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Tourist Trade

Find out how to capture a customer base that's on the move.

Women who want to take a bit of Boston's beauty home with them visit Mario Russo's salon to pick up nail polishes with names like Boston Brahmin and Red Socks. Russo is also working with the city's tourism department to provide gifts for those coming to town for next month's Democratic National Convention.

"Many people visit Boston for business and pleasure," says the 44-year-old owner of Salon Mario Russo. "It only makes sense to try to attract them to the salon."

Larry Whisenhant, marketing director at A.G. Russell Knives in Lowell, Arkansas, thinks that's a good idea. "Small businesses need to determine who their customer base is," says Whisenhant. "If it includes tourism and travelers, then local tourism bureaus offer a wealth of information, research and networking opportunities."

Want to cash in on the tourism market? Whisenhant has some suggestions:

  • Contact the local convention and visitors bureau or tourism department. These organizations often make referrals to visitors to your area.
  • Work with local hotels. When visitors need recommendations for products and services, they usually head straight to the concierge. Russo keeps local concierges up-to-date on the products and services his salon offers.
  • Tie in with high-profile events or venues. Russo launched a fund-raiser for the Boston Ballet that got him low-cost exposure to a high-profile audience.

Gwen Moran is a freelance writer and co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans (Alpha, 2010).

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This article was originally published in the June 2004 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Tourist Trade.

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