Timeless ways to get local customers to your Tour or Attraction
In 2020 the world of Tours and Attractions was forced to deal with a major wave of COVID related shutdowns and unexpected new rules to navigate. The challenge spurred ingenuity and creative problem solving among business owners to make sure they made the most of the unforeseen circumstances. We have now reached a point where early stage reopening is on the horizon.
As lockdown restrictions gradually begin to ease, many believe that a New Roaring Twenties will soon be upon us, bringing with it a wave of customers eager for art, culture, food and all forms of public entertainment. Knowing that reopening will be done in stages and all modes of travel have reduced drastically, strategies for attracting and maintaining local customers have come front and center for Tour and Attraction operators.
To take a page from the Jeff Bezos playbook; in times of immense change it can often be helpful to remember core customer principles that will always remain the same. Throughout history customers have desired fun and memorable group experiences, a sense of community and affordable entertainment.
We have dug through the archives to examine some timeless sales and marketing strategies for businesses whose target customer is primarily local visitors; namely restaurants, retail and local sports. This can serve as a refresher as you look to put together a reopening strategy, and allow you to draw specific connections to the target audience of your tour or attraction.
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to the previous Roaring Twenties.
Perhaps the most timeless attraction in the world is a night out for a high quality dining experience. It would be fair to call restaurants the “original content marketers”, as there is a long history of creative communications meant to drive local loyalty in a highly competitive space. Let’s examine a few hallmarks of restaurant marketing strategy to drive local visitors:
From the days of the original Michelin reviews, the most engaging tactic of a restaurant has always been to create highly visual content that appeals to customer senses.
Translate this tactic to your Tour or Attraction – what sensory experience would you like to convey to the audience? Is it the excitement of an amusement park, or a great family outing with the kids at the Zoo? With modern Tour and Attraction marketing tools, it is easier than ever to distribute quality photo and video content to your target audience.
User generated content is all the rage currently, and for good reason. The added virality and social proof that comes with visual content created and shared by happy customers is one of the highest return on investment advertising methods available. In the same way modern restaurants encourage users to share pictures of their meal to their personal social media profiles, think of ways you can let your happy customers get the word out about your attraction.
For more information on photo management for tours and attractions see this handy guide:
Discounts and Promotions
Who doesn’t love a great deal? Offering a discount or promotion is a tried and true method to drive orders and reservations for a restaurant, and the same methods apply to a Tour or Attraction.
When setting up a promotion it’s important to mind your profit margin. Even if your coupon has customers running through the doors, it can end up being a losing strategy should costs outweigh revenue. Effective ways to ensure this include volume pricing, like a family deal or a free item with purchase,
Modern ticketing and reservation software allows you to set up fully customized coupons to drive demand and maintain your P/L, which is invaluable in this day and age when customers purchase through multiple mediums and product lines.
The retail industry is particularly adept at delivering high volumes of local foot traffic to their stores, and relies on getting an “on the spot” impulse in potential customers. Take a few timeless tips from the giants of retail:
Traditional (Offline) Advertising
It is well known that there has been a large shift to digital advertising in recent years. However, when targeting a local market, there may still be great opportunities with offline strategies. Television, newspaper and signage placements are vivid mediums seen by lots of people and are particularly local in nature.
Taking out an ad in your local paper or doing a quick spot on local television or radio is still an effective way to reach this particular target audience – and can be very cost effective in an era where these mediums are looking to boost their ad revenue.
Retail outlets have the difficult task of boosting repeat purchases with a local base of customers despite lots of competition. Volume discounts, tracked rewards programs and free items for high volume customers have long been a staple of the retail business.
Customer Loyalty Programs are a highly effective means of not only ensuring local customers visit your tour and attraction, but make it a regular part of their entertainment routine (and bring their friends and family!).
Retail strategies translate well to tours and attractions, however their effectiveness lies in building the correct target market strategy. Modern, all-in-one software solutions can often analyze your sales and marketing channels to help identify key demographics that you can build a profitable membership or annual pass promotion around. When you have truly honed in on your high revenue customer persona, it is much easier to target them in your local media.
Sports teams rely on drawing large local crowds for in-person ticket revenue to sustain their operations, and historically have developed master skills at instilling hometown pride. Take a few tips from your local sports team:
Of all industries in the world, professional sports teams have mastered the product partnership. From Coca Cola to Budweiser, iconic brands have been built on the back of marketing campaigns built around a fun and inspiring family event at the game cheering on the home team.
Extrapolating this to your tour and attraction, are there local brands that you can partner with to benefit from the association? On a smaller scale, sponsoring a recreational sports team or a beloved business or charity can do wonders for your brand and create a win-win scenario.
Your local government is an underutilized resource that can help you roll out an exciting initiative. Tourism boards are on the hunt for ways to increase awareness of local events and culture and many have done an excellent job of branding themselves. Reach out to a representative at the applicable board to see if there are any ways your attraction can join one of their initiatives and catch on to the hometown pride.
The New Roaring Twenties are a very exciting time for tours and attractions, as timeless strategies that have delivered happiness to customers for a hundred years are meeting the scale and efficient operations that modern technology adds to your business.
Omni-channel Commerce is a term that tends to be used in a Retail context, however we believe the overarching idea of multiple points of contact with customers, both digital and in person, will be the future of Tours and Attraction system management as well.
We are optimistic for the future, and hope you are too.