Monday, August 25, 2014

Becoming a Tourist Attraction, Part 3 in a 3-part series

This is the last of our series on attracting tourists to your restaurant.

Becoming a Tourist Attraction- Part 3

Whether or not you are near a tourism hub, you may be able to attract travelers to your restaurant. By establishing yourself as unique, you can turn yourself into a destination for culinary tourists. Try the following:

Offer regional cuisine.
Many travelers are looking for cultural education, and offering unique, regional cuisine will pique their interest. For example, if you are in San Antonio, consider serving chile con carne. If you are in Chicago, serve gourmet hot dogs. If you are on the beach, serve fresh seafood. You could also serve local wines and beers, or feature local produce in your menu.

Develop your unique selling point (USP).
The more unique your restaurant, the more likely you will become a destination for tourism. Theme restaurants, exhibition cooking, and unique dining experience can attract tourists. For example, Casa Bonita in Denver attracts tourists by offering cliff divers, costumes and other forms of entertainment. You could renovate your restaurant to include a unique interior design or even offer cooking classes to teach tourists how to make local dishes.

Get press.
The best way to become a tourist destination is to get regional and/or national press. If you get enough press and good reviews, travelers might visit your area just to eat at your restaurant, or they may remember your restaurant when the inevitable question is posed: “Where should we eat out tonight?”

Organize a local culinary event.
Get together with other local businesses, restaurants and farmers’ markets to organize a regional or city-wide culinary festival or dining event. For example, restaurants in the City of Boulder host an annual weeklong event called “First Bite,” where top local restaurants offer a unique three course $26 fixed-price dinner menu. Such an event may require you to work with the competition, but it can increase culinary tourism in your area, especially if the event highlights regional cuisine. If your region already puts on an arts or culinary festival, like “Taste of Georgetown,” make sure to participate or vend at the location.       

Thank you for reading our three-part series on attracting tourists to a restaurant. For further information on making your restaurant more attractive to tour groups, please contact

Monday, August 11, 2014

Capitalizing on a Nearby Tourist Attraction, Part 2 of 3-part a series

Please enjoy the second part of our series on attracting tourist to your restaurant.

Capitalizing on a Nearby Tourist Attraction  Part 2

If you operate a restaurant near a tourist attraction like a museum, beach, theme park or event center, make sure you capitalize on your good location. In addition to the essential marketing techniques mentioned above, use some of these tactics to catch the interest of tourists:

Use outdoor signs.
A large sign and a sidewalk menu will help you attract passersby. Prominent outdoor signage is especially important if you operate within walking distance of a major tourist attraction, like a beach, museum or downtown.

Buy billboard space.
To attract tourists traveling by road, consider purchasing billboard space on a major interstate, especially if your restaurant is near an exit. It is also a good idea to advertise on the major highways near the airport, since you might catch the eye of a traveler in a cab or rental car.

Advertise in newspapers.
Many travelers will buy a local newspaper or pick up a free one at their hotel. If you hope to attract their business, consider advertising in the papers, especially during tourist season.

Form partnerships
Partner with charter bus companies, travel agencies, local hotels and event centers. For example, you could agree to give discounts to mutual customers, and ask them to distribute coupons or menus for your restaurant. Some hotels and convention centers will even give visitors a coupon book for local businesses. You should also consider forming a friendship with and giving a permanent discount to the employees at hotels and visitor centers. Many travelers will ask these locals for restaurant recommendations.

Become a rewards provider.
As a rewards provider, joining a rewards network – like ThankYou, SkyMiles Dining or Rewards Network Restaurant Cashback – can help you to attract business from people who eat out frequently when traveling.

Be sure to check back for the last entry in the series: Part 3 Becoming a Tourist Attraction

Monday, July 28, 2014

Attracting Customers to a Restaurant, Part 1 in a 3-part series

Culinary tourism is gaining popularity. When people take vacations and travel, they usually want more beyond simple relaxation or a business trip. They are seeking cultural education, in part by experiencing the local cuisine.

Essentials for Attracting Out-of-Town Customers –Part 1

Any restaurant could profit from out-of-town customers. If you hope to attract tourists and out-of-towners, you need to use the right marketing techniques to catch their interest. There are two ways to attract tourists to a restaurant: be near a tourist attraction, or become the tourist attraction. Either way, make sure you do the following:

Maintain a website.
Almost 50% of consumers have visited a restaurant website. Since they do not have firsthand knowledge of the region, tourists and out-of-towners are even more likely than the average customer to surf the Internet for a good place to eat. If you already have a website, send a link request to the local chamber of commerce or tourism bureau.

