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.