How to Lure Travelers to Your Restaurant, and Why You Want ‘Em

While growth in the domestic travel sector was slow but steady in 2012, international travel to the U.S.  flourished with international visitors spending around 100 billion dollars on tourism related goods and services, including restaurants.  According to the National Restaurant Association, international and domestic travelers account for as much as 40% of fine dining restaurant sales and 20% of casual dining sales, underscoring the need for proprietors in these sectors to make sure that their establishments are on the traveler’s radar.

Get in the Media to Grab Attention

Getting your business in media that travelers will see is an important way to bring them in to you restaurant. Obviously you can pay for advertisements to achieve this goal, but there are several free ways to generate publicity as well.

For instance, participating in major food festivals, competitions, and restaurant awards are all great ways to get free publicity and build your business’s reputation at the same time. Similarly, hosting charity events generates a lot of media attention and provides an opportunity for your establishment to demonstrate its good-will and commitment to serve the community.

Another great way to get in the news and attract visitors is to provide a novelty of some sort. This could be featuring local dishes, being the only restaurant to offer a particular kind of food, providing a unique atmosphere, or even taking a niche-market approach such as having only fresh or organic produce. The key is to make your establishment stand out somehow by featuring something that is newsworthy and novel enough to make travelers seek out the experience.

List Your Restaurant with Destination Management Companies, Travel Websites, and Visitors’ Bureaus

Getting your restaurant listed in as many places as possible is another important technique to bring in travelers. Many restaurants utilize what is known as destination management companies, or DCMs, to reach out to international visitors. Listing your business with travel websites, concierge services in your area, and local visitors’ bureaus are also effective approaches which can yield a large potential return for your efforts.

Networking with businesses that deal regularly with travelers is a great way to build relationships and a positive reputation as well. Not only do you have an excuse to periodically drop in and leave gift certificates or info, but the concierges and bureau workers you encounter will also be more likely to personally recommend your business if you take the time to build a relationship with them.

Optimize Your Social Media and Online Presence

Having a strong online presence is important in today’s era regardless of the customer demographic you’re targeting, but it is even more critical if you’re trying to attract travelers.  The odds are pretty good that those travelers will be searching online for places to eat in the area that they are staying and will be relying almost solely on online information and reviews to make a decision.

Thus, it is critical that your website is optimized so that it shows up in search results for its particular food and service category.  Similarly, it’s important that you have positive reviews for your restaurant available on major review sites. Your publicity and networking efforts will pay off here too as two of the factors determining search engine rank are the number of links and the amount of ‘buzz’ there is for your establishment from exterior sources.

Great dining experiences are one of the pleasures that most travelers seek out when they visit a new location. As such, it makes a lot of sense as a restaurant owner to target this lucrative group!

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