Benefitting from the long tail of tourism in Prince Rupert

The Internet, which on one hand creates seemingly infinite competition, also offers opportunities.

The Internet, which on one hand creates seemingly infinite competition, also offers opportunities.

The concept of Long Tail Tourism comes from the book The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand. The idea is that markets that were once difficult to reach are now within the reach of even the smallest players; it might be beyond your means to join in the leading “head” of marketing, the expensive TV and magazine campaigns, but it is easy to slip inside the long tail. In Wikipedia Long Tail economics says that “the distribution and inventory costs of these businesses allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items.”

In a tourism sense, Prince Rupert itself, let alone our specialized experiences, is one of those hard-to-find items. We’re not in the mass-market business of Banff or Niagara Falls. It costs a little more to get here, requires a greater investment of time and effort, but it is extremely appealing to those interested in grizzly bears, Northwest Coast cultures, saltwater fishing, and so on. And access to those markets is within our reach. A business, including our collective business of tourism in Prince Rupert, needs to manipulate the Internet in order to help those interested consumers find us, and see that it’s easier to get here than they might assume.

Any business or attraction that can be found on the web can benefit from the Long Tail. Let’s use a concrete example. The Prince Rupert Fire Museum is a fascinating addition to what we can offer visitors to Prince Rupert, but is not large enough, and too specialized, to justify heavy traditional marketing. It receives limited mention in venues such as our annual Visitor Guide, where it shares space with everything from sport fishing to the Khutzeymateen, and it likely isn’t a primary trip motivator for the readers of 60,000 Visitor Guides produced each year.

But that’s not to say that there aren’t far more than 60,000 people out there who would be fanatically interested in the opportunity to study a restored 1925 R.E.O. Speedwagon or 1958 American LaFrance fire engine. But how to reach them? Traditionally, it would have depended on a mention here and there, a very slow word-of-mouth information network, assisted by difficult to find newsletters and clubs for enthusiasts. Now, those enthusiasts are the click of a mouse away. For the interested consumer already considering Prince Rupert, they are linked directly to the Fire Museum website which offers specialized information.

But why wait? The Internet allows promoters to reach out into these specialized niche markets. A quick Google search reveals endless options: from the Historic Fire Engine Association in New South Wales to the Miami Valley Antique Fire Apparatus Association. Most of these societies include chat boards, where local promoters can simply join a conversation and plant a seed among people interested enough in this subject that when they find out that the Fire Museum could be included on a rail/ferry tour, or an Alaskan cruise, it could actually be a primary motivator for an entire

trip.

This only makes sense, in an increasingly competitive world, where consumers are empowered by tools such as TripAdvisor or CruiseCritic. The beauty of this is that anybody can do it, regardless of the size of their operation, and it doesn’t have to cost anything to substantially increase traffic.

The concept of Long Tail Tourism comes from the book The Long Tail: How Endless Choice is Creating Unlimited Demand. The idea is that markets that were once difficult to reach are now within the reach of even the smallest players; it might be beyond your means to join in the leading “head” of marketing, the expensive TV and magazine campaigns, but it is easy to slip inside the long tail. In Wikipedia Long Tail economics says that “the distribution and inventory costs of these businesses allow them to realize significant profit out of selling small volumes of hard-to-find items to many customers, instead of only selling large volumes of a reduced number of popular items.”

In a tourism sense, Prince Rupert itself, let alone our specialized experiences, is one of those hard-to-find items. We’re not in the mass-market business of Banff or Niagara Falls. It costs a little more to get here, requires a greater investment of time and effort, but it is extremely appealing to those interested in grizzly bears, Northwest Coast cultures, saltwater fishing, and so on. And access to those markets is within our reach. A business, including our collective business of tourism in Prince Rupert, needs to manipulate the Internet in order to help those interested consumers find us, and see that it’s easier to get here than they might assume.

Any business or attraction that can be found on the web can benefit from the Long Tail. Let’s use a concrete example. The Prince Rupert Fire Museum is a fascinating addition to what we can offer visitors to Prince Rupert, but is not large enough, and too specialized, to justify heavy traditional marketing. It receives limited mention in venues such as our annual Visitor Guide, where it shares space with everything from sport fishing to the Khutzeymateen, and it likely isn’t a primary trip motivator for the readers of 60,000 Visitor Guides produced each year.

But that’s not to say that there aren’t far more than 60,000 people out there who would be fanatically interested in the opportunity to study a restored 1925 R.E.O. Speedwagon or 1958 American LaFrance fire engine. But how to reach them? Traditionally, it would have depended on a mention here and there, a very slow word-of-mouth information network, assisted by difficult to find newsletters and clubs for enthusiasts. Now, those enthusiasts are the click of a mouse away. For the interested consumer already considering Prince Rupert, they are linked directly to the Fire Museum website which offers specialized information.

But why wait? The Internet allows promoters to reach out into these specialized niche markets. A quick Google search reveals endless options: from the Historic Fire Engine Association in New South Wales to the Miami Valley Antique Fire Apparatus Association. Most of these societies include chat boards, where local promoters can simply join a conversation and plant a seed among people interested enough in this subject that when they find out that the Fire Museum could be included on a rail/ferry tour, or an Alaskan cruise, it could actually be a primary motivator for an entire trip.

This only makes sense, in an increasingly competitive world, where consumers are empowered by tools such as TripAdvisor or CruiseCritic. The beauty of this is that anybody can do it, regardless of the size of their operation, and it doesn’t have to cost anything to substantially increase traffic.

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