Selling to Tourists?

If you are like me, when you are on vacation you like to buy something that is special. There is something that is fun about finding that certain item and taking a little bit of vacation back home.

If you own a retail business, the mindset of the vacation shopper can be important to understand.

Many tourists are in town not to shop, but to see the sights.  It is common though to have some extra time.  “Down time”, where they are not on a tour, hiking, dining, or going to a show.  Instead of hanging out in their hotel room, they wander off into the nearby streets to look at the shops.

Shops that do well in tourist areas usually carry unique items.  They may be hand made in the local area, but not necessarily.  Most vacationers are looking for an item that they can not find at home.  If they could find it at home, they would just wait until they got there and then purchase it there.  Saves the packing and carrying.

Although the locals may look at your unique items for weeks or even years without buying, the tourist will tend to buy faster.  The local person figures that the item will still be there the next time they stop by.  The tourist knows that they will only be there a few days and that if they do not buy, they will not have another chance.

If you have your business in a tourist town, the location of the shop is important to look at. Are you near a hotel?  Is it easy to walk into your shop without having to find parking?  Are there other shops nearby, so that vacationers can have plenty of places to window shop, and then find that one unique thing they have to have?

What do you do if you are not in a popular tourist shopping area?  This is where your marketing gets creative.  You have to let the tourist know where you are and offer them some kind of incentive to come to your shop.  A discount coupon offered to hotel guests is powerful in having people seek you out.  It is also important to note that a physical card or flyer works better than the internet once the vacationer is at their destination.  It is right in front of them.  Searching on the internet will not have the same effect.

Just some things to think about for your retail shop.  Every market is different.  Every market requires a different approach.

Employees – Do we show respect?

Employees.  We need them.  We are glad to have them.  We don’t know what to do with them.

It constantly amazes me that employees are treated with so little respect.  Do business owners not realize the impact this has on their business?  Not just the profit, but the day to day atmosphere of the workplace suffers from this disrespect. This seems to be especially prevalent in businesses where workers are part time and paid an hourly wage.

Showing respect for your employees shows respect for your business and the value it gives to the world.

Disrespect comes in many forms:

Insufficient training – How can you feel confident in your job if you are not adequately trained?  No one feels comfortable doing their job when they don’t know what they are doing.

Lack of communication – In today’s day and age of electronic communication, there is no reason that every employee should not know what is going on at work.  Even if they only work one day a week, they can be kept abreast of the important issues with their job.  Just because they were not at a daily meeting, they should still be able to find out what is going on and what is important to the company.

Low wages – Businesses pay low wages because they can.  Although money is not the only reason employees stay at a job, it shows them a level of appreciation.  Realistic wages send a message that says, ‘the job you do for us is valuable to our company.’  Low wages say, ‘This is all you are worth, and we can find someone else in a heartbeat.’

Inconsistent work schedules – It is quite common, especially in the retail world, to have erratic and inconsistent schedules.  The practice is to let people know their schedule only a week in advance.  For the employee, this means having to put extra energy into scheduling doctor’s appointments, parent-teacher meetings, classes at the local college, etc.  It can all be done, but is such a hassle.  Does the employer not have any respect for the life of the employee outside of working hours?

Lack of tools to complete the job – It may seem like a little thing, but when the employee is in front of a customer and can not find a pen for them to use to sign something, or a stapler that actually works, it is embarrassing, and makes the job more stressful. It is not always big expensive tools that are lacking, but many times the little ones.  Ask them what they need and then supply it.

No feedback loop – Your employees can see what is going on at the front lines.  They work directly with customers.  They can see what is working and what is not.  Give them a way to get information back to people who can make changes.  By not listening to them, you are telling them that you do not even respect them enough to know what is not working.  You don’t have to make every change, but give employees the respect of providing a way for them to give the company input.

Why not take a moment to look around you and honestly evaluate how you are treating your employees.  Not only are they are critical to the success of your business, but treating them with respect is the right thing to do.

It’s Time to Envision

Now that you have a framework and an idea of the things that jazz you and the things that squash you, it is time to treat yourself to experiencing the life you love, even if only in your mind and if only for 15 – 30 minutes.

Vision 1

Start with the ‘facts’ of your vision.  Whatever they are for you, write them down.  This will be things like:

Where you are living
The type of things you do with your day
The amount of money you make
The amount of time you take off
The state of your health
The type of relationship you have


Now, write down:

How it feels now that you have achieved this vision.
What this life gives you that your current one does not.
What will be different for you, your family, the world when you achieve this vision?
What doors will open for you with this life.
Why it is important to you that you achieve this life.

Evaluate your Vision

Now that you have had a chance to ‘try on’ a vision, take a moment to evaluate it.

Ask yourself:

Does this vision excite me?

Do I feel inspired?

Do I feel like I have the energy to make this happen?

Is there something missing from it that would make it feel even better?


