Travel experts predict a pent-up demand to hit the road as soon as people are able to get out. “Now is the time to get ready,” said Diane Van Wyngarden, tourism specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Van Wyngarden offers ten inexpensive ideas businesses and communities can use right now to help capture that eager market, avoid a tourism industry wipe-out, and build long-term success.
1. Quick and easy videos create sales now and more customers later. Create YouTube videos with your phone and post them on Facebook. Keep them fun, entertaining, and educational, so viewers will share with their friends. Parents will encourage their children to watch if you provide a learning opportunity. These are simple to create and easy on your budget. It is okay if your videos are unpolished – viewers trust authenticity! Monetize your video by incorporating your products into the video, and provide information how to purchase. For an example, see how Honey Creek Creamery incorporated their products into an educational video at https://youtu.be/qVfATPyeldA.
2. Create an E-cookbook of favorite dishes to support your local restaurants, caterers, and food trucks. Generate financial support for your local dining establishments, while creating greater awareness of your community’s assets. What are the most popular dishes of your local dining? Create a list of local favorites, and then invite each restaurant or food service to become a part of this promotion, by providing this recipe and a photo or story about it. Compile the recipes, photos and stories into a PDF document, to create a special collection of your community’s favorites. Make the pdf recipe book available for public purchase through a local website, with all proceeds going to the participating restaurants. Restaurants can also add a “purchase gift card to use later” button to your website.
3. Retail curbside bingo will support your local businesses. Create a bingo card of participating retailers. Shoppers cross off a square when they pick up an order outside each business. When shoppers connect five squares in a row to get BINGO, they submit phone photos of those receipts to an email address on the card for a weekly raffle prize (such as a $50 gift card). The first person each week who submits “blackout board” receipts for all spaces automatically wins a $100 gift card (or a prize of the retailers’ choosing).
4. Make coloring book pages from photos of your business or destination. Families will enjoy coloring the pages now and will want to come to you to see these places later. There are several websites to convert photos to coloring book pages.
5. Virtual puzzles promote your business or destination – here is a twist to this same concept. Offer free virtual puzzles from your photos, so families will want to visit the puzzle destination they completed. Several websites and apps will create photos to coloring book pages or a virtual puzzle. See the Iowa State University Extension and Outreach web link below for suggested websites.
6. Zoom people to you! 20 million people now have Zoom accounts – market that opportunity at zero cost. Get yourself featured prominently during video conferences, by creating a Zoom background of your destination; then offer your background as a free link to the public.
7. Real men use Pinterest if they want to reach travelers. Let the data be your guide: Women make 80% of all travel decisions. Pinterest has over 320 million monthly active users, and 71% of those users are women. Many are at home and looking at Pinterest right now. If you do not have a Pinterest account to market yourself, get one…today…before your head hits your pillow.
8. Be clean and let people see that you are actively cleaning. This virus will produce long-range impacts, with an increased expectation of cleanliness at public locations. Clean your business well, and include active cleaning during business hours. Let people see that you are doing your part to keep them safe.
9. Use predictions to incorporate appealing messages into social media now, so travelers will choose you later. Travel experts predict that consumers will seek off-the-beaten path experiences, private accommodations, and small group adventure activities, where they are able to be outdoors and surrounded by open air.
10. Become the staycation destination. Many travelers will play it safe, by choosing closer-to-home day trips or destinations. Work now to be ready for a new audience and make it easy for them! Collaborate intensely with other area attractions to plan organized days, filled with a variety of fun experiences. Remember – when visitors think of a destination, they do not care about county lines or city boundaries. Look beyond your borders. Partner and plan together, market together, and work together to become the place people want to visit – even if it is their own hometown!
For more details about each of these ideas, download the Travel-Maggedon Survival Kit here.