A number of years ago there was a commercial on tv. Imagine a grocery store aisle stocked with dish washing liquid. From the top shelf to the bottom there were bottles being held by arms sticking out into the aisles. When a shopper passed the bottles, a unseen voice would say “buy me, buy me, buy me.”
So often it seems like we are “hit” from all sides by somebody with something to sell. Tour Operators sometimes feel that way too. The sheer volume of hotels, tourist attractions, restaurants, and visitor bureaus sending “tons” of literature requires operators to quickly sort through volumes of daily mail. If you want to “get the attention” of a tour operator, it is necessary to distinguish your place of business from all the marketing clutter out there. Here are a few suggestions.
Promote Your Niche
Are you popular with the student/youth groups? What about music performance opportunities? A good family destination? How about guided tours or educational programs? Do you host overnight camp-ins? Do you have the only outlet mall, rock hall of fame, dinner cruise ship, winery, Amish community in the area? These are possible hooks that can be used to develop unique marketing campaigns.
After a group visits your attraction once, why might they return? Beyond a great experience during those initial visits, special exhibits or programs offers good potential for repeat visits. The special event or exhibit can easily be targeted to new groups as well. Tall Ships in North Coast Harbor last summer and the Monet exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art are two examples. In addition, visitors to the special exhibit are more likely to return to the attraction after those events.
With a “Been There, Done That” mentality, the phrase What’s New should be on almost all profile sheet. Even if you don’t technically have a what’s new (maybe call it Did You Know or Highlights) summarize what you have to re-acquaint new tour operators or new staff with what you have to offer. Items to discuss might include: Boxed lunches or food vouchers; guided tours; gift shop discount coupons or vouchers; new exhibit galleries; guided tours or programs; revised restaurant menus, especially desserts; renovated hotel rooms or expanded breakfast; CVB’s – ‘new hotels, restaurants, tourist attraction, events. Have you established a package with a neighboring attraction? Talk about it.
No organization can do it all. Work with other organizations to promote your property. Your local visitors bureau is a logical choice. A CVB can reinforce your marketing message on their web page, at marketplaces, over the phone, by mail, in their literature, etc. Also consider creating a package with a neighboring attraction, hotel, or restaurant. In both cases, you get more bang out of your marketing buck and help you stand out from the crowd.
With so many organizations competing for the same business, it is vital to make your organization distinctive. As this is an on-going process, always look for new ways to keep you property in the eye of tour operators. Don’t let your company be part of the marketing clutter that tour operators ignore.