A guide on how to make the most of the tourist season in your local community while optimizing for long-term business growth.
With the summer season comes rising temperatures, a break from school, and car loads of families trekking to their summer vacation destinations. According to the New York Times, we can expect 2018 to bring record travel volume across the United States, which makes sense considering that tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in the world. So, what does a growing tourism economy mean for small business America? Well, quite simply it means short term and seasonal growth trends.
For many small businesses seasonal growth can be the extra boost that they need to make it through the year and achieve profitability. For other local businesses it can be the beginning of a rough and rocky rollercoaster of wavering success. The seasonality of tourism can foster multiple seasons of low business volume and reliance on a booming economy.
At Welcomemat Services, we’ve been working with the local business communities across the country for 15+ years to provide marketing services that will excel their business growth and build long term customer relations. Statistics show that the most loyal 8% of a small business’ customer base makes up nearly 50% of their annual profits.
Balancing tourist and regular customers can be a struggle for some small businesses, especially if the business is located in a high-volume tourism area. So how do you find the right balance?
Plan Ahead and Know the Facts
Know your community’s heaviest tourism season and the volume of tourist to expect. Many assume that peak tourism is always in the summer, but many areas such as New Orleans, South Florida, The Rocky Mountains, and Southern California actually see higher tourism volume outside of summer months. By knowing what months to expect an influx of tourist, it becomes easier to plan for extra staff, product, and marketing efforts. Review year-to-year data and learn when and where you see higher influxes of tourist customers and how you can prepare better each year for the tourism season in your community.
Always Prioritize Long-Term Growth
Savvy business owners know that in order to remain profitable in the long run there needs to be a stable and thoughtful long-term business and marketing plan in place. Knowing the goals of your business growth at key mile stones – 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. – allows you to make decisions in the short term that will lead your business down the right path for large-scale growth.
While marketing to tourist may seem like a great idea on the surface it’s often not the most profitable way to spend your marketing dollars. Considering that loyal or ‘regular’ customers are more likely to spend more, return often, and provide free word-of-mouth marketing it’s always going to be more profitable to invest in finding local customers versus tourist customers.
Consider a locally focused marketing tactic such as new mover marketing, which will focus on exposing your business to your most loyal potential-customer base, people moving into the area. Studies show that new movers are 5X more likely to become a loyal customer than existing residents in your community – making them the ideal audience to target for local business growth!
Be Adaptable to Short-Term Growth
By prioritizing long-term growth, your business plan will need to be adaptive to short term growth situations. Tourism is a great example of a short-term growth situation because the season is short and unpredictable. Have expectations, set a plan, and then set a back up plan in case the volume of customers is higher or lower than expected.
As you study the year-to-year data of tourism for your business you may begin to realize that tourists have different wants and needs than the locals in your community. Plan ahead for these needs as best as you can, but also plan to be reactive and adaptable if your estimates are off. Test new ideas conservatively and document your successes. As you continue to document your tourism marketing and operations results you can begin to build trend reports and gauge how tourism effects your long-term business plan.
For many local businesses, tourism is a key part of their growth plan, which can be risky. At Welcomemat Services we believe that the key to long term business growth is rooted in a solid loyal customer base. Learn more about how Welcomemat can help you reach and gain new customers every month with our direct mail new mover marketing program.