Tag Archives: marketing

100 Mile Tourism

Security concerns, fuel prices, lack of time or money, having kids or growing old.  There are a variety of reasons why people are travelling closer to home these days.  As tourism operators, it is important to recognize the importance of attracting not only to the visitors of your community, but local residents as well.

So much time, effort and resources are put into attracting tourists to come to a tourism region, but what is being done to cater to people who live there all the time?

I have now lived in three cities, and one thing I have heard residents say in each of them is that there is nothing to do.   The fact is, all three of these cities are tourism friendly destinations that people travel significant distances to visit… so clearly there are things to do in each of them!

Catering to local residents has many advantages.  Let’s briefly outline a few of them.

  1. Keep money in local economy. If you attract 100 tourists to your destination through marketing efforts, and 100 local residents travel somewhere else, what is the net impact?  By keeping local residents in your community, they are likely to spend money at attractions, events, and restaurants that would have gone to benefit another community.   This helps keep people and money close to home!
  1. Expose residents to their own gems. I spoke earlier of how people can live in a community and yet still say there is nothing to do there.  More often then not, this is simply because they do not know of the great attractions and assets that are close by.  By attracting local residents, they will have more pride in their community and support tourism development in the future.
  1. Word of mouth.  Isn’t it great advertising to have local residents telling friends and family that there is nothing to do in their own community?  By attracting local residents to your tourism products, they will become ambassadors to outsiders, and more likely to recommend these attractions to visiting friends, families, and even strangers!
  1. Repeat customers. The great thing about local tourists is that they are close to home.  With no travel time, if you provide a great experience, they will be more likely to visit again.  With no travel expenses, they may even spend more money too!
  1. Resiliency.  If your tourism assets are heavily dependent upon external markets for visitors and revenue, they are susceptible to economic influences outside of your control.  Case and point, when family budgets tighten, they stay closer to home.  By maintaining a connection with local visitors, tourism operators will be less impacted by a shrinking external tourism market.

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Filed under Destination Marketing, Tourism Management, Tourism Marketing

The Google Side of Tourism

Each and every day the internet is changing the way we live our lives. A report was published this week called “Google Effects on Memory: Cognitive Consequences of Having Information at Our Fingertips”. Basically it points out that people are more likely to forget something that they know is readily accessible on the internet.

When I first heard this I started thinking about silly things that I have “Googled” which I probably should have just remembered. The first one that came to mind was making a perfect hard boiled egg. At one point in my life, I knew the timing, and art of boiling a hard boiled egg. However somewhere along the way, I forgot this simple recipe, and I must confess I have Googled how to make hard boiled eggs on at least three different occasions.

The fact is Google (and other search engines) have made finding information so easy that we have begun to use it like an external hard drive for our brains. As DMO’s and tourism operators, it is important to recognize this shift in the way people are finding and storing information and use it to position our destinations in the best possible way.

Recently I went on a hike to Bruce Peninsula National Park. Having never been there before, it was only natural for me to gravitate to the internet for information to help me plan my adventure. I knew there would be a Parks Canada website, and several local tourism organization websites available with useful information… But even typing their website addresses into my URL field seemed like too much effort for me at the time. My brain can type “Google” without even thinking about it, and then by typing in the name of the park, I had over 300,000 websites to choose from in less than 0.16 seconds.

How does your destination perform in a Google search like this?

Like it or not, Google is making the internet smaller and smaller as the amount of information increases ever day. If your website does not rank in the first page of a Google search, it basically does not exist to the average consumer.

Case and point, if you asked me today how to make the perfect hard boiled egg, I could not tell you right away. However, if you gave me 0.29 seconds to search Google’s 3,640,000 results, I could give you this link: http://www.goodegg.com/boiledegg.html …. And I did not leave the first page of results to find it!

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Filed under Destination Marketing, Tourism Marketing

Becoming a Destination Rock Star

The top 15 questions to ask your self to see if you have what it takes.
Many communities, towns, counties, cities all face some serious questions when it comes to planning for the future. I get asked a lot for advice on whether an area has the right genetics to become the next big destination. Here are some simple questions to ask yourself, the residents, the business community, and the elected officials to help you determine if tourism is in your future.
1. What is the defining feature(s) that sets you apart from all of the communities that surround you?
2. Do you have the necessary infrastructure in place to meet visitor demands?
3. As a resident are you willing to share your roadways, grocery stores, parks and natural attractions with visitors?
4. What is the maximum time people will spend in the car to get to you?
5. Does the business community have the products and services in place that visitors want to buy?
6. Are you willing to make the long-term financial commitment to the development and management of the tourism sector?
7. Do you have capacity?
8. Do you have a sustainable resource/attraction that will not be adversely affected by increased tourism volume?
9. Do you have the planning, parks and roads/engineering support to make destination enhancements?
10. Do you have a wayfinding system in place to guide visitors?
11. Is your downtown core a place that people want to spend time in?
12. Do you have a long-term vision of what you want your community to look like?
13. Is their community pride? Are residents proud to live there?
14. Do you have community leaders/champions?
15. Is there political stability and shared vision?
Your answers to these questions will help determine what you need in place to become a serious destination contender. A successful tourism economy is driven by inputs, and you only get out what you put in, especially in today’s global market where the consumer is in the drivers seat.

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Filed under Tourism Development

Building Budgets – Getting Destinations Resourced

After spending the last 10 years embedded in the middle tier government system, it taught me some valuable lessons on how to build the case for tourism within a regional system. Here are some tips:
Trust – There is trust on two levels. The first is trust within the senior management and the elected council. Trust sounds like a dangerous word; it is if you don’t have it. Trust in government is earned by performance and public relations. Since there is a ton of PR value in good performance the more successful results you have on smaller projects the more accolades your leaders will receive from their constituents. This immediately trickles down to you as you tackle bigger initiatives. The second level of trust is with the business community whom who serve directly. Your job is to make them money and if they see direct value in what you do, you will have earned their trust. The business community speaks directly to the politicians….you see how this is working.
ROI – Measurement in the tourism destination management business is often tricky. Web visits, brochures handed out, event attendees are soft measurement tools that are important but don’t create a splash. What builds trust is when the business community is making money and they are communicating that to you and the elected officials. Establish good trusting relationships with your operators and they will tell you pretty quick if they are seeing return and will lobby on your behalf to make sure programs are resourced properly.
Community Benefits – Governments love to spend money on projects that increase the quality of life for their ratepayers. Positioning tourism projects that not only stimulate economic development but are also a legacy for residents. Trails are a big part of this approach. Destination trails attract visitors but for the remainder of the 8 months, they are real community assets that improve health, enhance alternative transportation needs, and make people want to live there. Be sure in all tourism projects to make this connection, it is one of the real benefits of a tourism-based economy.
All levels of government play substantial roles in the delivery of tourism experiences. They are often the land manager, infrastructure/service provider, transportation corridor manager, and so on. In order to be competitive and deliver experiences that exceed expectations they need to be well resourced. The tourism economy after all can be very lucrative for tax revenues. It is your job to build the case, earn the trust and deliver successful projects that create better destinations.

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Filed under Best Practices, Tourism Development, Tourism Management, Tourism Marketing