We are often asked by small businesses practising Responsible Tourism how they can best market their experience and service. It is easy to expend a great deal of time and money - both of which are in short supply in small businesses - on marketing which produces no return. It is easy to make a loss on marketing. This is the advice we give.
- There is rarely any point in travelling to the originating market or to large trade shows to try to sell your product. Consider selling through an established on-line agent in the originating market you are interested in - for some examples see here. Check out with businesses already on the site how well it works for them, and ask why. Businesses using the agent or site will have considerable expertise in how to use that channel to market, they may be willing to share it. Generally if you are selling accommodation to people travelling on pre-planned itineraries or you are selling trips you will need to get clients to pre-book.
- For most small businesses in travel and tourism the market is nearby in the destination, local marketing is what pays off, particularly where you are selling to travellers who are deciding day to day where they are going and staying and what they are doing. Look for businesses which might cross-market with you - where your product complements and adds to what they are selling. Look for opportunities with other businesses where you are non-competitive, where there are marketing synergies, where together you would be stronger than you are separately . Consider marketing through a destination portal link Consider setting up a local marketing portal or network.
- Consider entering awards to raise awareness of your business and gain media coverage. If you know of others please add them. Think about which awards matter to you - where is your originating market?
- Cultivate local, national and international media - PR and stories are valuable in providing corroboration for your marketing efforts and for ensuring that potential clients know you are there.
- Use the various forums available on line to draw attention to yourself - look up Responsible Tourism on Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. More importantly, get your clients to write about you on Tripadvisor and similar sites. Put a facility on your website for client feedback and encourage people to tell their friends.
- Guidebook writers are always looking for good new products and experiences to include. Write to the editors of the guide books which are important in your destination and which are read by the clients you want to attract. The editor will pass the letter on to the person next revising the guide book. Many small businesses have taken off this way. Lonely Planet and Rough Guides both have on-line communities which can be used to get you noticed.
- Where you are wanting to attract tourists who are travelling consider visiting, on a reciprocal basis, similar businesses on the route - their recommendations can be invaluable - but of course this kind of marketing has to be reciprocated.
- responsibletravel.com is an online marketeer with over 11 years expertise leading the way to market tourism providers around the world who specialise in holidays that conserve the environment and promote local communities. Accommodation providers and day-tour operators may list their holidays on the site for free using the webpage maker. Tour operators may also submit their holidays for listing on the site, and for a membership fee will receive the dedicated expertise of an account handler who will work to generate high quality bookings. For more information visit.
- respondeco is the Esperanto word for Responsibility. Esperanto hopes to solve communication barriers, and we aim to do the same by helping accommodation businesses to learn how to communicate sustainability messages. Communicating sustainability can be somewhat challenging, that's why it is our responsibility to help small businesses with their website.
- There is often a reluctance to co-operate with others to market but co-operation is invaluable. Work together to grow the cake by developing complementary products and cross-marketing.
Sites which you might also find useful:
- Visit England's Keep It Real and The Welsh Version
- Tourism Know How.com
- Carole Favre's Are you ready for business
- Travel like a local
- Responsible tourism communication specialist Jeremy Smith's site
- Like a Local Guide
- Tours by Locals
- Spotted By Locals
- Outpost Travel
- playplanet peer-to-peer dining
- Livingula Puerto Rico
There are some big companies now facilitating market access for SMEs and sole traders:
TripAdvisor through viatour
Intrepid through urbanadventures
If you have other suggestions which you would like to share please send them to us.
Peer2Peer accommodation and car sharing