Tourism is a great way of boosting local economies, and destinations that are well branded are great for the tourism industry. This reciprocal relationship is exactly why you as a tour operator, event planner, or other tourism professional should be invested in your region’s industry.
Everything you do to advance your business’s profile contributes to the overall tourism industry of your region. From implementing better branding strategies to working with your neighbors—this guide explains what you can do to stimulate your region’s tourism, and ultimately grow your own profits. And as tourism in your region grows, bus loads of passengers will visit your market. And Bus.com will be there to provide coach buses or school buses in every North American city from Miami to Vancouver.
Make yourself more accessible in more places
The first thing you need to do is get online — if you haven’t already. Your business needs to be discoverable by tourists, especially the adventurous types that are willing to take a chance on something less trendy.
Use ALL the social media channels
Just as you have your social media platform of choice, so too do your potential visitors. That’s why it’s important to meet people where they are. If you’re not discoverable on a particular social media channel, you’re cutting out a piece of your audience pie and throwing it out the window. This might sound like an insurmountable task, and it is tough, but if you take a few online tutorials and repurpose your content for different spaces, you can build your online presence significantly.
Optimize your website for mobile use
People will discover your business through different channels, but no matter how they come to your website, one thing stays the same: you need to be optimized for mobile device use. Search engine algorithms favor websites that work well on cell phones, because that’s how people are looking at content these days. To begin, choose a website template that is already optimized for mobile use.
Connect with online travel agents
Many online travel agents target specific regional outbound travellers. They do this by translating their website into other languages and branding their offerings to reflect regional trends. Your job is to reach out to as many of these online travel agents as possible and let them know that your region is what’s up. Since these agents are often booking for groups, show them that your company and area can accommodate many visitors. You could offer to provide shuttle service to big events or provide catered lunches or picnics for outdoor tour destinations. Get creative!
Here, your goal is to make your region look different from more popular destinations. Trend-setter travellers that wants to be ahead of tourism game and be the first to instagram the newest, hottest destination. Those are the people you want to attract—whether that means highlighting the natural beauty or your region, the local cultural traditions, or a weird roadside attraction.
It’s not enough to list the must-sees in your area. You need to capture the vibe of your region using stunning photographs that are eye-catching, fun, and slightly mysterious. Lucky for you, smartphone cameras are good enough for platforms like instagram. You don’t have to be a professional photographer (though hiring one is always an advantage) to show off the things that make you love your region. If you can capture how much you love your region, others will want to feel that love too.
Connect with your local tourism body
Most regions have some kind of organization that thinks about how to boost the local tourism industry. Whether or not they are advanced in those efforts is a different story. No matter where they are in their journey to global recognition, you can find ways to help them and ways to help yourself. Start by reaching out with a simple hello. You’d be surprised what a polite and enthusiastic email can do. One day you might be asking for an introduction, the next you could be meeting your mayor to discuss how to grow tourism in your region.
One great option is to instruct your local experts to use ViaHero, a travel company that provides unique experiences by connecting travelers with local guides. This can benefit your local community by providing out-of-towners with a positive travel experience that can help boost the reputation of your area. Working with a local also helps travelers get up-to-date, personalized information, and peace of mind from one-on-one support before and during their trip.
Reach out to international travel websites
Look into international travel websites, like Lonely Planet, Thrillist, and Atlas Obscura, or Eater and TimeOut if you represent a restaurant or foodie tour. Make sure your region has some representation, then try to expand it. Many have submission pages where you can suggest listicles. If you know a good writer, encourage them to submit to these websites. They’re always looking for good content that’ll intrigue and engage their readers.
Be a good neighbor
Attracting tourists to a new place, one that isn’t as represented in movies as LA or New York are, is dependent on telling a good story. You need to tell an engaging and cohesive story, and that means getting to know the characters. The restaurant down the street, the history tour winding through the alleys, the hip new hostel around the corner—these are the characters in the tale you’re trying to tell. Get to know them. Foster trust. And share the benefits of a community story well told.
Pool your marketing efforts
Telling a good story benefits everyone. So work with all the characters. Reach out to your neighboring tourism professionals to create marketing campaigns that present your neighborhood in a dynamic light. Show off all the amazing small businesses, and don’t forget to rope in some of the local artists. You don’t need a celebrity to make your campaign shine. You just need to highlight its personality.
Become a network of concierges
The best way to convince new clients to partake in your activities is through word of mouth. You can blog and collect reviews (both very important), but the ultimate way to close the deal is to have a trusted person recommend you. Imagine you’re visiting a city for the first time. You go to a restaurant, have a fabulous meal, and receive a great bar recommendation from your server. Are you more likely to trust the person who has just proved themselves or a rando online? Talk to your neighboring businesses and ask their staff to recommend you. And don’t forget to do the same for them. What goes around comes around!
Offer last minute bundled deals
Micro travel (short trips) is a big trend for luxury travelers in 2019. These types of adventures are often last minute, and the result of a sweet travel deal. Capture this sector of travellers by creating and offering a last minute deal that bundles together discounted rates of your services plus those of your neighbors.
Show off with a tour
You know your region better than anyone. Give new visitors an intimate look at your neighbourhood. Dazzle them with historic monuments, delight them with local flavors, direct their attention to all your fellow tourism SMBs. Consider chartering a bus for a custom tour of your region. You can rent a coach bus, mini coach bus, or minibus to transport groups of travelers in comfort, and do so cost-effectively.