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Five tips for preparing your small business for tourism season

May 28, 2019

The summer tourism season offers an exciting opportunity for small business owners. According to the most recent data from the Idaho Department of Commerce, businesses in the Gem State collected $3.7 billion through tourism in 2017. As Idaho’s national profile continues to grow, new visitors will only increase the dollars that flow to Idaho companies.

An influx of tourists can help your business attract new customers if it’s well-positioned. Consider these five tips to help you succeed:

1. Create a strong online presence

In today’s digital world, your website’s appearance and functionality is just as important as your physical storefront and is often the first impression a potential customer has about your business.

To encourage visits from tourists, the following strategies are helpful:

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly. In 2018, more than half of all website traffic was generated through mobile phones.Place your company’s address and phone number on each website page.Create easy-to-read website content with strong calls to action.Remember, tourists often search online before committing to a trip. If you attract their interest online first, there’s a greater chance they’ll pay you a visit.

2. Get help financing your seasonal working capital needs

If your business relies on seasonal tourists, fluctuating cash flows can be a challenge. If you need assistance meeting cyclical or short-term working capital needs, consider a short-term loan or line of credit. For example, the U.S. Small Business Administration’s CAPLines Program provides small business owners with fixed or revolving lines of credit up to $5 million. Because Zions Bank is Idaho’s top SBA lender, it’s well positioned to help businesses in the community.

There are also multiple cash management products available to businesses to help make them more efficient and enhance their revenues. Consider exploring products like remote deposit capture, electronic billing, online payment management and more.

3. Find unique selling angles for all tourism seasons

Even if your product lines don’t change often, you can make them more appealing through selling angles that work in different seasons. For example, many restaurants use selling angles that change based on the seasons. They use springtime to remind customers about healthy eating goals, summer to focus on grilling and iced beverages, then end the year by emphasizing savory fall flavors and holiday dishes.

4. Get involved in local festivals and events

Local festivals and events are a prime opportunity to introduce new customers to your products and services. Be strategic with identifying events that are a good fit for your business and have a proven record of success. Community fliers, local newspapers, business groups and homeowner association websites are a valuable starting point to find upcoming events.

5. Partner with local business groups

As you look for ways to promote your company, remember to tap into business organizations that can help you. There are many organizations that want you to succeed, such as your local chamber of commerce, local tourism associations or membership organizations that promote businesses in your industry.

Many of these groups allow small businesses to get involved in their efforts to attract seasonal tourists, so don’t overlook them when planning your strategy.

Idaho businesses can profit from our state’s growing reputation

As one of the fastest-growing states in the country, Idaho is no longer a well-kept secret. This creates exciting new opportunities to benefit from new visitors flocking to the Gem State. Through implementing proven strategies, your business can leverage the significant economic boom created from Idaho tourism.

Bryant Searle is senior vice president and retail lending manager for Zions Bank in Eastern Idaho. To contact Searle, call 208-552-1341 or email Bryant.Searle@zionsbank.com.

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