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The

25

Immutable Rules of Successful Tourism

Introduction Tourism is an economic development activity. The idea is to import more cash into the community than you export. Tourism is the fastest growing and one of the top three industries in 49 of 50 states. In Washington, alone, it is a $10.8 billion industry. Are you getting your fair share? Successful tourism revolves around importing more cash into your community than you export. Tourism travel The number one reason for travel is to visit friends and family. The number one activity is shopping and dining in a pedestrian setting. Overnight visitors spend three to four times more than day visitors. If you cant get passers-by to stop, youll have a tough time becoming the destination. Rule #1 Success Begins With A Good Architect The rule of planning Develop an Tourism Development & Marketing Plan - an action plan with detailed recommendations: The project, who should do it, when it should be done, how much it will cost to do, where the money would come from, and the rationale for making the recommedation. The plan should include: Product development, upgrades and improvements, repositioning and branding, attractions and events, wayfinding, signage and gateways, visitor amenities and services, critical mass, beautification, marketing and public relations, public/ private partnerships, recruitment, funding and budgets, organizational development (who does what). The plan should tie to comprehensive plans, park plans, economic development efforts, mainstreet and revitalization programs, etc. Rule #2 Relationships Require More Than One Person The rule of partnerships Visitors dont stay within boundaries. Always market the broader package. The more you have to offer, collectively, the further people will drive to visit you. Your branding effort should be developed to include the bigger picture. Rule #3 (part 1) Put your bait out on the highway The rule of billboards and exits If you use billboards do they give passers-by a reason to stop?

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Always tell me why I should stop, not just welcome or discover. Do your exits have the appeal to get a passer-by to stop? Concentrate on things that will convince passers-by to stop. Rule #3 (Part 2) Speed reading shouldnt be a highway sport The too-much-text rule Freeway and highway travelers have only four seconds to read a sign. Too much text means your signage will be ignored. Generally, use 12 words or less. Keep the graphics simple. Rule #4 Toilets attract more than flies The rule of necessity The number one reason for passers-by to stop is to use the facilities. Public restrooms do provide a return on investment if there are places to spend money nearby, and if they are clean. Make sure you provide signage to your restroom facilities and provide other information that will get visitors to spend time and money. While were here, why dont we Rule #5 First impressions really are lasting impressions The rule of perceived value Always put your entrance signs where you want to make the first, best impression. Curb appeal is an investment with a tremendous return. When you introduce yourself via signage, they will size you up immediately. The greater the perceived value, the more visitors will spend and the longer they will stay. Rule #6 Real Men Dont Ask For Directions The rule of wayfinding If its not convenient, or easy to find, chances are that visitors will not find what it is youre offering. Every community should have a Gateways and Wayfinding Plan that will help visitors know where attractions and amenities are located, and it lets them know what you have to offer. All tourism-related signage, including wayfinding or directionals signs, should be decorative and should be developed as a signage system with color coding and similar design elements. Rule #7 20/20 signage equals $$$ The rule of perpendicular signage Storefront signage should be perpendicular to the street. Storefront signs should be of uniform height and size.

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Perpendicular signs should be decorative to increase the perceived value. Rule #8 Parking is not just for lovers anymore The parking limits rule Two hour parking is not enough time particularly in pedestrianoriented downtown settings. Four hours (or no time limits) is just fine. Dont chase away customers before they are done spending money in your town. Rule #9 The Bellman Does More Than Just Open Doors The rule of front-line sales Front-line employees can be your most valuable sales team. All retail/service employees should use the customers name. They should promote other stores, attractions to keep visitors longer Attitude is critical. Hotel front desk employees are not order takers, they are sales staff. Rule #10 Kiosks never sleep The 365 and 24/7 rule Travelers dont just travel during business hours. Make sure your visitor information center or chamber of commerce is working 365 days a year, 24 hours a day. Put up visitor information kiosks and outdoor brochure holders. Make sure you have 24/7 signage. Rule #11 Critical mass is not just a religious experience The rule of convenience The top activity of visitors is shopping and dining in a pedestrian setting. Critical mass is critical to success: visitor-oriented retail should be in a compact setting. Average rule of thumb for rural communities: nine retail stores, four dining/treats facilities. Ever wonder why fast food restaurants and gas stations gather together at intersections? The critical mass (choice) translates to increased sales for all. Rule #12 If It Stinks, Use Deodorant The rule of turning negatives into positives Every community has its challenges. Use them to move people to action, or think creatively how those could be converted to positives. Just look to Battle Mountain, Nevada, The Armpit of America as an example where Old Spice sponsors the annual Armpit Festival.