Your vision may need tweaking.  Continue working on it until you feel that you have a compelling vision that will PULL you into the future, inspire you, and cause you to put the energy into the action steps it will take to achieve it.

Creating Your Vision – Step 2

This process of creating a compelling vision can be overwhelming.  In previous blog postings I talked about taking it one step at a time.

The first step was to focus on what part of your life you want to focus on.

The second step is to choose a timeframe to focus on.

First, take a look at how far out in time you would like to imagine.  When would you like to have your life look like your vision?  Of course it would be great if you could have that right now, but there is an element of reality that only you can define.  Make the timeframe too short and you will not believe that you can meet your goals.  Make it too long and you will not be inspired to take the actions needed to get you what you want.

Clock - what everTake a good look at the factors you see limiting your progress.  Some of these limitations are real:  kids graduating from college, Social Security kicks in at age 62, 100 pounds does not go away in a month, there are 3 more years until full pension kicks in.  These help you to set time boundaries and can be helpful.

Some limiting factors are just small thinking.  They may seem like they are not moveable or flexible, but some creative thinking will show that there is at least a possibility that the limitation can be changed.  For instance:  I will need to work 5 years to save $50,000 to invest in my new business.  Other options could be to borrow the money, to bring in investors, or to start smaller with less investment.  The important point is that you recognize which factors are true limitations and which ones are just challenges.

When choosing your timeframe be realistic but also stretch your boundary of comfort.  If you really want to live the life you envision, see how close you can bring your timeframe.  A bit of discomfort is challenging.  Too much discomfort is discouraging.

So by now, you have created boundaries for your vision so that you have an aspect of your life to focus on as well as having a target timeframe to achieve it.  Hopefully you will feel some of the overwhelm starting to ease up so that you can start to be inspired.


Creating Your Vision – Define the Target

We have talked before about the importance of having a vision to draw us forward in life.  Why is it then that so many people, including entrepreneurs, do not have a vision?

For many, trying to create a concrete and compelling vision is just overwhelming.  Like anything else that I do, I find that taking it step by step helps it all to come together.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe first step in the visioning process is to clarify what part of your life you want to focus on.  There are many possibilities on how narrow or broad this can be.  For instance, you may want to look at where you are in your life now and where you want to be in 5 or 10 years.  This could encompass work, health, relationships, finances and location.  Or, you may be interested in focusing on only one of these aspects of your life.

For some, looking at their whole life vision is a bit overwhelming.  They are not ready or simply cannot envision all of the aspects of their future life at this point in time.  When struggling with an issue such as debt, poor health, or feeling unsafe, looking at the bigger, rosier picture can feel impossible.  Instead of throwing the whole process out the window, choose to focus on one issue that is important to you and you feel will make the most difference.

If you are reading this, you are most likely a business person.  Even if you decide to focus only on your business and not the personal aspects of your life, there can be a huge number of places in your business that you want to address.  If this is still overwhelming, take some time to categorize the issues, and then decide which area will make the biggest impact on your business if you improve it, shift it, or grow it.  It is OK to have a vision which focuses on a narrow aspect of your business.  At least you can get started, work toward it, and make a change.  Without the vision, who knows where you will be next year.

Pick an aspect of your life, imagine an exciting future for it, and write it down so that it can inspire you over and over again.

Again with the Vision!

We have been told that we need to have a vision.  What does that mean?  I used to think that a vision was something that we imagined in our mind, but was pretty airy-fairy.  It was always out there, just outside of our reach, something to strive for.  With that as a definition, my mind always considered a vision to be unattainable.  It was something for dreamers, not for practical business people trying to get things done.

Steele Tree 2 - kansas

Crazy steel trees

Recently I have been looking at visions differently.  Yes, they are still out there.  They are still filled with dreams and parts of our lives, both personal and business, that fill us with joy and accomplishment.  When creating the vision, I no longer worry about how I could possibly ever make it come true as that can be worked on that later.  I realize that having a vision that is so compelling that it inspires me and pulls me forward every day is one of the most powerful tools I can have.

What I have also learned is that visions come in all sizes, shapes, and colors.  Some people are ‘visionary’ and they can image a business that changes the world.  Some people can see a shift in their business and so believe in it that they are willing to make big changes in their life in order to reach that new and different way of doing business.  Some people don’t see big changes, but do see more customers, income and employees being the vision that brings them to the next step.

I also have discovered that having a vision, whether large or small is critical to any business.  All of the tools that help you to market, to become more efficient, to repurpose your content or become in internet wizard will be way more effective if you have a vision.  It is the vision that helps us to know which tools to use, when the appropriate time is to bring them in, and how to customize them for our business.


In future blog postings, I will write more about some steps that you can take to discover your vision and then put it into action.  Right now, just take some time to feel what it might be like to have a vision that gives each day inspiration and purpose.

Happy Imagining!