You're tired. You're busy. You're got so many things on your mind. You really want to get away. You need a holiday.
So you go online to find somewhere to visit (after lockdown), a good place to stay. And very quickly you feel completely overwhelmed.
There's so much choice! It makes you feel even more tired.
Every place promises 'so much to see and do', 'home from home comforts', 'warm welcome'... you get the gist. Bland. Boring.
One or two places look pretty awful so you can immediately ignore those. But what of the ones that look quite good? How will you make a decision?
Some destinations look a bit more intriguing than the others. There are long lists of things to do. But even those lists feel overwhelming - how do you know which to choose? Which will meet your needs? The places to stay look great and promise 'high quality' but after a while all those pictures of shiny kitchen surfaces, comfy sofas and beds with a towel or rug folded on them merge into one. It's so difficult to choose.
We need to make it easier for visitors to choose our destination, our attraction, activities and accommodation. We need to stand out, in a way that's much more memorable.
That's where a good story comes in.
There are essentially three ways to compete:
1. On price (but there'll always be some one cheaper and someone more upmarket than you).
2. By being better than everyone else. A good idea but it can be expensive as you may have to constantly upgrade. Even harder - how do you convince people that you're better than everyone else?
3. By being different. This is by far the easiest. If you have a good story...
What makes a good story?
So what do I mean by a good story exactly? It's anything that sets you apart and makes you more memorable. It could be your story, something you do that's different. It could be that you're fantastic at doing something. It could be the story of your building, something interesting inside your building, something from your local area. It could be one big story or a combination of many. It could be something dramatic or a collection of small details.
It has to be something that sets you apart. It has to be memorable. It has to be something that other people will want to talk about. Ideally it will even make travel writers want to write about you, which will also help with your search engine optimisation.
The key thing is to create a connection with other human beings. To show, not just tell.
I recently posed a question on twitter to some travel journalists: what would make a holiday cottage more interesting to stay in & write about? Their responses came immediately:
@WillHide: The hook would have to be something you could do from there. The actual cottage itself would unlikely be the reason for the story but you could bring it into the piece.
@SallyShalam responded with lots of advice, based on her very extensive experience of writing about destinations and accommodation: It’s important to identify what your target market is likely to read. This way, you can be clearer about courting publicity from the most suitable publications. It really matters.
Be clear on what the stories are about your place and aware of different types of article. Does your property warrant a full article in own right? Eg, Is there sufficient material to fill a couple of pages (historic house, major renovation, end of a long labour of love, and why do we need to know about it now, etc)? Or does it work as a base for a wider destination piece? (What’s the story about the region? Why now? Is there a critical mass of good things to visit within reach?) Or, would it work well in a themed round-up (best bluebell walks, region for seafood, new heritage opening, or somewhere to test your eyesight, etc).
Now put those two together - stories plus target market - and it will be easier to see which writers or editors will appreciate hearing about you most.
Finally but oh-so-crucially, photography. It simply must be factored in to your marketing plan. Editors reject places purely on the basis of poor images. Editors beg me, when I’m speaking at regional tourism events, to ask you for decent pictures. You need a professional set of shots. If your property is a heritage/interiors story then you need an interiors specialist.
My anecdote: A property owner asked me repeatedly to review her cottage so eventually, despite having reservations, I agreed. When I got there, it was tiny (which is fine) and furnished entirely from IKEA (not fine, what am I supposed to say about it?) Which left me with the problem of filling the other 650 words. A property which would have worked fine as a short entry in a round-up theme such as coastal cottages simply didn’t stand up as the main event in a review.
@LottieGross: Sally makes some excellent points. A house isn't enough of a story on its own without a great human angle (interesting historic resident? Or are current owners a story in own right?) A USP is essential. And hot tubs don't count as a USP! (USP = Unique Selling Point)
Amanda Brown PR has just published a podcast on this very topic, speaking to another travel journalist about 'why we all need to hark back to our childhood and re-learn the art of storytelling to reconnect with visitors and guests". You can listen to it here.
