One of the most important issues for businesses in the rural tourism industry, in any area of the world, is to work together to market a region. And part of that cooperative effort is for businesses to ELIMINATE ALL NEGATIVE TALK ABOUT ALL OTHER TOURISM BUSINESSES IN THEIR REGION!
Businesses need to “circle the wagons” in these difficult economic times and follow our mothers’ advice, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Why? Because the impression of an area is built on a total image created by visitors’ direct experiences, and also the words they hear from you when they ask for recommendations.
If you and your frontline people have a favorite restaurant, shop, guide or lodging, share that info. If you don’t like a place don’t talk about it at all. Forget the idea that doing that is dishonest. Your visitor is asking for your opinion, which is a subjective evaluation based on your own impressions and experience. Dishonesty is saying the opposite of how your really feel. So, share your positive opinions and KEEP YOUR NEGATIVE OPINIONS TO YOURSELF, OR GO DIRECTLY TO THE BUSINESS WITH YOUR CONCERNS.
How will this help your area as a whole?
1. You will create a general positive impression of solidarity and willingness to share favorite places – locals bringing newcomers into the fold.
2. You will cause all businesses to improve their products and services while strengthening the industry as a whole. Great businesses will get more customers through your recommendations and not so great businesses will see by their own numbers that they need to improve.
3. Surveys of the tourism industry show that the only sector still making significant money these days is the cruise industry. By marketing each other, and helping your customers easily connect with the services they want and need – you will be acting like a “land cruise.”
“But they’re my competitors!!” you might be thinking. Nobody suggests that you send a customer to your competitor when you can serve them yourself, but you might need to rethink the whole idea of “competitor.”
In my rural northern California community, we have three businesses that put on weddings. It is an easy mistake to look at these three and assume that they are competitors who shouldn’t talk nicely about each other to customers. Instead these businesses quickly realized that by working together they could better serve people coming to our area for their wedding.
One business has a day spa that the other businesses send their customers to. All three send people to each other when they have a full schedule on a particular day. Two have views of majestic Mount Shasta and one a river view. One business can handle large crowds indoors or out. Another is well suited to small intimate indoor settings. One is best for outdoor weddings only. By sharing all this info, they are able to keep ALL wedding inquiries in our area. Their customers are well served and the businesses are both competing and collaborating effectively.