Make a Referral – jump start the economy

Posted February 24, 2009 by Finger Lakes Travel Maven
Categories: 11610065

I’m pledging to make a referral to a business I want to help as part of a national campaign to make 1000 referrals March 9-13. What a great small business stimulus plan.
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The 12 Tips of Christmas: Increase Business by Targetting Travelers

Posted November 22, 2008 by Finger Lakes Travel Maven
Categories: Advertising/Marketing/Promotion, Customer Service, Retailing/Shopping, The Value of Tourism/ROI

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Dear Get Travelers -

I notice that you have a lot of articles on your website, but I don’t see anything about the holiday season.   I hope you’ll take the time to answer my question.

I have a fairly new small gift shop where we sell a lot of locally and regionally-made arts and handicrafts.  We’ve become pretty popular among local residents who want something special to send out-of-town, but I’d like to draw more travelers and tourists.  I’m particularly concerned about the holidays, knowing what the economy looks like.  Got any suggestions for increasing holiday traffic from travelers and tourists?

Katie Y. – Atlanta, GA.

Dear Katie -

Great question!  You’re smart to go after the travel/tourist trade because a lot of people travel during the holidays and these folks love to take home special gifts for loved-ones that can’t be found elsewhere!  Did you know that over 70% of travelers like to “shop local?”

Here are some suggestions:

  1. If you haven’t already, join your local CVB or tourism organization so that your shop will be listed on their website for visitors searching for things to do when they come to town.  For the future, consider advertising in their publications because many tourists consider these guidebooks to be their “bible.”
  2. Make sure you offer items for sale that appeal to both genders and multiple age groups.   Offer gifts at a wide variety of price points.  Be sure you promote that your items are “hand-crafted locally.”
  3. Feature the credit cards you accept prominently in your window.  Most travelers try to conserve cash, and if you offer credit cards, you’re far likelier to attract the traveler.
  4. Offer shipping (and post it prominently).  Travelers don’t have room in their suitcase for larg items or breakables and carry-on items are no longer practical.
  5. Partner with other businesses that attract travelers.  By referring business to each other, you increase traffic and sales.
  6. Set up a “travelers’ corner” with information on local activities.  Most CVBs and tourism organizations will supply these at no charge.
  7. Be sure both you and your employees can recommend several good nearby restaurants, attractions and other shopping venues.
  8. Keep the phone numbers on hand of taxi and car services, the airport(s) and local hotels to help travelers who may need this information.
  9. Women are usually the more avid shoppers, so offer a sitting area for men that has male-interest magazines or a television.  That way, your prime shoppers won’t be hurried out of the store.
  10. You’re in Atlanta, so you’ll probably attract international visitors.  If you sell clothing, be sure to post a size conversion chart.  You’ll find very helpful conversion charts at www.onlineconversion.com.
  11. Be sure your bags and “bag stuffers” include your contact information, especially if you have an online site, so travelers can re-order or shop from home.
  12. Consider giving the traveler a small “thank you for visiting us” gift so that you will become part of the Traveler’s Legend. (for more on this topic, visit: “Are You a Traveler’s Legend?”)

Katie, I hope this is helpful.  The travel market is definitely worth pursuing.  Best of success for the upcoming holiday season.

The Get Travelers Team

Part II: How festival sponsors can increase their Return on Investment

Posted October 13, 2008 by Finger Lakes Travel Maven
Categories: Advertising/Marketing/Promotion, Festivals, The Value of Tourism/ROI

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Festival and event sponsorships should be a win-win partnership between the Event and the Sponsor.  Often, companies see sponsorship as a faith-based marketing tool: They have faith that they’re getting a return on their investment.  How can Festival Sponsors increase the probability of making a solid marketing investment?

Sponsorships entail more than just money.  If done well, there is a commitment of dollars as well as labor and time.  It is important to evaluate each sponsorship opportunity in light of Return on Investment (ROI) and Return on Effort (ROE).

First, let’s explore both the tangible and intangible benefits of sponsorship. 

Tangible benefits can include pre-event and onsite media coverage in which the sponsor’s logo and marketing message appears, signage, online presence and links between the event’s and sponsor’s websites, tickets to the event and/or a hospitality package, onsite presence with premium positioning, access to mailing list(s) and television or other expanded onsite media coverage, if applicable.

Intangibles may include association with a prestigious event, exclusivity of the sponsorship (i.e., lack of competitors in the same category), the audience’s level of interest or loyalty, networking opportunities with clients and prospects, and the potential for further media coverage. 

I believe there is also value in being associated with an event that is either launching or growing, which is not to say there is less value in an event that has a stable “following” or history of successful attendance.  I mention this because some companies are reluctant to be “the first” to participate in a new event or one that is being taken to the next level.  There is value in being associated with success and the audience’s positive emotional attachment to the event.

Although sponsorship is usually considered to be a long-term marketing tool used to raise awareness, derive a competitive advantage and build brand by having “face time” in front of a particular community*, it is possible to use it to drive traffic to business.

