Thanks for reading my blog. I will try to keep things interesting! Feel free to send me feedback. – Clark Hoskin
Thinking of starting a business aimed at tourists? Here are three important qualities that your operation needs to have in place for any chance of tourism success.
Your offering needs to be viable, reliable and buyable.
Being viable is a basic element. Viability means you have a solid business plan behind what you are planning to do. Without a firm financial foundation, your business will not be viable.
You must have realistic expectations about revenue and a clear understanding of how to control your costs. You may need to operate your business in the red for a while, until you gain enough exposure and market share to sustain yourself over the long term.
Plus, what is your unique selling proposition? What’s your target market? Who’s your competition? Don’t know? You need to figure out these things immediately. Your local business resource centre or a website like SmallBizSurvival can help.
Reliability is the next core element of tourism success (or any business success, for that matter). Is your product or experience of satisfactory quality? Is it consistently satisfactory?
Is your product or service available when the customer wants it? Consistently?
Do your staff offer good service? All the time? This is what reliability means.
Customers may not expect a “wow experience” of you. But if one of your staff provides “wow” service and the rest are ho-hum, then you have a reliability problem. It’s about meeting the expectations of your customer.
Finally, the most important element of all: assuming your product or service is viable and reliable – is it buyable? When the customer wants to purchase your offering, is it available for sale?
The ability of a customer to buy your product on impulse is extremely important. It will be the difference between your sale and your competitor’s sale.
Having a menu of opportunities on your website, linked to an on-line purchasing system, is key to success.
For example, Fab Food Trails in Ireland posts their available walking tours right on their front page, so you can easily buy them.
If your service is promoted in cooperation with your local tourism authority as well as other agencies and websites like TripAdvisor, customers may buy it easily.
For example, Long Point Eco Adventures may close its doors in the winter, but you can still book and pay for experiences next spring on their website.
Remember that we live in an anywhere, any when economy, thanks to technology. Some customers may want to book your experience at 1 a.m. because they live three time zones away and they finally got the kids to bed.
Even if you don’t plan to sell online – is your business buyable? Is your store open when tourists are passing it? 70% of all consumer retail spending in bricks-and-mortar stores takes place after 6pm, according to tourism guru Roger Brooks. If you’re not open, you are turning away a lot of business.
Make sure your tourism product or experience is viable, reliable and buyable. If it is, you are making huge strides toward business success.
Small but mighty Yates County in upstate New York has many inspirational stories for rural advocates. In this case, art lovers and culture mavens can learn from Sunny Point – a property and a program coordinated by the local arts centre.
Sunny Point, located on Keuka Lake south of Penn Yan, is owned by the Arts Centre of Yates County. During our Finger Lakes study tour last spring, we met Kris Pearson, Executive Director, and Sandy Murrin, Board President, who explained that the property was bequeathed to ACYC by Dr. Annie Smith of Toronto, a former cottager on the lake.
The Host Residency program allows artists to host their own students for a week at a time. The Artist in Residence program is open to professional visual, literary and performance artists. The ten-day residency is an award made by ACYC twice per year. Residence and studio space are provided at no cost to the artist, but travel and meals are not included.
When we visited, the “red barn” was undergoing interior renovation to expand the space for workshops. The “white cottage” provides accommodation for up to eight people, is offered as an Artist Retreat on an as-available basis, and includes linens and full kitchen. There is a rental charge and a non-refundable deposit. The boathouse will be used as a seasonal ceramics studio. By summer 2016, Sunny Point had hosted many classes.
ACYC’s artist-in-residence program encourages artists to come to the area, which adds depth to the cultural tourism product on offer in this community. Sunny Point also provides an additional revenue stream for the Arts Centre, which hopefully will help the program sustain itself.
Originally published on economicdevelopment.org in November 2012
As the snow begins to fly, it is time to think about a gift for the economic development officer in your life.
A magic wand would make a great gift ($15 to $100, Merlin’s Realm) if it could guarantee to lure a major employer to town. Once a few spells are mastered with the VooDoo Doll Spellbook ($16, CreateSpace Independent Publishing), EDOs might better influence clients, stakeholders and elected officials.
For the more cynical economic developer, a bulletproof vest ($465, Hagor Industries) might be as effective at dealing with criticisms from local skeptics as a gift certificate for the Liquor Store ($50, LCBO).
Seriously, when hard-working economic development officials arrive home from work on Christmas Eve, they would be satisfied simply to curl up on the sofa and watch a movie with family. So, here are a few suggestions for gifts of DVDs for your favourite EDO: movies they may appreciate because the storylines appeal to the viewer who works tirelessly to energize their community and its economy.
- Cinema Paradiso (1988): A boy befriends the projectionist at the local movie theatre, which competes with the church for the soul of the village. The film explores the growth of the boy and the decline of the town. Imdb score 8.5/10.
- Jaws (1975): Tourism is threatened in a New England beach town when a Great White shark terrorizes swimmers. Politics and egos get in the way of dealing with the threat. Score: 8.2.
- Local Hero (1983): When the site selector for an American oil company arrives in a Scottish village with the intent to buy up land for a refinery, the locals try to thwart him at every turn. Score: 7.4.
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011): A young entrepreneur promotes an old hotel in India as a retirement community, attracting clients from Britain. The venture flounders as the expectations of the businessman and the retirees intertwine. Score: 7.3.