Get listed in the phonebook.
There is a phonebook in almost every hotel room. If you are not listed in the phonebook, it might be difficult for out-of-towners to find your address and phone number. In a crunch, travelers will often turn to the phonebook to find a place to eat. In addition to getting listed, you might consider placing an ad in the yellow pages with some details about your restaurant and your takeout and delivery services.

Distribute paper menus.
If you hope to sell to travelers, you need a paper menu, whether or not you offer takeout and delivery. Place the menu in strategic locations, like hotel lobbies, visitor centers, car rental agencies, airports and local bulletin boards. Your paper menu will serve as a mini-advertisement for your restaurant.

Get listed in restaurant guides.
If you are located in a tourism hub or a popular travel destination, it is essential that you get listed in restaurant guides and directories. This includes online restaurant guides like and, as well as any print restaurant directories that will list you, such as hotel restaurant guides, the AAA Travel Destination Guide, the Michelin Guide, etc.

Offer good parking.
Travelers who are new to the area do not want to search for a parking space. If your parking situation is lacking, you might have difficulty convincing tourists that your restaurant is worth the hassle of parking far away. If you do not have a parking lot, partner with a local garage or lot and implement a free valet parking service.
By making use of the above tactics, you will make your restaurant available to both tourists and business travelers who are looking for a place to eat out.

Be sure to check back for part 2, capitalizing on a Nearby Tourist Attraction!

Monday, July 14, 2014

How Baby Boomers Influence Travel, Part 2

Here is the second installment on Baby Boomer Travel:

7. Boomers think they are special. Always been a force to be reckoned with, they are very demanding consumers. "Whether they go budget or luxury, boomers tend to want the best," said Day.

What boomers definitely do not want is herding. To many boomers, group travel has the faint aroma of a cattle drive. This has prompted some operators to drop tours from their names. Others have pared down group size, either by forming smaller groups or breaking larger groups into subsets which engage in different activities simultaneously.

Day suggested tour operators offer products that provide group transportation and accommodations, but impose a less rigid structure on travelers' daily movements. "I can see a much more à la carte approach that allows more independence," she said. The experts also recommended promotional materials down play the group aspect of tours and emphasize the benefits to individuals.

8. Boomers like creature comforts. This fact, according to Malott, actually keeps boomers from booking the exotic locales they profess to like. Day puts a slightly different spin on the issue. "A tent is OK," she said, "but it better have a great view and great food. Even if you're in the wilderness, luxury is being served a delicious meal without having to lift a finger."

9. Boomers are time deprived. To get relief from their stressful schedules, boomers vacation at spas where they can do absolutely nothing but be pampered. Or they may go to the opposite extreme, choosing adventures that are physically or mentally challenging - or both.

When booking travel, boomers also need time-saving devices. They like 800 numbers, the Internet, videos and virtual reality because they offer convenience and interactivity. Their predilection for technology can reduce travel suppliers' costs for agents' commissions and printing and mailing brochures. However, it also means call centers must be staffed to meet whenever boomers call.

Internet use is so common among Mature Traveler readers, editor Malott automatically lists website addresses along with phone numbers. Day pointed out that boomers use the Internet more for information gathering than booking. "It's human nature to want to feel connected to what you're about to sign up for," she said. However, she added, boomers also like the freedom of not involving other people when they are exploring a subject. Their attitude is, "When I've decided, I'll initiate the next move."

10. Boomers will pay for luxury, expertise and convenience. ATM fees, nannies and bottled water prove boomers are willing to pay for what they want. Mancini noted, "Boomers are willing to do things for themselves, if it's a hobby or if they think it won't require too much effort, but they really like to hire others to do it for them because it implies status."

Organized group travel becomes valuable to boomers when it's a physically or mentally challenging adventure, but they don't have the skill level to do it themselves. Or when safety and cost make traveling with a group more practical. "You get to an impasse where you need the experts to facilitate the experience," noted Day.

To attract boomers, tour operators must emphasize their expertise. They must add value boomers can't get on their own. Guides must become like personal trainers and demonstrate the skill and knowledge boomers will respect and pay for.