If you are considering event sponsorship, here are some ways in which you can derive a higher level of return on your sponsorship investment:

  • Assess the festival’s audience – Does the audience demographics fit with your organization’s current target audience or can it realistically be considered a new or potential target audience?  Consider both size of the attendee base as well as alignment of demographics or psychographics with your business’ target market.  For example, if an event’s or festival’s attendance is relatively small, but the target audience exactly matches the one you are seeking, this sponsorship may make more sense than the sponsorship of a larger festival where only a percentage of the attendees match. 
  • Weigh the competitive advantage – If your competitor is there, is it important for your business to be present?  If they are not there, will sponsorship potentially increase your visibility and market share?
  • Consider cost/benefit ratio - Is the benefits package and audience exposure equal to the price being charged?  Is the fee competitive with other such sponsorship opportunities?  
  • Plan your participation in the event – The presence of knowledgeable representatives onsite who can interact with the public, give the company “a face,” answer questions and offer information almost always increases the value of participation.  Think about booth design and marketing collateral so that a targetted message is delivered to the event’s specific audience.  One size does not fit all.
  • Don’t be afraid to negotiate – Most sponsorship offerings are negotiable.  The event organizers want to be sure each sponsor derives value from the event.  If the package being offered does not meet your business needs, brainstorm with the event organizers on alternatives that are a better fit.
  • Do your own PR – Although successful events and festivals establish a  marketing/PR plan that includes sponsor promotion, you will maximize your participation by putting out your own press releases as well.  In this way, you can put your company’s spin on its partnership with the event and increase the possibility of media exposure for your business.
  • Measure your participation - If you are taking the time, effort and money to sponsor a festival or event, make your effort count.  Plan a way to measure your investment.  Perhaps that’s an offer designed to grow your database or increase website or foot traffic through a special promotion. If awareness and brand building is your goal, establish a success measurement to justify the sponsorship.  For example, in a recent local festival in which Verizon was a major sponsor offering text-messaging for attendees to vote in a “Battle of the Bands,” they could measure the number of text votes registered, but were also able to capture the cell phone numbers and send a branded thank you note to each voter. 
  • Finally, be creative! – Consider value-added offers, an innovative booth, exhibit or presence and outstanding onsite personnel.  A soon-to-open Skincare and Spa owner chose to sponsor a local festival to promote the opening of her new business.  Not only was her booth beautifully-designed, giving potential clients a sense of her new spa’s atmosphere and level of pampering, she also sold skincare products and distributed a special promotion incentivizing first-time trial.  She had multiple ways to assess her investment and was delighted with the outcome.

Everything you do to give your company a “Face” or persona that the target audience will identify with your  product or service and logo helps to increase the value of your sponsorship.  While it is certainly not possible to measure every tangible and intangible benefit of a festival or event sponsorship, much can be done to ensure return on investment. 

For futher information on the topic of sponsorship valuation, see the following articles:

If you found this article helpful, you may enjoy Festival Sponsorship, Part I: Can Sponsors Expect a Return on Investment?

QUESTION: HOW ARE YOU PLANNING TO MEASURE YOUR FESTIVAL OR EVENT SPONSORSHIP , OR WHAT HAVE YOU PREVIOUSLY DONE TO ENSURE RETURN ON INVESTMENT?

“Community” is used broadly to define a geographic destination as well as a group of individuals comprising an organization or broader-scope community.

The Rise of VolunTourism and Volunteer Vacations

Posted October 10, 2008 by Finger Lakes Travel Maven
Categories: Green Travel/Ecotourism, Tourism Infrastructure, Voluntourism/Volunteer Vacations

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A recent “On the Go” video on Voluntourism, airing on CNN by Heidi Collins and featuring Travelocity‘s Amy Ziff, inspired me to investigate the rise in Voluntourism and Volunteer Vacations. Read the rest of this post »

Question of the Week – Your Top Regional Attractions?

Posted October 7, 2008 by Finger Lakes Travel Maven
Categories: QUESTION OF THE WEEK

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QUESTION OF THE WEEK FOR READERS:

What do you consider to be your region’s top 3 attractions, and what type of travelers do they draw (both in terms of demographic and type)?

For example, I think the Finger Lakes wine trails are one of this region’s top attractions and they tend to draw Generation X and Boomer couples interested in culinary tourism (although certainly, these travelers take in a lot of other activities as well, such as the wine trail festivals)

Fodor’s “Smart Travel Tips”: Travelers scrimp little on dining during economic crunch

Posted October 5, 2008 by Finger Lakes Travel Maven
Categories: Advertising/Marketing/Promotion, Lodging, Restaurants/Culinary Tourism, Tourism Industry News

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Research by the National Restaurant Association indicates that restaurants benefit significantly from travelers.  But what’s happening now, with the economic downturn? Read the rest of this post »

Festival Sponsorship, Part I: Can Sponsors expect a return on investment?

Posted October 4, 2008 by Finger Lakes Travel Maven
Categories: Advertising/Marketing/Promotion, Customer Service, Festivals, The Value of Tourism/ROI, Tourism Infrastructure

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Sponsorships have been called “faith-based media.”  The Sponsor has faith that its underwriting of an event will eventually pay off in the short- or long-term. But does it? Read the rest of this post »


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