The most important single ingredient in the formula of success is knowing how to get along with people.—Theodore Roosevelt
When new accommodations and attractions signaled a growth of tourism assets, the Cayuga County Office of Tourism (aka Tour Cayuga) wanted to expand its outreach into an untapped market by reaching out to group tour operators. They came to BTI to develop a program to tap into the groups market and increase the travel and tourism dollars spent in the area — a program that required building from the ground up.
While we used many tactics to fill the sales funnel – including attending trade shows, hosting familiarization tours and scheduling sales calls – an eNewsletter customized for group tour operators and tour planners has been the primary lead-nurturing tactic. This outreach fostered initial engagement and the start of relationships with various tour operators.
Why use eNewsletters?
The great thing about an eNewsletter is that it allows you to reach an entire database of people with one communication. You can stay engaged, stay top of mind, and maintain the relationship you already built. When you use email marketing software like Constant Contact (our preferred tool) you can personalize the email and the best thing is, of course, it’s trackable. You can see who opens it and who clicks within it.
For Tour Cayuga, the newsletter provides special attention to the details that group planners and tour operators focus on – number of rooms, bus accessibility at sites, and the ability of attractions to accommodate and service groups in a way that meets timetables, yet still offers a great experience. Each newsletter focuses on different group-friendly attractions within the destination, shares special events, special group offers, and answers commonly asked questions.
Planning an eNewsletter
When we sat down to plan for Tour Cayuga, we began with developing an editorial calendar that identified group-friendly attractions and new and exciting offers in Cayuga County to feature each month. Consideration was given to the timing of the newsletter distribution and matching content with the tour operators’ planning cycle.
Our goal is always to keep the destination top of mind with current leads, develop new leads, and foster relationships with partners. Anyone in sales can tell you that having good relationships is the single most important element of achieving success!
In 2016, we covered 15 attractions and events in 11 newsletters. The newsletter reached a highly curated contact list of over 500 group tour operators per month, with an average open rate of 18.5 percent. And regular outreached helped us build that list throughout the year – generating leads for new business, fostering conversations at tradeshows, and continuing the conversation with current partners.
Not only does this tool give us a great reason to reach out to our prospects every month, it also allows us to continue to connect with the stakeholders within Cayuga County that we’re featuring. What’s the result? Nurturing relationships on all levels to allow them to grow and thrive in a very competitive environment.