Archive for November, 2011

Seven tax tips you should start thinking about now

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Seven tax tips you should start thinking about now

By Lauren Prosser, CNBC.com

Updated 11/6/2011 11:47 AM

Thinking about taxes in October may be scary for some business owners, but accountants and financial advisors are already looking past seasonal holidays in the fourth quarter to the coming year.

  • Accountants and financial advisors are already looking past seasonal holidays in the fourth quarter to the coming year.By Tina Fineberg, AP file

    Accountants and financial advisors are already looking past seasonal holidays in the fourth quarter to the coming year.

By Tina Fineberg, AP file

Accountants and financial advisors are already looking past seasonal holidays in the fourth quarter to the coming year.

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Paul Etzler, a principal with the accounting and auditing department of Skoda Minott, a Mayfield, Ohio firm, says that with a little planning now, business owners can ensure they take advantage of all of the appropriate deductions and credits for the 2011 tax year.

There are thousands of dollars at stake, too, with several important rules expiring this year unless Congress acts to extend them.

Here are Etzler’s top seven tips for year-end business tax planning:

1. In this season of shopping, consider making some purchases for your business. Purchases of most capital equipment, including furniture, computers and most vehicles, may qualify for more generous expensing options than will probably be allowed in the future. For the 2011 tax year, tax code Section 179 allows a deduction of up to $500,000 for qualified purchases (either outright, financed or through a capital lease) of up to $2 million. That means many small and medium sized businesses that make purchases by year end might be able to deduct most, if not all, of their outlays for machinery and equipment. Without an extension by Congress, the $2 million limit drops to $560,000 next year, and the maximum deduction drops to $139,000. Similarly, the current ability to write off 100% of the purchases in the year bought (rather than an amount prorated for use during the purchase year) may go away next year, too.

2. Pull the trigger on late-year hires. Take advantage of expiring credits worth up to 40% of the first $6,000 in wages (or $2,400) if you hire qualifying workers (such as certain veterans or food-stamp recipients) by the end of 2011. Under current law, that credit won’t be available for workers hired after this year. Check for details and for more information on partial credits for late-in-the-year hires. A lot of states also offer these types of credits.

3. Explore your next growth vehicle. Certain credits for research and product development won’t be available for post-2011 expenditures unless Congress extends the credit. Startup companies and established businesses alike can claim tax benefits for consulting, legal and professional fees and other labor costs, as well as materials, if they are tied to research and development of a product or new market and have proper documentation.

4. Self-employed? Get set for retirement. Now’s the time to research and set up a smart plan for retirement. Changes in recent years provide a lot more flexibility for self-employed workers to use a combination of IRAs (Individual Retirement Accounts) and investments held in IRAs and still receive tax advantages. Doing the legwork now may allow you to start 2012 with a plan that takes full advantage of appropriate financial benefits.

5. Consider waiting until 2012 to cancel debt or dispose of loss-producing rental properties or other so-called passive activities. Depending on your situation, waiting to do these things might allow you to deduct suspended losses.

6. Boost your ownership stake in order to deduct a 2011 loss. If you own an interest in a partnership or S corporation, you can typically only deduct losses up to the value of what you’ve put into the entity. You may need to increase your commitment (by boosting capital, in the case of an S corp, or in the case of a partnership, by providing cash, by loaning, or by personally signing on the entity’s debt) in order to deduct maximum losses in 2011.

7. Consider bonuses. In some cases, companies can take a deduction for the current tax year for bonuses actually paid the following tax year. Bonuses can’t be for an employee owning more than 50 percent of the value of the corporation’s stock, and the bonus must be accrued on the books by the end of the current tax year. In addition, the bonus must be paid within the first 2.5 months of the following tax year. Employees don’t pick up personal income taxes on the bonus until the following year, too.

Paul Etzler is a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants, where he serves as member of the Members’ Services Advisory Council and the Leaders’ Council.

Lauren Prosser is a manager of advisory services atSageworks, a financial information company, collects and analyzes data on the performance of privately-held companies and provides financial analysis software.

