Visitor centers can boost business

By Matt Zito, Special to the BDN
Posted March 28, 2010, at 7:20 p.m.

Maine Visitor Information centers are some of the best locations for distributing your travel – and tourism-based business brochures or rack cards. I view these centers not only as promotional and distribution gateways for your business, but as a sales center for persuading visitors to buy your travel-related product while they are visiting Maine on business or for vacation.

I recently visited the information center in Kittery and picked up a few brochures for hotels, campgrounds, restaurants and artist shops and galleries. The first thing I noticed was that the brochures and rack cards were basically all the same. The brochures all had the standard details about the business and the products being sold. Who, what, where and when was the message I was receiving.

There was nothing on these rack cards or brochures that really got me excited. Thousands of visitors are making stops at the centers every day as they flock through the state. You have about one to two seconds to pique their interest, so your “offering” better be good. Vacationers are buyers. These people have been cooped up in their car, driving for hours and have waited for months for this time to arrive. Now they are on vacation.

Nice looking brochures and rack cards are a step in the right direction, but you need to grab their attention faster to receive the sales outcome you are looking for by participating in the brochure distribution campaign at Maine’s visitors centers.

Travelers are picking up brochures in the centers for multiple reasons. During this upcoming tourist season everyone will be looking for deals, specials and discounts. If vacationers can save a buck this season, they will.

Here’s a marketing strategy: Run a multiseasonal, brochure-rack card campaign using discount coupons and special tear-off offers. Distribute to the Maine Visitor Information centers, placing the coupon tear-off on the top of the brochure-rack card so it’s the first thing a vacationer will see.

To execute this marketing campaign, you will first need to be a member of the Maine Tourism Association. If you are not a member already, you are missing out on one of the best deals I have ever seen for brochure distribution. Annual membership ranges from $75 to $460 depending on what type of business you operate. Call 623-0363 or go online at www.mainetourism.com to download the membership PDF kit. When I spoke to Sean at the association, he said the membership types were being consolidated and that most memberships would cost around $180 for the year.

Choose the visitor centers you want to distribute your brochures or rack cards. It costs $15 to $40 per year to have brochures distributed at each center. Kittery costs $40, Yarmouth $20 and Calais, Fryeburg, Houlton and Hampden north and south all cost $15 per year.

You definitely want to have your brochures in Kittery and Yarmouth, as these two centers are popular locations. Add in a third and for $75 you have annual distribution at three locations for your brochure or rack card. This is an amazing deal.

My next column will look at the tourist subseasons in Maine and how to create individual rack card marketing campaigns for each subseason. I will discuss the printing of your rack card, rack card allocation and distribution at the Maine Visitor Information centers.

Matt Zito offers travel marketing advice to travel businesses and lodging properties through marketing reports and business consulting. His newest report, “10 Strategies, Ideas and Tips to GROW your Maine Travel & Tourism Business in 2010,” is available at www.mattzito.com/maine. E-mail your travel and tourism marketing questions to mdz@mattzito.com.

http://bangordailynews.com/2010/03/28/business/visitor-centers-can-boost-business/ printed on September 15, 2014