Alternative ways to market your tourism business
Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs
As the owner of a small tourism operation, you have to ensure that your lodge/transport service/recreational activity is the option of choice for local and overseas visitors. Partnering with a related organisation may be an effective way to get your name out there and do good business throughout the year.
There is more than one way to reach your target market and forming partnerships with other service providers in the industry can increase awareness, build your reputation and ultimately, broaden your customer base.
Don't look too far
One way to get to the end user is by partnering with other tourism ventures that may be targeting the same people you are. By teaming up, you can offer a more competitive, "all-inclusive" holiday package.
Examples of vendors you may want to approach are:
Tour operators often contract services from a variety of sectors such as accommodation, spas or golf clubs, transportation and site-seeing activities. They package these services and then resell them either directly to the consumer or through travel agents and other tour operators.
Tour operators are generally paid a commission based on the retail price of your product. It means you're making a little less money for your service, but this is probably preferable to doing no business at all.
Travel agencies operate by selling a destination. Many agencies are part of a franchise that spends a lot of money to market and promote products and destinations, through colourful brochures and advertising across various media.
Some travel agencies specialise in a specific type of travel, such as luxury or corporate travel, while others focus on a particular destination. Depending on what your business offers, developing relationships with travel agencies could bring in a lot of business.
Travel agents are there to advise customers on their travel plans and make travel bookings. A good agent who likes your product can be a great source of business. You could even give him or her the opportunity to experience your product and if they're impressed, you can't ask for a better sales person.
The media is extremely important when it comes to tourism marketing. Travellers are influenced by what they read in the news or in their favourite magazine, for example. Invite a respected travel journalist to experience what you have to offer. A good article in the right publication is much more credible than just placing an ad. And you can suddenly find yourself inundated with requests for your services.
Local Event Companies: Your town or city may be hosting certain sporting, business or other events during the year. Find out where and what these are and how your business can get in on the action.
A good place to start looking for potential partnership is by making sure your business is registered with your local or provincial tourism authority. You may have to invest some money into obtaining some sort of tourism grading, but it will definitely be a worthwhile investment.
Don't become complacent just because you're doing good business right now. Go beyond the "usual" channels of attracting business and stay busy, no matter what the season.
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