Copyright: 2011 CNBC.com

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

It’s Time to ‘Discover America,’ Organization Says

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

November 7, 2011, 1:00 am

It’s Time to ‘Discover America,’ Organization Says

By STUART ELLIOTT

An organization formed by Congress to produce the first worldwide campaign to market the United States to international travelers is moving ahead under a new name.

The organization was called the Corporation for Travel Promotion when it was established last year. It will now do business under the name Brand USA and operate a consumer Web site, discoveramerica.com.

A logo has been adopted, featuring the letters “USA” composed of multicolored dots and the Web address “DiscoverAmerica.com” underneath.

Executives of Brand USA are scheduled to outline their strategy and positioning plans at events on Monday in London. Their efforts are to culminate with the organization’s first advertising campaign, with a target date of March.

The budget for the campaign is being estimated at up to $200 million, to come from sources other than taxpayer dollars like private industry.

Several agencies owned by WPP are working for Brand USA, among them JWT, for advertising; MediaCom, for media services; Brand Union, for brand identity; and Hill & Knowlton, for public relations.

The goal of Brand USA is to eliminate “barriers keeping people from coming here,” Chris Perkins, chief marketing officer, said in an interview last week in Midtown Manhattan at which he discussed the organization’s coming efforts.

“It’s a competitive marketplace” for tourism, Mr. Perkins said, citing the large marketing budgets and “concise, clear messaging” of countries like Australia and Mexico.

The United States will stake its claim to visitors by presenting itself as a country of “boundless possibilities,” he added, and one-of-a-kind experiences.

A shorthand phrase that Brand USA is using to describe the message of future ads is that “the United States of awesome possibilities welcomes everyone,” Mr. Perkins said.

The campaign will be focused on four types of experiences that await tourists, he added: “the great outdoors, urban excitement, culture and indulgence.”

Brand USA will enlist the help of “brand ambassadors” and “brand champions,” Mr. Perkins said, referring to people who live abroad and “have a soft spot in their hearts for us.”

They can “encourage friends and family” to take American trips, he added.

The intent, said Beth Waxman-Arteta, chief marketing officer at JWT, who joined Mr. Perkins for the interview, is to “empower those people who have a predisposition to tell our story for us.”

The campaign will use new elements like social media and mobile media, she added, in addition to advertising, promotions and public relations.

Businesses looking for information about Brand USA will have a separate Web site to visit, thebrandusa.com.

“We all have a sense of urgency” to get the campaign under way, Ms. Waxman-Arteta said, partly because of research showing that wooing visitors to the United States will create more jobs in the United States.

Mr. Perkins said the research shows that it takes only 35 new tourists from overseas to create one American job. It also shows that the average visitor spends $4,000 in this country on his or her trip, he added.

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

Establishing the USP of a hotel for online marketing

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Establishing the USP of a hotel for online marketing

November 7, 2011 By

NB: This is a guest article by Martin Soler, marketing director of World Independent Hotels Promotion (WIHP).

Every hotel needs to discover what is unique about its brand and then promote heavily in its marketing efforts on the web – that statement is simple.

This is true for independent hotels, for hotel chains, individual hotels within a chain and all the way to an inn or bed and breakfast.

But establishing the unique selling point (USP), however, appears to be more difficult than many property owners think.

Before taking on a hotel as a client, we do a thorough study of the property to determine it’s unique selling point(s). Several factors are used for this, but often to the amazement of many of our customers we’re often looking first outside of the actual hotel.

Typically one thinks of USPs by comparing against the competition or hotels in the immediate vicinity.

If there is a modern decoration, a hotelier will tend to think of that as the USP. If the interior design was created done by a famous designer, many a hotelier will choose that as the USP.

But there is something which is often omitted when working out a USP: customer perception.

What is it?

What do you want your guests to see and feel when they experience a hotel – this is ultimately what a property needs to take into account when working out the online marketing USP.

Walking around the hotel and actually looking is far better than work it all out from behind a desk. Equally, working out a successful USP also means talking to guests and finding out how they felt about their experience at the hotel.

A USP needs to be something that will personally affect the life of the end user. Not esoterically, not in some far-fetched manner, but at the moment they touch the brand for the first time.

