Don’t Underestimate the Boost that Tourists Can Give to Your Small Business

Date: July 21, 2016

A new case study sheds light on the impact out-of-towners have on small business.

Your best customers might not even live in the same city.

Just look at the Republican National Convention that’s under way in Cleveland, where small business owners in the area are clamoring for a share of the 50,000 attendees descending upon the city. But tourists aren’t just important during big political events; they regularly generate a surprisingly large amount of traffic for small business. 

Find out the best ways to keep your small business thriving. 

Wesley Young, vice president of public policy for the Local Search Association, conducted a case study using his town of Frisco, Texas, to determine just how impactful out-of-towners are to small businesses. 

In Frisco, 31,000 tourists combine to spend $3.9 million every day, Search Engine Land reported Monday. Daily visitors to Frisco equal 24 percent of the city’s total population of 130,000, making visitors a significant share of local businesses’ customer base, according to Young. Out-of-towners also account for 33 percent of local search business, according to the case study.

Visitors also tend to spend more than local residents. Tourists spend $40—more than double that of their local counterparts—at arts events on average, according to a survey from Americans for the Arts. But these numbers aren’t relevant only to Young’s home; small business owners everywhere can benefit from this market. 

“Travelers are more likely to cast a wider net in their search for local stores and services,” Young wrote. “Being less familiar with what choices or preferences they have, they are more likely to engage in exploration and discovery and search more broadly.”

Young also highlights data from a 2015 TripAdvisor study that emphasizes the influence mobile web traffic can have on small businesses. When planning a trip, 72 percent of people use their smartphones to look for restaurants, and 67 percent use them to find things to do, according to the study. This means it’s critical for small business owners to have their website and its content optimized for mobile searching, Young wrote.

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