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world21

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The Logbook

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world21 Recommended Resources to Follow

Supporting you throughout this time comes in many forms. Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is ensuring that our Customer Support teams are always available, 24/7, to assist with any Dashboard or business inquiries. This also means sharing tips, resources, and updates that allow you to be better informed and prepared.

For your convenience, we have been adding to our Help Center and Compass libraries, new resources that you can follow along for updates. In addition, we will continually update this page with relevant information including world21 tips and best practices, industry insights, and useful examples from our fellow tour and activity operators.

Financial Resources 

  • Our Guide to Small Business Loans: If you’re planning on applying for a small business loan but not sure where to begin, this guide will provide an overview of common small business loans (Americas). Please visit our Help Center to learn more about specific loan details available in your Region (Americas & Global), State or City. 
  • SBA Disaster assistance: The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering low-interest federal disaster loans for working capital to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
  • Small Business Relief Tracker: In an effort to help business owners & tour operators find financial relief, here is a running list of all of the government agencies, private companies, and nonprofit organizations that are extending support.

Business & Marketing Tips 

  • 13 Ways Businesses Can Use SEO & Marketing to Combat Coronavirus Impact: Your initial reaction may be to shut down existing marketing efforts, including your SEO. SearchEngine Journal provides 13 ways SEO and marketing tasks to do for a quicker recovery and why you should “keep calm and optimize on.” 
  • world21 Webinars: world21 is producing a new webinar series to help you optimize your business and be ready when normal activity returns. To view the complete list of webinar topics and timezones, please visit our help page. As always, our webinars will be free to attend and will be available across the Americas, EMEA, and APAC regions.
  • How To Adapt and Prepare for Travelers: If you haven’t already, check out our blog to see what we can do as an industry to adapt to the growing concerns of customers and travelers. 

Industry Insights, Expertise, & News

  • Tourpreneur: Subscribe to Shane Whaley’s TourPreneur podcasts where he provides extensive coverage and actionable tips to better arm tour operators during this time. We recommend subscribing to both his email newsletter and to look for his latest podcast.
    • Whaley hosted this podcast with guest and industry veteran, Peter Syme, to discuss a battle plan to deal with the impact of the Coronavirus on our tour businesses. 
  • Arival: Our friends at Arival recently held a Town Hall discussion with leading tour and activity operators regarding the current landscape. If you were unable to attend, you can visit this page to access the key takeaways, download the findings from their recent survey, or watch the recorded version. 
  • Live Blogs: 
    • Skift’s Live Blog: Since January, Skift has been monitoring the COVID-19 impact on the travel and tourism industry. Their blog is regularly updated to reflect the latest news about coronavirus and its impact on hotels, airlines, cruise lines, tourism destinations, and other sectors of the travel industry.
    • PhocusWire’s Live Blog: PhocusWire’s live blog also includes their own extensive coverage and contains articles and commentary from their sister brands in the Northstar Travel Group (in meetings, retail travel and business travel), WebInTravel, and updates from reliable news outlets and official government/agency bulletins.

Sources for Inspiration

  • Virtual Tours: The growing need for social distancing has introduced the emergence of virtual tours! Both Forbes and Insider covered several tour companies and attractions that started offering virtual tours or seminars that customers can do in the comfort of their own homes.  
  • How We Can Help the Travel & Tourism industry: We all have a role to play, here is how we can help the Travel and  Tourism industry during this crisis. 
  • Connect with Facebook Groups: If there is one thing the last few weeks have shown us, it’s that we are a strongly-knit community. Whether you want to start a discussion or provide your own advice, there are several Facebook groups and forums available for you to connect with other tour operators such as Tour Operators United and Tour Activity Owners Worldwide.
  • Client Testimonials: In the coming weeks, we will spotlight several of our fellow tour operators who are adapting, innovating, and providing new perspectives during this time.
    • Caroline Conner, Lyon Wine Tasting: Adjusting to the recent norm of social distancing, Caroline has begun offering virtual happy hours to provide educational content and keep customers engaged. Best of all, it’s currently free to join! 

