The visitor economy

Dear Doctor Digital, what is the visitor economy? I hear this term, and I want to make sure if there is a new economy going, my business is part of it!

Doctor Digital Says

Language is an agile thing, all too often there are new terms replacing familiar ones, and before we know it they are enshrined in language and we aren’t quite clear on what it all means and where we fit. Luckily the Doctor is in, and able to make it simple for you to get more custom through your doors, just by being you.

The visitor economy in Tasmania is the broader way tourism is described in the state. Rather than simply counting the numbers based on the narrow definition of tourism and tourists, the visitor economy describes the holistic pathways for visitors to arrive here and their dispersal across the state. This includes visiting businesses, friends and relatives, students and those attending sport and leisure events, many of whom may not identify as a tourist, but bring income to local businesses – and maybe yours!

Aside from the fluidity of language, this shift in identification has coincided with a distinct change in how visitors engage with business. The days of travel agents, hotels and motels and brochures have wildly diversified with the Internet and the sharing economy. How does this impact your business? Well in quite a few ways, as you may be deeply engaging with the visitor economy and not even realise it. Even better you can take active steps to increase your visibility to potential customers.

As consumers have moved from having limited and often tightly controlled sources of information before they travel, now, with the Interwebs full of citizen journalists and bloggers sharing their world of experiences, the shift has moved to visits being about experiences. Preferably socially sharable, visual and bragable ones. Visitors are more often looking for a unique taste and view of a place, and want locals and those who have come before to show them all the hidden gems.

The digital economy has worked in lockstep with the visitor economy in allowing third parties to share their stories though social channels like Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat and review sites like Google and Trip Advisor. Add AirBnb into the mix with their rich ranking and local guides, and you have a fertile ground to create unique offerings. So what can you do to get deep into the visitor economy and make sure that you are unearthed as one of the must visit hidden or visible gems?

Firstly, as is our mantra on Digital Ready, use the appropriate suite of digital tools and channels for your business, with a clear content strategy for your existing customers and the ones you want to attract. Communicate about your business consistently in a conversational way without ‘sell sell selling’, make what you do a compelling story. For businesses that are bricks and mortar traders or location based, make sure you are signed up for Google My Business so visitors can easily find you using their mobile devices.

Think about your regional ecosystem. Whether that is rural or urban, what other businesses are around you that are complimentary and can band together to increase the dispersal to the region? Collaborate on your social channels and celebrate your neighbourhood businesses and people. By working as a group, with strong marketing collateral outlining what visitors can find when they come to your area or precinct, you will ensure that their trip is worth the visit with maximum entertainment opportunities.

Once visitors hit the ground, make it easy for them to review you and celebrate your awesomeness. Use marketing tools such as stickers, visual and verbal reminders in your store for customers to review you on Google, Facebook and TripAdvisor. Make your social media handles easy to remember and ask customers to like and follow you to stay in touch after they leave.

While the digital tools are mega handy, nothing is as experiential as having exceptional service and meaningful chats with you and your staff. This more than anything else is what people are likely to comment on, and will cement your hot spot in the visitor economy.

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