In a future blog I'll offer some ideas for stories you can tell, even when you think you don't have a story. Sign up here to make sure you don't miss out.
No matter what your business or how big your marketing budget, there's one thing that you're probably not doing enough. It's always important, and thanks to Covid is now even more essential.
Everyone needs reassurance. We need it in different ways, but we all need it.
When some one doesn't buy or book something, it's easy to assume they either don't like what you do or your prices are too high. More often these are not the reasons. They're not sure, or they lack information. A little reassurance can go a long way and make a big difference to your marketing.
How do I know? It's something I've studied and experimented with, over three decades. I've helped clients to add a few simple words of reassurance to their marketing copy, on websites, social media, in person - and they've often been amazed at what a difference it makes. A subtle change or the addition of a few words could make you a lot of money.
The sentence above is true, but I also added it as an example. When you read the start of this article you might not have totally believed me when I said that reassurance is important. You may well have been questioning the validity of that statement or what I even know about it. So I added some reassurance about my experience, and about the results businesses can achieve by implementing my advice. Can you do the same in your business?
Think about some of the questions you might subconsciouly ask yourself before you buy anything. It could be a quick "is it good value for money?", "will it taste good?", "will I really enjoy it" or "will my family want to do that?". Before booking somewhere to stay we may ask, "is there enough to do in the area?", or "will it be comfortable?". Thinking through such questions and considering visitors' potential concerns can help you provide more information and reassurance.
Consider each page of your website and the sort of questions anyone might ask. What might visitors concerns be? What additional (not so much you over face people - usually a couple of sentences are enough) information could you add to reassure potential visitors? Do you need more images to show them? Have you included reviews on your website instead of sending people off to another site?
Reassurance about re-opening
We normally want to feel reassured that places will be clean. Now safety is paramount.
There's no question that people are ready to travel again and want to plan their trips and holidays. Most will wait until it's really safe to do so, but they're already dreaming and thinking about what they'd like to do. Our challenge will be to make sure we take advantage of that pent-up demand and secure bookings and visits. Building consumer confidence through the right kind of reassurance is gong to be more important than ever before.
What can you do?
Once you've looked at every angle of your business and how you can make it feel safer (see below for more information), think of the different questions visitors may have. You might want to make a note of how you'll answer those questions, and list out all the things you're doing/done to keep visitors safe.
Communication will be just as important as the actions you take. Make sure you're open and honest about everything you do and plan to do. If you don't know the answer to something, it's better to say so than to take a gamble.
Consider how you can communicate your plans with visitors, both in advance and when they arrive. Think about the different types of reassurance they might need. For example, some people will be concerned with physical measures and cleanliness. Others may be more worried about booking if they think they can't get their deposit back if something happens.
Explain all the infection control plans you will follow. A brief video can be very effective. It doesn't have to be polished - showing that you're a human who cares is better than a glib promotional film.
Inside your business it's a good idea to make your cleaning schedules visible and clear, perhaps with a poster or note.
Where to get more information and advice
As my family will tell you, I'm no cleaning or safety expert so please don't ask me about the best cleaning routines or where to get PPE (I've had a lot of emails on these topics which I'm afraid I just can't answer!). However, there is a lot of help available, and some additional guidance about to come on stream.
Quality in Tourism have already added to their existing inspection schemes with a Covid-ready Safe Clean Legal scheme.
VisitBritain/VisitEngland are now consulting with the industry ready to create a visitor reassurance kite-mark for use across the tourism industry. They expect this to be ready in early June and it will be free of charge. You will be able to find information about this when it's ready along with plenty of other industry information on their website.
Hospitality Industry Training have published this helpful guide. UK Hospitality are now also working on protocols and guidance which will be published soon.
See also this guidance on carrying out a workplace Covid risk assessment. There is some government guidance on cleaning.
