It's glib of me to suggest you can actually make money while you sleep. But...
You can. Even if your business is closed, you can generate some essential revenue through gift vouchers. You might be surprised at how much you can make - I'll come on to that in a moment - and the additional benefits.
If you already offer gift vouchers, do you actively promote them through-out the year?
How enticing do your vouchers look? Are they available as a digital download so people can buy with confidence and be automatically sent a professionally-produced voucher (while you sleep...) ?
There are some very reasonably priced services that are easy to use and can help you do this - more on that later.
What are the benefits of selling gift vouchers?
You might be surprised to know that as many as 30% of vouchers are never redeemed, so you may even pocket more cash.
When using vouchers, many people trade up, spending well above the voucher price.
Gift vouchers can introduce new guests and customers to your business.
They are excellent last-minute present suggestions, which you can promote even when you're closed.
High Street shops have offered gift vouchers for years but they can seem impersonal, More and more people want to shop local, to support independent businesses and to offer more personal gifts. That's where you come in, being able to offer something much more interesting and thoughtful.
Everyone likes to have something to look forward to. This year that's truer than ever, so gift vouchers are likely to be big business.
If you're looking for a company to help you integrate good-looking vouchers into your website as an easy-to-buy-easy-to-sell service, GIft Voucher Brilliance can help - email Clare Bushby. They provide the set up of the voucher 'shop' without charge and then charge commission (from 6.5% +VAT) on the value of vouchers sold online, and can arrange for postal versions too.
Clare says the service has been incredibly popular, particularly as it means owners don't have to worry about the technology or fulfilment service.
If you needed to carry some water and had a bucket with a hole in it, would you just keep re-filling your leaky bucket? Probably not?
It doesn't make sense to just keep filling a leaky bucket, yet many tourism businesses are like a bucket with a hole in the bottom...
They spend a lot of time and money attracting new customers, over and over again. They need to do that to build their business.
But there's a hole in their marketing.
What about the visitors you already get? What are you doing to encourage them to come back again, or to tell other people about you?
If you have happy customers, it makes total sense to remind them how much they enjoyed their time with you and give them good reasons to return. Even when we have a brilliant time and plan to go back somewhere we forget. We need a reminder.
Sending out enticing mailings is the best way to encourage visitors to return, to stay longer, to spend more, and to tell others.
It's easy, it's fast, it's cheap and you can monitor its effectiveness so sending out good mailings make sense.
Most people don't have a good mailing list. Or they have a list but it's out of date.
Many only send out mailings now and then, usually with a special offer, when they're desperate for business. It doesn't work very well.
Some people have a vague idea that they might one day start doing more consistent mailings but they're worried about being pushy or bothering people or doing something that's against the GDPR law.
Many send out a couple of mailings with really good intentions but then run out of steam and ideas for content.
Some people do send out more regular mailings but don't get the response rates they want.
If any of this sounds familiar, it's time for a change! Mailings can be incredibly effective if you:
It's easy to learn how to do all this. If you'd like to build your business without a hole in your marketing, join me on this practical marketing workshop.
Have you noticed how many of the travel pages in the national press are covered in lists and top tens, fives, twenties?
Often known as 'listicles', these articles ca be very powerful.
If your business is mentioned in one of the lists, thousands of people will read it.The article is likely to stay online for years. You can increase the reach by sharing a link to the article on social media.
It may even improve your search engine rankings because they use media mentions as part of their ranking algorithms, even when the publication doesn't offer a direct link to your website.
I work with Amanda Brown on PR projects. She's excellent at getting coverage for our tourism and hospitality clients because as an ex-journalist herself she knows how they think.
Here's her tip for getting a mention in one of those listicles.
There have been many lucky times when I’ve sent travel journalists information and it’s been one of those lovely moments when the timing ties in perfectly with a piece that is being written so they can feature my client.
