Expert View: Marketing your Business to Overseas Visitors

Cumbria Tourism’s Sales & Marketing Manager, Sue Clarke, believes tourism and hospitality businesses should continue to feel confident about targeting international markets – whatever the eventual outcome of Brexit.

She says, “If you aren’t currently working with international markets, our advice is always pick the ones that are relevant for YOUR business; this may be an EU country, or it might not be. For instance, a large proportion of visitors from Germany or the Netherlands tend to be more self-sufficient, independently-minded travellers who like walking and hikers. They are ideally suited to medium-range self-catering properties, B&Bs and small hotels. Don’t avoid targeting European markets if they are actually the best fit for you.

 “It’s easy to waste time going into a new international market without thinking it through, so the key is research!  Also, work in collaboration. Speak to Cumbria Tourism to get advice. Seek out groups and forums where you can share knowledge and expertise with like-minded businesses.

 “For instance, there are two China Forums in our county, made up of businesses specifically targeting this fast-growing market. We know Chinese visitors face specific barriers to travel overseas, not least the restrictions on what they can see online. By working with established forums, you can overcome these issues together.

 “From a day-to-day marketing perspective, we would always recommend you promote the destination first, and then your business. Inspire your audience, then reassure them about accessibility and ease of travel. Don’t forget to include maps on your marketing materials and clearly show our proximity to key locations such as London, Edinburgh and key airports.  If you are 5 minutes away from a train station, make sure you tell them. Always make it simple!

 “This is particularly important in the context of Brexit. There is a lot of chatter online with people making ill-informed comments, like ‘‘you won’t get a visa” to travel to the UK after Brexit. Make sure you use your channels to signpost the correct information to visitors and keep providing that reassurance.

Of course, we should also remember that domestic visitors are our core market. We’ve seen that people are holding off foreign holidays, so now is the perfect time to capitalise. If people are worried about the financial implications of European holidays post-Brexit, consider what you can do to make it easy and attractive to the domestic market.

 “For a self-catering property, that may be being more flexible with shorter breaks – say, offering 2 or 3 night breaks instead of a traditional week-long visit. Or it might be making the most of your databases to give people a reason to come at specific times. Take Cumbria Tourism’s #theplacetobe campaign, which is focussing on things to do in the traditionally quieter winter months. It’s all about the experiences and memories you can help them make.”

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