Is your business benefitting from tourist spending?
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Is your business benefitting from tourist spending?


People are travelling more than ever, and they’re bringing their wallets with them – here are 4 foolproof ways to get globetrotters into your shop.

Tourism is big business. Did you know that UK tourist spending in 2018 is predicted to grow significantly faster than the overall British economy – outpacing other sectors such as manufacturing, construction and retail?

For anyone running a business, these facts are hard to ignore. And when you look at the figures, you’ll see why it’s worth developing a strategy for attracting tourists to your premises:

2015 drew 31.5 million tourists to London alone. According to The Guardian, that figure rose to 37.2m in 2016, a peak since records began, and this growth has continued partly due to the weaker pound in the aftermath of Brexit.

  • Tourists from the United States spent £4.2 billion
  • Indian tourists spent £512 million
  • Chinese tourists spent £358 million
  • Tourists from Japan spent £161 million

Pay attention to tourists while they’re paying attention to you. There were 7.8 million more overseas visits to the UK in 2016 than in 2010 – an increase of 26%.

37.2m tourists visited London in 2016.

Where do they spend all this money?!

American visitors are by far the biggest spenders – each US tourist spends £600 more than the average visitor. 58% shop in stores and 46% drink in British pubs.

When do they show up?

Summer and winter are high seasons for tourists all over the UK. So, when the Christmas lights go up, make sure you extend the seasonal feeling into your shop, and when the summer holidays roll around adapt your surroundings accordingly.

Here are our 4 top tips:

1. Shape up on social media

According to Visit Britain, more than half of all tourists visiting Britain start thinking about their trip more than six months in advance – meaning they start researching online and on social media. There are no excuses to have an outdated or non-existent online presence.

Also, remember that tourists love to stay connected with friends and family by checking in and sharing photos on social media. So, make it easy for them to find and tag your business, it’s an easy way to drive traffic to your page and increase awareness. Research has shown that social media is increasingly a platform for consumers to express their loyalty to favourite brands – and they will happily help promote products.

Make it easy for tourists to find and tag your business, it’s an easy way to drive traffic to your page and increase awareness.

Put some extra effort into ensuring your social media is accurate, valid and up-to-date. Make your store look like a go-to destination. Set a 2-3 month plan with some goals and agree on some tactics. Publish two posts a week, maybe highlighting the unique process behind your products and posting photos of your happiest customers?

Don’t forget that you can easily localise your Facebook page to different regions. It’s worth considering which tourist group resonates the most with your products?

2. Conquer the review sites

Trip Advisor has been around for a while now, and it’s an effective way of attracting customers in general and tourists in particular. We’ve written before about how to get your name up top, but here’s a refresher.

Start by getting active. Check in to other businesses and add reviews. Set a strategy for gaining your own reviews – how many positive reviews do you need and how should you get them? First and foremost, positive reviews should always organically – they’re a helpful gauge of how you’re doing.

But don’t be afraid to ask your customers for help by adding reviews about their experience.

3. Partner up

You know it yourself, when you’re new in a city you often pass by the front desk of your hotel and ask about interesting places to visit. So why not introduce yourself to hotels in your area and offer samples of whatever you sell? Can you create an incentive programme for each hotel with a coupon or discount? Can you partner up with other local businesses and send traffic each other’s way? Two heads are better than one, and together you can both improve customer experience, as well as your own sales.

fi real bristol
Do you see the stickers? The Caribbean restaurant Fi Real accepts all major cards and makes everyone walking by aware of it.

Not all customers are able to ask if you accept their card – so put up a sign to show that you do!

4. Accept all credit cards and show it!

Having to neglect a customer because you can’t process his or her credit card is the ultimate business blunder, yet there are still some major international cards that traditional till systems can’t handle.

For Chinese tourists, it’s key that you can accept Union Pay, China’s most widely used domestic bank card. It’s often also the only card owned by Chinese tourists.

JCB is the leading payment card issuer in Japan with 106 million cardholders worldwide.

75% of tourists to the UK are Americans, and they use everything from Discover/Diner’s Club to American Express, so make sure you accept both. It’s important, even when it comes to native card holders, as 64% of British American Express card members report that they’d be more loyal to a merchant if they accepted American Express.

And remember – if you accept all credit cards then don’t forget to show it! Put a sticker in your window and signs on the counter. Seeing the familiar logo might be enough for a tourist to casually pop into your shop, and don’t forget that not all customers are good enough at English to ask if you accept their card – so put up a sign showing that you do. According to Discover, 46% of their cardholders look for signage before selecting a merchant, and 59% look for signage before paying.

Get your Zettle card reader and start accepting all major foreign credit cards.