Most recovery planning currently focuses on the logistics of safe distancing and what re-opening will look like. There’s a real need for this but I’d like to look further ahead, to a more positive future.
How can we increase business survival rates? When tourism fully opens, there will be a marketing stampede: fierce competition for travellers’ attention. The tourism market is already crowded, yet we’ll all be shouting our wares at the same time. How can anyone stand out?
In the fight for day-to-day survival, most conversations about destination marketing themes and messages have paused. Businesses are scrambling to consider the physical adaptations they might need to make.
The tourism industry’s survival depends on our being ready to spring forward with concrete plans, welcoming messages and interesting experiences to capture the public’s attention.
This article looks at what we need to do to bring about tourism recovery. It considers possible opportunities, visitor mind-sets, and practical actions for destinations and businesses.
I’m writing from the perspective of my own practical experience of destination promotion, business development and support. I’ve built on what I learnt from previous crises such as Foot and Mouth and 9/11, and on what’s happening in other countries post Covid-19.
Looking back through rose-tinted glasses?
We look back to pre-Covid times as the halcyon days of tourism. But the industry wasn’t without its issues. Some areas suffered from over tourism. Some were under-visited. Few tourism businesses were operating at peak capacity or profitability. Tourism growth was ad hoc.
Some issues were much discussed but never resolved: the need to disperse visitors away from honeypots; the need to develop off-peak tourism; and how to reduce over-reliance on online travel agents.
Covid has caused enormous human and financial losses. Many aspects of life have been affected. As we eventually move forward, now may be an opportunity to re-think tourism. We’re in the unusual situation of having to re-start an industry out of almost complete hibernation.
An opportunity for ‘good’ tourism?
We’ve talked about sustainable and responsible tourism for a long time. Growth has remained the focus for many destinations, with little time to stop and re-set. Now could be the time.
We have an opportunity to think about the sort of visitors we really want. Where do we most need visitors? When? How do we want them to arrive at our destinations? Is it time to focus on value over volume? What do we want visitors to actually do? Is there a way to ensure broader community benefits from tourism?
What are the opportunities for more meaningful and slow tourism? I’m looking forward to increased interest in sense of place and local distinctiveness. People have started to see things on their daily walks they didn’t notice before. Minds are opening to small pleasures.
One outcome of the pandemic is the increased recognition of the value of local communities, and small actions that collectively contribute to better outcomes.
We may not have previously promoted very strongly to local people, yet they are set to become an important market, both directly and indirectly. There is an important ripple effect. How can we make better use of local and regional ambassadors?
This is a good time to consider about different ways of connecting with audiences and potential visitors, and the importance of building relationships and engagement.
Inside visitors’ minds…
The desire to travel is still strong, possibly even increased by lockdown.
Common sense and research indicate that the day visiting local market will be first, followed by regional visitors, then domestic and eventually international visitors. It is likely that car travel will be the initial preference, avoiding some forms of public transport and air travel.
It’s useful to consider the ‘first’ visitors we’re likely to see:
How can visitors be encouraged to travel when it’s safe to do so?
Visitors will need to know where it’s safe to go. They will want to feel they will be welcomed by locals. It will be essential to build trust and confidence. The Safe Clean Legal kite-mark scheme developed by Quality in Tourism and the proposed VisitEngland/VisitBritain schemes will play a key part in reassuring visitors.
Along with the urge to explore and discover new places, some anxiety and caution are likely. Some will seek out the familiar and enjoy the nostalgia of returning to much-loved places they’ve visited before.
Some visitors may feel over-whelmed by the possibility of their freedom and feel under pressure to make the perfect choice. Compelling marketing messages and tangible reasons for visits will be key. Dull lists will be less effective.
Visitors may initially spend more time in local destinations than they might normally consider. We need to make this an active, positive decision with a good outcome, not just seen as ‘making do’.
Anticipation is part of the enjoyment of travel. Now is the time to stimulate anticipation. Visitors want to be able to share their plans, and talk about their discoveries. They will need some direction to find the places on their doorstep they haven’t yet enjoyed.
