May 22nd, 2019

Marketing Summer: Reaching Vacationers vs Locals

by Katelynn Watkins

If you’ve never lived in a vacation town, you may not know that there’s a delicate balance in place: what businesses and municipalities say and do for the visitors versus the locals.

The two audiences are distinct, and will care about their own unique sets of questions and concerns.

That all boils down to the fact that your business or brand is going to need to be able to cater to both sides of the same coin, no matter the time of year. In summer, it’s a matter of reminding the residents why your business applies to them when their town is being overrun by tourists, and the visitors will want to feel right at home for however long they happen to be staying.

Talking to tourists

When was the last time you took a vacation? Do you remember what appealed to you the most about the city you chose, the hotel you booked, or even one of the restaurants you visited? As you might have guessed, marketing and doing business with visitors to your hometown is actually pretty similar to how you’d operate with your neighbors. But, there are two main areas that tend to get overlooked when it comes to communicating with the tourists.

Say what you mean

The main thing to remember about drawing newcomers to your hometown is to be authentic while you’re banking on the area’s appeal. So while a certain level of enthusiasm is certainly acceptable – expected, even – in your content marketing pieces, you don’t want to make it so over-the-top that your distant audience feels like it’s too much like gimmicky market speak. Remember that the average consumer now recognizes language like this, and will more often than not shut down rather than react favorably to your marketing campaign.

The price is always right

Vacations and extended trips away from home might be times to loosen up on your wallet, but just about every tourist still has a budget of sorts in mind. So whether you’re advertising parasailing excursions, a sale at your downtown shop, or a new special at a local eatery, the cost of what you want them to buy will always be a factor in the long run. Be fair, both to your potential customers and to yourself, and avoid trying to talk around the numbers. When you offer a transparent front, tentative clients become legitimate ones.

Speaking the local language 

Depending on how long you’ve resided in a town that sees an influx of visitors at certain times of the year, you may not yet be immune to the excitement that stirs the air when tourist season arrives. But for some, it’s simply a period of increased traffic, crowds, and exaggerated marketing messaging from the area’s businesses and governments.

So how to move past these preconceived notions and get your neighbors enthused about what you have to say? When it comes to a more familiar, perhaps even jaded audience, there are a couple of ways you can help bring back the original excitement of living in such a popular locale.

Add an element of exclusivity

While tourism boards are busy promoting your town as open and welcoming to everyone, your disgruntled neighbors might be singing a different tune. So, add some incentive that locals are more likely to know about and take advantage of. This could be anything from a special code emailed only to past customers for a certain percentage off their next purchase, a hidden “Easter egg” planted in your Instagram story that one can redeem for a reward, or even a small event for your loyal clients only. Your local audiences just need to be reminded that, even during the height of vacation season, you and your business value their continued support.

Be consistent

Summertime and vacationing tend to make people a little more open to a change in schedule, some flexibility to our daily routines. But, if you’re living and working in a popular tourist stop, then you know that there’s only so much that can fluctuate in your day-to-day. For some, that includes a lot of the goods and services they invest in. So if you’re a business or brand trying to keep the locals on board while you also cater to your town’s seasonal visitors, don’t toss out the weekly deals just yet. Make sure your neighbors know you’re still thinking of them by providing the special customer service rewards that got them hooked in the first place.

No matter the season, an effective marketing strategy will always be a healthy balancing act. If you’d like an extra set of eyes (or an entire agency) focusing on yours, fine-tuning it and coming up with fresh ideas, contact Sage Island!

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