From late July through Labor Day, the City of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., experiences an influx of tourists for 40 days of premier thoroughbred racing at the Saratoga Race Course. If local businesses play their cards right, they can increase business and establish lasting relationships with customers beyond track season. This is the first of a three-part series. And while this article is targeted for marketing in a tourist destination market, specifically the Saratoga Springs market, many of the principles suggested are relevant to all businesses, regardless of market.
Many local businesses find themselves distracted during track season. Busy streets filled with tourists; lack of parking everywhere; packed restaurants; the thrill of gambling on the world’s greatest thoroughbreds; family demands; endless happy hours, networking events, and fundraisers; and of course the nice weather can all work to distract businesses from what should be their main focus—converting seasonal tourists into loyal year-round customers.
If your business already has a plan in place for the summer tourism season, congratulations. If not, it’s time to establish one…and this series of articles will help position you to stand out among your peers.
Many local stores have great, unique products that can easily sell themselves. However, if someone from out-of-town has never heard of your business, what would make them step foot in your door? Are you relying solely on foot traffic?
To some, driving foot traffic may feel like something of a lost cause. Nonetheless it is still crucial to the success of your business, and your ability to draw foot traffic isn’t arbitrary. Those who draw visitors do so for a reason.
Here are five tips to driving traffic to your business:
1. Promotional events. Create a promotional event—something as simple as an in-store raffle or as extravagant as inviting Mary Lou Whitney to your business. The fact that you’re having a promotional event alone will set you apart from your competitors.
2. Have a sale. This is great way to increase revenue and clear your shelves for new, must-have items. Own a restaurant? Offer lunch specials to tourists and locals alike. This is a great way to show your appreciation to those who contribute to your business.
3. Host a summer workshop. What can you teach others? Not every business function should result in direct sales. Education is equally important. In-house workshops are a great way to get people interested in your business and walking in your front door. Loyal customers are those who feel engaged, not those who feel “sold” to.
4. Make your business newsworthy. A good way to stay top-of-mind is to be in the news. The more creative you are the more likely your business will get news coverage. Consider aligning with a local charity. This is a great way to participate in the community and snag some free press.
5. Utilize social media. Social media is often low cost and easily manageable. More important, the customers are there. If your business does not have a Facebook and Twitter account, create one. Then consider offering social media only incentives (e.g. anyone who mentions this tweet receives 10% off their next purchase).
When it comes to promoting your tactics, you must be as creative. For instance, rather than just distributing a press release about an upcoming event, try contacting a local radio station. The same goes for social media. When you can, upload fun, engaging photos and/or videos of your business to Facebook. Also, consider what you do when you’re on vacation and looking for deals. Most of us go on a computer or our smart phone and do a Google search. So do the tourists who come to Saratoga every summer. Can they find you? Are you offering deals that beat the competition?
When it comes to marketing to tourists, the possibilities are endless…and we’ll share some more ideas with you in the coming weeks. Here’s what you can look forward to:
• July 18 – Fostering Relationships During Tourism Season
• July 25 – How to Turn Seasonal Customers into Year Long Brand Loyalists
We hope you have a great summer season!