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Compete on value if you truly want to differentiate your business

by Nancy Arsenault on March 20, 2012

Competing on price is easy – the lowest guy wins. All you have to do is keep your manufacturing, processes and serving at top notch efficiency, churn out your ‘stuff’ and you can offer the lowest price. Yah, if you are selling widgets, that’s great.

But what if you are selling travel? Of course everyone wants a good price – that’s human nature, but in a world where time is a valued commodity, as it time together with family, people are willing to pay for value. The challenge to tourism businesses is how – and it is equally as difficult if you are an SMEs who have very limited resources or a larger businesses with your hands tied to franchise regulations or set product and market rules.

The goal today is to craft, market and deliver on an experience that is highly valued by your customer and difficult of impossible for your competitors to replicate (or if they do, they live far away and beyond a referral chain).  Think of the Ice Hotel in Quebec City – now part of a family of ice hotels that provide a wonderfully chilling evening to remember.  Or perhaps you’ve been to O’Noir where you dine as if blind – in complete darkness and have blind wait staff serving you. Maybe you have a ranch and a unique talent such as Cowboy Poetry like the folks at the Reesor Historic Ranch or you step onto the ocean’s floor (when the tide is out of course) with Roads to Sea for a personalized experience at the Bay of Fundy.

Where ever your business is located, the opportunity is for you to ask yourself a few key questions as you build an experience that can be developed, packaged and sold that is uniquely yours:

  • What do I love to do in my community (with my business)? Follow your passion and heart is a great starting point.
  • What is unique and authentic in our community?
  • How can I engage guests with people and places in ways that are special, memorable and different from like-minded businesses?
  • Who can I partner and collaborate with to create a tourism experience that is richer and more engaging that a visit to the museum, walk in the park or ride at the local fair?
  • Am I best positioned to be the catalyst in putting the visitor experience together and selling it, or am I better as a contributing/collaborating partner?

Competing on value means you have to go above and beyond the products and service delivery. You need to offer a guest experience that goes beyond ‘satisfying’ their needs to making them fans and advocates for your business. If you do this right, you can charge for value and hold your own in the market. You still need to know your ‘band’ of price elasticity relative to your ideal guests, but if you target engagement, interaction, relevance and great memories – you will be able to do it!

If you want more help, check out the FREE bilingual Experiences Toolkit from the Canadian Tourism Commission to get a tonne of free info!

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