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If your business is near a popular tourist destination, attracting tourists is an easy way to boost sales.
Tourists dine out while traveling; they account for one-third of fine-dining sales and nearly one-fourth of casual dining sales each year, according to the U.S. Travel Association. That adds up to more than $209 billion spent annually by tourists on food service during travel in the United States.
But tourists do more than eat. They buy souvenirs, they buy necessities, they buy experiences.
Tourism — particularly in some areas of the country — is big business. And if you live in one of those areas, we have some ideas to help capture this market and grow your sales.
Create connections with concierges
Start by building relationships with local hotel concierges. They’re often the ones making recommendations to their guests. If you own a restaurant or a retail shop, building up these relationships ensures you’re top of mind when concierges recommend a place to eat or shop locally.
If you have a restaurant, one way to help build confidence in your eatery is to invite the concierge for a free meal. Then they can recommend your place with a firsthand review. If you own a retail shop, consider sending a unique gift that only your store carries.
Connect to local visitor organizations
Your local visitor bureau can be just as helpful to drive tourists to your business. Some visitor bureaus partner with local businesses and feature restaurants and shops in printed guides or on their website under the tourism section.
Reach out to your local visitor bureau to see what options are available to get involved in tourist events and be part of marketing efforts.
Promote with social media
The next step to get in touch with tourists: social media. Younger travelers use social media to get ideas of where to shop, eat, and travel. They search based on hashtags, locations, and influencers, so tag your business’s account and content accordingly.
If your business is active on Facebook, you can buy ads tailored to location that help draw in new customers nearby. Tourists that have used the “check in” feature are served ads based on their new location.
If you have an influencer nearby, or you see one is traveling to your city soon, you may also want to invite them for a meal in exchange for them posting about your restaurant.
Be proactive about reviews
Along with social media, managing your online reputation is key to attracting tourists. Monitor what customers are writing about you on Google Reviews, Yelp, and TripAdvisor. If someone posts a negative review, respond quickly and thoughtfully to help resolve the complaint, and implement a proactive strategy to avoid negative reviews in the future.
Different strategies work for different businesses, so when diners or shoppers come in, ask them how they found out about you. Invest money and time into the channel that is currently driving the most customers to your business and test new channels as you see fit.