Common mistakes

The biggest mistake we’ve seen in working out the USP is to forget that it has to be something that the guest will benefit from.

Some examples:

  • Using a historical fact as a USP. That Oscar Wilde lived in a hotel is not much of a USP because it doesn’t show much benefit to the individual.
  • Focusing on interior design elements. Mentioning LED lighting or other fancy technology features as a USP doesn’t help understand the comfort.
  • Using the decoration theme as USP. That the hotel is decorated based on Marylin Monre or after the theme of cars is nice but the guest isn’t staying there to watch the theme.

Key elements of a USP

There are three factors that determine a hotel’s USP and only three.

  • Location
  • Comfort
  • Value

A good USP integrates all three elements to form a clear concept of the hotel. If a hotel is unique (and positively so) on all three points, the USP will be perfect.

But that’s rare, a property will often find one of these points is totally unique and the other two are passable.

It can often happens that only one is great and the other two are not good at all, so better for a hotel to put all its focus on the positive element, as in could actually be enough to drive people to a property.

More about location, comfort and value

Here are some examples:

  • Location – if there is there’s a direct subway to the city center or other point of interest from a property, then use it to your advantage in the messaging around the USP
  • Comfort – tell a guest how they will personally benefit from it the design and asthetics associated with the property. Essentially, a hotel needs to tell the guest how a stay will make their life better.
  • Value – how will a hotel save a guest money? This does not necessarily mean a property is cheap, but a focus on value, rather than cost. Just like the classic ad campaign by Avis “We’re only number two but we try harder.” A hotel can use it’s negative position as an advantage.

Every property needs a USP, regardless of its size, status, cost, brand – simply because guests aren’t interested in staying somewhere that will not meet their expectations.

But don’t just sit and think! Go out and look, talk to people and read their comments, monitor what they say in social media and collect feedback. Lots of it.

Once a hotel has established its USP – it is still incredible now many do not have an understanding of what it actually is – then the rest of the web marketing campaign will be a lot easier to execute.

NB: This is a guest article by Martin Soler, marketing director of World Independent Hotels Promotion (WIHP)

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

24/7/365 Concierge!

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Where do you go when the CVBs and Chamber of Commerce offices close at 5 p.m. nationwide to get concierge information?

Who do you talk to when at the front desk of every hotel and motel where the staff changes or a young person answers, “There’s nothing to do around here.” or “I don’t know.”?

At a gas station, convenience store or a department store when the staff says the same as above?

The Bed and Breakfast owners worldwide provide the only consistent concierge service 24/7/365! Especially when you want and cherish personal attention to your needs, you want someone who can tailor all the information you need and who will go the extra mile to find the answers you need!

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

Upcoming PR & Marketing Campaigns

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Upcoming PR & Marketing Campaigns

We will be promoting the following stories over the coming months with media so make sure to add or update your inn’s information on the Special Packages page on BedandBreakfast.com:

  • Top winter destinations for B&B travel
  • Holiday specials

Working on ideas for your own publicity? Here are some upcoming holidays that might make good news hooks and fun package themes:

November is:

  • National Novel Writing Month
  • National Sleep Comfort Month
  • Veteran’s Day (November 11)
  • Sadie Hawkins Day (November 13)
  • (U.S.) Thanksgiving (November 24)

December is:

  • Bingo Month
  • National Maple Syrup Day (December 17)
  • Hanukkah (December 20 through December 28)
  • Festivus (December 23)
  • Christmas (December 25)
  • Boxing Day (December 26)
  • New Year’s Eve (December 31)

To add specials: Click here to log in to your Home Base on BedandBreakfast.com, then click the Specials link to add your packages. Be sure to include all relevant information including rates, validity dates, whether children/pets are welcome, and the costs. (Silver-level members and above may post specials. Bronze member? Please click here to upgrade. Not yet a member? Join today!)

Notable News

BedandBreakfast.com has been receiving quite a bit of national news attention!

USA Today did a story with BedandBreakfast.com featuring “10 great places to sleep with a ghost” in its October 21 print issue and showcases a slideshow of the 10 haunted B&Bs on its website.  The story was picked up by ABC News and other local television websites.

