Posts Tagged ‘forecasts and outlooks’

Restaurants Are Well Positioned to Take Advantage of Record Tourist Year

June 9, 2014

A record number of international tourists (71.8 million) are expected to visit the U.S. this year, spending over $100 billion on tourism-related goods and services. A good chunk of that money will be spent in restaurants on meals, and restaurant owners and managers who have taken measures to ensure that they are easily found by those tourists will be the beneficiaries of the influx.

A Significant Portion of Restaurant Income Is from Tourist Dollars

Of course, international tourists aren’t the only tourist dollars restaurants should be concerned about. Approximately one out of every four industry sales dollars comes from both international and domestic tourism, underscoring the importance of local and national marketing efforts. Previous research shows that quickservice and tableservice, in particular, attract a significant portion of visitors. Up to 20% of quickservice and 30% of tableservice sales are from travelers and tourists!

Despite the significance of these numbers, many restaurant managers have not yet taken measures to ensure that they are visible to the travelers and tourists passing through their areas. Failing to take travelers into account and not taking measures to attract them is folly. In this year’s modest economy, restaurant owners would be remiss to ignore this ready source of traffic and sales.

Ensure Your Restaurant Is Listed in Local Convention and Visitors Bureaus

Getting a piece of the tourist pie is all about having your establishment listed where travelers will find it. Start by joining your local convention and visitors’ bureaus. Look for other “destination marketing” organizations in your area, and inquire about including your information with their materials. States and bigger towns often have their own membership-based organizations as well. When you get involved with these organizations, your restaurant has the opportunity to be listed on their websites and newsletters and be included with visitor information packets. Membership to these types of groups provides another avenue to promote your restaurant’s business and has the added benefit of helping to support the local economy by attracting travelers carrying an influx of cash.

Make Your Restaurant Easy for Travelers to Find Online

Along with ensuring your presence among the physical organizations in your area, you also want to ensure that your online presence is strong. Make it easy for travelers to find your location, menus, prices, and great photos of your food when they do a general search for the type of food and service you offer in your area. Do this by optimizing your website and content for search engines and mobile devices, by listing your establishment in as many directories and travel guides as you can find and by maintaining a strong social media presence and community. Consider encouraging your existing customers to direct their visitors to your business by providing a special “local fare” offer to travelers.

It is clear that tourism dollars are an important percentage of the restaurant industry’s overall income. This year stands to be particularly good in terms of tourist dollars spent in restaurants. In order to be found by travelers, you have to think like a traveler. If you were visiting a new place, how would you pick a place to eat, knowing nothing about the establishment or area? Making yourself easy to find both on and offline is the key to attracting a portion of the tourist dollars currently flowing through your area.