It’s likely the tendency toward last-minute booking will increase still further. Visitors will need to feel secure about their bookings and have the opportunity to delay or ask for a deposit refund should plans have to change.
Many visitors will want to avoid logistical challenges: we will need to demonstrate ease of arrival.
Opportunity to re-build tourism, based on some promising trends
Some trends have already emerged during the pandemic. They may give clues for new product development and experiences, and marketing messages that will appeal to a post Covid-19 market:
Time to (finally) build off-peak business?
It’s looking likely that we’ll miss the bulk of the summer season. If this is the case, then many visitors will be more than ready to enjoy time away in Autumn and Winter. Some of the usual concerns about weather may take a back seat when there’s an opportunity to enjoy free time in a different place.
We’ve talked about increasing off-peak business for a very long time. Now might be the chance to experiment with winter openings to change perceptions once and for all. What can we do collectively to build business during the shoulder months?
What do destinations need to do?
Most destinations are currently using a ‘Dream Now, Visit Later’ approach. Some destinations seem to be thinking about recovery planning mainly in terms of how they will deal with post-lockdown tourism and encourage safe-distancing. More pro-active destinations are planning post-lockdown as well as revising their existing marketing strategies so the two planning activities can merge into a longer-term plan.
Businesses are increasingly looking to destination organisations and government for co-ordinated messages about which places will safely open and how visitors will be welcomed.
In addition to leading collaborative marketing, and adapting messages to the ‘new normal’, destinations can use this time to consider what ‘good’ tourism means for their area, and what kind of visitor economy they want in future.
An important role will be guidance on product development. Initially this may be centred around appropriate adaptations for social distancing. Competition for visitors will be fierce and there will be pressure on destination organisations to help businesses survive. There will be an increased need for support to help businesses build on trends in order to create the kind of experiences and product that tomorrow’s visitors will want.
Next steps for businesses?
What can business do to recover quickly and be stronger? Some important activities:
Communications will need to take account of the changed market place. We’ll need to:
I’ve got a challenge for you. It could be the one thing that changes your business or your life. I hope you’ll join in. First an explanation…
Most of us have one thing that stops us from moving forward. We can get by without doing it, but once we master the skill or get over our fear, our businesses can be significantly improved. What is it?
The One Thing is different for each of us. For some it’s the belief that you’re not ‘technically minded’. For me it’s seeing or hearing myself on video. Some people say it’s facebook. Whatever the One Thing is, it’s getting in the way.
We’ve told ourselves a story: that we can’t do something or don’t like something and that’s it. We can work on our business in all kinds of different ways but we keep coming up against that One Thing.
It becomes a bit of a dead end in a maze that you’re permanently wandering.
You might have decided that installing Google Analytics is just too hard or not something you’re interested in doing. But when you ask me how you’ll know which key words your visitors use to find you, or how to rank higher in the search engines I'll talk about Google Analytics. You might listen to everything I say but those two words are like a halt sign. You can take all the advice except for that bit.
Or you might have heard of people talking about getting bookings through facebook, and finding useful information in a facebook group. You want the bookings and you want the information but you repeatedly say ‘I don’t do facebook’. Another dead end.
You might know that video is now an essential video tool and something really worth adding to your website, and sharing on social media but you just can’t bring yourself to learn how to use it. It’s just another nagging Thing at the back of your mind, lurking there like a disapproving shadow.
You know you should do it, but you just don't. Almost every day someone tells me about something they can’t do – use zoom, use facebook, use Google Analytics. Or they say they don’t like doing something – writing, social media etc.
You can do it. You will like it.
Through-out my childhood my mother repeatedly said, ‘there’s no such word as "can’t”. My sister and I used to clench our teeth at her and wanted to disagree but we knew what the next sentence would be. ‘You don’t know until you’ve tried’.