BedandBreakfast.com also worked with the New York Times on a story about five “B&Bs that Break the Dolls-and-Doilies Mold” in its October 15 issue.  Two of the five Texas B&Bs are listed on BedandBreakfast.com:  La Maison in Midtown Houston and Blair House Inn in Wimberley.

We worked with SmarterTravel.com to include several member B&Bs in its “10 Great Escapes for Fall.”  The Roaming Boomers also shared our leaf peeping news with its readers.

Did you see all the great national publicity for the B&B industry and BedandBreakfast.com during Wheel of Fortune’s special “Bed & Breakfast Week” in October? PhillyBurbs.com and Boston B&B Examiner picked up our story about this special week and great prizes.

The Vancouver Sun included BedandBreakfast.com in its August 13 story about camping and B&B options in New York.

Finally, we recently saw About.com picked up our news about the “mini-moon” trend earlier this summer.

Stay tuned for more coverage about the B&B industry as we unveil our Best of the BedandBreakfast.com 2011-2012 Awards, new monthly awards, holiday specials and promotions, and the new website.

PR Tips

BedandBreakfast.com Blog: If you have any great high-quality photos, deals, or recipes to share, email them to Emily Gerson for consideration. You should also email her if you’re interested in participating in an innkeeper Q&A feature on the blog.

Change photos often; add video too: We know we say it over and over, but we repeat our photo mantra each month because it is such an important part of promoting our members. Media are always on the lookout for timely photos. Photos from your listing pages are often linked to releases posted in the BedandBreakfast.com Press Room, also visited by media worldwide. Most importantly, timely photos on your BedandBreakfast.com page motivate consumers to book. Since autumn is just around the corner, replace your summer photos with shots of glorious fall foliage and outdoor activities that can be enjoyed at your inn.

Not sure how to post photos? Click here to log in to your Home Base on BedandBreakfast.com, click Photos from the Quick Links box on the left, thenfollowing the easy instructions on the screen to upload your pictures. Don’t forget! If you have high-resolution photos or videos, please post them on BedandBreakfast.com. When the media wants high-res photos and videos, we look for them on BedandBreakfast.com, so be sure to post yours soon.

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

Tips for Hiring a Professional Photographer

Saturday, November 26th, 2011

Tips for Hiring a Professional PhotographerCamera300

by Emily Gerson

This is the third article in our series about inn photography. The first installment is available here, and the second installment is available here.

As we’ve emphasized before, our surveys show that nearly half of travelers say photos are very important to them when booking a B&B stay. Bad photos can lead a traveler to question the quality of an inn and book elsewhere.

If you are having trouble taking high-quality photos yourself or simply don’t have the time, it’s a very wise investment to have professional photos taken of your property. Try to schedule them during a time when few, if any guests are present. Here are some of the things you should consider when hiring a photographer.

Where do you find a professional photographer?

  • Ask nearby inns with great photos which photographer they used
  • Ask local real estate agents for photographer recommendations
  • Search a review site, such as Yelp.com, for recommendations
  • Search for a real estate photographer online or in the yellow pages
  • How much should it cost?
  • This can vary greatly based on your location and the size of your property, which will dictate how long it will take. It can also vary based on the photographer’s experience. Decide a price range you’re comfortable with and ask several local photographers for a quote.

What should you ask potential photographers?

  • Can I see your portfolio? Make sure to view some of their work to make sure it is of the quality you’re looking for.
  • Is photo editing included in their price? You will want photo editing if you can afford it.
  • Will they be staging the rooms, or do you need to do that?
  • Can you use the photos without having to give them credit or are there limitations for where you can use them? You should be sure to get the full rights to the photos if you want to be able to freely use them on your website, on your BedandBreakfast.com listing, and your promotional materials.
  • What recourse will you have, if any, if you are not pleased with their photos?
  • Can we get our arrangement in writing? You should always have the photographer draw up a contract.

