photo-1445991842772-097fea258e7bRemember the last time you traveled and the place where you stayed just made you fall in love with your destination? As a small business owner, you have an opportunity to make that happen for tourists to your town.

How?
Come up with an idea and meet with the hotel or resort manager, Bed and Breakfast owner, or other executive. If you aren’t sure where to start, look first to locally owned lodges and hotels. Not only are they more inclined to get excited about a local partnership, and the story behind it, but they also will have a smaller, more focused clientele, which will make it easier for you as you’re starting out.

Keep in mind that this is a marketing opportunity – not a selling point. Whatever you decide to offer, make it clear – to the manager, to the tourist – that this something you are GIVING. Wrap the story around your love for your town, for the history, for the connection the hotel or inn has with your community. This is about celebrating where you’re from – and helping tourists love it too!

Write up a proposal and present it. (It will be similar to a wholesale pitch letter – but of course, not a sales pitch.) Then make it happen.

What?
Love the idea, but not sure what to offer? Keep the consumer, in this case, the customer in mind. What do they want to do while they are in your town? If you have a retail location, a coupon to a free something at your place is always effective. One of the first questions that arises when you arrive somewhere is “what should we do?” Give them something to do, something to see, somewhere to go.

Also don’t forget the indulgence factor of staying a hotel, resort, lodge or bed and breakfast. What can you provide to make their stay more comfortable? A snack or drink? Toiletries or spa products? Entertainment? Something for the kids? When you’re traveling, even something small can bring warmth and sense of home to a stay.

When?
Now is the time. When tourists criss cross the country. But even as the seasons start to cool, these relationships can be great. Sometimes those little tokens are even more important when towns are quieter and everyone has stopped clamoring for tourist attention.

Inspiration:
Some of my favorite offerings have included a box of local snacks (in a beautiful box) and a coupon for free wine tasting. I still have the box from the first and the second got us out, when we might have just stayed in the adorable hotel property.

Get Creative
If you’re working with a particularly boutique hospitality brand, create something JUST for them. I’ve long thought that local candle companies or soap companies or scent brands should make aromas that reflect hospitality brands. You remember your stay somewhere based on that amazing place you ate, and relaxed, and indulged, and slept. Give them a signature scent (and then allow tourists to bring that scent home or ORDER it from home when they start to feel melancholy.)