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3 weeks ago

Capitalising on Tourism for Summer Success

From quaint country pubs to city centre corner shops, small businesses stand to benefit immensely from a summer influx of tourists and locals looking to make the most of the good weather.

By understanding the dynamics of the summer seasonal boom and preparing adequately, your business can appeal to visitors and maximise your revenue. This guide explores how businesses can capitalise on British summertime.

Summer Tourism and the Key Trends

Summer tourism is a significant driver for the UK economy, contributing over £100 billion annually. With a combination of warm(er) weather, light evenings and school holidays, the summer months are appealing for both domestic and international tourists.

As a result of COVID-19 restrictions and then the rising cost of living, recent trends indicate a steady rise in domestic tourism, with more UK residents opting for ‘staycations’. According to Sykes Cottages, 50% of all British holidaymakers are currently avoiding overseas travel.

Meanwhile, international tourists continue to flock to the British Isles, attracted by the UK's rich cultural heritage, iconic landmarks and renowned sporting events. Popular destinations include Edinburgh, the Lake District and Cornwall, as well as the capital.

Understanding these trends is vital for small business owners. By aligning their offerings with tourist preferences and capitalising on the draw of local attractions, you can effectively capture a share of the tourism market.

Understanding Your Audience

To effectively tailor your marketing strategies and services, the key is to identify and understand your target markets. The main segments include:

  • Domestic Tourists: These travellers often seek short getaways and cost-effective options. They might be looking for family-friendly activities, romantic weekends or solo retreats.

  • International Tourists: Attracted by the UK’s cultural and historical sites, these tourists often stay longer and spend more. They’re interested in iconic landmarks, cultural experiences and unique local traditions.

Each market segment has distinct needs and preferences, so a one-size-fits-all approach won't suffice. Tailor your offerings to meet the specific desires of these groups to enhance their experience and boost your business. Within these categorisations, you can break your audience down further to help you craft targeted marketing messages.

  • Families: Parents with young children look for safe, engaging and educational activities. Attractions like museums, zoos and interactive experiences are popular.

  • Solo Travellers: Solo travellers often seek adventure and social interaction, so they may prefer guided tours, group dining and drinking experiences and hostel-style accommodation.

  • Romantics: Romantic getaways, fine dining and cultural activities often appeal to couples. Offering packages that include accommodation and activities can be attractive.

  • Grey Market: Older visitors generally prefer relaxing environments, scenic spots and cultural tours. Ensuring your facilities have disabled access is vital.

  • Adrenaline Junkies: More active tourists might look for hiking, water sports and other outdoor activities. Promoting these experiences can draw this crowd.

Roast dinner

Preparing for the Summer Rush

As summer approaches, it's essential to ensure you adequately staff your business and that your team is well-prepared. Start the hiring process early, looking for candidates with experience in customer service or hospitality. Temporary or seasonal workers can help you manage the increased workload. Conduct comprehensive training sessions covering customer service excellence and local knowledge to empower your staff.

Adequate preparation for the summer rush involves more than just human resources. Ensuring you have the necessary inventory and supplies is crucial, so identify high-demand products and ensure you have ample stock.

You could also consider introducing seasonal products or limited-time offers to attract customers. For instance, summer-themed menus or exclusive local crafts could draw visitors who are looking for unique experiences.

Conduct thorough inspections of your facilities to address any needed repairs or improvements, such as fixing leaky roofs or updating signage. Ensure your business is accessible to all customers, including those with disabilities. Even minor adjustments to your premises can make your business more inclusive, such as installing ramps and offering your customers accessible WCs. Providing excellent service to all guests can enhance your reputation and broaden your customer base.

Part of preparing your business for your customers is also protecting it in case of a worst-case scenario. Make sure your business is adequately insured to avoid facing any unforeseen financial shortfall.

Marketing Methods

A well-crafted marketing plan is essential to attracting tourists and maximising your summer revenue. Start by defining what success looks like for your business. Is it increasing footfall? Do you want to boost product sales? Would you like to enhance social media engagement? These KPIs will help you track your progress.

