Tourism Business Roadmap out of Lockdown
As Australia gets closer to saying farewell to recurring lockdowns, border restrictions and reduced clientele, small business owners like yourself need to consider what steps you need to take to hit the ground running post lockdown.
The following roadmap outlines 3 key steps small tourism business owners need to take in order to re-evaluate business operations, re-position themselves accurately across digital assets and re-open to the whole of Australia (and hopefully soon the rest of the world!).
We believe that in the next month it will become crucial to have an alternative plan in place. So, if you are planning to grow or just to remain profitable during 2021 and beyond, then this tourism business roadmap out of lockdown is for YOU.
You can download a free copy of the Tourism Business Roadmap at the bottom of this page. The download also includes a directory of all the different state and territory guidelines, mandatory requirements including safety plans and contact tracing using QR codes.
The 3-Step Roadmap has been built out of the experience and knowledge of having gone through Australia’s most recent 18 months of unprecedented change, unrest and lockdown. It is directly intended to help tourism operators and owners hit the ground running and roll out business operations successfully over the coming weeks.
We recommend allocating one week for each phase to give yourself enough time to complete all the actions.
Step 1: Re-evaluating your Tourism Business
This is an important step for all tourism businesses who have either (1) suffered prolonged lockdowns and strict state border restrictions; or (2) been adversely affected by the lack of interstate travel.
Your tourism business will need to reassess who your main target audience is and how you are going to re-position once restrictions have eased.
Step one from our business roadmap out of lockdown is all about strategic planning and re-evaluating your identity as a business, who your customers are and what your opportunities are in a post-lockdown market as this will significantly impact your messaging, website and social media content.
What is the one thing that sets your business apart from your competitors? Is it that you allow pets, have a private waterfall on your property or provide a unique experience?
This is what a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is. It is a combination of what your business does well and what your ideal customer is looking for.
Click on the title above to begin writing a USP that is well-written and can help you accurately communicate why visitors should choose you over your competitors.
Do you know what your ideal target market does outside of work as a hobby or what they like and dislike about businesses in your industry?
I’m sure you haven’t really ever thought about it as it doesn’t seem important. However, in order to increase your conversion rate, you must have a crystal clear understanding of who your ideal customer is, what their wants, needs, pain points and preferred marketing channels are. This will in turn inform the way you communicate with them in your marketing.
Creating a customer persona is imperative particularly since in uncertain markets like during COVID lockdowns, your target markets can change rapidly.
As a destination marketer, you’re constantly looking for ways to increase the value of your unique offering. So, our underlining message is always ‘if you want to go fast go alone, but if you want to go far go together’ and that’s what we teach in our #WePhilosophy.
In the destination marketing blog post above (linked in the title) Despina outlines the benefits of collaborating together but in this article, Liz outlines 10 different ways to collaborate such as working with tourism organisations (who and why), developing local industry relationships and social media collaborations.
When you step up and lead from the front, others will take notice and follow. Be the brave one and pave the way for other operators to follow and grow your region!
Step 2: Re-positioning your Tourism Business
Step one in the business roadmap out of lockdown was all about defining what your business does well, who your target audience is, what opportunities you can leverage off and how you can grow your local destination through collaboration.
Step two aims to ensure your website and social media platforms accurately reflect your new positioning, business values, and destination marketing so that they serve your guests better and help you to build trust and attract more visitors.
The six articles listed below each tackle one aspect of your online presence. So, if you are looking to channel more effort into a specific area of your business, such as your website or your social media channels, head to our blog page and use the filters on the left side of the page to sort the articles by topic.
Your Google My Business listing is a powerful free digital asset for your tourism business and should be given an adequate amount of attention.
More specifically, understanding how Google ranks your business in local search results, and what you can do to influence where you appear in amongst your competition is extremely important.
In the article linked above, you’ll learn how to improve the relevance, distance and prominence of your Google My Business listing so you appear in the top-3 local search results.
Trying to persuade your satisfied customers to leave a review is often one of the most challenging aspects of developing your online reputation. Dissatisfied customers, on the other hand, are more willing to communicate their sentiments through a review than pleased ones, so be sure to drown out bad reviews with good ones.
One way to do this is to send your visitors a thank-you email after they have visited your business with an empathetic appeal for a review with a link to your prefered platform (e.g. TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook) making the process as simple as possible.
Once you’ve accumulated a few more reviews you’ll want to make sure you’re responding accordingly.
It is important to remember that your responses are also being seen by past, potential and future visitors.
Therefore, having unique and meaningful answers to each review shows that you care about your visitor’s experience and respect their input.
Having a clear call to action at the end of your marketing communication (e.g. website, social media and email marketing content) will significantly increase conversions and engagement.
Your audience is rarely going to take action unless you prompt them to do so. Create a list of effective calls to action using our examples here.
You only get one chance at a great first impression.
Use the link above to take advantage of your prime real estate on Facebook to communicate the most important aspects of your business.
Don’t forget to write a caption for your cover image that serves as an introduction with your USP and a call to action woven in.
Can you see how this is all coming together?
This quick and easy activity will take 3 minutes but significantly increase your businesses searchability on Instagram (to new users) and allow you to better communicate who you are, what you do and where you are.
