As the summer season approaches, tourism is climbing in areas around the country. Kids are out of school, and people are craving places where weather is at its finest. Summer is not always considered a season with high tourism traffic. There are many colder areas, and even beach places that are considered to have high tourism volume in other seasonal months. According to the U.S. Travel Association; in 2016 direct spending on leisure travel by domestic and international travelers totaled $683.1 billion. Then fine dining was ranked number four on the top leisure travel activities for U.S. domestic travelers, and ranked number three for international travelers. With this high amount of spending and popularity, restaurants have the opportunity to increase customer traffic and overall profitability. Be sure your restaurant is tourist friendly with these best practices:
1. Pick the Right Location
The right location can make or break your restaurant if you are trying to appeal to more tourists. If you are located somewhere in the Caribbean where you have a high influx in cruise ships, you might see less business if your restaurant is located on the opposite side of where the ships let-off their guests. When people are traveling they want convenience. Whether they are staying in your location for a day or a few weeks, they are more likely to frequent places that are close and easy to get to. If you pick a far location, you better make sure you have the best food and experience in town.
2. Build Your Reputation
Most tourists want to get the local experience when they go on vacation or travel. After all, tourists could have stayed home and eaten and done the same things for a lot lesser of a price. A good tourist does their research beforehand, and they want to see what type of reputation you have. If you serve the same burgers and fries that they could get down the street from their home it could turn them off. If you’re located in Germany, you serve German themed food, and most of your tourist population is from the U.S. it will give your restaurant a “local vibe” your customers are looking for. Your reputation locally and on the global level is crucial for the success of your restaurant.
3. Befriend Local Concierges
Hotel concierges give hotel guests recommendations on where to go. As a local restaurant, you should try and befriend local concierges so you are the favorite on their list. You can give the concierges something to hand out to the guest like discounts or a free side item. Then you can add up all of your referrals when customers bring in your offers, and reward the concierges for their referrals. This idea doesn’t have to limit itself to hotel concierges; you can do the same for other tourist businesses. For example, you can have discounts to hand out at local grocery stores, retail shops, or even tourist activity places.
4. Do Something Different
Whether you’re the only restaurant in town that offers Korean and African fusion or your interior is out of a story book, it’s important that you set yourself apart from the competition. Tourists want to visit places that create memories, and something they can tell their friends about when they get home. Would you tell your friend that you ordered Papa Johns while you visited the beach? Or would you tell that you went to a restaurant that had unforgettable ocean views? Whatever you decide to make your restaurant different, make sure you promote it., and customers will do the same.
5. Gather Feedback & Reviews
People want to eat at the best places when they travel. They don’t want to waste their time or money on something that failed to add to their overall travel experience. Did you know Google only shows restaurants with a 4+star rating for the search, best [food} + city? Whether they are local or not, you should constantly be asking your customers feedback. Your restaurant was not born perfect, and it never will be perfect. You should always be listening to your customers’ wants and needs so your restaurant is always performing at the top of its abilities.
6. Social Media
Social media is key if you want to get your brand and message out to people in your local audience as well as on a global level. For example, you can have your ads popup next to a Facebook page that someone likes. Think about it, a lot of people have aspirations to visit some place. Before they do, they most likely will like a Facebook page or like a page that has to do with the area so they can learn more about it. Plus, social media is extremely inexpensive. You can run paid ads for only a few dollars a day that are guaranteed to reach full countries at a time. You will want to add targeting parameters to ads so they reach the right audience. Remember you don’t want to be paying for people to see your ads if they are not interested in what you are offering.
7. Have Local Employees
You want to have employees who know and are familiar with the local area. Tourists like to ask and get advice on special places to go. Most tourists know that the internet is not 100% accurate. What better way to get confirmation on different places then to talk to someone who has experienced it themselves. If you have employees that aren’t as familiar with the area, your restaurant doesn’t give the appeal of being local. Yes, you can go to a chain restaurant and speak to someone who lives in the area, but it’s better presentation if your one of a kind with knowledgeable employee.