Is your business in an area that attracts a lot of summer tourists? Lodging and car services aren’t the only businesses that can benefit from tourism. Almost any entrepreneur can market to out-of-town vacationers—the secret is advance planning. Here are eight steps to prepare your business for a profitable tourist season.
1. Create a forecast. Review last tourist season’s sales, and research economic and tourism trends in your area – among your target tourists. For example, the U.S. Travel Association’s monthly U.S. Travel Outlook says the majority of travelers looking for hotels are planning to stay in the Southeast and West — good news if your business is in Florida or California. If your region typically attracts foreign tourists, a favorable exchange rate for them could mean more visitors for you. With these estimates in hand, you’ll be better able to budget and plan for tourist season.
2. Schedule staffing. When targeting tourists as customers, you only have one chance to make a good impression. If you expect to be busier than normal during tourist season, be sure to plan for adequate staff—or expect tourists to head for your competitors instead. Start advertising for temporary tourist season hires, or work with a temporary staffing agency to get staff on board and up-to-speed before the season hits in earnest.
3. Plan your marketing campaign. Based on your target customers, identify the best places to put your marketing dollars, and create a detailed marketing calendar. Start with monthly activities, and then break it down into weekly and daily activities (such as number of social media posts per day). This calendar will ensure you don’t miss any opportunities to promote your company, no matter how hectic business gets.
4. Get social. Engage with social media travel influencers that your target tourists follow. If they share or retweet your social media posts, their audience just might check you out. Writing or sharing blog posts about fun things to do in your city is another great way to attract travelers’ attention.
5. Review your reviews. Online ratings and reviews are major factors in tourists' decisions. If your business is listed on Yelp, TripAdvisor or local review sites, check your reviews to make sure they’re current, and respond to any poor reviews. It’s also a good idea to acknowledge positive reviews, as well. If you’re not on these sites, now is the time to get listed and encourage reviews from regular customers to build your reputation among travelers.
6. Update your local search listings, website and online presence. What’s the first thing you do when you visit a new city? Chances are you grab your smartphone to look up the best restaurants, bars, tourist sites and stores. Make sure your business is listed on local search directories, with current and accurate information. Add any information that will especially appeal to tourists, such as local menu specialties at your restaurant, or guided tours of local sites. Using location-related keywords in your website content, online ads and search listings helps your business show up in online searches.
7. Check the calendar. Do big events in your area draw lots of tourists? Check a calendar of upcoming events and reach out to the organizers to see how you can get involved. Whether you sell products at a booth, sponsor the event or give out free samples, you’ll find plenty of ways to promote your business.
8. Partner up. Joining forces with other businesses that benefit from the tourist season, such as hotels, restaurants, shuttle services or guided tours, exposes your business to their tourist customers as well. Create a mutually beneficial marketing plan that you and your partner businesses can employ to boost everyone’s sales.
Taking these steps now will hopefully lead to a more profitable tourist season this summer. Do you own a retail business? Check out my top hacks for retailers to profit from summer tourists.
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.
Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.
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