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. 

Restaurants

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:

Visual Content

The Roaring Twenties in Europe featured Michelin Star restaurants with engaging designs in the handbook.

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. 

Retail

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: 

Retail giant JC Penney has been known to spend lavishly on print ads in the previous roaring twenties.


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. 

Rewards

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

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: 

Sports teams have always gone to great lengths to tie their brand to a fun atmosphere.

Sponsor/Partnerships

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. 

Omni-Channel Management

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.

Offer photos to customers

Offering photos is still a lucrative upsell, even in 2021! Through our RocketPhoto platform you can add digital photo packages or print.

On average you can increase the per passenger revenue by 20%!

Get your retail online!

Have a gift shop at your tour or attraction?  Get your merchandise online! With RocketRez you can load all of your retail and tours online. Customers can add retail items while booking their tour. Your customers can bundle tour tickets with retail items.

Increase your AOV! (Average order value)

Time to start Cross Selling + Up Selling!

Cross selling and upselling are a key way that operators can add ancillary revenue. You are booking customers direct on your website or at your ticket office, why not offer them additional things to do in town?

You can easily load partner product inventory in RocketRez or work with us to show you how to facilitate cross selling.

Upselling is a MUST do! Options include upgrades to VIP seating, Food and Beverage packages, Retail items, a second experience on your tour or in your attraction.

Take a look at how Xtreme Xperience, a RocketRez customer, upsells in their web engine.

Work with more OTA’s & Distributors

This is a hotly contested topic and it is up to the individual set of needs for your business whether or not it makes sense. One cannot deny that having these big marketing budgets working for you to drive more customers to you is a good thing. Now more than ever it is easier to work with more OTA’s.

Proceed with caution and watch your volumes/margins.

Our Channel Manager is integrated to over 60 of the top OTA’s and distributors around the world. Read more about channel management here

Go Private

Due to covid and increased awareness of crowds, travelers are more than ever attracted to private tours and small group activities.

Where possible, try to flip the high volume/low cost model of 2019 (pre-covid) to a High cost/ low volume model. Build high touch, private group experiences. Don’t be afraid to charge the right amount for these! Private tours are very popular and the most searched term in our space right now!

Check out this great article on Forbes to gain some additional insights.

Presell Food & Beverage Packages

If your tour or attraction offers food and beverage, a quick win for you is too add food and beverage packages. RocketRez gives you to the tools easily build a package of food and drinks to offer online ahead of time.

This allows you to manage inventory ahead, guarantee additional revenue and prepare the cafes/galleys with the proper order levels.

Focus on Local

Locals have become one of the best markets for tour companies, almost overnight. Some quick tips to attract locals.

  • Arrange your website to attract locals.
  • Look for advertising opportunities in local sites, radio, news and deal sites.
  • Include your location in Keyword search! You want to show up when locals google “Things to do in {insert your city}”

Offer Memberships or Multi use Passes

Focusing on repeat customers is the most cost effective path to additional revenue. Pass programs or memberships to your product is a great way to sell into your current customer base.

RocketRez offers a membership module that allows you to easily offer customers a multi-use pass with tons of flexibility and usage parameters. Assign specialty rates, discounts, gifts and more to encourage your guests to visit regularly

Launch Holiday Promotions now!

People are pre-purchasing experiences now for the whole year ahead. Get your website loaded with all of your holiday experiences now and start taking bookings.

Many of our operators have seen success with this. Take a look at BB Riverboats, another RocketRez customer. They have preloaded 3 holiday tours already for the year and are taking bookings!

Whether we like it or not, virtual conferences are a reality of today.

We at RocketRez miss in-person conferences. Getting to see our customers and meeting new people face-to-face. Even the occasional rushing in the morning to make the first session after being out way too late the night before. Seeing old friends and laughing about great memories.

One day we will back to in-person conferences. Until then, we still need to meet and connect. In the past 12 months, we have attended 8 Virtual Conferences.

Through them all, we have begun to learn some tricks that help make the best out your investment in attending.

Here is our list to make the most out of them.

1. Use a calendar link to schedule meetings

2. Schedule time for breaks

3. Bring your team

4. Go to the virtual happy hours

5. Prep your tech

6. Turn your camera on

7. Keep hydrated

8. Dress for virtual success

9. Bring paper

1. Use a calendar link to schedule meetings

If you make a calendar link, you can send it to people you want to meet with and they will be able to book time with the open availability you have designated. It is a great timesaver, avoiding the back and forth of emailing available times, etc.

Calendly offers a free version and is really easy to connect to your calendar.

2. Schedule time for breaks

Each show will have an agenda and we have seen that many leave a block of time between sessions.

In some ways, virtual conferences can be just as tiring as in person conferences. Scheduling time to take a mental and physical break is a really good idea! Being in front of your screen for long periods of time can be tough on your eyes.

Go for a small walk and get your body moving between sessions. This could also be a good time to connect with your team midday on how things are going.

3. Bring your team

We mean virtually. Just like in-person conferences, we suggest you go to sessions with your key team members. You each may recall different pieces of the session and it helps to know you’re going “together.”

Any coworkers going as well? Make plans to catch up and discuss keynote sessions after the fact or message them throughout about points you found interesting. Have your company chat open: slack, teams, zoom chat or skype. Talking in real-time is helpful to keep the dialogue as you would at in-person conferences.

It can also be great to reconvene with your team at the end of each day to review key meetings and takeaways.

4. Go to Virtual Happy Hours

Grab a cocktail/beer/wine and connect with others from the industry. It isn’t the same as in person, in some ways it can be better.

We have had lots of fun going to these and have made some great new connections and you can’t beat the price.

5. Prep and know your tech

Pre-show Checklist:

  • Familiarize yourself with the platform that the conference is hosted on. For most cases Zoom is used.
  • Choose quiet and bright spot in case you end up on camera and chatting.
  • Test your video settings – (Zoom tutorial).
  • Check mic settings (Zoom tutorial).
  • Use the emojis, otherwise it can feel like a one way conversation.

6. Turn Camera ON

It can be hard to connect with someone when we can’t see them. If you are comfortable and it is permitted, it is highly recommended to go on camera.

7. Keep Hydrated and Energized

Keep water and your favorite caffeinated drinks nearby. This is just always a good idea. Take moments to stretch.

8. Dress for Virtual Success

This one goes for working from home in general. According to a study performed by psychological scientists at Northridge, Columbia and California State University, our clothing has an impact on our thoughts and our ability to think in an abstract manner. It affects not only how others perceive us, but how we perceive ourselves.

Likewise, according to a study published in the Human Resource Development Quarterly, “Respondents felt most authoritative, trustworthy, and competent when wearing formal business attire but friendliest when wearing casual or business casual attire. Significant two-way interactions were found between dress preference and mode of dress worn on self-perceptions of productivity, trustworthiness, creativity, and friendliness.”

9. Bring Paper

Taking notes on paper will help you concentrate while the sessions are going. It seems obvious, but keeping you off your mouse and keyboard will help you focus and grab key points better.