It’s summer, which means the weather is warm and the kids are out of school. Travel season is in full swing.  If your restaurant is located in a destination frequented by travelers, this could mean a big boost in sales.  

According to the U.S. Travel Association, travelers spend more than $267.7 billion annually on eating out while traveling.  So, whether you are a specialty kiosk, fast-casual, or fine dining, there is additional money to be made by catering to tourists. Below are eight low cost ways to get travelers in your doors.

Create a Presence on Travel Sites

Set up accounts on popular websites such as Google, TripAdvisor, Zagat, and Yelp. These sites are a great source of information for travelers.  Be sure that your website is optimized for mobile devices as tourists are more likely to be on mobile devices. It is also important to monitor and respond promptly to reviews as many travelers may have limited information about your restaurant available when deciding where to dine. 

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Join the Local Visitor’s Bureau

 Joining the Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Bureaus will allow you to be the first to know about upcoming conferences, sporting events, concerts, and more.  Membership benefits help get your brand in front of both business and leisure travelers through their marketing practices.

Form Relationships with Local Hotel Concierges

 Go to nearby hotels, introduce yourself to the concierge, and invite them to visit your restaurant.  Be sure to let them know why their guests would be interested in your restaurant.  A good concierge wants to have many offerings for a variety of guests’ different preferences so adding another option for them is a win-win.

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Offer Coupons

 Once you have the trust of the concierge and they are comfortable in suggesting your venue to guests, offering vouchers to be handed out to guests will help fill your place.  Some airport information desks are also willing to hand out coupons to travelers, so be sure to check with yours.  It can be anything from a 20% coupon to simply a free appetizer or dessert.  If you offer delivery, be sure to leave menus with the both locations as well for guests who prefer to dine in their rooms after a long day of site seeing.

Play Up Your Local Appeal

 When advertising, think about what you have to offer that appeals to tourists.  Do you have great views? Maybe a long history with locals or an interesting story about your origins? Nostalgia appeals to tourists who are out creating memories. 

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Add Seasonal Flair to Your Menu

Locally sourced, regional cuisine is always a big hit for visitors because it adds to the overall cultural experience. If you are tempted to try a seasonal menu but still not convinced, try an abbreviated menu to test the waters.  The results of the trial can let you know if it works for your target demographic. 

Enhance Your Curb Appeal

 A clean, well maintained storefront can really increase the number of drop-ins during high traffic times. Displaying menus and specials on your windows or a sandwich board can sway potential customers away from competitors and into your place by giving them confidence of what to expect in advance.

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Prepare Your Employees

Make sure your employees are experts on local sites, cultural events, music festivals, sporting events, and more. Tourists are likely to ask staff about what to do in the area, so you be sure your staff is armed with the right information and recommendations to provide.  

There is no single secret ingredient for bringing in tourists.  The key however, is to try out several tactics to see what works for your venue.  Be sure to talk to your guests and find out which are working.  Remember to ask them where they heard about your restaurant so that you can begin to hone in on the right channels moving forward.

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