Determine your marketing budget and allocate funds strategically. Consider combining digital and traditional marketing activities to reach a broader audience. Monitor spending to ensure you stay within budget while achieving your marketing goals.

Promoting your business on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook is an excellent, low-cost method. Share high-quality content showcasing your products, services and customer experiences and engage with your audience.

Ensure your website is optimised for search engines to improve visibility. Use local SEO methods to rank for relevant keywords related to summer tourism and your location. Partner with local influencers or travel bloggers who can promote your business to their followers.

While these online techniques have almost limitless potential, going old school is still worthwhile. Distribute leaflets and posters in local high-traffic areas such as information centres, hotels and cafes. Highlight special offers, events and the USPs of your business.

Enhancing Experiences

Creating memorable experiences can set your business apart and encourage repeat visits. Special events such as themed nights, live performances or classes can attract tourists looking for unique and engaging activities. Equally, guided tours that showcase local attractions or workshops highlighting regional crafts and skills hold a lot of appeal.

Remember to engage with your customers to enhance their experience. Train your team to offer personalised recommendations based on customers’ interests and implement loyalty schemes that reward repeat customers. Actively seek customer feedback through surveys, comment cards or online reviews to continually improve your services.

Leveraging Local Attractions

Local events, such as music festivals and food fairs, can attract large crowds, so align your plans with these events to capitalise on the increased foot traffic. Consider offering special promotions with discounts or exclusive offerings for attendees.

Look into the potential of working with event organisers on joint marketing efforts. This collaboration could include featuring your business in event programmes, on websites or social media channels. Conversely, your company could develop guides or itineraries that include nearby attractions, helping tourists plan their visit and position your business as a helpful resource front of mind.

Work with regional tourism boards to feature your business in their promotional materials. Participate in their campaigns and attend networking events to increase your visibility and boost your profile among like-minded business leaders.

Going Green

Tourists will increasingly value sustainability in 2024, and adopting eco-friendly practices can enhance your appeal. Implement recycling initiatives and drop single-use plastics. Use energy-efficient appliances and lighting to lower your carbon footprint and operating costs.

Review your supply chain, aiming to source products locally from suppliers who share your idea of sustainable practices. Offer eco-friendly options such as reusable shopping bags, biodegradable packaging and organic products.

Don’t forget to shout about your green business! Consider obtaining certifications such as Green Tourism, which can be a marketing tool to attract eco-conscious tourists. Place signs around your public-facing premises that educate customers on your eco-friendly practices and encourage them to get involved.

You could even give tourists tips on how to minimise their environmental footprint, such as using public transport, respecting local wildlife, and minimising water consumption during their stay.

Group of travellers taking a selfie

Measuring Success and Adapting

Tracking your KPIs is essential to understanding the effectiveness of your efforts and making more informed decisions. Monitor your sales numbers and revenue figures to identify trends and measure the impact of your marketing activities. Use Google tools and social media insights to track online engagement.

Collect feedback from your visitors, paying particular attention to what customers say about their experiences and using this information to make improvements. Use this feedback to tweak your marketing messages, adjust your offerings, or make a concerted effort to improve your customer service.

Be prepared to pivot your strategies as needed. If a particular promotion isn’t performing well, don’t hesitate to try something new. Stay informed about trends and be ready to adapt quickly to changing circumstances.

Helpful Resources

  • VisitBritain: Offers insights, statistics and marketing support for businesses in the tourism sector.

  • UK Hospitality: Provides industry news, resources and advocacy for hospitality businesses.

  • Local Chambers of Commerce: These organisations offer networking opportunities, business support and local market insights.

  • Tourism Boards: Collaborate with regional tourism boards for promotional opportunities and support.

Summer Success

Summer tourism presents a unique opportunity for small businesses across the UK. You can make the most of the peak season by understanding your audience, preparing thoroughly and employing effective marketing and engagement strategies.

Now is the time to take proactive steps to prepare your business. So start planning, build partnerships and engage with your target audience. The potential for increased revenue and business growth is substantial. With the right approach, you can make this summer a season of success!

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Sam White