Announcing Dylan’s Tips for Tour Operators

Posted on April 24, 2018 |

Hi, I’m Dylan from San Francisco

I started a small tour company — Dylan’s Tours — almost 15 years ago.

After traveling around the globe for most of my 20s, I was eager to share my local’s perspective to those visiting the Bay Area. My first tours were led in my own car. An “old soccer mom van.”

Over the years, I’ve grown to be one of the top Outdoor Activities on TripAdvisor. My one-man, one-vehicle business expanded into a multi-minibus, electric bike and electric tuk tuk operation with over a dozen local tour guides leading intimate small group tours through San Francisco, Sausalito, Muir Woods and Alcatraz.

TripAdvisor played a huge role in the success of my small tour company. They leveled the playing field between small tour companies and huge corporate tours. I’m sure the tale of How TripAdvisor Changed My Life is a familiar one — which is why I wanted to share it on my company’s blog. But, since TripAdvisor acquired Viator for $200 million in 2014, the website that changed my life is quickly becoming a burden.

I know we’re not the only small tour company struggling with these TripAdvisor changes. So, in an effort to help other boutique tour operators I’ll be publishing three tips every week that have helped Dylan’s Tours stay relevant in this ever changing tourism landscape.

We want to invite you to join us every Tuesday as we share our tips on running a successful boutique tour company! Follow us on Facebook to stay up-to-date with our weekly small business blog posts.

As a preview, we wanted to share with you the three biggest changes we’ve made to combat the recent TripAdvisor changes:


SEO Blogging

Even if your blogs don’t get any engagement across your social media platforms, you’ll still benefit from boosting your SEO ranking with weekly blogs. For example, our article on The 10 Best (And Worst) Ways of Getting to Muir Woods didn’t get much traction on Facebook. At all. But it’s one of the top ranking results for the phrase “getting to muir woods” and has helped organically boost our tour offerings that stop at this must-see location.

1 Minute Videos

Only have A Day in the Bay to see San Francisco, Muir Woods National Monument and Alcatraz Island? Don't worry — we've got you covered 👌

Posted by Dylan's Tours on Thursday, February 1, 2018

Whether it’s your smartphone or a GoPro it’s easier than ever to make fun, snappy videos that drive engagement! Instagram allows videos under one minute and we’ve seen a lot of interactions from our Facebook videos under 45 seconds. Just check out our one minute Instagram video with thousands of views that continues to convert into bike rental bookings!

Introducing Electric Tuk Tuks

We were the first company in San Francisco to offer electric bike tours. Now, we’re the first with electric tuk tuk tours! Minibuses and electric bikes are old news in the constantly evolving tourism landscape. While we still offer our favorite tours by bike and bus — there’s now a new way to travel differently.


We aren’t saying we have the answers.

But we are hoping that together, the underdog tour companies, can creatively stay on top of this ever evolving tourism landscape.

One thing we know for sure: we’re investing in our social media. It’s something we have control over (for the most part). And it doesn’t rely on “the algorithm”.

If you want to keep tabs on the tricks we’re using to combat the changing OTA scene, then be sure to follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter to see when our tips come out in real time.

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