Dee-Ann Durbin wrote in a recent AP article that “Hotel and home-sharing companies don’t just want to sell you a room anymore. They also want to sell you an experience.”  And what is one of the most popular experiences for people on vacation? Shopping!

The trend towards spending money on experiences rather than material goods, which is the topic of my upcoming seminar at the NY NOW gift show, can be used to your advantage. One way to capitalize on this trend is to host a shopping tour in your community.  You may be able to promote tickets to this activity through TripAdvisor, Expedia and Airbnb, according to Durbin.

A city like Paris of course offers a variety of tours of vintage shops, family-friendly stores, and of course couture boutiques.  But almost any city or shopping district could put together a walking tour of locally owned shops.  The key is to have an outgoing and knowledgeable host, and a timetable that allows for the right amount of time at each venue.

I would also suggest planning for a stop for refreshments at the midway point. A glass of wine, or coffee with pastry, is a great break for shoppers and a chance for them to socialize — and a natural tie-in with a restaurant in your area.  Special offers or small gifts at the shops also help make tour participants feel welcome.

A few years ago I helped put together shopping tours by bus for buyers attending the Chicago Gift Show. We learned the importance of calling ahead to make sure that the stores we were visiting would be open, and that someone would be on hand to greet the visitors. 

Even though the shopping tour group in Chicago was made up of retailers, I was impressed by how much money was spent at each shop.  And today I’m sure that photos of this social experience are shared widely on social media — making the tour a great way to reach potential future customers as well.

Happy Retailing,
Carol “Orange” Schroeder

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