Zipline and Challenge Course Marketing: How to Use Social Media to Get More Bookings

by Ian Maier

The social media giant, Facebook, recently made big changes that have a significant impact on how zipline and challenge course operators can use social media to market their offerings and get more bookings.

In short, organic reach is falling. And if aerial adventure operators don’t adjust the way they use social media, their online bookings will fall with it.

Organic reach refers to the amount of people who will see your Facebook page posts in their feed for free. For the past few years, this has been a common and effective part of many challenge course and zipline marketing plan:

  1. Publish new and interesting content (like photos and videos) on the business page.
  2. Pay nothing.
  3. New users see your posts, visit your site, and make an online booking.

When done right, this tactic has helped zipline and challenge course marketers generate online bookings from social media for free. Sadly, those days are numbered.

In January 2018, Facebook announced major changes to their News Feed algorithm which affects the kinds of organic content that users see. And where Facebook goes, others must quickly follow.

According to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO:

“We started making changes in this direction last year [2017], but it will take months for this new focus to make its way through all our products. The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups. As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media.”

In short, the likelihood that facebook users that have liked your page see an unpaid posts of your business page in their news feed will decline. It’s a hard pill to swallow. At the same time, it presents a new and exciting opportunity for aerial adventure companies who are willing to adjust their social media strategy.

Here are a few ways ziplines and challenge courses can continue to thrive on social media, and get more online bookings.

Make Your Customers Your Best Promoters

Facebook’s new emphasis on prioritizing  posts from “friends and family” means that, although you can’t reach as many people organically, your customers can.

Encouraging customers to share, refer, and promote your business has always been a winning strategy.

According to Nielsen’s Global Trust in Advertising report, 92% of consumers around the world say they trust social media and recommendation from friends and family, above all forms of advertising.

With the demise of organic reach on Facebook, ziplines and challenge courses would be wise to focus their social media resources on developing a “customer promoter” strategy that turns guests into social promoters.

Encourage Customers to Share Photos and Videos

More and more zipline and challenge course operators are taking and selling photos to their guests. And for good reason.

According to Adventure Park Insider’s 2018 State of the Industry Report:

“In the past year [2017], the number of operations with photo services has increased by 15 percentage points; more than half of our responding P2P [Pay-to-Play] operators now offer photo services. These services account for an average of 8% of overall revenues, but can be as much as 25% of total revenue.”

Eight percent of revenue from photo sales is impressive. But that isn’t the whole story.

Used correctly, photo and video services don’t just increase spend per guest – they are a powerful social media tool that can increase your reach and generate new online bookings for free.

Challenge Course and Zipline Facebook Sharing

Photo sales and marketing tools like PicThrive help you do exactly that. PicThrive gives guests access to their photos and videos in an online gallery. In doing so, they encourage guests to share their experiences on social media in a single click.

Creating a predefined message when guests decide to share is a great idea too. Adding a mention of your business and a unique hashtag can help guide new referrals back to your social media profile or website.

Xola’s integration with PicThrive makes selling and sharing photos on Facebook and other social media platforms that much easier. By syncing with Xola, PicThrive can sends automated reminder emails to guests encouraging them to buy and share their photos online. These simple nudges increase rates of photo sharing and referrals, meaning more online bookings for you.

Treat Your Social Profiles like Mini-Websites

When your photos and videos are shared by guests, more prospective customers will start visiting your profile page. It’s important that your social media presence is optimized to sell your aerial adventures. In general, the same rules that apply to optimizing your challenge course or zipline website should apply to your social media profiles.

To create a positive first impression, it is important to focus on improving trust signals such as “likes” and positive reviews. These signals establish trust and signal to prospective customers that you provide a high-quality experience.

Similarly, the content on your page or profile should be curated to promote the things that make your aerial adventure offerings so great.  Every photo, video, and description should reinforce your unique value proposition and inspire visitors to make a booking. Treat your posts like mini-blog articles. Focus on posting regularly and share  content that informs and inspires visitors to get off the couch and get in a harness.

When visitors get closer to booking your zipline or challenge course experience, they often want to evaluate more detailed information like location, hours of operation, and safety practices. Consider revisiting your page details before high-season starts to ensure that you are addressing your customers most common questions, and that your business details are up-to-date.

Finally, consider adding a Book Now button, or a link that directs visitors to your zipline booking system, to make it quick and easy for inspired visitors to make a booking online.

Optimize Your Checkout for Mobile Bookings

The booking journey isn’t over when visitors leave your social media profile. Some eager visitors will navigate to your website to learn more about the experiences your provide, and some will try to make a booking. For any visitor on social media, mobile is key.

In 2018, 95.1% of active users on Facebook accessed the social network on a smartphone (Statista). This means that the majority of visitors that you attract to your site from social media platforms like Facebook will likely be on a mobile device.

If your website isn’t optimized for mobile devices, much of your social media efforts will be wasted.

This is especially important during the checkout process, where browsing activities, finding availability, and completing a purchase can be difficult. Any extra complexity can lead to abandoned bookings and lost sales. To improve the checkout process on mobile devices, try to avoid these eight common checkout usability mistakes.

At Xola we understand the importance of mobile optimization. According to our own research, mobile bookings are on the rise in the zipline and challenge course industry. That’s why our zipline booking software was built mobile first: to provide a beautiful website checkout experience, on any device.

Conclusion

Recent changes to Facebook’s algorithm have made challenge course and zipline marketing on social media more difficult. But the fundamentals have not changed.

Ziplines and challenge courses are most successful on social media when they encourage their customers to share their experiences with friends and family. One way to do this effectively is to sell photos and videos on a digital platform which integrates with your zipline booking software.

When your guests start sharing, you’ll notice that they generate traffic to your social media profiles and website. Both should be crafted to help convert more visitors into paying customers, with inspiring content and a checkout that’s optimized for mobile devices.

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