Monthly Archives: October 2011

Link Friday: Better Late Than Never Edition

Posted on Friday, October 28, 2011 by Alan

Neither rain nor sleet nor a busy Friday afternoon keeps me from my appointed rounds as overseer of Link Friday.

Anyway, here’s what tripped our trigger this week:

That’s all for us. Have a safe and happy Halloween weekend, everybody!

Small niche markets bring big results

Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2011 by Tyler

Antique hunters. Minor league baseball enthusiasts. Geocachers. Japanese fans of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Sounds like a random list. But these labels have one thing in common: they are all niche travel markets. Each category reflects a discrete group of travelers who are interested in a very particular set of attractions and activities. And, each of these groups is being successfully targeted by small communities in the Midwest. Here are some general approaches to reaching niche travel markets:

  • Market your existing assets to specific niche markets. This simply means marketing the unique tourism assets that your community already has to an audience that is attracted to these types of assets. The small community of Pepin, Wis., is an artist community on the Mississippi River and the birthplace of author Laura Ingalls Wilder. Pepin has found success by marketing their community to “Little House on the Prairie” fans from all over the world, including overseas public relations efforts to Japan, where the pioneer tale is widely read and quite revered.
  • Enhance your existing assets and market them to reach new niche markets. A great example of this is the tiny town of Hazel, Ky. In terms of reaching the antique hunter travel market, Hazel takes the prize. This community of only 440 residents in eastern Kentucky helped grow its antique store offerings from a few stores to nearly a dozen by creating its own Antique District. In addition, the businesses of Hazel keep regular daily hours, making the town a dependable stop for antique enthusiasts. Hazel’s singular focus on attracting antique hunters and building up the asset over time has paid enormous dividends.
  • Create an entirely new asset to reach a new niche market. A well-known example is Dyersville, Iowa, home of the “Field of Dreams.” Just like the memorable line in the movie, “If you build it, they will come,” baseball enthusiasts from around the world now visit this baseball field in Iowa each year. The casinos that dot Wisconsin and the Midwest, for better or worse, are another example of this approach. However, be warned—creating an entirely new asset takes a relatively large investment and entails significant risks.
  • Discovering hidden niche markets and then strategically growing them. Often, a destination is attracting a particular niche market that is flying under the radar. Once identified, the niche groups can be grown through a strategic marketing plan that both enhances the existing assets and attracts more travelers.

Targeting niche markets takes a lot of careful strategizing. But for small destinations, niche marketing can be one of the most powerful ways to generate new tourism revenues.

Link Friday!

Posted on Friday, October 21, 2011 by Alan

Hope everybody out there is getting ready for a good weekend. Looks like it will be lovely weather-wise here in Madison.

Without further ado, here’s a collection of some of the interesting links we came across this week:


Tourism marketing musts for your business: the basics

Posted on Wednesday, October 19, 2011 by Tyler

Travelers are here today, gone tomorrow. For some communities, the number of visitors fluctuates wildly with the seasons. Often, summer brings huge flocks of travelers while mid-winter is a veritable dead zone for tourism. Also, it can be difficult tracking where travelers come from and how they found out about your business.

For an individual business, marketing to travelers can be very difficult, especially if you are working alone. However, the marketing tools and technologies that are available today give business owners an unprecedented amount of promotional power.

To wield this power, it takes knowledge and a little bit of creativity. By using the Internet, email and social media, you can connect with more potential customers—travelers as well as locals—than was ever before possible.

These are the three tools you should be using in your business’s tourism marketing plan.

Website – This is your primary way to connect with customers who aren’t located in your community. You need a website, even if it’s something very simple. A website is important for reaching your local customers, but it’s indispensible for reaching travelers—most trip planning today is done online. To get the most out of your website, you have to make sure its structure and content are designed so that your customers can easily find you when they’re searching online.

E-newsletters – Newsletters are a time-tested way to stay in regular contact with your customer base. However, mailing old-fashioned newsletters is expensive. Luckily, e-newsletters do much the same thing. E-newsletters can cover topics ranging from new products to articles about topics related to your line of business. The key is to engage your customer and give them interesting and valuable content. If you collect your customers’ email addresses, then you should be sending them regular emails—monthly or even weekly. If you’re not collecting customer email addresses—why not?

Facebook & Twitter – Social media is a whole new world—and it’s here to stay. Right now, Facebook and Twitter are the two main forums in the social media arena.  At minimum, your business should have a Facebook page that you update regularly—at least every week. Posts to your Facebook page can be as simple as mentioning a new product that has just come in. If you’re really ambitious, you can create special contests that engage your customers and grow your Facebook fan base.

These marketing ideas don’t just work to attract travelers. Any action you take in these three areas will have a positive impact on your local sales, as well. Best of all, they are some of the most affordable options available.

Link Friday

Posted on Friday, October 14, 2011 by Alan

Look at that, two weeks in a row! Talk about consistency!