11. Boomers are skeptical of institutions and individuals. With Viet Nam and Watergate as touchstones, who can blame this generation for lacking trust? As a function of their distrust, boomers are not joiners. They are less involved with alumni groups, civic organizations and museum societies than their predecessors, so these traditional sources of group business may be less viable in the future.

Because they are skeptical, boomers actively research their travel options, so suppliers must expect a lot of information gathering before the buy decision. Public relations efforts that impart third-party or expert endorsement help break through boomers' skepticism. NTA focus groups in 1997 and 1998 said ads in local newspapers and word of mouth were the best sources of information and persuasion for travel products.

12. Boomers like to associate with people like themselves. As noted earlier, boomers do not identify with people older than themselves. According to Day, one of the questions uppermost in their minds when they purchase travel is, "Who is going to be on this trip? Is it going to be people like me or a bunch of stodgy, gray-haired people?"

Day said boomers look for outfitters or operators who "share my values,"so they are very selective about who they'll use. She added, "They want an interactive feeling with the outfitter . . . where there's equality between boomers and the leader."

13. Boomers are not homogeneous. While boomers identify themselves as boomers, they are not a single group. In terms of life stages, boomers may be the least homogeneous generation to date. There are childless-by-choice boomers, others with new babies, others with grandchildren and some with both. Fifty year olds who are retiring and others starting new careers or returning to college. Empty nesters downsizing their lives, parents who can't get their Gen Xers out of the house and others raising their grandchildren. These variations affect spending habits, the amount of time available for vacations and with whom boomers travel.

There is also a dichotomy between older and younger boomers. For those born between 1946 and 1955, Viet Nam was the defining event of their lives. For those who came later, it was Watergate. When older boomers finished college, jobs were plentiful and interest rates low. Younger boomers faced recession and 21% interest. The older group, the first to benefit from women's movement, tends to be more career-oriented. The younger ones experienced the down side of women's lib - the higher divorce rate. They also felt they never got as much attention as their older siblings, so they are more family-oriented. According to Mancini, older boomers, including himself, "thought our parents stuff was corny and stupid." Younger boomers, who watched Donna Reed and Ozzie and Harriet reruns on TV, he said, "unleashed this whole wave of nostalgia." All these factors too impact travel behavior.

If they keep these 13 truths about boomers in mind, marketers will be more successful in pursuing this large, but complex market segment.

Monday, June 30, 2014

How Baby Boomers Influence Travel Trends, Part 1

Born between 1946 and 1964, 78 million Baby Boomers changed American business at each stage of their development. Diaper services, Barbie dolls, Rolling Stone magazine, relaxed-fit jeans and SUVs - all were created in response to boomers' needs. Now it's the travel industry's turn to be affected.

Baby boomers today are between 35 and 53 years of age. They are in their peak earning years, and the oldest of them have reached the prime age for travel. Boomers, however, are significantly different travel consumers than their parents, and experts expect them to maintain those differences as they age. Travel industry organizations that fail to identify and heed the boomers' unique qualities could soon find themselves in serious trouble.

To help marketers more effectively target boomers today and in the future, Travel Marketing Decisions interviewed a series of experts to gather insight into this enormous and potentially lucrative segment. Below are 13 truths about baby boomers and their marketing implications for the industry.

1. Boomers consider travel a necessity, not a luxury. This is good news for the industry on two counts. First, the sheer number of boomers traveling will cause business to grow. Second, since travel is a necessity, boomers engage in it no matter how scarce their time or money. Their travel behavior, therefore, is less dependent on life stage or the economy.

2. Boomers have traveled more than their predecessors. While their parents first visited Europe when they retired, boomers criss-crossed the Continent as students. As experienced travelers, boomers seek out more exotic destinations or more in-depth ways of experiencing familiar places. "You're not likely to see them on bus tours of the U.S. because they already did that on their bikes or with backpacks," said Courtney Day, senior vice of the Senior Network, a New Jersey research and marketing firm that specializes in the older consumer.

Been-there-done-that is one reason adventure travel appeals to them, Day said. She defined adventure travel as either physically-challenging outdoor activity or an off-the-beaten-path destination. Because boomers are interested in bettering themselves, intellectually stimulating travel also holds appeal.