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COVID-19: Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions

As media coverage has increased over the course of the last few days, we’ve received several questions and inquiries about the status of world21 and guidance on next steps. While we will continue to monitor the situation closely, our goal is to provide you with the most current information, as it relates to world21 and address any questions you may have at this time.

Please note: this blog will continually be updated with the latest news and information

Q: Will there be any changes to world21’s support hours?

A: Our number one goal is to stand by your side through this unknown time. Our Support team will continue to be available 24/7 and world21 will continue operating normal hours.

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Q: Where is the best place to find information and resources?

A: If you aren’t already, follow our social media accounts for additional information. We’ll be posting about ways you can manage your Dashboard as well as resources to manage your business

There are also great Dashboard resources available through our Help Center as well as business strategy topics through world21 Compass

Q: How are refunds processed to me and my customers?

A: Full refunds are free in world21. Any fees associated with the payment will be returned back to both you and the customer.

  • For partial refunds, world21 will keep the booking fee and refund a portion of the credit card processing fee based on the amount being refunded.

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Q: I issued a refund, how long does that take?

A: The amount of time it takes for your customers to see the refund on their card depends on their bank, as well as how the refund was issued.

  • Refunds from your world21 Future Payouts balance or Refund Reserve are processed right away. In these cases, it will usually take customers 3 to 5 business days to see the refunded amount on their card.

  • Refunds funded from your bank account (available for US banks only) typically take 6 to 10 business days to appear on the customer’s card.

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Q: What are my options instead of issuing a full refund?

A: You can easily offer your customer a gift card for the value of the original booking to use at any time in the future. To do this, all you need to do is locate the original booking and rebook the customer into your gift card Item. This will cancel the original booking and send them an email with a gift card for the value or their bookings.

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Q: Can I issue a refund or rebook multiple bookings at the same time?

Q: Can I email all clients on the same availability at once?

Definitely! This is a great way to save time and notify all customers on an availability in one step. You can do this by navigating to your Bookings calendar and into the settings of the availability you want to email.

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Q: Where can I find industry-related resources?

A: Right here! We’ll be keeping up with industry topics and updating links below:

  • Disaster Loan Assistance: Asking for help reveals strength, not weakness. Low-interest disaster loans for Businesses are being provided by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Find out more here!

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> If you have any additional questions you would like us to answer, please submit them to support@world21.online.

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How to Adapt and Prepare for Travelers’ Coronavirus Concerns

You have undoubtedly been keeping up with the media coverage and articles surrounding the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). It is unclear exactly how much the travel and tourism industry will be affected, or how long this will continue, but it is clear that this industry is resilient and will bounce back stronger than ever. In the meantime, it’s important to consider how our industry can adapt to the current circumstances and prepare as much as possible. 

We want all of you to know that we stand alongside you every step of the way and, as always, remain committed to best-in-class service and support! Beyond your support system at world21, we’ve gathered the following tips to help your business and customers during this time. 

1. Encourage Local Tourism

Even though we’re seeing a decrease in international travel, you can still run your tours and activities by encouraging local tourism and incentivizing local customers to book with you. Reaching out to your community is a great way to keep operations up and running, especially since there is no travel needed for local guests to participate. 

Drive bookings by offering a discount to people who might be looking for local gems they haven’t discovered yet. Invest in your local marketing initiatives rather than those that aim to reach a broader audience to better allocate your resources. Consider taking out advertisements in area newspapers, posting on local online directories, or targeting specific areas with Facebook ads or other social media campaigns. You can even get creative and hang flyers in places like restaurants, bars, bus stations, and parks.

2. Get Ahead of Cancellations

There will inevitably be customers looking to cancel their reservations during this time. Make sure you are prepared to handle the influx and have a process in place. When possible, always try to offer a credit or rebooking over a refund. You can utilize gift cards as a form of credit that will allow customers to book whenever they want in the future, while you keep the revenue. 

Most importantly, when it comes to cancellations surrounding these extenuating circumstances, make sure to be understanding and flexible when working with customers. It hurts to lose out on reservations, but providing your customers with a positive experience makes it much more likely they will want to come back in the future.

3. Provide Clear Communication

Although it may seem best to reduce communication touchpoints at times like these,  it’s actually important to continue providing clear communication with your existing and future customers. This can be in the form of emails to upcoming reservations explaining the status of your operations, or making sure your cancellation policies are buttoned up and updated in all locations on your website and book form. 

