A Rural Tourism Marketing Strategy: Co-opetition

by Joanne Steele on March 18, 2010

My last post was about your customer’s Internet information overload and its impact on your rural tourism business and town.

One marketing strategy is to collaborate with other rural tourism businesses that also serve you customer, and create some packages.

I regularly work with two other excellent trainers. You’ve met Susan Brown if you’ve completed your “Back of the Envelope Break Even Analysis” in my e-book, Marketing For Free in 2010.

My other colleague, Diane Strachan, is one of the best small business marketing trainers in the industry.  This is the handout she provided for participants at our rural tourism marketing strategy workshop this past weekend:

Marketing Success

Through Co-opatition:  Collaboration, Partnering, Packaging

“What goes around comes around.”


Why collaborate, partner, and package your services and products with other rural tourism businesses?

  • To reach more customers
  • To take marketing advantage of current customer interests and trends
  • Cost-effectiveness – for more bang for your buck
  • Build Customer Retention – keep your customers coming back
  • To increase word-of-mouth and customer referrals
  • To improve and/or create a positive business image


  1. Identify your rural tourism company’s strengths and resources
  2. Identify your needs and desires
  3. Identify your customer’s needs and values (what is uniquely important to them)
  4. Identify potential partners and their strengths, resources, needs, and desires along with shared customer values


  • Share customer databases
  • Share expertise, skills, staffing, resources
  • Improve online ranking with linking & and shared package pages
  • Package services and/or products together to market collaboratively
  • Put on collaborative events: Businesses with businesses and non-profits
  • Provide package discounts (the package is less expensive for the customer than if they tried to book the experiences separately)


A good marketing strategy is to create packages including two or more:   Experiences/activities, dining/food, lodging, & more… Brand, market and sell online using collaborative web sites and shared email newsletters.

  • Shopping spa package (Shop till you Spa)
  • Adventure/photography/lodging (Adventure Memories Package)
  • Fishing/tea shop luncheon for wife/girlfriends/fine dining/spa (While you fish – She indulges…)
  • Guided x-country skiing/meals/lodging (Winter Natural History Adventure)
  • Guided hiking/personal development or yoga training/meals/lodging (Capture the Spirit Package)
  • Non-supported bike riding loop w/meals/maps/B&B lodging. (Multi-day Bike Tour Package)

It requires that you expand thinking about who your competition is. Your rural tourism marketing strategy should include everyone in your town or region who is also a tourism business.

I was talking to a small business owner the other day who put it like this.

“Sometimes rural tourism feels like a sinking ship. It’s scary right now. You can either let down the lifeboat and scrap about ‘not enough room for everyone’ or you can work together to plug up the hole in the ship!”

What is your Co-opetition strategy?

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