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Relationships matter—especially when your company expands into a new market. When taking that first bold step into uncharted territory, it's essential to create a great first impression to help grow your business. By establishing strong relationships from the start, companies can attract new customers, build solid partnerships and promote themselves professionally.

Here are ways that tour and activity businesses can embrace a new venture with enthusiasm and make a big splash within the community:

Get an insider's view via the local visitors bureau

When expanding into a new market, a visit the tourism office and/or the CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) should be one of your first stops. That way you can begin to build a mutually beneficial relationship with people who fully understand the area. By leveraging the existing knowledge and know-how of this very experienced and well-connected team, you'll gain a treasure trove of advice, such as optimal ways of attracting both tourists and locals. You can work together to create special discounts and events, and they can introduce you to other local businesses for rewarding cross-promotional opportunities.

Connect with the media and blogger community

Early on, it's a smart choice to schedule a special “media day" and invite local journalists, bloggers and social media influencers to participate in one of your activities at a complimentary or low rate. Then, encourage them to tweet, post or snap the fun. This will generate online excitement about your business while increasing your local reach through first-hand endorsements from well-respected individuals. You can also offer freebies, give-away items, and special coupons for them to pass along to their readers and followers.

Embrace the community

It's a win-win when businesses get involved with local events and charitable organizations. Community relations and philanthropic efforts can also result in increased exposure, as tour and activity companies can foster positive relationships with schools, churches, small businesses and local groups. It's also important to identify a few non-profits and charitable causes that mesh well with your company's sensibilities and vision. For example, your new city may have annual 5K runs, Earth Day celebrations, or perhaps a “pet adoption day" where you can donate your services or offer special discounts to participants.

Hotels and resorts: Gateways to your future customers

A natural match that can be overlooked by many tour and activity companies is working with hotels to increase sales and attract new customers. In addition to establishing strong ties with on-site concierges, it's wise to meet with the sales and marketing team as well, as they can help create packages and programs for guests that include your tour offerings. And be creative—hotels are always seeking to promote and advertise new activities for potential guests. 

Social media marketing: More than a hashtag

Every tour you conduct in a new market has the potential to attract new customers as well as return customers. In addition to promoting your usual social media channels, keep the momentum going online by creating hashtags that reflect the theme of your activity and your new market by name. For example, if your company specializes in food tours, you can create a hashtag like: #PhillyFoodieTour2016. More specific hashtags can capture a particular day or event, such as #SaturdayBeerTrailPDX or #NYCGhostTour2016. This encourages existing customers to get involved via social media, attracts tourists visiting the area and can provide you with a record of that day's online and mobile interactions.

Make mobile booking easy

Many people search on their phones for last-minute things. In fact, Google even confirmed that more searches now happen on mobile devices over desktop. Optimizing for mobile search can help people find you (for ideas check out our blog on how to make your site mobile-friendly).

But don't stop there! Besides searching for things to do, people want to book on mobile too. Make sure it's easy for them to make a reservation via their smartphone by using an online booking system that is optimized for mobile. Check out ZOZI Advance to see how you can easily increase your bookings through an easy-to-use mobile checkout flow.