  • Kindra loved this site for the DUMBO Business Improvement District in New York. Really well organized and designed, and chock full of good, helpful information.
  • A new study shows that only a third of Twitter users receive a response when they tweet complaints about services, products, companies, etc. Seems like a pretty big missed opportunity for those companies on Twitter.
  • Interested in Facebook marketing? The social media behemoth is hosting a free marketing bootcamp from Nov. 1-16, featuring webinars, live Q&A sessions and more.

Active and adventurous

Posted on Wednesday, October 12, 2011 by Tyler

The term “leisure travel” tends to conjure up images of people sitting on a beach, visiting amusement parks and taking tours of museums and historic sites.

But research by the Travel Industry Association shows that American leisure travelers are increasingly seeking outdoor adventure and physical activity during vacations and getaways.

Here are some interesting insights into the emerging active American traveler:

  • Sense of Adventure – Half of all American adults have taken an adventure trip in the last five years. A third of these trips involved strenuous physical activity, such as mountain biking, scuba diving and whitewater rafting.
  •  Bicycling is Big – Among Americans, bicycling, hiking and camping are the three most popular outdoor vacation activities. Bicycling tourists, in particular, exhibit some of the best demographics of all travelers, with annual incomes of $75,000 or more. They also tend to be young—half are between 18 and 34— which means the potential of producing a sustainable and loyal customer base for years to come.
  • Seekers of Wilderness – Being active in the outdoors seems to be a major reason why Americans travel. Two out of five Americans have visited a national park in the last five years. Interestingly, these travelers have also been shown to have higher household incomes than the average American traveler and spend more while on their trips.
  • Staying Fit on Vacation – Engaging in physical activity while on vacation isn’t just for bicyclists, hikers and paddlers. More than 25 percent of all American travelers visit a fitness center or gym while they’re on vacation. This trend is helped by the increasing number of fitness centers around the country that have become more drop-in friendly, allowing travelers to easily get a workout while away from home.

The point of all this is to emphasize the importance of outdoor activity to American travelers. A growing affinity among travelers for outdoor recreation and physical activity is part of a larger trend towards American travelers seeking authentic experiences. In a media-saturated world where people are constantly looking at a TV screens, computer monitors or handheld devices, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that travelers want real experiences when they are on vacation.

The triumphant return of Link Friday

Posted on Friday, October 7, 2011 by Alan

Like Ali returning to face George Foreman, P&B’s Link Friday is back in the ring.

Here are some of the sites that caught our eye this week:

  • Take a look at this cool infographic from the folks over at MDG Advertising about return on investment for social media marketing. I’m not surprised that companies find Facebook the most valuable, but it’s interesting to note how many say they plan to expand efforts via YouTube.
  • Kindra found this contest from FAGE (makers of delicious Greek yogurt) that combines video and trivia into a fun site where participants can win an all-expenses paid trip to Greece.
  • Speaking of contests that can take you to Europe, I liked this one from Visit Holland that asks you about your “city-self.” (Plus, the videos are cute, too.) Are you more Amsterdam or Paris? Find out and you can win a trip there.

Be your community’s ambassador this fall

Posted on Monday, October 3, 2011 by Tyler

Travelers take advantage of a number of tools when finding new places to visit. The Internet is currently the number one resource people use when selecting a travel destination and planning their trips.

Television, radio and print can help to sway travelers as well, particularly if the ads are placed in media people are using to gather travel information. Articles in books, magazines and travel publications also help travelers in their decision-making.

But the most important information tool isn’t media—it’s word-of-mouth. The term word-of-mouth means suggestions travelers get from friends and family about places they have enjoyed visiting. Travelers tend to visit shops, restaurants and attractions that have been suggested by others.

Often the value of word-of-mouth isn’t talked about by marketers because it is so hard for marketers to control. After all, you can’t place an ad in “word-of-mouth.” But, the fact is travelers put a huge amount of value in what other people say, giving personal communication a rank high above all other sources of information.

While marketers have limited control over word-of-mouth, local business owners and residents can have a big impact on what the public at large says about your destination. What you say to travelers who come to your business generally determines which local retailer, restaurant, trail or attraction they visit next. The hospitality and value of the information you provide also impacts whether or not they visit your community again in the future—and whether or not they recommend your community to friends and family.

As a “local,” you are the expert. The waitress serving a meal in a local restaurant, the shop owner behind the counter, the museum docent, the local resident walking down the street—that’s where the real authority over local information resides.

What is your favorite local trail? What’s your favorite fall hike? Scenic drive? Where would you go for lunch? A picnic? You are an invaluable information resource for visitors to your community.

This fall, autumn-color enthusiasts from the region will be hitting the roads to see the trees put on their annual display. Many of these visitors will come to your town. Some will come by design, others by just stumbling upon your community. What you say to them will help build tourism in your community for seasons and years to come.

Be an information resource and a welcoming face this fall and the positive effects for your community will be far-reaching.