Tourism generates approximately $14.6 billion in revenue in BC. Over 9.3 million people visited in just 2015 alone, and these numbers are only projected to increase in the future.
Considering these factors, it’s not surprising that many entrepreneurs and small business owners seek to establish a local tourism business. However, the thriving tourism market also means that there’s intense competition to gain and keep visitors’ attention.
Use these strategies and get some expert insight from featured speaker at Local Leaders Fraser Valley and Founder of Mt. Waddington’s Outdoors, Sam Waddington, to start and grow a tourism business.
Make Your Tourism Business Memorable
When starting a tourism business, Sam says, “Your business must provide a memorable experience for your customer.” It’s essential to remember this, as its one of the most fundamental reasons why tourism exists.
There are countless ways to make your business stand out, but start with customer service. It’s the first and last memory your customers will have of your business, so make sure they remember you positively.
Optimize your customer service by:
- If you’re offering experiences like kayaking or zip line tours that require pre-registration, thank them in your confirmation message.
- Provide helpful information about other tourism businesses and sights that they can take advantage of while they’re visiting.
- Promote discounts or sales, such as package deals, which shows that you’re generous and care about the affordability of your service.
- Send a follow-up message thanking them for their business and invite them back to visit you any time.
Use Your Local Expertise to Start and Grow a Tourism Business
You likely decided to run an outdoor tourism business because you love your location. Don’t be afraid to use everything you know about it to make your business better. Share valuable tips on the best places to go, the must-see sights and your favourite restaurants. Your customers will be impressed by how well you know the area, adding to your business’ credibility.
It may be difficult to start recommending potential competitors to your current and potential customers. But providing the ideal experience for your customers is worth the risk. Plus, the more customers you send your competitors’ way, the more likely they will be to recommend your business, too.
Join the Tourism Community
Tourism doesn’t exist in a vacuum. The industry depends on having many quality businesses to attract tourists to the businesses’ location, and keep them there long enough to convert them into customers. Connect with other businesses in your area to build a destination that will make people want to visit, and come back.
“Integrate yourself into your community in an inextricable way,” Sam recommends, “The media will ask for your input on stories in your field, your local tourism agency will want to partner with you, and so will other businesses.”
Become a pillar of the tourism community by:
- Hosting meet-ups and networking events with other business owners.
- Offering local promotions to your peers and their friends and families.
- Being open to referring customers to other businesses.
Legal Requirements and Insurance
These methods will go far in starting or growing a tourism business. However, it’s crucial to ensure that your business meets all legal requirements and has the necessary insurance to operate. Check with your municipality, associations and business insurance agent to ensure you’re fully covered.
Here to Help
No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.