The bison farm, the Cosmosphere, the Amish community, and the salt museum are sights to see in Hutchinson, Kansas. And city dwellers desperately want more people to see them in this slow economy. Cleverly, instead of inviting travel writers to tour their small town, they invite bloggers. They include Becky McCray of the hugely popular country blog, Small Biz Survival.
Why not co-host the “blogger invasion” in your city? Or your region or business environment? In fact, why not set up a few – each targeted at bloggers who reach a niche of people who are likely to buy your type of product or service? Rather than offering a general schedule of sights to see, combine a day of experiences that match their interests. Reduce the number of steps they need to find a place to enjoy what they love most.
Make them feel very welcome. From cyclists to quilters, passionate fans have their favorite ways to indulge in their passion. If you offer a situational experience that best suits their interests, you can attract flocks of them to your area. And the best way to make that situational offer is to partner with other people who can participate in creating the package they want to buy. Allows them to spend less time planning and more time playing – in your city.
Here are two approaches to partnering to attract more visitors:
1. Build Your Local Default Attributes
With views of its hills and bays, my city of Sausalito is a magnet for cyclists, but no one here offers a package experience to serve rather than hinder them. Cities can become launch pads for morning rides, with a place to store bikes, a healthy breakfast in the morning, snacks to take with them, and an evening gathering place to welcome them.
Or, if your area is beautiful, why not pack “Outdoor DayTrippers” for very active hikers that allow them to do as many activities as possible. Suggest three itineraries, for a Casual Outing to an Uber Athlete, complete with what to do, where to eat or take photos – and how to win badges and prizes that prove they’ve done it – something to take home and be proud of.
2. Serving Your Niche-Specific Needs
In the village of Russell in the far north of New Zealand, I worked with a B&B owner to attract a quilting teacher to lead classes in her large breakfast room during the winter, a typically slow time for visitors. By partnering with several quilting gurus, clubs, fabric stores and bloggers, she has managed to fill her inn with avid quilters.
Partnering with locals, she also exhibits their work around the quilting room. From huckleberry jam to hand-carved bowls, handcrafted “only here” items have proven popular as souvenirs to take home. Each partner – from the quilting world and from the local “just here” group, posts pictures and descriptions of all partners on their site and/or blog.
With the right partners, what special needs can your type of business serve? The narrower the niche, the more efficient and attractive your reach will be. For example, parents of infants and toddlers have very different needs when looking for a vacation spot than parents. What if you offered a Wheels Away experience for those in a wheelchair or traveling with someone in a wheelchair?
Maybe your region has attributes for both approaches above. Are you in a farming area, for example? Are there any unusual restaurants in town? How about inviting food bloggers to have a meeting in your city – to meet each other and their readers? Arrange for a group of local partners to support them in the plans they make for the meeting. Hopefully it will become an annual tradition, increasing every year.