I know first hand how it feels to be adversely affected by bad weather: our house floods and this time it was particularly bad. Nature can be beautiful and brutal.
How easy is it to actually promote off-season, especially after floods, storms and other weather 'disasters'?
My heart goes out to anyone affected by bad weather incidents and their need to gain back business. It's natural to want to put out 'open for business' notices on social media and in the media as soon as possible. But before you do so, please consider a slightly different perspective...
Some suggestions for promoting your area and business in the off-season and immediately after a bad weather incident
Sharing images of floods, high water levels and bad weather on social media is a normal thing to do. We're fascinated by the power of nature. But try not to overdo it. Those images will be picked up by the media and used in articles, mentioning your area by name. They'll stay online for a long time, coming up in searches. The positive side of that interest is that it can help everyone feel like they're part of a community working together against the elements and secure aid from others.
The darker side is that those images may stay in the minds of potential visitors for quite a while, and put people off visiting. Most people have only a hazy grasp of geography and when they read about bad weather in one location, they assume it means half the country.
Don't say 'Open for Business'. Show it.
Once the bad weather subsides and businesses re-open, the next obvious step is to tell people. This is when 'open for business' messages start to circulate. Of course it's important to tell people you're open again, but the way in which you say it is key. During the normal course of events we don't say 'we're open for business' because it's taken as a given. It's become a phrase that's most used after something bad has happened. Many will associate it with a problem that's only just resolved. They may wonder what's happened or focus on the incident, instead of on the positives.
'We're open for business' can convey the image of needy people standing on the threshold of their business anxiously looking for customers. Some visitors will want to support by offering their custom. Others will wonder if it's really safe to visit, if the area will still be attractive, if they'll still be able to enjoy it.
If you sound confident and upbeat, visitors will be more likely to come... Show that you're open for business. Post as many positive images as you can, not mentioning the clear up or what's happened, but focusing on how visitors can enjoy the area or your business. You don't need to deny what's happened, but there's no need to focus on it either. Social proof works very well. People are more likely to believe they'll have a good time and enjoy visiting you if you show others already doing the same.
Give reasons to visit. Show why you're worth visiting. Make your positive messages the ones that people remember.
Optimism and ideas before discounts
This is often the point at which people panic and try to lure back visitors with discounts. That might work, but discounts can also focus visitors minds on the wrong thing. They either subconsciously realise you're discounting because you're desperate (which isn't attractive), or think about the price and whether it's worth it. It's better to focus first on reasons to visit, and use added value offers.
Optimism works well. After bad weather it's easy to feel downhearted and hard to imagine how attractive places can be in better weather. Yet small details like daffodils starting to bloom, snowdrops peaking out from a blanket of snow can cheer and help us all look forward and feel more positive. Look on social media as the first buds bloom and Spring starts to show, and you'll see how much people like to share those positive signs. Add your own, and you'll benefit from the human need to look forward and feel better.
Promoting your business during the off-season
What can you do to promote your business during the quieter months? Here are three important things you can easily do:
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Please note: all articles are copyright Susan Briggs 2021
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All articles on this site are copyright Susan Briggs, The Tourism Network Ltd 2021
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