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).
Please note: all articles are copyright Susan Briggs 2021
Build your business, using my tourism expertise, energy & enthusiasm
All articles on this site are copyright Susan Briggs, The Tourism Network Ltd 2021
Email Susan Briggs
The Tourism Network Ltd, The Old Mill, Millgate, Masham, HG4 4EZ
Tel: 07768 365591