When I checked into the Crystal Mountain Resort in Michigan, the desk staff person handed me a paper copy of the events and activities calendar for the week. That’s a tourism idea that has been around forever, and we can make something more of it.
First, let’s adapt it for a small town.
Don’t think only of your big festivals and events, like the car show or craft fair. List activities of all kinds, especially your “insider” events. Your visitors from big towns would love to sit in your small town gym and cheer at the high school basketball game, or bid on cool junk at your country auctions, or watch movies without fighting a crowd at your local theatre.
Don’t think you have enough events? Cooperate with neighboring towns to add their events to yours.
Fill in empty spaces with “anytime” activities. Think about the experiences that make your small town special, like enjoying the walking trail, touring the historic neighborhood, playing at the playground, or laying out and watching the stars in the park at night.
And don’t get caught up in the pretty design in the example. Do a simple plain text listing instead. It fits your small town image better and takes much less work. Put your effort into the descriptions, so people can imagine the experience just from your words.
Second, let’s take it online.
How can you get this calendar into the hands of visitors and potential visitors? Of course you will hand out paper copies all around town: at the motels, the cafes, the gas stations. But you’ll also use some modern tools to share it online:
- Post it on your local blog, and let the magic of RSS deliver it to interested readers every week.
- Set up email subscriptions to your blog through FeedBurner or FeedBlitz.
- Email your key influencers to invite them to subscribe: the regional and state tourism staff, regional reporters, your elected officials and legislators, local bloggers, and those same businesses you gave paper copies to.
- Post it on your Facebook page (set it up to pick up the RSS feed automatically).
- Set up a local Twitter account to share one-line event notices.
- Call Utterli, and record the list in audio, shareable online.
- Show local bloggers how to use the RSS feed in a widget on their blog that will stay constantly up to date with local events.
- List all these outposts (Facebook, Twitter, Utterli) on your main web page, so visitors can choose the method they prefer to get updates.
Third, let’s add your ideas.
What ideas can you add? Do you have examples? Where did I get it wrong? Let me know in the comments.
This article is part of Tourism Tuesday, a series of posts for tourism businesses and associations in small towns and rural areas. If you have questions you’d like us to address in this series, leave a comment or send us an email at email@example.com. This is a community project!