Many people new to tour and event planning assume the more customers you attract to your program, the better off you are. This is not necessarily true.
Take a look at the following two scenarios for launch day of a new walking tour. Which situation would you rather deal with?
The big day finally arrived. The weather couldn’t have been better. You got to the tour starting point early. You were prepared, excited and ready to go. You waited, checking your watch over and over until was painfully clear that no one was going to show up.
What went wrong?
There could have been a simple typo in your promotional materials. The newspaper printed the wrong date or time. There was an error on a poster, social media or your website.
Maybe you scheduled the tour at an inconvenient time of day or on a day of the week that doesn’t work for people.
Did you pick a topic no one is interested in or one that’s been covered so many times everyone is tired of it? Do people think the neighborhood where the tour was being offered is dangerous or beyond bland?
Any number of things could have kept people away and it’s hard, if not impossible, to know exactly what went wrong if you’ve only made one attempt.
But the most likely reason no one showed up is your potential customers didn’t know about it. Your marketing efforts were inadequate, misdirected or both. You failed to reach your target audience or your description of the tour wasn’t specific or appealing enough.
This undoubtedly feels like a disaster. Believe me, I know. I’ve been there. But it’s really not that big of a deal. You haven’t lost any ground. It’s time to fine-tune, adjust and try again.
The big day finally arrived. The weather couldn’t have been better. You got to the tour starting point early and found about 100 people already waiting. Before it was all said and done, it seemed the entire town had shown up.
This is the situation people refer to as a “great problem.” They’re wrong. This is a disaster.
Even though you had a helper, you were completely overwhelmed. Although you managed to run the tour, it was chaotic and took twice as long as it should have. No one could hear. Most people were gone before you reached the half-way point. Those who stayed until the bitter end went away unhappy.
You obviously succeeded at marketing. But the product, the tour experience itself, was a failure.
The people who attended are now disgruntled customers. Not only are they unlikely to attend another of your programs, they’ll probably tell several of their friends how awful your tour was. If they post their complaints on social media, hundreds of people will read about your boondoggle. Not a pretty picture.
So how do you avoid scenario two?
Spend as much time developing your tour as you do marketing it. Prepare for a large turnout. Think about what types of problems might arise and figure out how you will handle those obstacles in advance. By carefully planning every aspect of the tour, double checking the details and not leaving things to chance, you’ll increase your odds of success exponentially. Then a big crowd will lead to a big pay day rather than a great big mess.