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10 ideas for rural tourism businesses preparing to reopen

FOLK2FOLK

Tourism plays a hugely important role in the rural economy. Many of our customers are farmers who have diversified into B&Bs, glamping, farm stays, holiday lets and farm shops. Others run country house hotels, leisure businesses, restaurants, and attractions.  As focus zeroes in on opening and getting back to business, here’s some food for thought (just seeds of ideas mind, not advice!):

1. Consider stretching out your opening hours, days and months

Stretching out your traditional opening periods and targeting different customer-types may be an option for your business. Whilst not a new idea, perhaps it’s not something you’ve had to consider before. If you’re a restaurant business for example, you might consider incentivising people to come mid-week to stretch out custom beyond your traditionally busier weekend days. If you run a leisure or visitor attraction you could potentially stetch out the opening hours within the day, perhaps look to attract different customer demographics at different times of the day. If you have a hospitality business, holiday let or B&B don’t write off the quieter months, instead consider incentivising visitors to stay out of peak season.

2. Weigh up the pros and cons of adjusting your prices

While it might be tempting to drop your prices to attract more business as you get back up and running, it may be worth taking a second pause before making any changes. Consider that not all businesses will be opening at the same time so you may not have the same level of competition initially and dropping your prices may not be the best decision in the long run. However, you could always think about flexing your pricing strategy to influence when customers visit by charging more for busier times and less when you’re usually quiet.

3. Have you made the most of being closed?

Forced closure has presented an opportunity to make those improvements: decorative, operational or structural you haven’t had the time to do.

4. Are you thinking about investing in your business to grow it?

You may be thinking about purchasing new technology as you adapt to new ways of operating, perhaps even diversifying, refreshing your brand or boosting your marketing for relaunch, or updating your premises. If you’re considering investing in the future and growth of your business a secured business loan may be an option for you.

5. Perhaps take a phased approach to re-opening

Not all businesses will be eligible, or able, to reopen anytime soon. Some may consider a phased re-opening – whether that’s less days/hours than normal, or only partially opening up their premises/attraction – as they adapt to the new ways their business needs to operate and interact with its customers/visitors.

6. Amp up your social media and digital marketing

Tourism businesses who took to their social media during lockdown will most likely have found it worked to their advantage. Social media channels present a free platform for businesses to amplify their message and increase their reach to a much larger audience. They also allow you to digitally engage with your customers, have a conversation and deepen the connection. It’s an opportunity for your business to express its personality which can deliver a competitive advantage.

7. Time to refresh your website?

People are more likely to look to digital sources for the latest up to date information regarding whether you’re open, what’s going on, what’s new, what do they have to do, where do they have to go, etc, so a website that’s regularly updated and clear in its communication will be essential.

8. Is a technology upgrade now on the cards?

With social distancing and new hygiene rules your business may benefit from having an online pre-booking facility and contactless payment on site.

9. Improve your customer communication

Visitor communication will be more important than ever as customers will want to know exactly what they can expect. This can be turned into a golden opportunity for tourism businesses. Clear, friendly communication before, during and after a stay/visit is a chance to nurture a relationship with your customer which will hopefully result in repeat bookings, positive reviews and word of mouth referrals.

10. You may need to evolve your visitor experience

Social distancing will make it likely large crowd situations will no longer be possible. If you run an attraction where large crowds gather you may need to evolve your customer experience with staggered times, different circulation routes around your attraction and different entry/exit points. Communication to engender customer confidence will be key to support your new customer experience.

If you’re looking for secured finance to invest in your business, talk to us, we’re here to help.

 

veryan-selfie-e1547226169775-150x150By Veryan Skinner, Head of Brand, Marketing & Communications.

This blog was originally published in our #FOLKUS newsletter. Subscribe to get future issues delivered into your inbox: www.folk2folk.com/folkus

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