I’ve written about these challenges before, and will not doubt post about them in the future as we continue this shift to the Internet as a primary tourism planning and booking tool. I’m with you as you navigate these uncharted waters!
Rural tourism business owners view the Internet and social media as both a blessing and a curse.
It’s a blessing because it offers a more direct way for you to reach your customers.
It’s a curse because it offers a more direct way for you to reach your customers!
Before, you’d do mailings and advertisements and pr until the money ran out.
You hoped it would be enough, but your advertising budget would cap what you could do.
With social media, there seems to always be something more you should or could do to be reaching prospective customers.
It’s harder to budget time than money. So we always are faced with the doubt that we’ve done enough.
We’re also working in the midst of a paradigm shift, where the technology is changing faster than any small business owner can keep up with.
And lastly, there’s a generational problem.
If you’re over 50, you probably view the Internet as a gadget. Something that’s handy to have around to keep up on the kids and to check the weather and look up maps and do a little research.
If you’re between 35 and 50, you see it as a tool. You use it everyday to communicate and to do research, but you have a life outside of your technology. You define friends as people with whom you have a face-to-face relationship.
If you’re under 35, the Internet and technology is an extension of your being. Taking away your phone or laptop is a little like amputating a hand. You have a digital definition of friend, and you gather most of your information without ever touching paper.
So what’s the solution for rural tourism business?
1. Realize that it is the TECHNOLOGY that is giving you fits, not the underlying marketing basics.
2. It’s still about getting your message to your customer in the most direct way possible. The Internet is a fantastic TOOL for you to do that.
3. You know the importance of talking to your customer already. You do it so well that big business actually copies you, trying to achieve the same level of personal connection and interaction that makes you successful.
4. Social media marketing makes it easier to do what you do well – talk to your customer. It’s actually easier than your old advertising methods that put all kinds of barriers between you and your customers.
5. Invest in a little help to build your confidence using the Internet and social media. Don’t let your business go down over your resistance to this shift to online marketing. Learn to use it. Get help building a media marketing plan that you can implement and handle yourself
It’s like learning to drive a car. With a little practice, it will become automatic and even fun.
And by the way, this is one of the things we do at Rural Tourism Marketing Group. We work well via email, skype, phone and in person.
Photo by Dan Taylor. View his Flickr photostream