International tourism has been a little wonky lately, don’t you think? No matter where you are in the world, the last couple of years have probably made you realize that there are a lot of external factors that impact the guests you serve, particularly from where they are visiting.
This has led many businesses in the attractions industry to take a hard look at how well they are serving their local community, who can easily be neglected when you have a worldwide audience to entertain. It’s a common joke that no one who lives in New York City visits the Statue of Liberty, yet if global tourism is hit hard (i.e. by a pandemic), it means that all tourism and leisure venues should be asking how they can get their neighbors in the door.
To avoid having your residents take your existence for granted, you can put several systems in place to encourage and incentivize your neighbors to get off the couch and onto your property.
Here are three factors to consider when considering the case for wooing your neighbors.
How repeatable are you?
Does the experience you offer naturally lend itself to repeatability? Repeatability can come in many forms, including gamification, competition, and the desire to share the experience with others. For instance, a mini-golf course can encourage guests to improve their scores, requiring them to come back for another. Guests on a go-kart track may want to race again or bring other friends on their next visit. Axe throwing attractions create the desire for one to hone one’s aim, requiring them to play again.
Additionally, by focusing on continual expansion and regularly investing in new attractions and experiences, you can entice guests today with what they’ll be able to do in the future. This keeps your local visitors engaged as you remain top of mind.
For more on repeatability, here are three ways to influence repeat visitation.
Promote memberships and loyalty programs
Once the desire to come back is solidified, add a little incentive to sweeten the deal. Promotions that are geared toward local residents should focus heavily on repeat visitation, given the greater ease that your locals have to get to you compared to tourists coming in from out of market.
Annual passes, season passes, and recurring memberships are excellent ways to foster repeat visitation once the desire has already been established. If you are not offering a pass or membership, you are missing out on one of the best ways to serve your local community. This takes guest engagement to another level because instead of feeling like a transient visitor, their pass or membership establishes a deeper connection because they feel as if they are truly part of your family (as long as you treat them that way).
When looking at maximizing the value of membership, take a moment to review the biggest key performance metrics of a successful program.
Increase lifetime value
When your guest experience lends itself to repeatability and your packages fuel that desire, you set yourself up for the greatest success of increasing the lifetime value (LTV) of your most loyal guests, who are likely to be your closest neighbors. While a transient visitor might spend more money per visit, your biggest advocates will spend more money over the life of their relationship with your business. There may be visits where they don’t spend a dollar, and there may be others where they bring their entire entourage with them and spend a boatload and everything in between.
As time goes on, their repeat visitation will result in the continual renewal of their membership or pass, visits that recur in perpetuity, and the introduction of new guests to your venue through their advocacy and word of mouth. All of these combined dramatically increase the value that these guests have to your organization, even if the short-term metrics indicate a lower per capita spending.
To learn more about driving up LTV, read how lifetime value fits in with your guest experience strategy.
By focusing heavily on serving your local market, you can create a successful balance between your neighbors and tourists. This diversified demographic is extremely beneficial for managing predictable seasonality, along with unexpected economic swings. It also strengthens the bond between your business and the community, which can’t be beat.