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Heritage Tourism • Markets & Hospitality

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Marketing & Hospitality

Image of Marshland viewing (PhotoMorgue)  Image of Detriot,Belle Isle's Conservancy  Image of Historic ornamentation on the Magestic, Detroit 

Marshland viewing (PhotoMorgue). Detriot,Belle Isle's Conservancy. Historic ornamentation on the Magestic, Detroit.




Different tools will be useful at different phases in the process
but all marketing promotions are designed to inform, persuade and remind.
Jonathon Day, Purdue University

The “field of dreams” strategy --build it and they will come-- leaves just too much to chance for most destinations. It is important for tourism organizers to learn about the markets they are targeting and how to bring people from within those markets to their attractions. This section will review important markets for heritage tourism and some key marketing approaches.


Marketing and Promotion

Marketing is defined by the American Marketing Association as “the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large”. In the broadest sense, marketing involves: product development, determining how clients will be able to buy a product, pricing the product and promotional activities. Destinations that are seeking to develop heritage tourism may be involved in many of these activities but rarely does any single organization have direct control over the whole process.

Promotional activities are communication exercises designed to move potential consumers through the buying process --creating interest in your destination, stimulating desire, driving sales and ultimately reinforcing the consumer's believe in their wisdom for choosing your destination. Many people think of promotional activities when they think of marketing. In the language of marketing:

  •  Promotion includes everything from direct sales, to advertising and publicity, to competitions and sales promotions

  •  Marketing promotions include online promotions, web marketing activities and mobile phone promotions.

You have a huge variety of marketing activities from which to choose.


The Consumer -- The Central Idea of Marketing.

Marketers understand their consumers and develop products, services and experiences that satisfy the consumers. Successful marketing is based on understanding who is visiting and what they want from the experience. This is the exact opposite approach that many take. Instead, we take a “sales focus” driven by our destinations’ attributes without considering the needs of the consumer. Enamored by our own products–museum collections, hotel facilities, natural environmental beauty --we “sell” our destinations by pushing often unwanted attributes on our “targets”. Another challenge for the “product driven” destination marketer is that their view of the available product stops at the “county” line. It is important to remember that a visitor is looking for a good experience (day trip, vacation etc.), and they have little or no idea where your jurisdiction ends. 


 What is a target market?   In the ideal world, you would promote to everyone. In the real world, not even the largest corporations have the resources to market their product to everyone. Identifying people that are most likely to visit, devising ways to communicate with them in a way that helps you achieve your destination goals, becomes a critical task for marketers. Mills and Morrison (2009) indicated that the best target markets share a number of characteristics:

             • They are accessible -- the numbers are worth your time and money. 

It is homogeneous -- the people within the group are similar enough that a single message will appeal to all or most of them. 

It is defensible and competitive -- you can differentiate yourself from potential competitors. 

It is durable -- this group will be around for a few years.

It is compatible --  the folks in this group are the kind that you want to visit the destination. 

Selecting a market that makes sense for your destination is a strategic decision. Success within a target market takes time and commitment. Approach this choice based on the best information available to you. 


Attracting Visitors – The First Step in Marketing 

Understanding your current market --who they are, why they visit, where they come from-- is one of the first steps in marketing. A deep understanding of your current visitors provides a strong foundation for heritage tourism planning. Your plan can build and expand into new markets from this core base. In assessing your understanding of the current visitors consider the following questions:

What are the characteristics of my current market? This is a big question, and answering it may provide insights into the demographics of your market, how they travel to your destination, their motivations in visiting and their response to and use of media promotions.

What is the appeal of my destination to this market? How satisfied are my visitors? Understanding what attracts your visitors and how satisfied they are with their experience of your destination provides important information that can be used to ensure that future plans meet consumer needs. With multiple sites, this means gathering comparable data to understand the big picture.

It is important to remember that heritage tourism marketing is not a “one-shot” activity. Many destinations, particularly those with a substantial local-drive market, rely on repeat visitors. Your marketing is the continuation of a conversation with consumers that have a relationship with your destination, come back frequently and tell their friends about you. Understanding just what they tell their friends is really useful information for the marketer.  


