnering with other tourism businesses in your region? Spring is a excellent time to network with other local businesses on partnerships for package offerings in peak season experiences.

With the landscape of COVID-19 rapidly changing, make sure to market your COVID-19 health and safety protocols and cancellation policy. Visitors want to know that they can cancel without paying cancellation fees and this will entice visitors to book early for your experience. Be flexible by waving cancellation fees and propose new dates for booking an experience with your tourism business. It is easier to re-book a customer than refunding and hoping the customer will book again.

Use pre-season booking revenue as savings for off-season operation costs, helping to stabilize your business’s year-round revenue. Pre-Season bookings are a great way to get customers to book sooner, ensuring your season will be busy and getting deposits upfront. There are many ways to get the word out about pre-season bookings. Your business can send communications through social media or email lists to notify customers that you have openings to book experiences in advance for this upcoming summer season. Marketing pre-season booking motivates customers to book now and put down a deposit (typically 50% down) for the scheduled peak season experience your business is offering.

Tools and Resources

Indigenous Tourism Alberta: Tourism Restart Webinar

Indigenous Tourism Canada: 10 Free Marketing Tools and Techniques to Increase Sales and Visitors Webinar (scroll down on page to find video)

Business Link: Three Ways to Keep your Customers Coming Back Blog

Travel Alberta: Communications Checklist