In the first eight months of this year, Canada welcomed 12.6 million international travelers, making it the strongest season in seven years, according to Destination Canada. In addition, many Canadians are choosing staycations as a way to stretch their budget in a soft economy.
All of this is good news if your business serves visitors who will be coming to Western Canada this winter to ski, snowboard and otherwise enjoy the scenery. Even if winter is your off-season, there are plenty of things you can do to stay relevant and connected to potential customers.
Here are some ideas on how to prepare for the winter tourist season:
Planning, Planning, Planning
A few months before your busy season hits, plan out your advertising and social media schedule. You might think about creating a special event (see more below) or special deals that will entice visitors to stop by.
Do you need to hire seasonal help? Many businesses have to take on additional staff during their busy season. Be sure to give yourself enough time to find and train new staff.
Stay in Touch
Email and social media are good ways to stay connected with your customers throughout the year, and not just when your busy season rolls around. If you don’t already ask for a mobile number as part of your sales process, you might consider starting, as text message marketing is also becoming a much more acceptable way of reaching potential customers.
Do you have special events coming up? Have you made changes to your business? What’s new in the area? Newsy items and good value go a long way towards helping visitors remember you all year around. Make use of online, social media resources like GetAssist that provide newsfeeds in which community bulletin boards encourage discussions and sharing schedules or events to stay up to date and connected.
In addition, promoting your small business to tourists who might be passing by using mobile apps isn’t that difficult. Groupon, LivingSocial, FourSquare, and ThinkNear among others let you post information about your latest offers and limited time deals to consumers within a certain distance of your business. You can schedule deals so they get delivered during key hours. Keep your Google, Yelp and other online listings up to date
This winter, tourism to Canada is expected to boom. According to the Calgary Herald, this year’s El Niño weather phenomenon will bring huge amounts of snow to regions like Alberta, meaning an enormous prospective boon for winter-sports tourism.
If your business is located in an area that’s known for winter sports, like Calgary, you can take advantage of the surge in visitors even if your business is not particularly winter-oriented. There may be festivals, special events or holiday themed activities you can get involved in. It’s a great way to make connections and to really learn what’s going on in your community.
No festivals or special events? No problem. You can always cook up an event yourself with GetAssist. Organize a project, group, or event, or if you prefer not to host the event alone, team up with colleagues or complementary businesses to throw a ski party, a holiday themed event or sponsor a dog sled team.