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Don’t Forget About The Tourists!


As a local business, you do all you can to get your name out in your community.  Whether it be through an ad in the newspaper, through social media, or through a TV commercial, a local merchant’s focus is usually on the people that already live an their prospective areas.  But as a business owner, did you ever stop to think how you can advertise to the tourists and visitors?

Many may think of tourists as a lost cause; they will visit what they want to visit and stop where they want to stop.  This may be true in some cases, but more than likely, they will pick up a visitor’s guide, check out a tourism website, or stop to talk to the front desk worker at the hotel they are staying at to get more information about what they can see and do.

Since my current location is Lansing, Michigan, I wanted to gather some stats on the business that tourists bring to the area every year just to put some numbers to my point.  Did you know:

-Tourists spend around $424 million in Greater Lansing every year
-Lansing welcomes almost 5 million visitors to the area each year
-Guests pay the region taxes on various services adding $3.7 million in local taxes and $23 million in state taxes
-The overall result impact of tourism in the area is over $160 million dollars in revenue each year!
**Thanks to the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau for the stats!  www.lansing.org**

Did you learn something?  I know I did when I first saw these numbers.  This just made me realize how important it is to get your name out to tourists can be!  So the first step may be to define a tourist. Well, a tourist (in my opinion) is anyone who visits an area for a specific amount of time for any reason.  In an area like Lansing, visitors have endless reasons to come here: sporting events, parents visiting their sons and daughters at college, conventions, important legislative events, business meetings, interviews, visit family, and go on vacation, just to name a few!

Now the important question-how does a local business owner reach out to a tourist that may be coming from really anywhere in the world?  Personally, I think being in a visitor’s guide is essential for hotels, restaurants, shops, public transportation, and so many other types of businesses.  Maybe place fliers around the local hotels if you are allowed.  Work with other businesses to promote at the same time so you can cover more ground.  Put fliers in the airport. Have fliers at your local visitors center or chamber of commerce. Team up with the university to offer student-parent discounts.  If you are really web savvy  make sure you are up on your search engine optimization so when someone searches “things to do in Lansing” they will find you.  Make sure you are on tourism websites like tripadvisor.com, chamber websites, area tourism websites (like www.lansing.org), local newspaper sites (like www.lansingstatejournal.com), and so many more.  Really the options are endless!!

A good way to test how easy you are to find, put yourself in the shoes of a tourist.  Visit a hotel or the airport and check out the fliers there.  Google your business.  Google “tourism in _______ (your location)”. Check out facebook sites that promote businesses to tourists.  Check out the tourism websites and see what other businesses like yours are already on your site and take a look at your competition! And then make sure your act on these findings and get your name out to tourists!!

Overall, yes, it is extremely important to advertise to your potential regular customers (locals) as this is where a large chuck of your income will come from.  However, I hope this helps stress the importance of being available to the people who do not live in this area and will be coming to visit!

What is your experience in working with tourists at your business?  What ideas do you have to advertise to them?

Thanks so much everyone, see you next week!


”The traveler sees what he sees.  The tourist sees what he has come to see”.  ~G.K. Chesterto