Two Valuable (But Often Overlooked) Marketing Partners

How Businesses Can Benefit From Working With Tourism Boards and Event Planners
by : 

Megy Karydes

April 13, 2015
Marketing Mondays - Work With Tourism Boards and Event Planners

Did you know every state has an active tourism board or convention bureau? Depending on how big or tourist-driven your city is, it might have one as well. The job of these organizations is to sell your city or state to various stakeholders, including businesses, trade show producers, and—you guessed it—tourists. Your job is to connect with them to let them know you’re tourist friendly.

Every year, your state and/or local tourism bureau puts out a visitor’s guide. These are the guides you see at rest stops throughout the area that out-of-towners pick up. What would it take to be listed in the guide as a business? Some bureaus treat it as advertising while others consider it editorial.

Another option is to be included in the stories written specifically for the guide. Some guides include great shopping areas or unique places to visit. Ask the editor what stories are being lined up for the next issue and whether your information could be shared with the writers as a source.

If you offer local, handmade, artisan items, make sure the people at your tourism bureau know, not only for the articles in the magazine but also for directing visitors where to go when they come into town. Tourism bureaus are always on the hunt for unique businesses that set your area apart from others.

Finally, many tourism bureaus invite reporters from all over the world to visit local businesses in the area. Sometimes they’ll accompany them to the businesses or give them a laundry list of places to visit while they’re in town. Knowing you’re media savvy will give you an edge, since they’ll be more likely to add you to the places the reporters must visit.

Be a trade show and event destination

Just as tourism bureaus work hard to attract visitors, trade show producers and event planners try to make it easy for their attendees to enjoy their down time in the city hosting their event. While most attendees try local restaurants and nightlife attractions, some make it a point to come early or stay afterward so they can enjoy the city they’re visiting. Others bring a significant other or their whole family so they can meet up with them after their conference or event ends.

Find out what conventions are scheduled for the coming year and reach out to the event planner (you can usually find their contact information on the event’s Contact Us page). Ask them how your business could be listed as a place for people to visit and offer to give attendees an incentive (such as percentage off their purchase if they mention they’re attending the event). Offer to be a resource for the convention if they need other ideas (including the hottest new restaurants or bars to visit). Most event planners don’t live or visit their site location often, so having an “insider” is a tremendous advantage to them.

Developing relationships with key people in your city and state whose job is to drive business to your area is a great way to introduce your business to people who may not otherwise notice it easily. Also, there may be long-term business potential, since many tourism bureaus and event planners buy gifts to send or give to visitors as leave-behinds or incentives. More often than not, they’re choosing to source from and support local businesses.

Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm and freelance writer who often covers retail for various magazines. She likes her calendars, whether digital or on paper, and has her editorial calendar pinned to her board in her office to remind her what day it is! Find her on Twitter at @megy.