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As a business owner, the last thing on your mind might be how to use the local media to increase your tour and activity bookings. But it shouldn't be. As a tour and activity operator, you can increase your media influence—and thereby, your bookings—with a few strategic PR (public relations) tactics. 

Put your company center stage with these simple tips: 

What's new? Be a trendsetter and stay newsworthy

Journalists and bloggers are always seeking new, compelling story ideas. When your business is a “new kid on the block," you may be newsworthy, but as time passes, you'll have to do more to attract media attention. 

As someone who's already close to the tour or activity market, you're naturally on the frontline of hot tourism trends that are worthy of coverage, such as an increase in multi-generational travel or changes in how travelers use technology. By making the media aware of these stories, you can position yourself as an industry “expert."

For example, Pike Brewing is using the viral trend of PokemonGO to attract new customers by promoting the game on their Instagram. The game itself not only attracts, new customers, but it's even creating a friendly competition of capturing the best photo of a Pokemon inside the pub.

We've been spotting Drowzee and pals down at Pike Brewing. Catch 'em all! #pokemongo

A photo posted by Pike Brewing Company (@pikebrewing) on

Create relationships with local media

In the tourism world, it's essential to build on-going relationships with the local media from reporters (TV, print, and radio) to bloggers to social media influencers. Be sure to connect, follow and engage with these trendsetters on social media channels by commenting on their articles—ideally before you ask them to write about your business.

If you do reach out to journalists with information, keep your message short and sweet, and be aware of deadlines. If the news is time-sensitive, try to give them a head start. And if a journalist accepts complimentary services (some won't due to ethical concerns), you can invite them to check out your tour or event first-hand so they can share the experience with their colleagues and possibly with their audience.

Show off your knowledge: Be a speaker!

Your local community most likely hosts a multitude of events throughout the year. Volunteering to speak, hosting a discussion or joining a panel will automatically position you in a favorable light as a subject matter expert. If possible, record your speech so you can share it online and use it for marketing your services. Keep in mind that in exchange for speaking, participants are frequently offered the opportunity to “promote" or “plug" their own business.

Opportunities like these also give you the chance to interact with other area businesses and organically meet media members, who may be seeking quotes or sources for future tourism stories. For example; Nate Martin, Co-Founder and CEO of Puzzle Break, shares his extensive escape room knowledge with others by blogging and presenting at industry conferences.

Be prepared! Create a professional press kit

Most tour operators understand the importance of a professional, aesthetically-pleasing website to attract customers, but journalists and bloggers often need more robust information than what's normally on a company site. Be prepared for media inquiries by developing a press kit in advance.

At the minimum, your press kit should contain: a one-page document with your company's intriguing “background story"; bios of the key players in your organization; and a one-page fact sheet that lists important bullet points about your company (like tours offered, pricing information, etc.). A few fun facts are always a bonus (and often lead to interesting local stories). A link to professional photos, as well as emails and social media handles, should also be front and center.

For example; Trapped OKC shares on their about page why they started Trapped and bios of the founders, Michelle and Matt. 

Utilize free PR tools.

Even if you don't have the budget to hire a PR professional, you can use a few free online PR tools that will help you directly connect with media outlets. One favorite is HARO (“Help a Reporter Out" ) that allows you to sign up for alerts that assist reporters to quickly connect with sources. Another valuable tool used by many businesses and individuals is Google Alerts, which enables you to set up a multitude of email notices based on keywords of your choosing. In addition, LinkedIn can help you connect with local media members directly, as contact information such as email address and phone numbers are easily available.

By using any of these tactics, you can increase bookings by making your presence known in the media.