3. Boomers see themselves as forever young. This cult of youth also affects boomers' choice of travel suppliers and companions. They don't identify with people older than they are, after all, their credo was "Don't trust anybody over 30." Now well past 30 themselves, boomers still don't want to be like their parents. That means mixing the two generations in the same tour group probably won't work. Early bird specials and senior discounts hold no appeal for boomers because, according to Day, because they won't think of themselves as seniors until they are in their seventies.

She said some companies may have to reinvent their images because boomers don't want anything that smacks of being stuffy or stodgy. More youthful models should be selected because boomers relate better to younger images. The word maturity should be replaced with experience and education.

4. Boomers want to have fun. It's not surprising that adult teenagers put a premium on having a good time. Although fun, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, Day said companionship, stimulation and the cultural/social experience make travel fun for boomers. She added, "Part of the enjoyment of the experience is knowing it's unique -that's part of the rush."

Day said tour operators and destinations can increase the fun factor by encouraging boomers to bring friends with them. A group isn't a negative when it's a group of their own friends, she said.

Day also pointed out, "Fun that is too difficult to obtain isn't fun at all." This again underscores the importance of making the travel purchase quick, easy and convenient.

5. Boomers demand immediate gratification. Unlike their Depression-era parents, boomers grew up in times of plenty. Easy gratification bred a desire for still more and quicker rewards. As a result, boomers don't wait to take the trips they want. If they don't have the money, they just use plastic.

Boomers' instant-gratification lifestyle means they don't book travel as far in advance as their predecessors. But when they are ready to book, they want to do it NOW.

Finally, it's important to remember boomers invented the question, "Are we there yet?" They have little patience for long, uninterrupted stretches of road time. Tour operators should plan shorter hauls or more frequent stops or provide entertainment such as personal video screens or Internet access.

6. Boomers are not passive. They want a measure of control in designing their travel experience, and, once on the road, they want to choose their activities. "If you tell them they're going to do A, B and C, they might want to do E or F," noted editor Malott. The challenge for travel marketers is to make it clear their product offers plenty of options.

Boomers also want more interactivity in the travel experience. According to John Stachnik, president of Mayflower Tours, "They don't want to hear about panning for gold, they want to do it." Stachnik called it sightdoing vs. sightseeing.

Malott said boomers also crave the "local human touch." That means activities such as "meet the people" dinners or playing golf with locals will be highly attractive tour elements.

Check back for part two in the series on Baby Boomer travel.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Marketing 101 for Bears Training Camp

Presented by the Kankakee County CVB, Kankakee County Chamber and 
Economic Development Alliance of Kankakee County

Upwards of 100,000 people visit our community during for 17 days during the height of summer travel season. Join us for a cup of coffee and find out new and exciting ways your business can market to these visitors, draw them to your business, and cash in.

Attend a 1 hour seminar to discover cost effective and efficient ways to promote your business to Training Camp visitors.

* Restaurants
* Hotels
* Boutiques
* Attractions
* Antiques Dealers
* Retail businesses of all kinds!

All are welcome. You need not be a chamber member to attend.

Date: Friday, June 20
Time: 10:00 am - 11:00 am
Place: 4th Floor Library Conference Room of the Executive Centre (200 East Court St., Kankakee)
To reserve your seat, please RSVP to:

Monday, June 2, 2014

Measure the success of your event...

It's that time of the year again; event season. Rights holders need to track attendance numbers over time to accurately define economic impact generated from the event. Having an accurate attendance number gives you an advantage when negotiating fees and requesting sponsorships; you have the history of how many people attend the event.

Most importantly, estimated attendance numbers help keep the crowds at large gatherings safe. Event coordinators and officials are able to plan how to manage traffic in the area, how many medical response personnel will be needed in case of an emergency, as well as how much security to hire. Crowd size is also needed for media news reports and to historically record the event.

Whereas crowd counting is not an exact science, using ticket sales or counting turnstile entries is one of the easiest ways to keep track of how many people attend. Additionally, there are grid systems that measure the maximum number of people that can fit in a defined space. The “Jacob’s Method of Crowd Counting” is one of the most widely accepted methods of using the grid system. The basis of his system is a loose crowd, one where each person is an arm's length from the body of his or her nearest neighbors, needs 10 square feet per person. A more tightly packed crowd fills 4.5 square feet per person. A truly scary mob of mosh-pit density would get about 2.5 square feet per person.
Please read more about the methods of crowd counting here.