What shots should you make sure they take?
You may not know which photos you want to choose for your listing or website until you see how they turn out, so the more coverage they get, the better. Make sure to give them an outline of your must-haves:

  • The inn’s exterior
  • Every bedroom, unless you have over 10 rooms
  • Every bathroom, if attractive
  • Common areas
  • Dining room
  • The view, if any of the rooms or common areas have a great one
  • Optional: A food dish or two
  • Any other important amenities, such as a spa, pool, or exercise room

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

Waking Up To Great Value

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Waking Up To
Great Value

Wednesday,
October 26, 2011

Dan
Marcec

 

The breakfast table offers an equal opportunity to make or break guest
experience, especially in the midscale sector, where free breakfast garners
higher and higher expectations as the category evolves. Here’s how hotel brands
are approaching their analysis of this imperative amenity.

Over the past few years, hoteliers have learned quite quickly that the days
of “build it and they will come” are well over, and “location, location,
location” is not necessarily the number one factor influencing profitability. On
the guest side of the equation, the mantra is “value, value, value.” By catering
to the guest’s sensible nature, hotels can truly gain the competitive edge.

Hardly anywhere is there a higher perceived value than at the breakfast
table. In Country Inns & Suites’ recent “Today’s Business Traveler” survey,
82 percent of respondents said they base their hotel selection on free amenities
such as high-speed Internet and breakfast. Breaking it down further, 90 percent
said high-speed Internet is the number one most important amenity (not
surprising), followed next by hot breakfast at 70 percent. That’s not just any
breakfast, it’s a hot breakfast. Especially in the highly competitive midscale
sector, where breakfast is included in the rate, perceived value is crucial.

Of course, business travelers aren’t the only guests looking for value when
they wake up in the morning.

“If I take my family to breakfast, I’m staring down a $35 to $40 check out of
my own pocket,” says Steve Mogck, executive vice president and chief operating
officer of Country Inns & Suites by Carlson. “So when you look at midscale
hotel pricing, which is $70 to $90 per night depending on the market, the guest
sees incredible value in that breakfast.”

The fierce competition to enhance the breakfast bar defines “amenity creep,”
and brands in the midscale sector have continued to add more and more for their
guests as part of their complimentary offering.

“Breakfast in midscale is always evolving, and we’re not unique in that,”
says Mark Southern, director of product innovation, F&B, Hilton Worldwide.
“We all started somewhere different than we are today, and the lifecycle of the
brands will be very different in 20 years as well.”

The trick to surviving this evolution is to not only to have a lot of food on
the table, but also to have the right food on the table. That involves staying
on top of consumer trends.

“From the macro perspective, I think individualization and customization is
here to stay. We all get to customize iPhones, websites, newsfeeds, and we have
to embrace a level of individualization at the hotel level as well,” says
Southern. “So when you look at breakfast over the course of a week, guests want
to be sure to have something unique every day.”

In other words, an attractive breakfast bar is not just about piling on
whatever is the cheapest and most efficient. It’s about perceived quality, and –
yes, this word again – value. Guests want options, and they want foods that fit
their lifestyle. Responding to this trend, both Country Inns & Suites and
Hilton’s Hampton brand recently added real oatmeal – not pre-packaged, and not
quick cooking oatmeal – to their repertoire.

“Health and wellness is important to our guests, and I don’t think anyone
will come in next year and say 2012 is the year of trans fats and corn syrup,”
says Southern. “On top of that, transparency in food is big, and we’re moving
toward cleaner of ingredient lists – in other words, when you look what’s in
your food, you’ll only see ingredients you understand. It is what it says.”

Selecting Service

Of course, an important part of a good hotel breakfast is how it’s served.
Midscale hotels again face a unique challenge because their guest base is so
diverse. From weekday business travelers to weekend leisure guests, from small
business meetings to large groups, fitting all this food as well as the people
to eat it in a small breakfast room is a challenge.

“We really do have to be all things to all people at times,” says Southern.

Again, it’s all about options. Southern adds as long as you make space,
guests will utilize it in ways they see fit, and in Hampton’s new Perfect Mix
lobby, there’s been an organic flow because people have a variety of seating
options and areas, but it remains one contiguous space.

Aside from ensuring the right staffing and attending to the guests – hotel
service 101 – utilizing back-of-house space is an important consideration as
well.

“When we add these elements, it becomes extremely complex to achieve high
quality food preparation and delivery,” says Mogck. “We joke that our pantries
are so small you can’t change your mind in them.”

