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.