At PaxFlow, the makers of your tour & activity operator software, we’re focused on helping travel professionals automate many processes within their backend office.
However, we go beyond the use of technology as a means to help tourism professionals succeed. We’re big believers in education as a tool to help you grow your travel business. Therefore, from time to time we bring in tourism experts from around the world to help educate you, our blog readers, about various ways you can grow your tourism company.
Today, PaxFlow had the opportunity to speak with Bryan Botha, from the Liquid Dive family, about how we grew his dive company.
We have an exciting interview planned for you today, so without further ado, let’s jump in!
💬 Hello and thanks for joining us today to talk about your involvement in the tourism space. You work at the intersection where nature and conversation meet tourism. Can you kick off the interview by telling us what drew you towards this particular intersection? Why the focus on nature?
Having been in the diving industry for some time – it’s been heartbreaking to watch the steady decline of fish and marine species over the years. To also see a massive increase in marine debris and waste has been the catalyst for us to start making a difference. With diving we are able to share the passion for conservation and nature to our clients, which then has a waterfall effect, getting kept in their memories and hopefully changing their attitudes no matter where they go diving.
💬 Can you tell us a little bit about your early days within the tourism industry? How difficult was it for you to get started and what were some of your most challenging early obstacles? How did you overcome them?
Starting small, getting clients was the biggest challenge at first. The first few months saw maybe 1 or two divers come through the door. But perseverance and an upbeat and friendly attitude paid off in the end, and people started to speak, and leave great reviews, which in turn increases our customer base 🙂
💬 How have your challenges changed over time? What are your current biggest challenges and what are you doing to overcome them?
Well Covid is probably the biggest challenge we have faced in the tourism industry. But again it’s about perseverance. And looking for opportunity in places you might not expect. We have a huge task to keep this industry alive while it lies dormant and we wait for the storm to pass.
💬 What have been some of your biggest success milestones along the way? Remember the more specific you can be here, the better.
Our move to the bigger premises directly on the beach, with 11 beachfront bungalows and a beautiful pool and restaurant – that was a dream come true.
💬 Since you began your career in tourism, how have you seen the industry change over time? What are some of the biggest shifts you’ve seen? What do you think these shifts are a result of?
Online presence and social media are now the big hitters when it comes to tourism. This has been a huge shift – away from travel agents and magazines, to self booked holidays and packages. The increase in connectivity and advancements in technology are the main reasons for this.
💬 What are some of the biggest innovations (or biggest innovators) in the nature tourism sector? What inspires you about these innovations?
ReUse, Reduce, Recycle. The concept that waste is not a term is a huge mindset shift and inspires us to think outside the box.
💬 Do you believe the tourism industry, and the nature tourism niche in general, needs more innovation? Where are some areas where you see stagnation?
All sectors need more innovation, I don’t see any stagnation – or opportunity 🙂
💬 In increasingly crowded markets it’s becoming a challenge for tour operators to cut through the noise and get their marketing messages heard. What strategies have you seen tour operators successfully use to cut through this noise?
Direct marketing via email and online advertising. Deals and packages to entice certain demographics.
💬 I’m sure experience design plays a big role in what you do as a nature tour operator. Tell us a little bit more about how you go about designing “experience”? What are some of the most challenging parts of this process?
Tailor-made experiences from talking to customers is the best way for us. Challenges are always to do with getting supplies and equipment in.
💬 Let’s talk a little bit more about sales and growth now. When you were first getting started, how did you go about finding your first customers? How has that process evolved over time?
We relied on street traffic – now almost everything is online.
💬 Tell us a little bit more about how big of a role the internet plays in your success? What are your three biggest online organic growth channels?
A massive role as mentioned before. Google. Facebook. Instagram.
💬 What are your three biggest online paid channels?
Google, Facebook, Instagram.
💬 If you had to double down on just one growth channel (paid or organic), which would it be and why?
Facebook – it seems that less clients are using it.
💬 What are some of the biggest mistakes you see new tour operators make when they first enter the market? How can new tour operators avoid these mistakes in the first place?
Not doing their research.
💬 What are some must-read books for tour operators working in the nature / conservation niche?
Getaway magazine. PADIs Undersea Journal. Project AWARE.Thank you greatly for taking the time to chat with PaxFlow’s blog readers today Bryan. We really appreciate it. To our blog audience, if you’d like to learn more about Bryan Botha and the work he does, you can follow him on Instagram or visit his website here.