Retail is a game of numbers – and the numbers tell us that visitors to the U.S. generated $245 billion in travel spending in 2016 and that travel and tourism generated 118,454,000 jobs directly in 2017. This is forecasted to grow by 2.4% in 2018, creating 121,356,000 jobs that equal 3.8% of total employment. So just what exactly does this this tell us? This is good news for retailers. The question remains, however, why?

Tourists and spending go hand-in-hand, but the catch is that not all tourists are visiting your store for the same reason. Due to this, you need to understand how to capture the attention — and the money — of each different tourist customer that may visit your store. To help, consider the below.


The Vacation Customer

This group of tourists are on vacations and are looking to create and capture memories from your destination. The key to sealing the deal when it comes to these unique consumers is to offer them things that they can’t get anywhere else – such as name drop items highlighting your unique tourist destination that may include sweatshirts, keychains, plush toys and more. Whether you are a zoo, aquarium, national park or resort hotel, delivering an interactive shopping experience that rivals that of the destination itself is a great way to help keep the attention of these customers, also. After all, vacation customers love to be entertained and creating a retail environment that does this will help to keep their attention. From T-shirts to mugs to decorative accessories and more, retailers should leverage their inventory through merchandising to deliver memorable, enjoyable experiences that help lead customers to make a purchase.

Remember, it’s important to offer a variety of name-dropped merchandise for the same reason — it’s exclusive to your destination and helps them create a memory that they can take home with them. Keep in mind that these customers visiting your store are doing so as part of a trip that they’ve probably had planned and budgeted for months or even years. Buyers will feel a stronger connection to customized products with names incorporated into these items because it’s a part of their unique experience.


The Business Traveler

Business travelers are a unique group of consumers that vary in a variety of ways. Some enjoy their work travels while others simply want to get on with their day and get home as fast as they can. Their shopping goals vary, as well, and often these travelers are not looking to capture a memory as much as they are looking to purchase necessities. Business travelers aren’t specifically shopping to enjoy luxury and entertainment – although some business travelers do overlap with these activities –  however most can appreciate a store environment that caters to their needs. This may include necessity items such as snacks, drinks, medicine, etc. but also products that are impulse buys they might not need, but that they’ll want as soon as they see them.

While busy with work most of the trip, business travelers also have time to browse when their professional obligations have been met. Use this time to strike up a conversation and find out what interests them so you can suggest an appropriate product. Do they have kids at home they need to bring a souvenir to? Maybe a spouse that would like a personalized mug? Regardless, promote convenience and exclusivity, two things this customer values.


The Accidental Tourist

This group includes people who didn’t initially plan on visiting your destination, but that found themselves in your store by a happy accident. For example, they won free passes to the zoo at work or had a layover in the airport.  Since they had no intention of coming to you, they won’t particularly have a set expectation of what they may need or want to buy — which means you now have the opportunity to wow them with not only your great customer service, but also your great product assortment.

Connect with the shopper and find out what brought them into your destination so you can upsell accordingly. For example, if they received the park passes as a work reward, suggest a bottle of wine with a personalized message. If they’re stuck at the airport, suggest a variety of magazines and puzzle books to pass the time. On top of everything else, make sure that you deliver an experience that makes this “accidental” tourist one that will plan to come back to your store intentionally at the next available opportunity.

Finally, remember that catering to customers should not be black and white in description or in your efforts. Aim to understand the variety of customers your store has so you can best support and as a result, enjoy more rewarding sales!


By Nicole Leinbach Reyhle

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