That’s my point really. If we haven’t really tried doing the One Thing, how do we know we can’t? How do we know we don’t like it if we’ve not given it a chance. Whatever the One Thing is, chances are that many others are doing it and they’re not super human. We can do it if we try. You might think you're 'rubbish at technical stuff' but is that a reality, something you've tried and failed at many times?
Usually we avoid doing the One Thing until suddenly we don’t. For some reason we start to do it. We realise we’ve just told ourselves a story, and believed we can’t do it, or don’t want to. And almost always we kick ourselves when we accept it’s easier or less horrible than we expected. We wish we’d done it earlier.
In my head I don’t have any wrinkles, baggy eyes or chewed lips. In fact I look exactly as I did when I was 25. But when I see myself on camera it’s a different matter. Somehow the camera adds 30 years to my face and videos remind me that my skin is sagging at the same rate as my energy. I know that I could save time and help many more people if I just recorded some brief video clips and marketing tips. But videoing myself is my One Thing. I just can’t bring myself to do it.
Until now. I’m promising myself that this can’t go on. I will do the One Thing.
So, I’m challenging you. What’s your One Thing?
What difference would it make to your business or your life if you did it? How would it feel?
If you think it’s something you can’t do because you don’t have the knowledge, google ‘tutorial on how to…” and I guarantee the answer will be there. No excuses. It helps if you just start – then you quickly realise that whatever it is, there’s a process to the One Thing and it’s easier than you think.
Let’s make a positive out of Covid and turn this time to our advantage. Let’s do our One Thing. Let’s move forward.
There’s one way to make it more likely that we’ll achieve our One Thing. Tell someone what you’re going to do. As soon as you do so, it massively increases the chances of completion. Adding a public deadline works even better.
I’m still cringing in advance at the idea of filming myself. In fact, it’s even worse now because I know when you next see my face you’ll look more closely at my sagging cheeks and remember these words. But I’ve said I’ll do my One Thing and I’ll do it. By this time next week.
What’s your One Thing? When will you do it by?
To increase your chances of success, please tell me in the comments on here, or in the facebook group or Tourism Network online community, or by email and we'll help keep each other accountable.
When we talk about marketing, most of us think about websites, social media and so on - tools that aren't necessarily expensive but do take effort.
There's one marketing method that happens naturally, and is free. It's easy to trigger and amplify it, and it can stimulate masses of word of mouth publicity. Yet few use it. It's anticipation.
Go to the hairdressers, have a chat with friends, family and colleagues and there's one topic that often comes up in conversation. Got any plans for the weekend? Where are you going on holiday this year?
We love to look forward to our trips and happily discuss them with others, giving them ideas for their own leisure time and picking up recommendations for ourselves too.
During Covid-19 we can't use calls to action that ask people to visit us right now. But we can build anticipation for later, and it's never been more important to do so. Effort invested now will be rewarded later. Many people have more free time than usual so their minds are open to the small nuggets of pleasure you can provide.
Planning, research and looking forward to a trip are all part of the enjoyment. We love to anticipate. And because we love to anticipate, we're happy to talk to others about our anticipation. It doesn't stop with the trip itself. We continue to talk about our experiences afterwards and share our memories.
As tourism marketeers all we need to do is provide triggers for anticipation and our visitors will do some of our marketing for us. And then we can amplify their marketing activity, through social media and other channels. Anticipation is a natural form of marketing so it's not contrived, and therefore more authentic and credible.
NOW is the best time to start really thinking about anticipation and how to use it. Here are some tips, angles and ideas.
1. Ask questions to stimulate comment and engagement. What are they most looking forward to doing when lockdown ends? What are the activities they're missing? Who would they like to visit with? Which places will they visit first and why?
Show images of what visitors can expect, stressing 'when the time is right'
2. Think about what people need and what they enjoy, to consider what is most likely to pique their interest. Is it fun, or factual, images or words? What kind of images and words? Maybe now is the time for more restful images and information rather than exciting, urgent messages? It helps to know your own audience so you can get this right.
