South Africa is no stranger to streams of tourists that hit its shores all year round. The South African tourism industry has its hands full with holidaymakers, honeymooners and business honchos itching to enjoy the splendour our country has to offer.
The Rand-[insert any other major currency here] exchange has made the Rainbow Nation a prime hotspot for foreign visitors and it’s your goal, as a business owner, to make sure they leave with lighter pockets than when they arrived.
But how do you reach them? And more importantly, how do you reach them without blowing your marketing budget to smithereens?
Here are five ways to attract tourist customers without breaking the bank:
1. Be Visible Online
If your business doesn’t have an online presence, you’re pretty much invisible. Long gone are the days of poring over the giant Yellow Pages in search of the right business. Today, services providers are just a click away and it’s customary for tourists to do their research well before they hop on the plane.
If you don’t rank on page one of Google, you are dead in the water.
There are three fundamental ways to attract tourists and hitch a ride on the online bandwagon:
Your website home page is the shop front of your business. Make sure that, as a shop front, your website home page is interesting and has a sample of all your offerings on the home page. Don’t make people click to find out more, everything should be there within easy reach.
Think about the fastest, most convenient shopping experience you’ve ever had: easy-to-find parking bays, super-clear directional signage, amenities to meet your every need, service with a smile, and being able to do everything you came to do in less than ten minutes…
Your website user experience should be no different. Easy-to-use websites make more sales, make more money and make sure customers come back to shop again. If you’re not sure, commission some usability testing and you’ll find that just a few small changes can make a big difference.
Make sure that your website is mobile friendly. The majority of your tourist customers will be limited to using mobiles during their visit. You don’t want them to battle to find the information they’re looking for. Hand it to them on an easy-to-navigate silver platter.
A great website is the perfect combination of beauty, simplicity and functionality. Yours needs to be quick-to-load, simple and breath-taking.
Search Engine Optimisation
That being said, a beautiful website will be of little use without some seriously good SEO. Search Engine Optimisation is the buzzword of the day, as more business owners have realised that tricking Google with meta-tag manipulation is no longer an option. Google knows.
Google always knows…
These days you have to work extremely hard for Page One status. But once you achieve it, you can sit back, run your business and watch the leads stream in. Your Google ranking will start to drive a lot more traffic to your beautiful website and fresh leads from customers ready to buy your product or service.
Run an SEO audit and then optimise your website for Google (and your tourist customers). You can thank us later.
No hope of turning up on page one using organic SEO only? Well, Google will happily take your money and put you on page one for all your customers to find you.
Paid advertising online has revolutionised the way we market to our customer base. Your customers are online, so why waste money trying to reach them via the Yellow Pages?
PPC (or Pay-Per-Click) is kind of like ‘pay as you go’ for advertising: you set the budget, you set the platform, and you only pay for what gets clicked. PPC allows you to turn your marketing budget into measurable brand awareness, leads and conversions.
The best part is that you don’t need a massive marketing budget to reach potential customers anymore. In fact, you can run highly targeted Google and Facebook ad campaigns that will get your business noticed for half the price. A R500 boosted post on Facebook can help you generate more leads than a billboard ever could, and you can track leads and conversions every step of the way.
2. Do Lead Generation Campaigns
What a lead? It’s a sales enquiry. Want more sales enquiries? Want to receive daily emails from people asking you to contact them? Then lead generation is for you.
Lead generation campaigns are a powerful way to do just that: generate quality business prospects and leads.
Depending on your product or service, you could create an eBook or white paper for site visitors to download, like “Top 10 Ice-Cream Shops to Visit in Cape Town in 2016” or “16 Seriously Awesome Trail Rides You Have to Do in South Africa” – and ask for their email address in exchange. You can encourage people to sign up from across various platforms (email, web, paid ads, banner ads, social media, etc.).
Everything you do in business should be geared towards gathering email addresses from enquirers and prospects, and building up your database. Before long, you’ll have a lengthy list of prime contacts (local and international) to attract tourists.
3. Create a great newsletter
Email marketing remains one of the most powerful marketing tools available. Why? It’s practically free and nearly everyone has an email address.
The beauty of online is that anyone with an internet connection has access to your business. Write great blogs and email them out to your database drive traffic to your website. It’s about being memorable and top-of-mind.
What’s more, if you do it right, you won’t be labelled a spammer (which is always a win).
Be sure to follow these tips:
- Don’t only talk about yourself and your services
- Create lots of interesting content that you send out monthly
- Only send emails that address your customers’ needs
Remember, your contacts are gold. Guard them carefully, and aim to establish yourself as the best in your field.
Reviews are the online equivalent to word of mouth, and are no less powerful. Get your business reviewed and listed on sites like TripAdvisor, Zomato, Bizcommunity, Hello Peter, Eat Out, etc.
Keep your eyes peeled for all reviews that come in, both positive and negative. Don’t be tempted to play ostrich and avoid bad reviews. Remember, responding to bad critics is your opportunity to redeem yourself and your business in the eyes of consumers.
If PokémonGo is news to you, you need to get with the programme! This is one of the best ways to attract tourists. Businesses are getting creative as they try to optimise store footfall resulting from this popular app.
Turn your business premises into a Pokéstop and set up a Lure for tourists (and locals) who use the app. This will generate increased foot traffic into your business and (hopefully) the chance of converting feet into sales.
Like they say: If you can’t beat ‘em… join ‘em (and catch ‘em all!)
In short, the tourism tree is ripe for the picking, which means that businesses like yours and mine can’t afford to not get a piece of that lucrative pie.