Great destinations are great places to live and work as well as to visit. Expanding a region’s tourism base can provide a wide range of benefits to businesses, employees and residents. When visitors spend discretionary income, that increases business profits, salaries and may benefit locals who are not directly engaged in the tourism sector. Well-managed destinations can also attract new investment to an area.
Consider the province of Nova Scotia where tourism is a $2.6 billion industry (2016), a jump of 28% since 2010. Nova Scotia has a successful DMP strategy that draws stakeholders together to build tourism confidence as a visitor destination and define the province as a place to share experiences with family and friends. Local communities benefit from the tourism industry either directly through tourism spending or indirectly through the industry’s enabling effects on other aspects of the economy. For this reason, wise communities and their businesses invest in their tourism products, not just for the benefit of visitors, but to enhance the quality of life of their own residents.
Best Practices for Businesses
From the business owner’s perspective, quality of life is tied to economic prosperity. The benefits of tourism revenue start with local businesses giving people a reason to stay and spend their money in your area. Natural resources such as Lake Ontario and progressive cities in the GTA that include the regions in Central Counties are magnets. However, a DMP should also include items that augment the quality of the tourist’s stay. The goal is repeat visitation and longer stays. Consider these best practice ideas.
- Less is More:Don’t try to accommodate every customers’ wishes. Define what you do and what your unique customers want. Focus on fulfilling niche expectations to create a unique experience for the visitor.
- Improve Online Presence:The Internet is today’s calling card. It’s important that your website, Facebook, Google profile and other social media platforms are vibrant, friendly, inviting and current. Social media is your true first impression.
- Information:Visitor centers and hard copy guides are excellent resources. The rise of the Internet requires online competitiveness as well. Keeping your website up to date with seasonal images and create blog posts about your business, local eateries, and other assets in your area. These will come up in searches and are terrific business boosters.
- Know Who Your Visitors Are
Collecting information on your visitors is relatively easy. It can be done the old-fashioned way – asking for a postal code and city and writing it on a clipboard or entering it into your POS system. Collecting this data opens up a range of opportunities to drill down on where your customer is coming from, their spending preferences, and even how they like to receive marketing information. This not only helps you understand your customer, but your RTO and DMO can use this data for visitor profiling and segmentation research to generate better marketing initiatives. Are you interested in submitting a funding application? Your collected data can facilitate this funding.
Be a Tourism Ambassador: People that come to the area can be generally put into two groups: Sightseers and those that want the local experience. It’s relatively easy to provide sightseers with information. But businesses need to take the next step of educating employees to provide anecdotal information about unique things that visitors can enjoy. It may be a hiking trail, fishing spot, an interesting local attraction or cuisine that is unique to the region.
A DMP manages and integrates all the components that make a successful destination. Developing a DMP requires compiling data and thoroughly evaluating it. Conducting a postmortem on previous plans. Reviewing what visitors are saying about the region in Google and TripAdvisor reviews. Bringing in key business leaders, community members and other stakeholders to evaluate the pros and cons of past approaches and setting joint goals going forward. A successful DMP can provide a community tremendous benefits when implemented in a comprehensive fashion with the support of its stakeholders and residents.