Posts Tagged ‘travelers’

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

December 27, 2012

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!

Bringing in Tourists

August 22, 2012

While the majority of restaurant business comes from repeat customers, there is still a large portion of revenue that comes from one time visitors, namely tourists and those traveling on business. Restaurants who fail to actively attract these potential patrons are missing out on a real opportunity bring in new business and spread the word about their establishment in other areas.

To attract more of these customers, restaurateurs can do many things to reach out to a larger area, rather than just their immediate community.

Reaching Out to those Dining on Vacation

To help with brand recognition, some restaurants compete in state or even nation wide cooking competitions, like barbeque cook-offs and other food and drink festivals. Winning one of these types of competitions can certainly put a restaurant on the map, but even just participating can help to spread the word to potential tourists. Few people will actually make a special trip to visit the restaurant.

However, people are much more likely to visit a restaurant that they recognize when passing through an unfamiliar area than one which they have never heard of. Also, word-of-mouth is a great advertising tool, even if the word has to spread a long way to reach all potential customers.

Restaurant owners may also begin getting involved with not only local charities, but charities around the country. Consider participating in charity events in small cities and towns, along with more well known ones in larger cities. No event is too small as long as participation is frequent, since the goal is simply to spark interest, not launch a widespread advertising campaign. This will help to let people know that the restaurant’s interest in helping communities is not restricted to local people who are mostly likely to frequent the establishment.

Also, it will help to create lasting relationships with people who will probably visit the restaurant when they are traveling in the area.

Roll Out the Welcome Wagon when Attracting Tourists

It may also be worthwhile to begin working with the local travel bureau. Restaurant owners can offer information about their restaurant and even leave gift certificates for travelers. A strong relationship with the local travel bureau will most likely result in multiple recommendations for the restaurant.

Since many travelers are often unsure about their surroundings, a recommendation to a local restaurant is usually heeded. Naturally, this works both ways with negative opinions from a travel bureau being noticed as well, so ensure that the relationship with the travel bureau remains a positive one.

Restaurants can also work with concierge services and destination management companies. These companies take care of most aspects of a traveler’s trip, including their dining choices. A restaurant in touch with these types of companies can possibly expect a couple of tables booked every night by a concierge or destination management service. Larger restaurants may even consider keeping a table or two open on some nights, as concierge services often have trouble finding a restaurant to host large parties, and are very appreciative of restaurants that will accommodate last minute needs.