The latest edition of the UpLevel Town Hall, led by Joe Martin, was particularly insightful, focusing on the lucrative yet often underexplored market of corporate group bookings.

This blog post delves into the key highlights and takeaways from the webinar, providing a comprehensive guide to help tour operators unlock the potential of corporate group bookings.

The Vital Role of Tour Operators

Joe Martin began the session by highlighting the significant role tour operators play in combating loneliness and fostering human connections. “All of you literally bring people together to connect, empathize, meet each other, and share experiences,” Joe emphasized.

This statement underscored the broader impact of the tourism industry beyond mere economic benefits. Tour operators are at the forefront of creating spaces where people can bond, share stories, and form lasting relationships.

The Untapped Potential of Corporate Groups

One of the central themes of the Town Hall was the untapped potential of targeting corporate groups. Joe pointed out a common challenge faced by tour operators: an over-reliance on Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).

While OTAs are a valuable source of bookings, they often wield too much power and can dictate terms unfavorable to operators. Instead, Joe advocated for a shift in focus towards corporate groups, which offer better profit margins and opportunities for repeat business.

Joe illustrated this point with a compelling comparison. “If we’re going to spend $100 in marketing, do we want to spend that towards getting $300 back or getting $8,900 back?”


The logic is clear: corporate groups, which typically consist of 30 or more people, present a higher return on investment compared to individual tourists or small groups.

Identifying the Right Corporate Clients

To effectively target corporate groups, Joe emphasized the importance of identifying the right clients. He provided six criteria to help tour operators pinpoint their ideal corporate clients:

  1. Accessibility: Choose clients you can realistically acquire. Focus on companies located in your area or those with a significant presence there.
  2. Spending Power: Target companies that will spend the most per visit. Larger companies with more employees are preferable.
  3. Repeat Business: Look for clients who are likely to book with you again in the future.
  4. Referral Potential: Choose clients who are well-connected and likely to refer others to your services.
  5. Alignment with Your Offering: Focus on clients who will benefit the most from your tours. Tailor your offerings to meet their specific needs.
  6. Personal Preference: Consider the type of clients you enjoy hosting. Your enthusiasm and genuine interest can significantly enhance the customer experience.

Joe also shared an insightful example. When working with Lisa from Catalina Food Tours, they initially targeted CEOs in Los Angeles. However, they discovered that it was the administrative assistants, like 26-year-old Brittany, who were more likely to book such experiences.

This realization underscored the importance of understanding the specific decision-makers within an organization.

Crafting Effective Cold Emails

One of the most practical takeaways from the Town Hall was the strategy for crafting effective cold emails. Joe shared a sample email template designed to be short, informative, and easy to respond to:

While we’ve helped tourists become more acquainted with (city-name) over the past # years — now, we’re trying something different.

This year we have released a brand-new offering for teams that want a fun outing around the city.

Would it be okay if I sent you a PDF with more info?

Joe highlighted several key elements that make this email effective:

  • Brevity: Keep the email short and to the point.
  • Clarity: Clearly state what you do and for whom.
  • No Hard Sell: Avoid asking for a booking upfront. Instead, offer to provide more information.
  • Easy Yes/No Question: End with a simple question that makes it easy for the recipient to respond.

Tools for Tracking Leads and Sales

To manage and track corporate leads effectively, Joe recommended several CRM tools:

  • HoneyBook: Offers a range of functionalities, including proposals and billing.
  • Brevo: Primarily a CRM with strong capabilities for tracking leads and automating follow-ups.
  • ActiveCampaign: Preferred by Joe for its comprehensive features, including sales pipelines, email automation, and robust CRM capabilities.

Having a reliable CRM system in place ensures that tour operators can manage their corporate leads efficiently, follow up promptly, and ultimately convert more inquiries into bookings.

Building a Website That Sells

Another crucial aspect discussed during the Town Hall was the importance of having a dedicated corporate groups page on your website. Joe explained that the highest converting websites act more like digital salespeople rather than digital stores.


This means that your website should not just list all your offerings but should engage visitors in a conversation, addressing their specific needs and showcasing how you can solve their problems.

A dedicated corporate groups page should:

Highlight the Benefits: Clearly explain why corporate groups should choose your tours. Focus on team-building benefits, unique experiences, and any special accommodations for corporate clients.

Avoid Overloading Information: Use curiosity to your advantage. Provide enough information to intrigue potential clients but leave some details out to encourage them to reach out for more information.

Make It Easy to Find: Ensure that this page is prominently featured in your website’s navigation. Don’t bury it under multiple menus.

Customer Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Joe also stressed the importance of talking to your clients and gathering feedback. By understanding what corporate groups value in a tour, you can tailor your offerings to better meet their needs.

For instance, one tour operator found that corporate groups appreciated having a space to meet and socialize after the tour. Incorporating such insights into your offerings can significantly enhance the customer experience and increase repeat bookings.

Strategies for Repeat Business

To ensure repeat business from corporate clients, Joe recommended a strategic approach:

  1. Map Out the Customer Journey: Clearly define the steps a corporate client will take from their first booking to subsequent bookings. This helps in anticipating their needs and planning your follow-up strategy.
  2. Email Marketing and Automation: Use automated emails to stay in touch with corporate clients. Send follow-up emails a few months after their tour, asking for referrals and reminding them of your services.
  3. Offer Corporate Experiences: Customize your offering to meet the specific needs of corporate clients. Offer different levels of service and additional benefits, such as post-tour meeting spaces.

Success Stories and Real-Life Examples

The Town Hall also featured success stories from various tour operators who have successfully tapped into the corporate group market. Here are a few highlights:

Catalina Food Tours: Lisa LaVelle shared how her company has grown its corporate business by offering unique food tours on Catalina Island. By focusing on the local experience and leveraging their small community’s rich history, they have attracted numerous corporate groups.

Okanagan Foodie Tours: Nancy Quinton discussed how her tours in Kelowna, British Columbia, have become popular with corporate clients. By providing fun and engaging experiences, sharing local stories, and partnering with local restaurants and artists, they have created memorable tours that corporate groups love.

Lake Tahoe Balloons: Gabe Gundling described the unique experience of offering hot air balloon rides that launch and land from a boat in Lake Tahoe. This one-of-a-kind tour has been a hit with corporate groups looking for unique team-building activities.

Be sure to also check out the success of one tour that garnered $100,000 in corporate group revenue in just 6 months.



The UpLevel Town Hall provided invaluable insights into the potential of corporate group bookings for tour operators. By shifting focus from individual tourists to corporate clients, tour operators can achieve higher returns, more repeat business, and greater overall growth.

Key strategies include identifying the right corporate clients, crafting effective cold emails, using CRM tools to track leads, building a dedicated corporate groups page on your website, and gathering customer feedback to continuously improve your offerings.

For those ready to dive into this lucrative market, start by implementing these strategies and watch as your business grows. Remember, the key to success lies in understanding your clients’ needs and consistently delivering exceptional experiences that keep them coming back.

Stay connected with UpLevel Tourism for more valuable insights and join the next Town Hall to continue learning and growing together.

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