3. Paint a picture and help people to imagine being there. You might need to keep stressing that it's good that people are staying at home but you can still write about what's happening where you are. You might use an angle that is related to what you do and shows a different aspect of your business so you can tempt without directly calling to action.
For example, a small hotel or bed and breakfast might show the results of some baking experiments. This won't get everyone leaving home right then and there but it will give them a taste (sorry!) of what they might be able to enjoy eventually.
If you enjoy spotting wildlife on your daily walks you might write about your sightings and then go into more detail about particular creatures. This reinforces what people could eventually see but is more informational than a direct call to visit right now.
4. While you're trying to build anticipation, don't forget the people who have been to you before. Can you ask them to share their memories and photos? Talk about some of them? Satisfied previous guests should be some of your most powerful advocates so do ask for their help.
5. This is a good time to really build engagement with your potential and previous visitors on social media. Ask them about the information they'd like to know, what they'd like to know about your area - and then provide it. You could even invite people on your daily walk with you - virtually - recording short films of what you see, or using Facebook Live. You don't need to be polished: natural, straight-from-the-heart is often more effective.
All these activities may sound small and relatively insignificant in the face of so much turmoil in the world. Yet tourism marketing isn't about one big expensive action. A series of small, intentional steps like building anticipation are what will start to open minds, persuade people, and form a virtual queue of visitors outside your door ready for when you re-open.
Think of what you're doing like a teaser for a new TV series. They often run trailers for a programme for a little while without giving the schedule timings, just to get everyone interested. When the programme airs, viewers are ready and waiting.
During these odd times we're all finding different ways to cope and use our time.
Anyone with a tourism business has two options right now:
1) hope for better times or
2) do what you can right now to strengthen your marketing so your business is poised for recovery.
Since hope isn't a very reliable marketing strategy, the second option is likely to be most productive.
So what do you need to do? Many of us have been clearing out our cupboards and using our free time to make our homes feel good. Now's the time to give your marketing a good spring clean too.
Assuming money is limited but you have a little more time than usual, here are my recommendations. They focus on three essential marketing tools: your website, social media and direct mail.
Your website almost certainly needs a bit of a refresh, or at the very least a few new pages, some more key words, better images and a general freshen up. For one thing, it will help your search engine rankings if you pay it some attention. You need it to stand out from others, ready for when recovery comes. So, pretend it isn't your website. Step back from it.
Take a look at every single page. Pay most attention to your home page. Ask yourself:
As you do this, write done all the improvements you might need to make. Now is also a really good time to think about re-writing some pages to make them more search engine friendly. If you'd like to undertake a deeper audit to look at every aspect of your site and how you might like to improve it, email me for a free checklist to help you do that. If you'd like to know more about how to improve your website, you might enjoy this practical short online course.
Your social media
Are you using the right social media, often enough, with the right messages? You might feel most confident using twitter but if your target market are all on instagram, you're not fishing where the fish are. Now would be a good time to get to grips with your social media, to improve what's you're doing and really understand the tools you're trying to use.
Many people use social media but don't plan out their messages or think about their engagement. Engagement is what really makes the different, and it's what generates bookings and visits. Don't be tempted to think that because places are closed to visitors, now isn't a good time to be on social media. It is. Journalists are still looking for stories. Visitors are still planning trips even if they can't go on them immediately. You can always build awareness, which is one of the foundations to any successful business.
Your direct mail
Direct mail is probably one of the easiest, lowest cost and most effective, yet under-rated forms of promotion. It means sending out carefully written, targeted mailings to people who've chosen to receive them, whether by post or email. It is often mis-used or under-used, but with a few simple rules and knowledge it can be very powerful.
Social media is excellent for raising awareness of what you do. But you can't control it and you're reliant on people seeing your posts and taking action. Ideally you will combine social media with direct mail - using social media to encourage your followers to join your mailing list, so you can decide when to write to them, about what messages to send.
