Nobody would have expected that we would still be dealing with so many restrictions and closures in mid-May 2021. Many businesses in the tours and activities industry have been in lockdown for many months. However, it is beginning to feel like the “calm before a storm”. One thing is certain: more and more businesses will be allowed to open their doors in the next few weeks.
The question, “Opening tours and activities – but at what price?” is becoming a pressing one. This is an important question for providers not classed as essential services who have had to stay closed for many months.
So far, this year has seen consumers expecting to pay higher prices and being willing to pay them too. According to opinion polls, people have ranked holiday and associated activities as one of the things they missed most during this pandemic* An extreme example was observed recently when the travel warning for Majorca was lifted and flight prices rose by 221 percent*.
We realised that providers in the tourism and leisure industry need to start making money again as soon as possible. However, it is important to approach these price changes prudently.
In this article, we want to provide answers to the following questions: Should I adjust my prices after the crisis? Do I pass my previous losses and additional costs due to hygiene requirements on to my customers? What pricing strategy is right for me and what are other providers doing?
We will present perspectives for reopening your business after the lockdown as four points.
1. The recovery of the tours and activities industry
If the crisis has shown us one thing, it is that the tours and activities industry reacts quickly and flexibly to new challenges. With a lot of creativity, providers have changed their business and, among other things, relied on voucher sales or online products to continue generating revenue. And although the tourism sector has been one of the hardest hit by the crisis, the leisure activities industry is recovering faster than expected.
An internal bookingkit analysis shows that in many cases up to 85% of the pre-Corona booking level was already reached by the end of May. A major advantage over hotels, travel agencies and airlines is that tour and activity providers can rely on local advertising and customers from the region. Border closures and entry regulations for countries are thus less of a constraint.
The following graphic from TUI/Welt shows how positive news has an effect on booking behaviour.
In a blog article we have summarized for you the most exciting best practices that have contributed to the swift recovery signs noted here.
2. Where are prices in the industry heading?
Without a doubt, the current hygiene requirements for your business are one of the most important factors for your future pricing strategy. From hygiene materials such as masks and disinfectants, to imposing limits on the number of visitors, the specifications will have a major impact on your business operations and your post-opening costs. Many providers have already felt the impact in preparation for reopening their business. So what can you learn from these providers?
But first of all, the good news for your business: Demand is greater than supply. Especially after the lockdown and a few weeks at home, many are happy to finally be able to experience adventures again. However, because capacities are limited, spontaneous visits to the zoo or museum have become a rare commodity. From the customer’s point of view, a lot has changed here. Tickets must be booked online in advance and entry is not possible at all times. But the interest in activities has not changed. Instead, ticket contingents are becoming scarce, especially on weekends.
While providers of leisure activities have been able to escape the lockdown phase, in some cases with discount campaigns, which has temporarily led to lower prices, prices are stabilising at pre-crisis levels and there is no sign of an active price war among providers. They increasingly rely on time-slot solutions to coordinate the distribution of visitors to different times of day and weekdays. In this way, maximum capacity utilisation and the highest possible turnover can be guaranteed despite the restrictions.
Nevertheless, active price management is becoming more important than ever and this naturally raises the question of what you should do with your prices if you distribute your capacities accordingly to hourly or daily slots. Because now you can decide: do I leave my prices exactly as they are, do I increase them or do I correct them downwards?
3. Prices from the customer perspective – two probable scenarios
Many suppliers are currently concentrating on the operative business and are understandably trying to generate sales again as quickly as possible. In doing so, they disregard possible pricing strategies for the moment and do not even touch the subject. However, pricing is the second step that should follow. Because a smart pricer analysis (link) has shown that two scenarios can be expected in the future:
- Many customers will think much more consciously about how they invest their money. Many people have suffered economic losses due to the crisis, and as a result, budgets are also tighter than before Corona. So if you increase your prices, this can also lead to a significant reduction in your bookings.
- On the other hand, there is a higher willingness to pay more for live experiences and entertainment. The withdrawal of activity from your customers means that they eagerly await the next concert, festival or outdoor activity. So people will be willing to spend more money on such “special” experiences.
4. Five essential questions for the right price
To decide on your personal pricing strategy you should ask yourself the following questions:
1. What are your costs? What are your operating costs? How much capacity may I sell? And what does my employee structure look like?
2. How much does adhering to new regulations cost you? This starts with signs and notices and goes all the way to masks, of which you need a constant fresh supply. Ask yourself if you want to pass these costs on to your customers. Our experience has shown that providers who communicate openly with their customers about price increases due to the crisis have received positive feedback and understanding for the additional costs.
3. Has your product changed? A good example of this is experience worlds such as Jump Houses or guided tours through exhibitions. Due to the specifications in the Corona crisis, far fewer customers can take advantage of your offer at the same time. But that is also an advantage for them. The overall experience improves. Your customers have a much more enjoyable time. In museums they see much more, in smaller tours there is much more interaction with the guide, in the Jump House they get their money’s worth – often it’s simply nicer when there are fewer people on site. Here you can even think about price increases. If you emphasize this added value, you can even increase the interest of your customers.
4. Customer and market: Is there a change in demand or competition? This point relies on your active observations and your reaction. Keep an eye on other suppliers and your customers. You will quickly see if the prices in the market rise, fall or stay the same and then decide if you want to go the same way.
5. How flexible are my prices? Active price management was given little attention before the crisis, but from now on it will be part of every business strategy in tourism. For example, you can set higher prices for highly frequented time slots to convince your visitors to consider cheaper slots that were otherwise less frequented. Flexible pricing also helps you to increase your capacity utilisation seasonally.
5. Our recommendation for your individual price strategy
You should not implement large price reductions at the moment. During the lockdown, discounts on your base prices were a good way to create incentives to buy again and to generate current revenue. As soon as your business starts up, your prices should stabilize again. (If you have season tickets or regular customers, you should of course reward them for their loyalty to your business. In this case, we recommend that you give discounts.)
You should definitely think about price adjustments if your product has changed or your production costs have increased.
Work with flexible prices for different time slots. With this powerful method you fill several needs with one deed. You actively control your flow of visitors, comply with hygiene regulations and at the same time get the maximum turnover from your business. And the best thing is: making your prices more flexible is also a project that will have lasting effects for years to come.
Learn more about how time slot tickets help you develop a flexible pricing strategy and manage your capacity. Book a live demo with our booking experts and get ready for your pricing future now.