First published Wednesday, August 28, 2013
The summer holidays are nearly at an end, and the frenzy of last minute back to school shopping is reaching fever pitch. This year has seen one of the best summer periods from a weather point of view in a good couple of years, much to the relief of many in business in the tourism trade, and of course to holiday makers!
Coastal areas in particular have seen a significant upturn in fortunes, as have the larger attractions such as Oakwood Theme Park, Folly Farm Adventure Park and Zoo, Heatherton World of Adventures and Anna’s Welsh Zoo (Manor House Wildlife Park) to name but a few. Whilst there may have been many day trippers in the area, there have of course also been those staying in the county as well, and so hotels, guest houses, B&B establishments and of course pubs, restuarants and shops will have all seen some boost as well. The self catering sector has been a little different in that predicting bookings has been more challenging, as the trend towards last minute booking continues to grow, but again, those who have invested in marketing and online booking facilities will have seen a healthy flow of visitors through the doors.
But how can we maximise the opportunities presented by a good season? Obviously, people who have visited and had a good time, nice weather and received good service are going to be feeling quite favourable towards the place, and more likely to consider returning in future. So, whilst they have that warm glow from a good time, what can we do to perpetuate that and secure that repeat business?
Many businesses hold customer data in the form of mailing addresses or email addresses, but then do nothing with it. This, and failing to collect the data in the first place, is possibly one of the biggest missed opportunities we see. With freely available software like MailChimp enabling you to create e-newsletters, target them towards specific groups and monitor the responses, it is remarkably straightforward to keep in touch with your customer, and send them newsy updates, and special offers to entice them back through your door. Equally a simple postcard or printed newsletter, whilst more costly, can also encourage your visitor to remember you fondly, and feel that little bit ‘special’ given that you’ve taken the time to get in touch.
Whether you offer a simple ‘book by x date to secure your break at 2013 prices’ or an additional night, a bottle of wine with dinner or a discount for a second stay in the same year, small gestures such as these, when delivered with a distinctly personal touch can really make a huge difference in terms of obtaining repeat business.
Whilst we cannot guarantee the weather, a good experience this year, will undoubtedly promote a positive response in the mind of the visitor. So even if the weather next year isn’t quite as warm, by being well prepared with information about the ‘all weather’ attractions and options for different groups of visitor, you can continue to add to the positives that the visitor experiences. It really isn’t rocket science! Smiles, providing appropriate information, taking the time to listen and sharing your good experiences with your visitors, all of which cost next to nothing, can reap huge rewards in terms of the bookings diary and end of season bank balance. What are you waiting for?!