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Making a buck in tourism: the opportunities that stood out to me travelling the country


On a recent trip around New Zealand as a Switched On ambassador for Mastercard, entrepreneur Robett Hollis noticed a range of common small business issues. Having interviewed a range of business owners about what’s working, what isn’t and what’s new, here, he shares some key insights on how to make the most of the tourist season.

I recently travelled around this beautiful nation of ours on a road trip interviewing a bunch of different businesses. I asked them what’s working, what isn’t and what’s new. A number of the businesses were tourism operators, and with summer, the holiday season and plenty of tourists about to flock to our shores, it got me thinking about what businesses can do to make the most of the busy season. I thought I’d pull together a few tips.

1. It’s a social world – businesses need to get social too

People look to social media for travel ideas and also validation that a destination, tourist attraction, or even local café is actually any good. If I’m ever in a new location and I need somewhere to eat I jump on Instagram, or online and see what’s trending. If your business has anything visual worth sharing, this material creates postcard FOMO for visitors. Get a clear and trackable #hashtag that you can ‘own’ and start sharing.

2. Have the right tech

I’ve spent time living in the States, so when I come home I’m always surprised to see how many EFTPOS terminals in New Zealand have a ‘NO PAYWAVE’ sign. It’s just so common in other countries I assumed we would be ahead of the curve. Turns out I was wrong. If you handle big lines of customers, want to save time, or have more time to engage with customers at the counter – then switch onto contactless payments. Fast, secure and covered for any fraudulent use, it’s a no brainer to level up your opportunities for customer experience and meet the expectations of international visitors.

3. Reviews are your best friend, not your worst enemy

Business owners should be aware that anyone travelling is almost ALWAYS searching and Googling what others are saying about them. So, make sure you have a digital footprint and have a presence online in the right places. This way potential customers can find you easily and see what others have to say. So, whether it’s Google Reviews, Trust Pilot, Yelp or any of the other various industry review sites – don’t be afraid of what people will say, trust in your ability to provide a good service and GET IN THERE!

4. Engage with your customers

One of the biggest takeaways I got from talking to businesses was the impact engaging with customers had on enticing them to buy something extra, or come back again the next day. So, strike up a conversation and show customers you’re listening. This includes the digital world too. Respond to comments on social media posts and even reviews. Let your customers know you’re listening, and the conversation is two-way. Communicating gives you the chance to create a genuine relationship with your customers, which leaves a lasting impression and leads to word of mouth marketing and loyalty. Isn’t it funny – after all these years the key to building deeper and more profitable customer relationships is still the good old art of conversation.

5. Collaboration

1+1=3, right? In business there are always like minded or similar businesses that could be joining forces to create a more compelling and enticing offering. What do you sell and what do other operators sell? What else would someone be interested in that would make sense for you both to promote? Who can you partner with to offer a group discount, or a two-for-one? New Zealand is a village, so the more we are connected in commerce the better the outcome for everyone. So, look up, look around and see who else might be a good fit to have a chat to.

Robett Hollis is a former Olympic athlete, serial entrepreneur, Mastercard Switch On ambassador, author, global speaker and one of the top three most influential New Zealanders on LinkedIn. 

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