However there are even more moments when the information is useful but not for ‘right now’. This is why it pays to be a bit savvy and think about the way a journalist might work.
Journalists will often put emails into saved folders which they can search to find content at a later date. When they do so, they'll be looking for information in a hurry. Few travel journalists have the product knowledge that enables them to write 'Top ten secret places for a romantic rendezvous' or 'Top twenty places to walk with llamas and alpacas in the UK' without doing a little research. Yet they are probably working to a very tight deadline and scrambling for the right information.
This is where your information comes in. If you have sent the right kind of useful content to the journalist, they'll have saved it 'just in case'. They'll hurriedly search their inbox, looking for relevant emails.
The best thing you can do is to think carefully about the subject line in your email, just as you would when thinking about the right key words to write on your website so the search engines can find you. For instance, it could be 'new walking holidays, Yorkshire' or 'treehouse accommodation, Yorkshire Dales'. The first two paragraphs of your email will be equally important so don't waffle, be factual and make sure you include the kind of keywords that are essential to your business.
Journalists writing themed round-up features or listicles want a good spread of locations so when they delve into the saved folder they’re likely to search their emails by geographical area as well as the theme - don't forget to indicate your location and region.
Are you feeling a little exhausted?
Like you’re treading water, just about staying afloat but without any real rewards?
You’re not alone: I work with hundreds of tourism and hospitality businesses and whether it’s due to the Covid pandemic or Winter, many feel exactly the same.
Fortunately there are some really simple actions you can take right now, to feel like you’re making progress, and getting ready for easier times.
I have five suggestions for must-do marketing to help you bounce back better.
Each will work equally well after the pandemic or during a ‘normal’ off-season.
Each of these activities are straightforward and either free or low cost. Surprisingly few businesses do them properly. So the good news for you is that with only a little effort you’ll be ready to move from survive to thrive…
Read the full article here in the Tourism Network online community - it's free, quick and easy to join.
My windows have been dirty for weeks. I keep meaning to call the window cleaner but somehow never get round to it.
This morning I got a text from him: would I like the windows cleaned? I didn't just say yes. I thanked him for reminding me. I felt grateful - he'd read my mind, and made it easy for me to book a time slot. When I think of him, it's as someone who is efficient and helpful.
I've been racking my brains for a present to buy for a friend. Last night I received the monthly mailing sent out by one of my favourite galleries. Hey presto - present dilemma solved, and it barely took any effort. As the mailing suggested, I also felt good being able to support a local independent business.
Bear with me - these instances are linked!
I spoke at a virtual event last week. The speaker before me showed some slides of a beautiful area about two hours from where I live. Last time I spoke at their in-person event I'd said how much I wanted to come back again, and suggested that any business with dog-friendly accommodation should add me to their mailing list. I gave my permission to add my details to their list and effectively to sell to me. When I saw those images I realised it has been almost two years since I promised myself I'd go back to that area. I haven't got round to it. No-one ever mailed me...
Another related story: a few weeks ago I spoke at an event for students and said that I think LinkedIn is a good way to keep in touch and to get jobs. I even suggested to the students that if they sent me a LinkedIn request within a week, I'd connect to them so they had better chances of finding a job or placement. One did. Just one.
By now you've probably guessed what I'm about to say?
Selling isn't about being pushy.
It's about providing the information, connections and services that someone wants. Often people give you an opportunity to sell to them, and are actually grateful when you do!
The window cleaner solved a problem. I was grateful. He made money.
The gallery made it easy for me to buy. I was grateful. They made a sale.
I was ready to book a stay - but didn't because no-one reminded me.
I was ready to help students build connections. But I didn't because they weren't pro-active enough.
When I suggest posting more frequently on social media, or sending out a newsletter more frequently, people almost always say to me, 'but I don't want to be pushy or salesy'.
If this is you, perhaps it's time to think again? Here are some more suggestions that I hope will help you feel more confident and able to sell.
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