Waste is one of the other major considerations when it comes to advanced
offerings. To combat this challenge, Country Inns recently rolled out
non-disposable dining ware.

“We decided to be the first to use non-disposable utensils. Even with adding
a dishwasher, from a cost standpoint it’s very close to what we were doing
before,” says Mogck. “But now we’re saving thousands of pounds of garbage from
landfills. There is not an RFP out there that doesn’t ask about what you’re
doing to be green, and we wanted something real.”

Rate of Return

In midscale, competition continues to up the ante and build on more and more
amenities to differentiate outside the beige box. At the end of the day at the
property level, the goal is always to create a better guest experience while
simultaneously  raising rate to get a better ROI.

“When you look at ROI, [improvements to breakfast] are table stakes. A number
of brands have skimped, and I see it everywhere,” says Mogck. “What are you
saving, $1 a room? When guest perceives what you get at a restaurant, it makes a
huge difference, and it gives you the ability to raise rate and drive occupancy
long-term to establish yourself in the market.”

Mogck adds an example. Some hotels, for example, will try to lure guests by
offering $20 gas cards or other incentives of the like. While that’s effective
in its own right, a $20 gas card costs pretty close to $20 for the hotelier
(taking into account discounts in bulk, etc.). If you look at breakfast at $2 or
$3 per room, with the ability to raise rate accordingly because the guest
understands the value there, it makes sense.

“When you have an asset you can leverage, you have to maximize it,” says
Mogck.

The proof is in the pudding, pun intended. According to Country Inns’
Medallia ratings, the new “Be Our Guest” breakfast showed +.02 in the “overall
breakfast” category; +.03 in “presentation of breakfast items”; and +.10 in
“variety of breakfast items” over one year ago. With a .01 change being
statistically significant on a brand-wide level, the numbers speak for
themselves.

Southern says that Hampton also saw a big lift in guest scores when the brand
added both waffles and, more recently, oatmeal. But at the end of the day, the
value the guest sees is not only from the products, but also how that product is
packaged with great service.

“Stuff is stuff, but the loyalty from our guest doesn’t come specifically
from oatmeal and waffles, it comes from great products wrapped in unbelievable
service,” Southern adds. “When you have those things together it becomes hard
for the competition to touch, and that’s why there’s so much potential at
breakfast.”

Check out www.nebraskabb.com

Golf Trip Pays Off for South Sioux City Man

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

Golf Trip Pays Off for South Sioux City Man

 

LINCOLN, NEB. (Nov. 1, 2011) —John Bzoski of South Sioux City, Neb., is the winner of a $1,000 golf merchandise gift card in the Golf Nebraska contest. The contest, sponsored by the Nebraska Department of Economic Development’s Division of Travel and Tourism, required entrants to play three different public or semiprivate golf courses in Nebraska.

 

Bzoski and his wife joined another couple on a “Golf the North” trip. The group played the Atkinson-Stuart Country Club, O’Neill Country Club, Plainview Country Club and Summerland Golf Course near Ewing. Bzoski said he was surprised by the immaculate condition of the courses.

 

“There are a lot of undiscovered gems in the small-town, nine-hole courses,” Bzoski said. “A couple of the courses were like ‘Field of Dreams,’ nearly hidden among the farm fields.”

 

The contest winner said he’s played several Nebraska courses in the past and would like to explore more of the state’s courses.

 

“It’s always fun to play new courses, and the hospitality is as good as the golf,” Bzoski said.

 

Nebraska is home to nearly 200 public and semiprivate golf courses. A list of courses, sample trip itineraries and links to articles and videos about Nebraska golf are available at VisitNebraska.gov/golf.

 

GolfNebraskaBlog.com features reviews of several Nebraska golf courses, including photos and videos, and the GolfNebraska Facebook page is a place where golfers can connect and share news about courses and events.

