Pivoting to Attract Regional and BC Markets
In reponse to COVID travel limitations, many tourism businesses have had to adapt to appeal to and attract new visitors from hyper-local, regional and provincial markets that don’t represent their traditional customer. Our 2nd pilot Tourism Connects Ideas Lab was hosted in partnership with the Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association and our Industry Topic Specialist Tim Wilkinson, Sales and Marketing Director for Bella Coola Heli Sports and Tweedsmuir Park Lodge. The discussion focused on sharing insights on how businesses are creatively responding to attract visitors from regional and BC markets.
Seven key tips emerged from the discussion to help businesses consider how they might appeal to new markets:
1. Reach out to your best customers – those who have visited you previously and those who have made booking inquiries. They represent your low hanging fruit.
2. Leverage the power of a highly targeted digital marketing campaign through Google Search, Facebook and Instagram. Know the profile of your ideal guest and align your targeting efforts with these characteristics for the best return on investment.
3. Consider attracting similar markets/customers as your core international travellers, but who live in BC. For example, if you traditionally appeal to and attract Chinese visitors, could you identify and attract Chinese Canadians living within your province?
4. Explore new partnerships and collaborations to create different value propositions, packages, visitor offers and price points. Guided and packaged travel often purchased by international visitors is less popular amongst BC residents, and residents don’t perceive the need for a guide in their own backyard. Creatively communicate the value of guided excursions and your guides themselves, e.g. through storytelling, to nurture emotional connection.
5. Re-evaluate your visitor experience design. Maintain visitor value but consider how you can amend/eliminate higher-cost elements (e.g. shuttles, flights) to reduce the price point for local visitors, but still maintain your profit margin.
6. Consider whether a temporary discounting program to attract BC visitors might serve your needs in the short-term. Tweedsmuir Park Lodge has created a marketing video for its 2020 summer/fall season, highlighting its unique experiences and offering BC residents a 30% discount to visit.
7. Don’t take your eye off the future – continue to cultivate and grow awareness in international markets with travel trade partners. Let them know you’re open (or when you plan on opening) and that you’re taking bookings. International travel will return!