6 easy strategies to attract more foreign visitors to your tourism business
When it comes to popularity with international travelers, Canada definitely ranks near the top of the list.
So how can you take full advantage of this burgeoning market and compete with other players around the world?
Here are six simple strategies your tourism business can consider to bolster your appeal overseas.
1. Consider exhibiting at trade shows
It’s a marketing rule of thumb—person-to-person contact can generate sales. And that's precisely what attracts thousands of tourism businesses and travelers to international trade shows.
If you’re shopping around for a trade show to exhibit your business, ensure you choose one that gives you the best exposure and avoid untested venues. As well, before the show, be sure your team is properly trained to sell your business.
There are numerous shows, associations and government organizations that can help you in the international arena. Here are just a few.
Destination Canada is a federal Crown corporation dedicated to promoting tourism in Canada around the world.
Rendez-vous Canada is Canada’s premier annual international tourism industry marketplace, bringing together international buyers and media to meet invited suppliers of Canadian tourism products, services and information.
Canada’s West Marketplace is a tourism trade show that brings together B.C. and Alberta tourism suppliers with international tourism buyers. It allows tourism suppliers the opportunity to showcase their products to partners from Europe, Asia and North America.
2. Give your website global reach
You can benefit from customizing your website to your target market with simple visual aids such as country flags. At minimum, you’ll likely want to translate a few pages of your website to attract visitors from your target markets.
Showing your prices in local currency can also help you connect with international visitors and increase their ability to compare prices. In the end, you want to increase user confidence and comfort.
There are other ways of customizing websites to suit foreign visitors. Content marketing aimed at specific countries can drive more visits to your site. You’ll also want to tailor your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy and online marketing campaigns to local markets.
3. Monitor and respond to online reviews
International travelers planning their trip don’t have much information about the quality of your business. Ratings on sites such as TripAdvisor, Yelp and Google are often the only source they have to make a decision.
You’ll probably want to register your business on these platforms and enter detailed information and pictures. From there you should regularly monitor and respond to reviews, making sure to quickly resolve any issues with unsatisfied customers.
Free and low-cost social media monitoring tools can help you automate some of the work required to collect and analyze this data.
These sites will also provide you with guest feedback you can analyze to improve your services.
4. List your business on online aggregator sites
Instead of going through a travel agent, people increasingly shop through fare aggregators, such as Priceline and Expedia. Expedia alone claims 75 million flight shoppers every month.
To appear in their search results, you’ll need to register your business directly with these sites. Luckily, most of the fare aggregators belong to a few large corporations, so you’ll only need to sign up once to appear across their whole network.
It might also be worth your time to register for sites such as Ctrip (China) and Oktogo (Russia) that are popular in large international markets.
Remember that even if these fare aggregators don’t lead to a lot of new bookings, they can still drive new traffic to your website.
5. Think eco-tourism/adventure travel
Canada is emerging as a global destination for eco-tourism and adventure travel. The country is a natural draw for international visitors seeking authentic wilderness, adventure and cultural experiences.
Canada has a reputation as an uncrowded and unspoiled holiday destination with a wide diversity of wildlife. Its natural environment also appeals to visitors seeking an adrenaline rush with such activities as windsurfing, white water kayaking, skiing and rock climbing.
Consider how you can take advantage of the eco-tourism and adventure travel opportunities in your area. Even if your business is in a city, you can appeal to foreign visitors simply by helping them find local eco-tourism activities.
6. Make your business multi-seasonal
Any tourism operator today knows that building all-season capacity into your business is an important way to grow your revenues. And this is particularly important for attracting international visitors.
If you’re looking for ways to make your business an all-season affair, the first step is to assess the potential year-round activities in your area.
Are there cultural activities, such as music festivals, that would attract visitors? Are there seasonal outdoor activities year round? You might consider adding a new dimension to your tourism business, such as offering spa services in the winter season.
You could also team up with other local tourism businesses to share services and reduce your risk.