Outdoor Safety

Saturday, November 19th, 2011

TOURISM &MORE’S “TOURISM TIDBITS”

OutdoorSafety

for November2011

 

Many people consider the wintermonths to be a time of tourism hibernation. Yet nothing could befurther from the truth.  Ski vacations and other winter sportsturn the tourism industry from a limited product into a twelve-month ayear product.  The growth of the winter tourism industry in bothhemispheres does not mean that this form of tourism is not without itsperils.  Winter tourism can be divided into severalsub-categories of tourism. Included in these are winter outdooractivities, sun and surf activities for those who live in colderclimates, and urban cultural activities.  What makes the wintertourism season even more challenging is that it attracts a largenumber of people who are not accustomed to cold weather precautionsand therefore often do not give the weather the respect that itdemands.  The same phenomenon occurs in sun ‘n sand destinationswhere people from colder climates tend to forget just how dangerousboth the sun and the sea can be to those who are not cautious. To provide you guests with a safe and secure outdoor winter tourismseason T&M suggests that you consider some of thefollowing:

-Know your public.  Do you attract a mixed public or onethat is in need of cuddling or likes to take risk? Are your guestsfrom one particular country and tend to speak a single language or doyou attract guests from a wide variety of nations who speak differentlanguages, have different dinning hours and do not share the samecustoms?

-Know the law.  If we like it or not, we live inlitigious societies. Make sure to consult with a good lawyer as towhere your legal vulnerabilities may lay.  It is a lot cheaper totake preventative action then to be tied up in court and end up beingon the wrong end of a law suite.  Remember while anyone can sueyou for almost anything, taking legal precautions is the best way toprotect your industry and yourself.

 

-Match your product to theappropriate target market.   Make sure you market to those regionsthat can get to you easily.  Winter travel can often bechallenging, especially if road conditions are not always the best orvisitors cannot use direct flights to get to your area.  Takeinto account which are the transportation hubs that lead to yourdestination and what can go wrong at these hubs.

-Update your community’s list oflocal services.  Make surethat you have accurate lists regarding everything from medicalservices to insurance claims. Out-of-door activities often attractpeople who have a higher tolerance of risk and no matter how cautiousyou are, some of these risks will materialize.   Good riskmanagement is another form of good marketing.

 

-Make sure that you know whatyour hotels’ policies are in case of major weatherproblems.  In thesnow-belt areas of the world this can mean anything from an unexpectedblizzard to an avalanche, in the sea and sand destinations this canmean a medical emergency or a hurricane.  In all cases weathercan mean that visitors are forced to stay beyond their intended stayproducing reservation problems along with transportationissues.

 

-Add a section to your webpage.  Add a safety andsecurity section to your web page.  Remind people that while noone can guarantee ultimate safety and security that we can all lessenthe risk of becoming a victim if we follow simple procedures.  Beaware of the fact that many tourists and visitors leave their minds athome when on vacation, so repetition of common sense precautions addsan extra level of caution.

 

-List what vaccinations areneeded for your area and remind people that strenuous physicalactivity and heavy use of alcohol are not the bestpolicy.  While no onewants to scare tourists, telling most people what they need to doprior to a vacation provides most visitors with a sense that you care.While the après ski activities may make the vacation, winter sportsmixed with alcohol may well result in tragedy.

-Remind people that vacations aremost fun when activities are done with other people.  Be it swimming or ice-skating thebuddy system works best. Make sure that dangerous areas are clearlymarked and in areas where many tourists flock for winter sports,borrow a page from the world of summer travel and develop winterlifeguards.

-Develop good personalcommunication plans.  Forexample, many people do not carry a cell phone while skiing, but incase of accidents how would that person communicate or seek help? Work with your local police, ambulance units and first aid specialistsalong with computer and communication technologies to developcommunication methods that do not interfere with the winter sportsexperience.

-Remember that the Earth has twohemispheres.  Thus whenthe northern hemisphere is boiling in the sun, it is winter south ofthe Equator. Do not limit your marketing to only one region of theworld. In a global economy, think globally and be prepared to providehospitality to people from all corners of the globe.

-During the summer months, sell your destination as awinter location.  Thesummer is the best time to sell winter vacations.  During theheat of the summer visitors are seeking cooler solutions and want todream about cooler experiences.  These people already know yourarea so stress that a return winter vacation is a whole new experiencein a place where they will not get lost.



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