You can also incorporate communication through your website, including announcement banners, informational pages with updates, and blog posts. Consider including things in your communication like the status of your activities, steps you are taking to ensure the safety of customers, as well as how you plan to handle future cancellations and rebookings. 

4. Band Together

Collaborate with other local operators in your area who are likely going through the same situation you’re facing. When multiple operators in a particular region or industry work together, it can boost the entire region and the local economy  A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say! You can even support each other by signing up for the world21 Distribution Network to easily resell local operators’ tours.

We hope these tips will help you prepare and adapt your business practices during this economically challenging time. Please remember that the health, wellness, and safety of your employees and customers should always be your top priorities. For further updates on the current coronavirus outbreak, please check the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization (WHO)  for the latest news. As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at world21 for additional support.

Our partners at Arival have put together a brief survey to help understand the impact the Coronavirus is having on you as operators, as well as what steps are being taken to respond. If you would like your voice to be heard during this challenging time, please fill out this survey

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world21 Continues Growth in 7 New European Markets

world21’s Reach Continues to Grow in Europe

We are excited to announce our continued expansion within Europe, by extending our services to Greece, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The addition of these seven countries to the world21 family comes just over a year out from our initial rollout into the EU in 2018, representing our commitment to growth in the region. According to the European Council, tourism plays an important role in the EU because of its economic and employment potential, as well as its social and environmental implications.” 

With this in mind, our ongoing contribution to this economy will provide local businesses the ability to generate better visibility, reach a wider global audience, and streamline the online booking process for their customers.

To find out more on how to get started, please contact our team: https://world21.online/demo/

Greece Support: +30 21 1198 5407

Poland Support: +48 81 884 72 03

General Support: +31 30 249 2017

 

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5 Must-Know Tips for Getting the Most Out of world21 Conference

So you’re coming to world21 Conference. Now what? Whether you’re a Dashboard master or just starting out with world21, we’ve got your back with our tried-and-true tips for how to do world21 Conference right.

1. Map out which sessions you want to attend in advance.

Set a goal for what you’d like to learn at the conference and save yourself time on October 28 by working out in advance which presentations will help you reach that goal. Review the FHC schedule, and plan your day around the session topics you find to be the most beneficial. Come to FHC feeling prepared, but allow a little room for the unexpected.

Check out the full FHC lineup

Not sure which sessions best fit your business needs? Reach out to our team and we’d be happy to work out a personalized schedule with you!

2. Take full advantage of a 1:1 session.

This is one that few attendees pass up! Our one-on-one sessions give you an opportunity to sit down with a world21 specialist for some personalized training. This is a great chance to work with a team member on-site and resolve any challenges you may be facing, from industry best practices to Dashboard organization. Leave these sessions feeling better than ever about the direction your business is headed!

Schedule your 1:1

3. Use #fhc19 to connect with attendees through social media.

It’s a good idea to engage with people on social media before the world21 Conference even begins. Twitter and LinkedIn are both great places to start, and joining in a few discussions can give you a sense of who will be there and any similar interests you may share.

With so many networking opportunities at FHC, connecting online may also allow you to build somewhat of a relationship beforehand and make it easier to guide in-person conversation starters. “Oh, you’re the one who was talking about XYZ on LinkedIn!”

4. Stop by the sponsor area.

We don’t partner with just anyone. We truly believe the partners we bring to FHC are dedicated to helping you run your business faster and smarter. Discover new services and get hands-on with demos by taking a minute to visit the sponsor area!

5. Stick around for the FHC happy hour.

FHC is filled with networking opportunities — from the organized lunch breakouts to casual meetings by the coffee station. But we’ve found that some of the most high-value networking happens at our after-hours event. Take some time after the conference to unwind and strike up a conversation with your peers at the FHC happy hour!

There you have it! Follow these tips and you’re sure to have a great experience at world21 Conference! See you soon!

