Why merchandising matters
We wouldn’t have written a post about how to best merchandise tours and activities if it didn’t matter! From our own personal experience at Viator, we know that the way products are displayed and the information that is displayed along with them is extremely important to providing a great shopping experience for travelers that will encourage them to make a booking – or even more than one booking.
Through your merchandising you can build excitement for a trip, help customers make decisions during their research phase, and create an environment that encourages repeat bookings.
Whether you’re shopping online, in a retail shop, or even shopping for groceries, you are surrounded by hidden ways to get you to buy a product. Even if you’re in a no frills warehouse shopping experience, there was thought put into the products that are taking up space on the shelf and why other products didn’t make the cut.
Merchandising is equal parts creative and analytical, and if you’re just starting out there is a good amount of trial and error you have to do to build the perfect experience for your customers. In this post, we’ll give you the building blocks for how to effectively merchandise tours and activities on your site.
Do: Focus on product curation and selection. Do not focus on speed of implementation
We know that you’re eager to get links and widgets up on your site ASAP. While you may start earning commission right away, you may be limiting yourself. It may be tempting to link to or create a widget featuring the top 10 things to do in Rome. Even if your site focuses on Rome, this may not be appealing to someone who is looking for an “off the beaten path” experience. They may decide that you aren’t offering what they’re looking for and leave your site.
We recommend taking the time to think more about your customers’ behavior and the tours and activities your customers may be interested in. Even our top rated products may not appeal to your audience. Once you understand what your customers’ preferences are and what is important to them, you can then search for products to promote.
See our guide on how to search for products for additional help.
Do: Thoughtfully integrate links and widgets onto your site
Consider how your audience uses your site. Think about how your customers enter and exit your site, or what pages have the highest engagement. Many retail stores will have promotional products right near the door as you walk in to grab your attention. They also frequently have lower-priced items near the checkout area to encourage incremental purchases.
We’ve put together posts already on how to incorporate links into your site as well as best practices for widgets to get you started.
Do: Take a look at our Trip Ideas for inspiration
On a destination’s Things to do page, you’ll notice a section called “Trip ideas.” We’ve put together different articles for trip ideas that help address the different types of trips travelers can take. For example, some travelers may wish to get off the beaten path when visiting Vancouver. Use the Trip Ideas pages for inspiration for new content, social media campaigns, email marketing, and more.
Do NOT copy someone else’s work. Be original.
You should not copy what we have put on our “Trip ideas” pages. This is our original content: if you were to copy it, you could be penalized by a search engine and there could be legal consequences as well. More importantly, what we’ve curated for our audience of travelers may not be suitable for your audience. You’ll need to make your own recommendations that adapt uniquely to your audience and their preferences.
Do: Highlight Viator benefits as benefits for your audience
Viator offers travelers a suite of benefits that make it easy to book a tour or activity. You can use some of our benefits to help merchandise our products on your site. For example, you can highlight:
- Products that use our 24-hour cancellation policy
- Tour operators that are taking safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic
- Our “Reserve now, pay later” function – which is an easy way to secure a spot while keeping plans flexible. Travelers will pay any tie up to 2 days before the experience.
- Our 24/7 customer support across the globe
- Products that have a Badge of Excellence
The above are just a few examples to get you thinking, and there are plenty of other benefits you can highlight to your audience. By mentioning these benefits, you can add a layer of exclusivity or appeal that will encourage your audience to click on your links or widgets and make a booking.
Do: use your expertise to expand upon our benefits
In addition to highlighting our benefits, you’ll want to add your spin on why the products featured in your links and/or widgets are ideal for your audience. This will stem heavily on your product selection and curation. Your audience is visiting your site for your expertise and that expertise and recommendations should be front and center across your site.
Do NOT set it and forget it
The reporting interface in your account is updated daily, so you will always know how your widget and link campaigns are performing. In order to maximize your commission, you should frequently check your reporting and make any adjustments to your links and/or widgets.
Is my merchandising working?
As we mentioned above, we provide you with the performance of your campaigns directly in your account. We provide all the data points you need to measure the effectiveness of your campaigns. Pairing this data with any data you are collecting from your website (e.g. through Google Analytics), you can quickly see how your campaigns are performing in relation to each other and overall.
For more info, see this guide on how to report on your performance.