So we all know that first impressions are important. First impressions count.
They colour the way we think about people, places, experiences. But do they encourage people to share on social media, to remember, to pass on recommendations to others?
I don't think we place enough importance on last impressions. And yet they last. What we do before we wave a cheery goodbye may be the most important factor in getting someone to come back again or recommend to others.
Is there anything you do to reward your customers, and encourage them to recommend you to others?
Years ago I ran a programme of very short breaks to England for overseas visitors. They had very little time so we gave them a folder of info, including a ready-stamped postcard of the place they were visiting.
Towards the end of their trip we reminded them to write their postcards and then we collected them and promised to post them. A small gesture, a small cost, with a big impact. Those postcards triggered a lot of recommendations and positive messages.
When guests leave their accommodation, they're usually setting out on a long journey. They'll get hungry and their children will get bored. How about saying goodbye with a tin of travel sweets (branded with the accommodation name)? Perhaps a small puzzle for young children and a chew for their dogs? Maybe you could clean their car windows or offer tips on the best way to avoid local traffic?
We say first impressions count, and they do. But last impressions are important too. They're part of making good memories that last.
As business owners/managers we all want to make our businesses "better". We want to believe our businesses are the best. But what does that really mean?
Here are three questions for you to think about for your business. Try not to simply answer as a slogan!
1: How are you better, what does it mean in your case to be better?
2: Have you thought about who you're better for? And how? Complete this sentence: "for people who are..... we ...."
Perhaps an example will help: "For people who want to grow their business and be more profitable I can offer several easy and cost-effective ways to improve their marketing..."
3: What are your answers to these questions and does your marketing make this clear?
Is it time for you to up your game a bit?
In 2018 SpaceX will take private passengers on a trip around the moon. Sounds "out of this world" (sorry) but these sort of trips are set to become a reality to Millennials who're ready to spend considerable sums of money on experiences.
So how much do you know about Millennials?
Start with this research.
Note: I posted about this in our Tourism Knowhow facebook group a little while ago. Most of my posts there get a good response and engagement. When I posted about Millennials, the response was almost zero. Scarey - because this is probably the most important market to secure the future of your tourism business.
It's worth finding out about Millennials - they're the future, and yet many in the tourism industry are still ignoring them!
I've talked before about how journalists love stories about anything new, even if it's something contrived, silly or something anyone could do - but hasn't yet thought of. A friend recently sent this clip to me.
Anyone can book a stay in a hotel (or even stay at home and do this!), and take with them some food, beer and DVDs. Any accommodation provider could offer something similar but as far as I know only the D Hotel in Drogheda has thought of packaging this together and promoting "Duvet Days".
A good idea + press release = £000s worth of media coverage, social media engagement = improved search engine rankings = massively raised profile = bookings!
It all starts with a good idea though. If you find it hard to step back from your business and brainstorm different promotional angles, I'd love to help! Just email to find out how I can help you.
Could you make more of the trend for speeding everything up?
I was about to watch a video (how to chop food properly... but that's not the point!) and then a box popped up offering me the option to speed up the video. I'm impatient by nature so I was tempted (I opted for the 1.5x!). What does this tell us? What does it mean for tourism?
People frequently pay more for next-day-delivery & express services. Life is speeding up in so many ways. Some hotels offer express check-in services for their VIP guests. People pay more for fast and quick. Perhaps you can charge more for a speeded up service?
Or maybe the answer is to slow it down? Tourism can be the antidote to a busy stressful life. Over 50% of UK residents say they feel under time pressure in their daily life.
What could you be doing to either take advantage of the need for "express"? Or should you offer an option for visitors to just slow down, stop and feel calmer?
Many of you probably do this but maybe it's time to make it even clearer. After all, if everyone's in a hurry, they may not notice unless you spell out how you can really help them?
A quick thought for today: what do you do to make people smile?
It might be something you do as part of your customer service, or it could be something in your marketing messages. It could be something humorous or simply human. Cheeky works really well too, if it's right for your market.
Make people smile and they automatically feel positive towards you.
They'll remember you for longer.
Are you getting the reaction you want - from your website and other marketing?
Does your business convey the right impression?
Your choice of colour scheme can have a profound impact on people so you might want to consider which ones you use. This outline of the psychology of colours could be handy.
My company colours supposedly invoke a sense of creativity, friendliness, energy, courage, warmth and wealth, with a little fun throw in!... What about yours?
Here's an idea that will make your visitors smile. It's easy to do, and will benefit others: toilet twinning!
By donating £60 to twin your toilet, you help those in desperate poverty to have access to a proper latrine, clean water and the information they need to be healthy.
Your smallest room becomes the proud owner of a framed certificate, complete with a colour photo of its twin and GPS coordinates so you can look up your twin on Google Maps.
2.4 billion people don’t have somewhere safe, clean and hygienic to go to the loo. That’s more than a third of the people on the planet. Just go to www.toilettwinning.org to sign up now.
And once you've received your certificate, take a picture of yourself with your own loo and the framed certificate and send it to your local paper and post it on social media. I've suggested this countless times to tourism business owners and it always gets published and shared, raises a smile and encourages others to do the same.
Are you missing out on an opportunity for some mainstream media coverage?
A Guardian travel journalist recently told me it's incredibly hard for them to find good UK tourism stories for publications such as the weekend supplements.
Yes I know! Hard to imagine!
Most tourism businesses want free coverage in credible publications. So why is it hard for journalists to feature you?
The problem is: journalists love anything that is new or different. And yet, new businesses are often so focused on getting ready, they fail to tell people what they’re doing. Or do so when they're no longer new so they miss out on initial publicity.
Those of you who have had your business for a while are probably thinking you need a shiny new building to justify a mention in a newspaper story. Not so.
Journalists want something that sounds new. It doesn’t have to be an expensive building. It could just be a new package, a new angle, a new experience. Sometimes it’s just a question of being imaginative. Developing something that appeals to a niche market is bizarrely appealing to mass media.
I remember a BBC Radio 4 programme and several press articles about a hotel that offered chances to play scrabble with strangers.
Another example was an agency set up in Germany to offer holidays for people who were suffering from some sort of heart-break. Maybe they really did, maybe they didn’t. As far as the media were concerned, they just wanted to be able to write about something new and different.
So the message is clear: the media want stories, you want media coverage - you just need to dream up a clever idea that sounds new! Simple...
Can you offer a "status story?"
What's a status story? It's something people can share or tell others on social media. It also reflects our changing priorities. Status used to be about buying and having "things". Now it's more about the stories we tell, and the experiences we've enjoyed that mark us out from others.
I recently looked at the things successful tourism businesses have in common: they enable their visitors to tell their friends and family about something different they've done, something they've experienced that was unusual or some quirky detail they've learnt about - ideally with an instagram-worthy photo.
This not only means that visitors have stories to share, but their enthusiasm makes future marketing much easier with recommendations and referrals.
It's relatively easy for tour operators, attractions and activity providers to offer experiences but not all of them give clear enough insights into how they'll make visitors feel.
Accommodation providers often give information about their facilities but not so many tell potential guests about opportunities to discover something new. It could be anything from the chance to see new-born lambs, to meeting a local character or enjoying the wonder of discovering a hidden beauty spot.
What-ever it is, we all need to be better at helping visitors to uncover the stories they'll be able to tell. In turn they'll pass on those stories to others and promote our businesses and destinations.
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Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs