Fast Company

Are You Capturing Those Summer Tourists?

It's June, which means we've now officially entered the Summer Tourist. Are you capturing information for those summer vacationers coming into your place of business? If not, you could be losing out on a year-round valuable business asset.

The first step in driving repeat business is to know who your customers are. Even if they only come around once a year or for part of the year, you still want to know who they are so you can get them to come back again. Seasonal businesses need to be collecting their customers' information and using it to make connections with them. Doing so will allow them to stay engaged throughout the year, top of mind when they are making subsequent year’s planning, give referrals to friends, and result in the ability to start your seasons earlier and extend them further by encouraging loyal customers to return during off-peak periods.

A great example of this in action is the Farmer's Market in Belleville, Ill. With two locations open year-round, this produce retailer's peak season is typically the summer and early fall when families are on the hunt for the freshest vegetables available. But, during the colder months, business tails off because customers don't want to make an extra stop during inclement weather to buy produce.

To boost sales during the slow period (and overall), the Farmer's Market did two things: First, it started an email marketing list and collects addresses from customers who want to receive special offers twice a week. Second, it began a loyalty program that donates a portion of each customer's receipt to the local school of her choice. These people were also put on an email list. Now, on slower days, the store will send out a note offering an extra percentage of the sale to the customer's charity if she shops on that day.

As a result of these efforts, the Farmer's Market has greatly flattened the seasonality sales curve because it knows who its customers are and is giving them an incentive to return more often. Even on cold days when customers are not at all interested in making that extra stop, they do because of the Farmer's Market's efforts.

You can watch Rick Delashmit, general manager of the Farmer's Market, discuss his company's email marketing efforts and its effect on business here.

Naturally, this advice applies to any seasonal business, not just summer tourist hotspots. Ski areas, spring break destinations, and fall foliage tour operators, to name a few, should all be capturing customer data in an effort to better market their businesses and drive repeat business season after season.

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