Putting together any marketing plan has its challenges but devising a marketing strategy for a tour has an added layer of complexity as you try to attract both locals and tourists. In order to do this successfully, you have to develop a distinct marketing plan for each group – meeting them, quite literally – where they are at.
Think of your audiences in a different way
Every tour organizer knows their off-season and peak season and while it might differ based on the type of tour you’re organizing (haunted city tours or historic homes tours), aligning your marketing strategy to these times will give you the best return on investment for your strategy. During your peak months, you will probably want to focus more of your efforts on tourists as they will likely account for a majority of your sales. Put yourself in their shoes and think of the places where they are staying and the areas of interest of that are the most popular for out-of-towners.
On the other hand, marketing to your locals requires a completely different mindset. They might be incentivized to attend if you offer free drinks with the purchase of your ticket or free admission for kids. Offering deals for locals during the off-peak season or when bringing a guest, can also be a wise strategy.
Because your locals are already in tune with your city, the locations in which you market are equally as important as the message. Locals are most likely hearing about things to do over the weekend in the local newspaper, on local broadcast media, or from local community groups. You might consider putting a coupon code in a local newspaper or doing a two for one offer through a mommy and me group. Last minute flash sales and “refer a friend” deals can also help fill empty spots on your tours with local guests.
Local television stations often have a reporter that focuses on local interests. Contact station producers to pitch the idea of a story on your tour. Broadcast programs are always looking for the timeliness of a story, so time your request around a related holiday or the beginning or end of a season if possible.
Locals are traveling through your region every day so billboards or transit ads can be a good way to raise awareness around your event. And, remember, your “local” audience should include anyone who can make your tour a day trip, so think in terms of about a 70-mile radius in planning your strategy.
Tourists come to new towns to explore, and tours offer a unique way for out-of-town visitors to see everything your town has to offer. When it comes to marketing to your tourists, focus on your relationships with partners like hotels and tourist websites which are a key way for guests to get activity referrals.
Hotels are the first stop in a visitor’s journey, making it an important spot for marketing initiatives. See if you can leave a flyer advertising your tour in guest rooms or for their concierge to give special discounts on your tour to their guests. Thanking staff who frequently send guests your way helps make this a consistent stream of referrals.
Out-of-town guests usually spend ample time on travel websites to find the best things to do in your area. Ask every guest that takes your tour to leave reviews on Yelp and Google, which dominate the reviews space. Get to know the major regional travel blogs or writers and help them learn about the unique experience your tour offers.
Regardless of the type of tour you are marketing, developing a unique strategy for each audience will go a long way to ensuring your success.