Building a good mailing list is a really good way to build a relationship with your visitors and customers. It enables you to create trust (by mailing when you say you will, with relevant information). Success relies on three factors:
If you don't yet use direct mail, now is the time to start. If you already use it, now would be a good time to think about the emailing software you use and learn about its advanced features, consider how you can build your list, and plan out some really good content. If you'd like to learn to do all this, now is the time - see the online courses here.
Wondering how the Coronavirus will affect your tourism or visitor-focused business? What can you do to secure your future?
Read on for some reassurance and practical marketing advice.
We're living through very difficult times. It would be easy to give in to sheer panic. But that won't solve anything. We need to stay calm, and focus on what we can actually do.
I still remember the terrible dread I felt when the first Gulf War was declared, then 9/11, Foot and Mouth, the floods... but over the 30+ years I've worked in tourism I've learnt one thing...
The market goes down, we feel battered and bruised. Then it gets better again. Not everyone will survive, so it's essential you take the right steps now to make sure you're a survivor. The only way to move forward is to believe in the future.
The best thing you can do now is to use the time to improve your marketing. Everything you do now will have an impact on the future, and give your business a boost the minute everyone decides to travel again. It will happen, and you'll be better prepared. I'm always amazed at how many fantastic ideas, and even new businesses emerge after difficult times. It pays to use the time to think differently.
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I know many of you are feeling very anxious about the future. I feel better when I have a good plan so I’d like to share a possible way forward, and try to support you.
It’s clear that tourism businesses are in for a very tricky time. We do need to remember that even this horrible time will pass, and recovery will eventually come. We can be ready, by working together…
We need to accept the lack of visitors, and expect it to continue for several months. We can save energy wondering what will happen by assuming the worst and planning how to make things a little better. Some of our worries can be temporarily put aside through activity. The announcement of the government’s financial support package will hopefully provide some additional reassurance.
Recovery may be some time away but we can use that time productively. Here's how:
I’ve yet to meet a tourism business whose marketing is 100% effective (mine included). We all have plenty of marketing improvements we can make, all no cost or low cost.
Step 1 – plan and be open to future opportunities. I’ll be outlining some of these in a free online marketing workshop, available from this Friday. You need to register now to get access.
Step 2 – improve your skills. I’ve already seen lots of people planning to learn a new instrument, do something creative or re-decorate. Next week I’ll offer details of the online marketing workshops I’ve created, focusing on different aspects such as social media, building a mailing list, improving your website etc. They will all help you be ready for recovery. Stay tuned for many more support tools and suggestions.
By the end of the Coronavirus, I’m determined to have helped everyone to really make their marketing the best it can be so you can leap forward with confidence into a more positive future.
Step 3 – build collaborations, share experiences, ask for help. I’ll send some more ideas about this next week so you can develop your own initiatives. A good place to talk to each other and ask questions is in the supportive Tourism Network online community – please do join us, and post your questions and experiences. Take a look at the Marketing articles in the section under Topics.
Step 4 – this is something you should do all the time. Keep communicating, keep marketing.
We may need to accept that we’ll receive few visitors for a while but that does not mean your marketing should stop. People don’t want to just read about the virus – they want to see beauty and feel uplifted, to see some tantalising ideas so they can make future holiday plans. I’ll offer some more ideas in the online marketing workshop so do make sure you register.
As I’ve said before, I still remember the panic I felt during all sorts of crises over the past 30+ years – Gulf War, recession, floods, Foot & Mouth, 9/11. Yet, afterwards we bounced back. Some brilliant businesses were born. Some did things differently. There will be some positives, and I plan to point them all out!
Just remember – business will get better!
You're an expert every day, probably without even knowing it. You almost certainty take your expertise for granted and don't realise how valuable it actually is.
Your taken-for-granted expertise can really make a big difference to your tourism business.
