Demystify a Tourism Sales Funnel

Demystify a tourism sales funnel

Are you in a sales position? Does your role consist of helping others make money (The Business to Business or B-B model) or do you spend your time convincing travelers of the benefits of visiting your business or destination? (Business to Consumer or B-C) Either way, those of us in sales help others by solving problems and providing solutions. 

There are many people in the tourism industry who are new to the industry or to sales positions. Since I remember what that was like I thought I would provide some information on Sales Funnels, a concept that I didn’t understand until I was years into my career. Let me shorten the learning curve for you today!

The Stages of a Sales Funnel

Not every person you come in contact with will purchase from you.  In fact, most of the people you reach out to will not buy from you, at least not right away. And that’s ok. The important step is to keep your funnel full because the more people in the funnel, the more buyers you will ultimately reach. Let’s see how to keep that sales funnel brimming with new prospects.Lead Funnel


This is where marketing comes in. You need to create awareness in your prospect’s mind. Conventional wisdom says a consumer has to see a reference at least 7 times before they pay attention. And noticing the product can come through advertising, social media, word of mouth, or even a mention in an article.

Think about it- when you first heard of a new restaurant, did you drive over there right away? Probably not. You saw a few ads and then a friend told you they went there and had a great meal. That’s when you started thinking about trying it out.

So don’t be discouraged when you run one ad and customers don’t start booking right away. Having a plan for attracting attention, and watching to see what works is the key to success here. Here are ways to attract more attention – i.e. get more eyeballs on your product.

  • Are you a Tour Operator?

    Your current customers probably love you! And you want more clients just like them. One way to do it is to have a referral program. If they get a friend to sign up for your trips, they get a bonus. Do you send out emails? Ask them to forward it to at least three friends and BCC ( blind copy) you when they forward it. Have a contest to see who forwards the most and give them a gift certificate on their next trip. This will help fill your funnel!

    • Social Marketing tip from Catherine Heeg:  Since your current customers love you, they’re probably fans of your social sites.  Leverage that ‘love’ and create social ads that are shown to your existing fans and their friends.  You’ll find this ad option in your Ads Manager account.  This way you’ll be expanding your viewership and potentially earning new fans and eventually new customers.
  • Are you a DMO (Destination Marketing Organization)?

    You actually have two funnels to keep filled. One is your partners and their participation. For membership-based organizations, you need to talk to others to get new leads and consider partners that might not be traditional tourism businesses. Start a referral program.  Your other funnel needs to be full of tour operators, meeting planners,  travel writers and social media influencers, and anyone who can bring visitors to your area. Many of you have multiple staff to manage these diverse markets.

    • Social Marketing tip from Catherine Heeg:  Speaking of keeping your funnel full of tour operators and other tourism types, consider posting and even advertising on LinkedIn.  This will help you reach your connections in our industry.
  • Are you a Supplier (hotel, attraction, retail outlet, etc)? 

    You have multiple funnels as well and those are each a market segment. Do you host weddings? Tour Groups? Corporate meetings and events? Leisure visitors from all over the world? Each market needs a unique way to reach them. If you have limited staff, time and resources currently, I suggest you look at which segment is bringing in the most revenue and concentrate on that. Longtime readers know I often mention the 80/20 Rule (read more here) and this is a perfect place to employ it.

    • Social Marketing tip from Catherine Heeg:  Staying active on multiple social sites is essential so that you reach a broad spectrum of potential customers.  Study your own demographics and then compare them to the user demographics of each social platform.  Using the 80/20 rule you’ll have a better idea of where to spend your social marketing time and budget.

I am just like you and am always working to keep my sales funnel full. One idea I had last year when things were tough was to offer a free webinar called “Continue Your Career from Your Couch.”

I reached out to many DMOs- both regional and state offices. I offered the free webinar in exchange for gathering the email addresses of the attendees. So even when we were all in dire straits last summer, I was able to grow my mailing list. Many of you became subscribers that way!

I am trying that again with a different spin. I am currently offering a free monthly webinar: “Group Sales Tactics for Our New Reality”. I share the information in my posts and ask you all to share it with others. I have a team member that reaches out to DMO’s to pitch my Online Tourism Training Program and she encourages these leads to join the free webinar to see how my presentations work and the value I can provide. Rachel knows DMO staff that I don’t so she is doing a great job of filling my funnel these days!

Final Thoughts

This started out as one post describing sales funnels but as I wrote I realized I could be more helpful to everyone if I took the time to write separately about each step in the funnel. So here is a question for you- how are you filling your funnel these days? Or what is a question you have about another step in the funnel? Just hit reply to this email and let me know. I would love to feature your question or comment in an upcoming post!

Free Webinar – Group Sales Tactics for our New Reality

Sign up now for a  FREE webinar where I will discuss Group Tour Tactics for our New Reality. Our industry has changed drastically in the last year and I will share some insights and strategies for finding success.

This free webinar is perfect for suppliers who work with tour operators and have less than 5 years of experience, or anyone who wants to gain some new insights into the Group Tour world in 2021 and beyond.

Group Tour Tactics for Our New Reality Free Webinar

Thursday, November 4th. 11 am EST. Register here.

Tuesday, November 16th,  1 pm EST. Register here.

Please share these links with anyone who could benefit! Thank you! (See what I just did?!😊)

Have you checked out my online course platform yet? Click here and you will have access to free resources and some of my most popular content. My goal is to help Tourism Pros like you be successful. My paid courses are available on-demand to watch whenever is convenient for you.

Popular courses this fall include:

Fill Your Parking Lot: Secrets to Getting more Group Tours

Time Management for Tourism Pros

Linkedin By Lunch (a partner program with my friend Louise Brogan, Linkedin Expert)

Got an idea for a course? What would you like to learn – or teach? Let me know!

Sally BerryGuest post by Sally Berry:  Sally Berry is a U.S. tourism industry expert and has an industry blog at which helps attractions and destinations get more visitors through their doors.

She  has been named a Top 10 Most influential woman in the Group tour market and a Top Innovator in the Group tour market by Groups Today named Sally a Top Tourism Networker and a Top 20 US Tourism Industry Professional.

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Free resources

Social Marketing Strategies for Travel and Tourism

About Catherine Heeg

Catherine Heeg is a recognized social media trail blazer passionate about social media and marketing in the tourism and hospitality industry. She takes the mystery out of marketing!

She creates and delivers meaningful, dynamic workshops that meet your unique needs in the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry.

Catherine and her team help travel, tourism and hospitality pros design and implement social media marketing strategies and tactics that drive traffic to their social and web sites. Learn more…

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