Small town tourism groups and chambers of commerce often need information about their local tourism trends, but don’t have reliable sources of data. Statistics from the state are usually divided by county or only cover larger communities. The few stats you can get your hands on are usually well out of date.
Turns out, you have a hidden resource for local, up-to-the-minute tourism trends. It’s your lodging owners.
Owners of hotels, motels, guest houses, B&Bs, lodges, camps and other housing for guests know a lot about their guests. But each of them only knows about their own guests. Their information will be more powerful when it’s a shared resource.
The secret tourism data source: lodging owners
Here’s the secret: get your lodging owners together informally. Just a casual get-together over lunch or at a time that works for them.
Bring up topics like these:
- Who is coming to visit?
- Why are they here?
- How long are they staying?
- What do they love about this town?
- What do they say they want but can’t find?
- What questions are they asking you?
- What don’t they love about us?
Imagine how valuable this conversation will be to each lodging owner, as they learn what others are seeing, as well as for the tourism group or chamber of commerce.
Imagine doing one or two of these get-togethers each year.
This idea was inspired on a visit to Forest County, Pennsylvania. Our host Julia McCray (who runs a B&B in Tionesta, PA) took us to lunch along with the owner of a local lodge. They talked about work crews staying in the area, tourists, and people staying while they searched for a home. As Deb Brown and I listened to them, we realized how valuable this information could be.
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Becky started Small Biz Survival in 2006 to share rural business and community building stories and ideas with other small town business people. She and her husband have a small cattle ranch and are lifelong entrepreneurs. Becky is an international speaker on small business and rural topics.