It’s not too late to register for FHC! Trust us, this is one you don’t want to miss…

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Tips for Working with OTAs

Expert advice on getting connected with OTAs (Online Travel Agencies) to fit your tour, activity, or attraction business

The world of travel looks vastly different than it did five years or even one year ago. With the list of ways to promote your tours only growing, it’s worth putting some thought into your distribution channels. 

Are you getting your tours in front of the right people to convert them into customers? These days, three out of four travelers are making reservations through OTAs. Plan ahead for a sustainable future and follow these tips for working with the right OTAs for your particular tour, activity, or attraction business. 

1. Plan for your business and reach new audiences

Think about your business, and also consider your audience. Make sure they’re in the right vertical and have the right reach to put your tours in front of the right customers who are ready to book. These are the kinds of questions you should be considering: Who is your tour tailored to? How do you hit that target audience with the right OTA? Do you typically have open availabilities on your tours and want to offer more ways for potential customers to book? 

Once you have some of these questions lined up and answered, you can then dig into the specifics of which OTAs best fit your business objectives. For example, if you want to attract a global audience, look for OTAs with a global reach such as TripAdvisor, Expedia, or GetYourGuide. Want to reach people looking for water excursions? Get set up with Seabookings, specific for customers searching for water activities. Do you offer romantic sunset cruises? Doorstep is one option for expanding your reach to couples looking for date night ideas. You can get as broad or granular as you want with your connectivity partners if you envision a good fit. 

Check out this list for a full breakdown of the OTAs we currently partner with by region. 

2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket 

This tip is dependent on your business. Strategically think about what kind of tours you want to offer to an OTA. Identify your target audience and then consider what that audience is searching for on TripAdvisor. Keep in mind that OTAs are used in different ways to search. Reserve with Google was designed with last-minute in-destination bookings in mind. This connection is great for suppliers who are close to a major attraction to bring in travelers who will be spending extra time in the area; a common “near me” search term. Expanding your options with multiple carefully selected OTAs is great for targeting in-destination customers. Some OTAs have a cutoff for last-minute bookability, but because you are connected to an API you don’t need to worry about last-minute overbookings. This allows you to lower your online booking cutoff to target in-destination customers and get more bookings from your various booking sources.

3. Let the world21 Connectivity team take care of you

Working with OTAs is a good aspect for your business strategy, but can be challenging to manage on an ongoing basis. That’s why world21 has a dedicated team of Connectivity Specialists to ensure you’re set up for success across all of your OTA partners. 

Not only do we take over the heavy lifting, but we also know which setups work best and love to offer our strategic advice. Consider us the experts. By working so closely with these OTAs on a daily basis, we feel confident in providing you a seamless connection with our partners from the start. Just let us know when your account is all set up with the OTA of your choice, then we will step in and take care of the connectivity process from start to finish, as well as provide ongoing support for your live API connections. Connect with a member of our team here! 

 

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How to Respond When Bad Days Turn into Negative Reviews


This is a guest post written by Podium

 

Today, most consumers need to see a healthy average star rating and a few of your most recent reviews to be convinced of your company’s credibility. In fact, 88% of consumers form an opinion by reading 1-10 reviews

With that said, it’s incredibly important to ensure you have positive reviews and a lot of them. This helps increase your average star rating and decrease the odds of potential customers basing their booking on a single negative review.

But, it’s not always that simple. Whether it’s a tour that started late or a customer that’s having a bad day—things don’t always go according to plan. Sooner or later, a bad day will turn into a negative review.

If and when that happens, it’s important to know how to respond. That’s why we’ve put together a 5-minute, 3-step guide to responding to negative reviews.

Step #1: Know when a negative review goes live

This step may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised by how many businesses aren’t aware of new reviews they receive, or that they have any reviews at all.

It’s important to know when these reviews get posted online so you can respond appropriately and ensure the same mistake doesn’t happen again. The easiest way to do so is to work with an online review management platform. For example, Podium aggregates reviews in real-time from sites across the internet, keeping you in the know the moment a new review goes live.

If you aren’t ready to get started with a review management platform, we recommend turning on Google Alerts. Google Alerts allows you to track online conversations by specified keywords or phrases in real-time, allowing you to manage your presence and hear what people are saying about you, good or bad.

This is, undisputedly, the first step in combating and responding to negative reviews. After all, if you don’t know the review exists, how can you respond?

Step #2: Respond to the negative review as fast as you possibly can

Now that you’ve read the negative review, let’s discuss how to carefully craft a response.

First and foremost, it’s important to ensure that the person responding on behalf of your business is removed from the situation that sparked the negative review. For example, if there is a negative comment about a salesperson, they’re probably not the best person to respond to the review.

This is crucial because any response to a negative review should be calmly written and well thought out. When someone with an emotional investment to the situation is the responder, the message will generally come off as defensive. We know that not every business is in a position where someone disconnected from the situation can respond, and if this is the case for your business, respond as dispassionately as possible (here are a few calming techniques).

Next, follow these few steps:

  1. Apologize (“We’re sorry to hear…”)
  2. Approach the review with a calm and collected response (cushioned-defense)
  3. Offer a proactive way to right their wrong (“We’d like to do what we can to resolve the situation…”)
  4. Ask to continue the conversation privately (“We’ll follow up with a direct message / Contact our customer service manager…”)

That should yield a response similar to this one:

“We’re so sorry to hear that your experience was a negative one. We’d like to do what we can to right any wrong. Please contact our Customer Service Manager so we can resolve your issues. We’ll also reach out to you in the next day or two to discuss how we can resolve your issue.”

Make sure you craft a response and get it posted as quickly as possible. This way anyone who sees the negative review will also see that you are a responsible business that takes care of your customers. 53 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to negative reviews within a week.

In many cases, negative reviews are not truly representative of your business. Responding to them in a courteous, professional manner builds consumer confidence as potential customers research your business.

Step #3: Learn from Feedback

Learning from customer feedback is one of the most valuable, long-term steps you can follow to improve your business. It allows you to gain valuable insights into your customers and make data-driven decisions about your processes. This will be valuable for positive reviews as well as negative reviews.

The process is simple:

  1. A transaction takes place and your customer leaves an online review.
  2. Your business takes note of the review (positive or negative) and responds upon receipt.
  3. If the online review is positive, your business reinforces existing processes or performs optimization. If the online review is negative, your business alters existing processes to improve the overall customer experience.
  4. Repeat.

A customer feedback loop will continuously provide insights, and in turn, your business managers can continue to alter or optimize processes.

If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a negative review, don’t let that stop you from embracing customer feedback. Instead, learn how to improve your business from the experience. 

Did you know that 84% of people trust reviews as much as recommendations from a friend? By following the above suggestions you’ll be building your brand and your business online and off.   

If you have any other questions, download Podium’s eBook:
Negative Reviews: A How-to Guide for Turning a Negative into a Positive.

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world21 and Hawaiian Airlines Partnership Takes Flight

We’re teaming up with Hawaii’s largest and longest-serving airline. Here’s what’s next for tour, activity, and attraction operators and world21.


At world21, we are huge believers in delivering effortless online experiences no matter where you are in the vacation planning process. When travelers are able to book their vacations from start to finish in one place, everyone wins. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Hawaiian Airlines to bring airline guests a seamless vacation experience from the moment they begin planning the ultimate Hawaiian getaway. 

As part of this partnership, guests booking flights at HawaiianAirlines.com now have the option to browse world21’s wide array of destination-based activities offered by hundreds of local tour operators. Travelers will be able to plan their vacation by selecting flights, hotels, transport, and main attractions within one website.

“A flight with Hawaiian Airlines is about more than just the journey. It’s about spreading the Aloha Spirit from the moment guests step on the plane. By integrating world21’s technology into Hawaiian Airlines’ website, customers can seamlessly plan their island adventure when purchasing their flights. Whether booking surf lessons or zip line tours, they’ll find that the magic of Hawai’i is just a few clicks away,”

-Mauricio Abreu, world21’s General Manager of the Hawai’i portfolio

We’re excited to join forces with Hawaiian Airlines to empower tour, activity, and attraction operators across Hawaii, as well as help visitors seamlessly plan their island adventure.

To learn more about our partnerships and how you can get involved, visit our world21 partnerships webpage.