What sort of expertise am I talking about? It could be anything, from managing a large house and serving breakfasts every day, to your local knowledge, your ability to spot and name birds and other wildlife, your historical knowhow, keeping a gorgeous garden, your cooking skills, balancing farming with running a tourism business... the list goes on.
Every day you do things that you consider simple tasks but which many visitors find fascinating and incredible.
Your taken-for-granted skills are valuable, and you're more of an expert than you realise. Your skills make your business successful.
Could you make more use of your expertise in your promotional activities and attract more visitors? The answers is almost certainly, 'yes'!
Think about everything you do during the course of a 'normal' week and compare it to how many of your visitors live.
Some people avoid cooking full English breakfast at home because they get flustered about getting the timing right for all the different ingredients for two people. You may effortlessly cook breakfast for a dozen people.
Many people don't have a clue about the names of birds, flowers, trees and can't recognise one from another. You know all their names, what happens in each season and have lots of nature anecdotes to tell.
Most people fling a duvet on their bed and their room never ever looks like the instagram photo shoots they love. They run out of loo rolls and resort to eating cornflakes instead of a proper meal because they haven't been shopping. You take care of a large building, make perfect beds and produce flawless meals for many people.
Visitors gaze in wonder at the scenery and love the walks when they come to stay with you but don't know the area very well. You've got a long list of fantastic places to go, and can point visitors in the direction of some hidden gems they wouldn't otherwise discover.
I'm sure you can think of many more examples. The next step is to consider which areas you like to be 'expert' in, and how you can use your knowledge to build awareness and trust in potential visitors.
Read how to use your expertise, what it means for visitors, and some practical examples in the Tourism Network online community - free to join.
I've been asked this question several times lately, so let's take a more in-depth look at what advertising is and what it can achieve.
This article could save you a lot of money!
Just to be clear: 'advertising' is sometimes used interchangeably with the term 'marketing', which isn't correct. Advertising is paying to promote a specific message in a specific way, whether it's an ad in a newspaper or a big budget commercial before the main film at a cinema.
Advertising can be very powerful but can also be an expensive mistake. Maybe you need to consider other options first? How good is your website? Your social media? Your PR? Do you blog regularly? Use direct mail consistently?
If you're uncertain about any of these it pays to get them right before you start to advertise. When some one sees your ad they may well come to your website and if that's rubbish... And you'd ideally want to capture their details for follow up, and continue to raise awareness via social media.
Read on to find out more about advertising and for some tips to avoid wasting money
Advertising is good for creating and building 'awareness' but this is not necessarily the same as building sales. Back in 1925, Daniel Starch said ”to be successful, it must be seen, must be read, must be believed, must be remembered and must be acted upon”. The same is still true today.
Before you spend, think...
Why are you advertising? What are you main reasons? For example:
Advertising has either tactical or strategic objectives. Strategic advertising is concerned with creating an awareness of products, of developing an organisation's identity and image. Strategic advertising takes a longer term view, having a wider impact than tactical advertising – but it will cost more.
Tactical advertising is aimed at specific market segments and persuading them to go to a particular place or buy a certain service, sometimes at a particular time. Tactical advertising takes a more short to medium term view.
Target markets must be clearly defined. Don't be reactive and simply advertise where a sales person asks you. Think about your markets and what they read/see.
One strong, clear message
Most advertising works best with just one key message. This is especially important if you can only afford to buy a few lines or small space. Faced with a small budget and only a couple of centimetres to fill, it can be tempting to get the greatest value for money. Don't cram a small space with loads of detail. It won't have any impact. It's more likely to confuse.
Choosing one main message will help give even the smallest company a stronger identity. This comes back once again to selling benefits rather than features, and stressing what makes you better or different.
How to handle those random advertising sales phone calls
For more tips on how to negotiate brilliant advertising rates, what to say to pushy telephone sales people, and advice on how to make advertising work for you, please see the full version of this article in the Tourism Network online community (free to join).
Free tourism marketing advice
Please note: all articles are copyrighted Susan Briggs