Tourists and business travelers need ways to save money; small business owners need ways to make money.
Where’s the common ground? How can you turn tourists and business travelers into customers?
Attracting Tourists to Your Small Business
We asked Dave Charest, Director of Small Business Success for Constant Contact, for his best ideas. Constant Contact is a company that specializes in email marketing software tools.
1. Create a Great Experience
Whether someone is just passing through the area, or spending a few days in the area, make sure that the traveler’s check in at your business is top notch.
“You’re looking to create a great experience that someone will talk about,” Charest said. “That will make them want to come back whether it’s during their current stay or in the future.”
2. Vary the Deal
The types of deals you offer may have varying value, depending on the customer’s status. Is the person a long-term or pass-through traveler?
“For example, a restaurant or bar can offer a deal for multiple visits in one week, or a deal for people with out-of-state IDs a certain distance away,” Charest said.”
3. Be Transparent About Business Decisions
If you’re feeling the pinch of inflation and have to raise prices, offer an explanation. You can do so on social media or at your place of business. It’s no surprise – customers are experiencing the same challenges you are.
“Often, customers can relate and most of them actively want you to succeed,” Charest said. “Giving them a chance to understand what you are going through, and a way to support you through it, is a great way to forge strong relationships and cultivate a loyal audience.”
4. Pay Attention to the Small Details
Charest described tourism as an industry heavily influenced by word-of-mouth.
“Focusing on the overall experience and the little details can go a long way in enticing people to talk about and refer to a business,” he said. “Give your staff permission to “wow” guests with the little things that make you stand out, and ultimately make your business to go-to spot.”
5. Institute a Referral Program
Charest said that small business owners can launch a referral program, for example, having a customer earn a small kickback or discount by recommending their business.
6. Expand Email Marketing
“Email marketing can help to keep a business top-of-mind and communicate deals, even with customers who are only passing through,” Charest said.
7. Partner with Other Businesses
The right small businesses partnering together – especially through their marketing efforts – can serve to build up business for everyone involved, Charest said.
8. Mass Advertise Deals
Charest advised reaching out to customers not only through the email lists, but also through local newspapers and social media. Using mass advertising is the way to let customers learn about deals and take advantage of them.
“For example, I heard about a rock-climbing gym right next to a brewery, and a hand stamp from the gym will offer you a discount at the brewery,” Charest said. “Although these businesses have different email lists and customer bases, co-branded promotions ending up helping each other.”
9. Highlight Upscale or Unique Experiences You Offer
If you offer something unique to the area, which can’t be found anywhere else, make that known, Charest said. Or, if your business provides more of a “grab and go” type of interaction, make sure that experience goes smoothly and satisfies your customers’ needs.
10. Collect Email Addresses
Collecting email addresses does more than help you provide information about upcoming promotions or events.
“You can also reach out to survey them to find out what they enjoyed most, or even what you could improve,” Charest said. “This intel will allow you to attract more people in the future and even drive repeat business.”
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