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5 Tips to Survive the Busy Season for Tour, Activity, & Attraction Operators

As our friends in the southern hemisphere may be finding some room to breathe as they head into winter, tours and activities are starting to ramp up in the northern hemisphere for the summer season. Wherever you are, take these tips, apply them now, or save them for later and make your peak season the best yet. 

1. Break your summer into monthly goals – Define your goals and chunk your time, as well as your team’s. Mentally prepare everyone for the long days. There are so many moving pieces to your business that finding a balance between productivity and the sales process is key. If you solidify expectations and share the purpose of your goals in a way that is realistic and attainable for both you and your team, they are more likely to jump on board with you. And if all else fails, coffee, coffee, coffee.

2. Lean on your world21 support system – Our team is dedicated to helping make your business run smoothly. Day or night, our customer care experts stand on the front lines ready to resolve any disruption to your business objectives. Life is beautifully unpredictable; things come up, things go wrong, but our crew of attentive problem-solvers are ready to navigate your most complex situations. Rest assured, you and your customers are in the best hands. Don’t be a stranger!

3. Automate your administrative tasks – It never hurts to improve your productivity and streamline workflow. Carve out some time to review and update your current processes, then identify any areas where you can automate. You may find tasks that used to take five manual steps that can now run seamlessly in the background. Our partnerships and integrations team can also help you tap into world21’s long list of network partners as a way to get some time back so your day can be more productive.  

4. Lean on your customers – When people are visiting your website, booking tours, and sharing your business with their friends, ask for their emails, contact information, and anything else that could be useful for your business. Gathering this information will get your business set up for success when things start to calm down heading into the low season. You can then implement email campaigns, surveys, and promotions to customers during the low season and turn them into repeat customers. 

Another way to utilize your customers is by taking advantage of user-generated content (UGC). UGC is a sure way to not only promote your business and get a few good testimonials in the process, but also take some of the content creation off of your plate. There is no higher form of flattery in the 21st century than when you see photos or videos of your tour or activity generating some buzz on social media.   

5. Don’t forget to recharge – Avoid burnout at all costs. As much as you are up to your knees navigating your way through peak season, spending every minute crunching numbers at your desk will work against you in the long run. Before you find yourself less focused and less efficient, schedule some time to re-energize by doing something you love that takes your mind off work. Go to the gym, have a relaxed meal, take a power nap, or even a long walk. There are no rules here. Any activity that eases your mind momentarily will ultimately increase your productivity.

 

Create the best experience for you, your team, and ultimately your customers by following these tips, and go crush your peak season!

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world21 Expands Global Reach to Hong Kong and Singapore

Our world21 Ohana has grown exponentially since launching in Hawaii in 2013. From our expansion into Canada and Australia in 2017, then Europe in 2018, we have made great strides in developing our international presence.

Our commitment to bringing tour, activity, and attraction operators the best-in-class services has fueled our globalization efforts.

Now, less than one year later, we are excited to announce continued expansion into the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region and bring our services into Hong Kong and Singapore, providing region-specific bank accounts, currencies, and strategic partnerships.

Stay tuned for an upcoming announcement of key strategic partnerships in the Hong Kong and Singapore areas, and browse some of our current global connectivity partners here: Hong Kong Partnerships / Singapore Partnerships 

APAC growth has been fueled by its flourishing economy and global appeal. As we aim to accommodate this key hub for innovation and hyper-growth, our goal is simple: help tour operators capitalize on the growing economy and partner in the noticeable shift toward more accessible travel experiences.

Being able to support clients in Hong Kong and Singapore marks the beginning of an important chapter in the evolution of world21. As we lean into the region, we’ll focus on putting the right people, product offerings, and partnerships in place to help power the Asian-Pacific tour and activity market. By entering emerging markets and introducing Hong Kong and Singapore to the product, world21 will offer high-level support that alleviates day-to-day operational challenges, allowing tour, activity, and attraction owners to focus on their own growth.

While continued expansion has always been central to our values, world21 proudly remains the top industry partner that 10,000+ companies have already come to know and love, committed to providing world-class support, a team to help you grow, and a software that helps you stay focused on your business no matter where you are in the world. As always, thank you for choosing to grow with us!

To find out more on how to get started, please contact our team: https://world21.online/demo/

Hong Kong Support: +852 3001 3611

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