- The Full Monty (1997): Best known as a tale of middle-aged men who strip to raise money, the story is layered with the complexities of a community in transition. There are no easy answers or happy endings, just a celebration of human resilience. Score: 7.2.
- Working Girl (1988): Enthusiasm, perseverance and integrity are rewarded in this office-jungle movie. The storyline will be secretly delicious for EDOs, who so often must step to the back and allow others to take credit for their work. Score: 6.6.
- Gung Ho (1986): A Japanese automaker buys a plant in Ohio, setting up the ultimate clash of cultures. Apparently Asian car company executives have used this movie as as a training film on how NOT to manage American workers. Score: 5.9.
And then there is my favourite film for economic developers, which has become a Christmas tradition on TVs across North America.
- It’s a Wonderful Life (1946): George Bailey spends his life doing good deeds, supporting and enriching the lives of his family and neighbours. He battles greed and apathy manifested by the local real estate baron and business tycoon. As a youth, George yearns to leave the “crummy little town … and see the world” but time passes by as fast as his lofty dreams. Bad luck on Christmas Eve threatens to tarnish his modest family’s name, and he wishes he were never born. It’s funnier than I’ve made it sound. This film was adapted from a short story called The Greatest Gift. Score: 8.7.
If none of these gift ideas inspire, then try a basket of local food products, a coupon for a local restaurant or gift shop, or a donation to the local food bank. Your favourite EDO will be delighted.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from all of us in Norfolk County.
When our group of Canadians from Norfolk County explored the Finger Lakes on a business study tour last spring, little did we know we would happen upon a town that was bursting with ideas and enthusiasm to revitalize itself.
Geneva (population 3,300) is located on the northern end of Seneca Lake. Local government operates the Geneva Neighbourhood Resource Centre, a one-stop-shop for information to help residents become more active, involved and connected to their town and neighborhood.
We met Sage Gerling, Director of Neighbourhood Initiatives. She provided a guided tour of the downtown area and spoke about some of the unique projects that Geneva’s citizen-led neighbourhood associations have undertaken.
Some ideas are not new, such as street closures for events. But other ideas captivated us.
For example, the Race for Space Contest was set up to encourage entrepreneurs to start up a business and locate it in downtown core.
Musical porches provided residents the opportunity to showcase local amateur musicians on the front stoops of homes, encouraging neighbours to interact.
The creative use of neighbourhood associations has spurred the development of butterfly garden, garden walks, music concert in cemetery, neighbourhood cleanup events and porch light-up events to promote community safety.
Read the full story starting on page 25 of the Finger Lakes Study Tour 2016 Report.
Tompkins Cortland Community College or “TC3” has a Farm to Bistro program that gives students hands-on experience in every aspect of the food-production system.
In Ithaca (pop. 30,000), the College owns and operates TC3 Farm which supplies fresh produce to Coltivare Restaurant, a 17,000 square-foot culinary center including a full- service restaurant, amphitheater, wine cellar and event space.
Coltivare is located on the ground level of a parking garage in downtown Ithaca.
A group of Canadians learned about this innovative initiative in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, while gathering ideas and insights to consider using in their similar region of Southwest Ontario, Norfolk County.
TC3 Curriculum includes Culinary Arts, Sustainable Farming and Food Systems, Wine Marketing and Hotel and Restaurant Management. In the near future, the farm will be run using only renewable energy.
Read the full story on page 27 of the Finger Lakes Study Tour 2016 Report.
When looking for examples of towns that get the concept of delivering a quality experience, look no further than Corning, New York.
A group of Canadians on a business study tour last spring learned about the town’s sincere commitment to excellence, and their determination to collaborate.
Key observations in Corning was the philosophy that “Collaboration is everything – there is no them, there is only us”. That’s what Coleen Fabrizi, Executive Director of the Gaffer District, told the group, adding that tapping into local business resources is crucial.
Keeping the downtown vibrant means putting the resources behind it, including 11 staff, with merchandising designers among them. The majority of funding for the Gaffer District comes from private-sector corporate investment, primarily from the city’s largest employer.
The town hosts the world headquarters of Corning, Inc., which employs 5,100 workers in the region and 35,000 worldwide. Annual sales for Corning, Inc. are approximately $10 billion. The company no longer makes cookware and now specializes in advanced optics and glass applications for aerospace, defence, pharmaceutical and consumer applications.
The town is also home to the Corning Museum of Glass, which employs 130 staff and recently completed a $64-million expansion. There were 460,000 museum visitors in 2015 providing $4.1 million in admission revenue. More than 60,000 visitors participate annually in Make Your Own Glass Experiences at the museum, generating another $1.5 million in revenue.
The Gaffer District of Corning is the operating name of the “Corning Intown District Management Corporation, Inc.”, a downtown business improvement area in the City of Corning, New York (population 6,500).
“Developing more networks within the community is important,” observed one of the participants. “Upselling our community rather than downplaying what we have to offer, because things will change with time.”
The Canadians were touring the Finger Lakes region of New York State, gathering ideas and insights to consider using in their similar region of Southwest Ontario, Norfolk County.
Read the entire story starting on page 22 of the Finger Lakes Study Tour 2016 Report.