Marketing Overview “101”

Do you want a big-picture comprehensive marketing overview?  Marketing 101, an eleven page outline, overviews the major marketing issues and processes. Drawn from 18 different resources, this overview includes basic definitions, approaches to research, developing a marketing plan, marketing techniques and evaluation approaches for tourism development and marketing.



Image of Quilt Shop & Gallery (Ontonagon, MI)  Image of Exhibit engagement at the African American Museum of Iowa  Image of Participatory barn raisingat MSU's Grandparent's University courtesy Michigan Barn Preservation Network  Image of Visitors at the MSU Museum

Quilt Shop & Gallery (Ontonagon, MI). Exhibit engagement at the African American Museum of Iowa. Participatory barn raisingat MSU's Grandparent's University courtesy Michigan Barn Preservation Network. Visitors at the MSU Museum. 



Community hospitality -- being a welcoming community
to visitors and tourists -- is a key component of heritage tourism.
Connie Mefford, University of Missouri


Being A Welcoming Community

Being hospitable, valuing visitors and their importance, making them feel welcome, and providing visitors what they need to feel “at home” in your community is critical to being a welcoming community. How to go about developing a welcoming community approach and the elements of hospitality are summarized here. 

   Key components of hospitality are:

  • Hospitality and its importance

  • Supporting and servicing visitors

  • Planning and implementing hospitality in your community

  • Being a welcoming community


People & Strategies Make the Difference

Critical to improving hospitality is the presence of motivated employees and citizens who have a vested interest in the businesses and your community. Business staff as well as local residents must understand the importance of engaging visitors and keeping them happy and returning time and time again.  

Strategies for welcoming visitors into our communities and having them want to spend their time and money are many: 

•Provide ready access to information
     • Grab potential visitors' attention by keeping the tourism agency's website up-to-date and aesthetically appealing. 
     • Have an obvious place/s for visitors to get maps, travel guides and calendars of events--24/7
     • Help your library stock visitor information. Local libraries have been “discovered” by travelers.
     • Install clear way-finding signage around the area.  
    In communicating, remember:
     • People can remember only one or two directions at a time. Use a map or write down travel routes. 
     • Give directions using existing points of reference or significant landmarks.
Be a welcoming community
     • Make the entrance to your area welcoming and entice visitors to stop.
     • Provide kid friendly activities and/or child care so that parents can attend local events.
     • Have guest registers at popular sites and use these contacts for future personalized special promotions.
Training everybody – employees and residents
     • Train staff and citizens where to find the community calendar website and encourage them to use it to publicize upcoming events.
     • Provide continuous customer service training for all employees and volunteers.
Business marketing
     • Have tear-off maps that local businesses can give to customers to help direct them to local points of interest.
     • “Sell the quilt.”  Promote ALL you have to offer with promotional packages in your region.
     • Keep stocked strategically placed brochure stands  throughout your community.
     • Establish a business environment where great service is the goal. Recognize and reward great service and challenge and rectify poor service.
     • Businesses need clear signage (perpendicular store signs are easier to read).
     • Businesses need to be well-lit, open, clean and welcoming.
     • Ask businesses  to maintain similar open hours to build destination.
     • Encourage area businesses to offer special discounts / incentives during high traffic events (ball tournaments, local fairs, festivals, etc.)
Look through visitors’ eyes – understand their perspective
     • Help local citizens to be informed: learn about, and be proud of your area’s history, events and attractions.
     • Encourage business owners/citizens to complete a community resource inventory to increase awareness of resources and locations.
     • Be aware of cultural differences, especially if you have a large number of foreign visitors. (FB added)
And, always 
     • Honor your community tourism volunteers and residents for their welcoming attitudes and actions.
     • Invite customers to return!

Activities and Information

Here are some handouts that will assist you in building a “welcoming community” and being hospitable to visitors. These are self-explanatory and do not need instructions. Please review what is here in light of how you might utilize them in your communities and/or with groups for building awareness and for training.Thanks to the University of Missouri Extension Community Development Program.

Walk-in Communications

10 Ways to Miscommunicate

Customer Pet Peeves and Customer Service Facts

Tips to Customer Satisfaction and Phone Service Tips

Customer Service Excellence-- It's In the Details!

How to Become More Customer Oriented  • The Three R's of Customer Service

How We Unintentionally Offend Customers -- a starting point for conversation

Reasons for Poor Service  •  Differences iin Perception  •  The Process of Customer Service