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Rule #13 Insanity Has Its Own Rewards The rule of being unique In order to be successful, you must be worth the trip. What sets you apart from your competition? For instance, in Washington all 39 counties promote outdoor recreation. All of them promote bird watching. So why should I travel to you, when I can enjoy the same activity closer to home? Always set yourself apart. Do something different. Look at Leavenworth, Winthrop, or Ashland, Oregon; Branson, MO; Las Vegas, NV. Rule #14 Be worthy of a standing ovation The rule of being the best If you arent different, then you must be the best. Example: Okanogan County promotes cross country skiing and snowmobiling, but so do 18 other counties in Washington. Okanogan County has been touted as Perhaps the best cross country skiing on the continent by several publications. Quotes like pinch yourself, youre in Okanogan Country, make it worth the drive. Being the best makes you worth the drive. Look for third-party endorsements. Rule #15 Movie Credits Tell The Real Story The rule of supporting businesses Whatever it is that sets you apart makes you worth the drive: make sure you have the businesses to support the activity. If you are promoting mountain biking, make sure you have bike rental, repair, and supply shops. Rule #16 Ghost stories make the campfire memorable The rule of telling stories Museums and interpretive centers should ALWAYS tell stories, not just display artifacts. Visitors remember stories, and stories will hold them longer, translating to additional spending. Artifacts are simply a been-there, done-that experience. Rule #17 The Shortest Distance Between Two Points Is A Good Time The Four-Times Rule The 4-Times Rule: People will travel a distance if you have something that appeals to them, and will keep them busy four times longer than it took them to get there. A drive of 15 minutes = a minimum one hour activity. (4 x 15 minutes). What you have to offer will determine who your market is. If people from the major market areas must drive 2 hours to visit you, do you have activities (that will appeal to them) to keep them busy for 8 hours? If not, maybe youre not ready to market to that area.

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Rule #18 Happiness Is Positive Cash Flow The rule of marketing versus product development Make sure youre ready to bring in visitors BEFORE you start marketing heavily. Many communities spend nearly 100% of their tourism budgets on marketing when they have little to sell, thus they see a very poor return on the investment. Product development should ALWAYS be the top priority, and it never ends. Make sure you have a good mix of product development and marketing. As your product is developed, tip the scales towards marketing. Rule #19 Sell the Rapids, Not The River The rule of selling experiences Always sell the experience: the activity, not the place. Victorias Secret sells the look in its ads, not its stores, not the place to go for your lingerie needs. If you sell river rafting, use photos of river rafters screaming in delight, not just pictures of the river. Scenic visitas only last a few minutes. Then what? Rule #20 Make It Easy To Tell Your Cows From My Cows The rule of branding Branding is critical, even for communities. What are you known for? What sets you apart? Branding is much more than just a logo. Its your image, your value, the primary thing that sets you apart. Many communities need to establish a positioning or repositioning program. Dont be all things to all people. We have it all does not translate to sales Rule #21 Photos are worth a Thousand Nights The rule of wow photography Nothing sells tourism as well as photography. ALWAYS use photos that have wow appeal: Wow! I want to go there! Thinking about going to Hawaii? Why? Look at the photography they use. Photography should be the key element (not secondary) in brochures, in public relations efforts, and on the web. Rule #22 Dont Let Your Last Opportunity Become A Lost Opportunity The rule of closing the sale Chances are, your community spends much of its resources on

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advertising. The primary call to action in advertising is to get potential customers to call and get a brochure, or to get them to log on to your website. In that case, your website and printed materials MUST be good enough to close the sale. Otherwise your advertising effort is largely wasted. Coming in second wont bring visitors and their cash to you. Rule #23 Bragging is better when someone else does it for you The rule of public relations Publicity is MUCH more valuable than advertising but you do need both. Implement a professional PR campaign: it will build brand, improve your image; it has more credibility and will provide you with a greater return on your investment than advertising alone. Rule #24 Let Your Fingers Do The Walking The rule of websites The internet is, far and away, the number one resource for planning travel and vacations. How does your website stack up? Can they find you? Dont be afraid to spend $35,000 or more developing a website that can close the sale. Rule #25 Repetition Gets Results, Repetition Gets Results The rule of frequency Frequency is far more important than variety in placing advertising. TOMA is Top of Mind Awareness. Whats the first thing you think of when I mention the word fast food? Thats because McDonalds pounds it in. Most visitors will see your ads before they are ready to make a decision. When they are ready, will you be the first to pop into their minds? Tell them over and over

Destination Development, Inc. Evergreen Plaza Suite 101 711 Capitol Way South Olympia, WA 98501 (360) 754-7920 voice (360) 754-7622 Fax www.destinationdevelopment.com TheTeam@destinationdevelopment.com

The full-color book, The 25 Immutable Rules of Successful Tourism, includes dozens of photos, examples, case histories, and more information about each of these rules. It is available for $19.95 and can be ordered on-line at www.kendallhunt.com (in the top left corner is a search box. Type in 25 Immutable Rules and it will take you to the order page, or you can call toll-free, 1800-228-0810.