How to Drive Referrals and Bookings Through Memory Marketing

By: Ryan O’Grady, Fotaflo

The tours and activities industry relies heavily on referrals, word of mouth, or repeat business – and this doesn’t come naturally. Companies understand that doing something remarkable helps them get ahead of the competition, yet, only when it’s actively discussed and shared. 

The term memory marketing refers to sharing customers' past experiences to reengage with them in the future. With photos, videos and reviews, tour providers can now turn an unforgettable adventure into a communication tool that records and tracks results. 

So, how can tour providers leverage memory marketing to trigger recommendations, generate leads and produce more bookings?

Tap into your customer base

Today there are multiple methods for tour operators to connect with their previous guests, including email, SMS and website pop-ups. To do this effectively, it’s essential to consider each media channel's timing, content and calls to action (CTAs). 


After a positive experience, customers feel grateful and are keener to give something back – especially if the process is made simple. You are fresh in their minds if you catch them in the first hour following their adventure. Imagine a customer who finished a scenic hike with an exceptional guide who showed some wonderful landscapes. Shortly after the tour, the customer stops for a drink at the nearby cafe, still witnessing glorious views. Then an email or text pops up on their phone from the tour provider asking for a review or referral to a friend. The customer, feeling satisfied and appreciative at that moment, will likely take action on the request. 

Group Of Young Hikers Looking At Pictures On Mobile Phone

You can encourage such referrals to be completed at that exact moment by making the referral transaction as easy as possible. Send guests an email or text, directly after the experience, with a simple one-click option to write a review, share a memory on social media, or refer to a friend. 

However, a percentage of customers still won’t open their first email or text. Automated follow-up emails at calculated times could give your guests the nudge they need, and you may even be doing them a pleasant favor. 

For guests who wanted to review and simply forgot, flagging unopened emails or texts after five days and actively sending them a reminder will exceed the guests’ expectations and save them time in the feedback process. The point is to actively stay in touch with customers and be responsive to unopened messages while the memory is recent. That way, you increase your open rates and improve the chances of guests sharing their experiences with their friends. 

Content and CTAs

The ideal scenario is that all guests will refer a friend, but gathering online reviews is also key. The average buyer browses three to five pieces of content before purchasing. Giving customers a choice to review, share and refer increases your chances of engagement, and reaches different communication channels.

When it comes to content, often less is more. Copy that engages the reader can include “Had fun? Tell your friends! We’d love to take them on an adventure too”. This reminds the reader that you value their advocacy and allows them to show their gratitude. You can include text, photos, videos and gifs to spark emotions and stimulate memories – the clearer the recall, the more detailed the recommendation.

For follow-up emails to unresponsive review requests, something like “Hey Jon, did you enjoy your tour?” with two different CTAs like “Yes, I enjoyed it!” and “Not really” that link to a website review page and customer feedback form respectively are very effective. This gives customers the option to share their joy or disappointment as they desire. The idea is to keep it as simple and visible as possible to ensure they can express their experience with ease.

Website pop-ups work similarly. If the customer pays online and returns to your website following the event, presenting them with a pop-up CTA will provide another channel to refer a friend. You can follow the same concept as the initial email or text – where the content is straightforward with a one-click process that directs to your referral form, allowing you to maximize this engagement opportunity.

Build on existing connections 

Reaching out to your existing customers and encouraging them to share their experiences with friends and family is the most potent element of memory marketing. 92% of consumers trust the recommendations of people they know personally. And this is what adventure companies can do – deliver communications from staff that their guests most interact with and remember. Their tour guides!

When a guide signs off on an email or SMS, it makes it feel more personal, triggering your guests' positive emotions by building on a human bond. Other memory marketing strategies include sharing photos and written feedback with customers. If you include the guide’s name, a good shot of the guests, or a personal review, you can shrink the jump from lead to a referred booking. Through photos or writing (in their own words), the customer can be reminded of how much they loved the experience, increasing the lure to respond. 

Referred customers are four times more likely to refer a brand to others. For customers that write positive reviews, use follow-up emails or web pop-ups asking if they would like to refer a friend, make a repeat booking, or check out your latest adventures. Again, thanking them and including what they said about you in the communication triggers their positive emotions and memories. 

Scheduling special communications for the guest, such as right after their event, before holiday seasons, on company anniversaries, and on birthdays personalizes each customer's timeline. If each email contains a photo or written memory, you can take the guest back to that unique experience and encourage a new referral or repeat booking at regular intervals.

Consider the purchase journey

Once your guests share your targeted, pre-filled ‘refer a friend’ communications, you are two-thirds into getting a new booking. Imagine you just received an email or SMS from someone you know saying “Hey, I had the most fantastic time at ‘named’ adventure company. I think you would love it!’ You can click on the link for information".

Direct-to-website CTAs that invite the referral to “Take a look at our tour packages” or simply say “Curious?” entice the lead to click without purchasing pressure. Try a few and analyze what works for your customers. Once they are on your product pages, ensure the ‘Book now’ option is visible to take your referrals to the final stage. Treeosix Adventure Parks grew its referral and repeat bookings from 16% to 65% in two years through email CTAs to their online purchasing sites.

The ultimate goal is to get customers on your website instead of competitors, and once they are there, keep them there. Simple online purchase processes secure the booking, while pop-up invitations to speak with an agent put the power of direct communication back in your hands. You can use your website analytics to set up targeted pop-up automation by seeing which new (referred) visitors entered your site from your referral form.

Give your guests the trackable tools to share a special memory with their closest friends and help them become your best ambassadors.

About the Author

Ryan is the founder and CEO of Fotaflo, a referral marketing platform that allows customers to promote tour and activity businesses online through sharing photos and videos of their experience. 

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