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february 20, 2020

3 Tips to Building a Tour with Impact

David brashears

If you want to attract visitors to your region and build a reputation as a destination that people will get behind, you need to think about initiating a curated tour for your target audience.  A curated tour can be a powerful way to promote special amenities, resources, or features of your area in a way that takes the guesswork out of planning a visit.  As a local, you are the authority on what most tourists would find most engaging.  Whether you are targeting an emerging niche market, or a well-established major tourism segment, tours can be a great way to put your destination on the map.

If you’re going to build an effective tour to boost local visitor traffic, there are a few things to keep in mind to help you succeed.  Here are three tips from our team that should help you create an exciting tour that will have visitors talking about your destination for years to come.

Tip 1: Know Your Resources

This may seem like a no-brainer, but a lot of tourism organizations may not have a full picture of the resources they can employ into a tour.  Of course, this starts with the natural resources in your area.  This can start with your local Parks and Recreation organization.  Find out what parks are in your area, and what special/unique features that may an attraction to your targets.  Historic sites are also a big draw for guests and tour groups. 

Also, get to know the businesses that may help you create an attractive tour itinerary.  Any restaurants, shopping, and entertainment venues that are unique to your area should be top priorities to start building relationships. 

Your biggest resource, and the one a lot of people forget to fully leverage, is the people that would be positively impacted by your tour.  Build a relationship with your local CVBs (Convention & Visitors Bureaus), hotel owners, restaurant owners, shopping centers, and entertainment venues.  The fact that you’re building a new tour that brings visitors to the region should mean that others will be more than happy to help you make it succeed.  They can offer special rates, discounts, limited time offers, and other incentives to help you sweeten the deal for your targets.  Another huge part of this is that, for every partner that you earn to support your tour, your promotion sphere of influence grows exponentially.  Each of those businesses and commerce organizations that sees value in what you’re doing, should be more than willing to help you advertising and promote your new tour.

Tip 2: Keep it Relevant

You probably already have an idea of what type of tour you want to develop.  Make sure that it is relevant.  When we say relevant, we mean to both the resources you’ve acquired above and to the target audience you want to attract.  If you find that your idea for a great American Revolutionary War tour in Oregon isn’t getting much traction, it may be time to adjust the plan!

Be true to the spirit, people, culture, and unique vibe of the region your tour is set in.  If you build something that is outside of this, visitors are not going to have a genuine and positive experience, and your tour is going to be short-lived.  When our agency developed the Southern Dozen tour, in partnership with our local CVB, we started by taking a hard look at what we love about our region.  The CVB goal was to attract revenue dollars to positively support the local hotel, dining, and entertainment economy, so we had a great deal of flexibility on how we would execute.  Our area sits at the feet of the majestic Appalachian Mountains, minutes from the historic Blue Ridge Parkway and some of the most scenic ribbons of road on the east coast.  So, a motorcycle and automotive tour was born!  All the tours we developed leave from downtown Johnson City, and return to the same location at the end of a unique experience.

Once we knew what we could accomplish, and our region could support, it became easy to develop the tour and promotional messaging.

Tip 3: Plan for Scaling

We all want to build a tour that becomes an instant success.  Are you prepared for the floodgates to open?  If in the first year your tour gets some notoriety, you need to be ready to scale up exponentially the following year.  Are there other destinations and attractions you can add to the tour?  Did new businesses open up that would be willing to support you?

Once you’ve got a proven ability to draw visitors to the area, it should be much easier to get businesses and government entities to buy in on your tour.  Having a plan on what you want to add and grow on the tour from the beginning will help you stay on track when you succeed.  Look at expanding the area that is included in the tour, and work with your resource team to forecast the growth potential.

When we launched the Southern Dozen tour, the response was huge.  Within the first few years, we grew the tour to become a major influence on local tourism.  We were able to attract major national motorcycle clubs for Harley Davidson, Honda, and BMW enthusiasts to create events around the Southern Dozen tour.  With all this success, we needed to be sure that our local hotel, dining, and entertainment venues were prepared to receive the hundreds of thousands of new visitors that would be coming in.  It’s a great opportunity to have, but logistics needed to be managed perfectly to give the visitors an experience they would want to repeat.

If you want to develop a new tour, we’d love to help you succeed.  Our team has decades of tourism and hospitality experience, and we love working with new concepts to create amazing regional growth around the country.  Contact us, and let’s build a tour that puts you on the map!