Learn the difference between your username and business name (as outlined in the photos) to become a best practice and optimised Instagram page like these examples below.
Step 3: Re-opening Your Tourism Business
Step one and step two will prepare you for step three – re-opening your business.
Please note, it is imperative that you follow the above roadmap carefully and complete steps one and two to hit the ground running when borders open.
Here are some key priorities for re-opening after several state-wide lockdowns.
Re-engage your Employees
- Identify which staff members you will bring back on board.
- Confirm your staff are in good health to work and understand new workplace expectations.
- Notify in an email or in a staff meeting any new health and safety procedures.
- Post signage in staff rooms. Written and verbal reminders will ensure your staff prioritise health and safety.
Re-engage your Customers
How are you going to communicate you are open for business again?
- Email marketing
- Social media
- Google My Business updates
- Website updates
- Gift vouchers – especially in the lead up to Christmas
Please do not prioritise any of these over the other as all your digital marketing assets work together…think of them as puzzle pieces all coming together to work cohesively to engage, attract and retain customers.
Be Proactive Instead of Reactive
- Future-proof your business by planning for a possible second wave of lockdowns – what systems, communication and processes would you need to have in place? Create them NOW!
- Create quick lockdown procedures and instructions to follow when and if you have to shut down the office, again. Try and make these decisions and processes as seamless as possible.
- Keep a close eye on your competitors and other like-minded industry operators (not to copy them) but to observe trends, learn from best practice businesses and stay up-to-date with changing consumer preferences.
- Keep a lookout for any suitable government grants – providing you with an opportunity to receive financial assistance, travel discounts for your customers and new learning opportunities to upskill your business.
- Consider going cashless
- Continue to manage cash flow, investments and plan for future unforeseen events
- Consult with your key business advisors, including bookkeepers and accountants
It is very important that you manage expectations regarding vaccination rules with your employees and guests. You can do this by being open, transparent and learning how to have sensitive conversations with both pro and anti-vax individuals as this will help reduce negative reviews and unsatisfied customers, manage bookings and set expectations about what your customers can expect from you.
Take a look at this best practice post from Cherry Bar in Melbourne.
Template for communicating your vaccination policy with your customers
Copy and paste the below template and edit it to suit your business and share it with your customers in as many ways as possible to ensure that you cover all bases. You may even like to print out a version of this letter to post up at the entrance to your building.
Below we have listed the places online where you can share this message:
- Social media posts (remember to pin your Facebook post to the top of your page)
- Website FAQ page
- Blog post
- Google My Business update
- Email newsletter
- Booking confirmation
- + any of methods of communication you use
To our customers,
At [Business Name] we are a small tourism business with a team of [number of employees]. Like many tourism businesses, we’ve had a hard time during the pandemic coping with repeated lockdowns, reduced capacity for [customers in-store/bookings], and the stress of keeping everyone safe.
We pride ourselves on being a workplace that prioritises the health and safety of our customers, our staff and their families above all else. We have taken a number of steps to ensure that we are fulfilling our responsibilities to keep everyone safe, including:
- Limiting the number of people we can have in any space at one time
- Transitioning to remote work where possible
- Stringent sanitisation and cleaning procedures
- Requiring all staff and customers to wear a face-mask
- Facilitating contact tracing by requiring all customers, staff and visitors to check in to our premises
Now, we have another responsibility to add to this list. From [date] we will be reopening our doors and requiring all staff and customers entering our premises to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19. One of our team members will be checking that all customers have checked in using the [state] check-in app and asking to view their vaccination certificate.
If you do not show us your vaccination certificate we will not be able to let you into our [business/accommodation/tour experience/restaurant/].
As a [business-type], we desperately wish to return to doing what we love, [business activity]! We are also eager to start operating again at the highest capacity we can so that we can begin to make back some of the income that we have lost due to the pandemic.
We know as well as anyone that the road to recovery is a very bumpy one. The stress and anxiety of lockdowns and lost income have made people more emotional than usual. We kindly ask that you show our staff the respect they deserve as they do their jobs.
Please understand that these are the rules imposed upon us by our government and if we are to open our doors we must abide by them.
I sincerely hope we have your understanding and support. Stay safe and see you soon!
[Name], owner of [Business name].
Stay positive and reach out when you need help
We are always here to lend a supportive hand alongside the various other resources that can help you physically, mentally and financially.
- Business.gov.au – Mental health and wellbeing support for business
- Mentally Healthy Workplaces during COVID-19
So, do not waste a second more putting off these 3 very important steps in our Tourism Business Roadmap out of Lockdown to hit the ground running post-Australia’s state-wide lockdowns.
As you continue on your journey we encourage you to keep us up-to-date with your progress and questions in our Small Tourism Business Facebook Group as well as on our Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn profiles.
Download the Tourism Business Roadmap Out of Lockdown & Additional Resources you Need to Re-open
The downloadable business roadmap out of lockdown PDF includes a summary of the three phases outlined above with links to each of the resources.
Alongside a directory of all the different state and territory guidelines, mandatory safety requirements, contact tracing QR code registration.