What Makes a Good Souvenir?

If you run a tourism-based business, you may want to help your customers keep their memories intact by offering them some souvenirs or branded merchandise that they can take home to commemorate their visit. Done correctly, merchandising can become a significant portion of a businesses revenue. But what makes for a good souvenir?

A picture is worth…

It’s never been easier to take photos on vacation—after all, every smartphone has a high-quality camera attached. But research shows that people who spend all their vacation time behind the camera will not form strong memories of the event, as they’re not truly experiencing the trip—just snapping photos. Even so, a photograph is one of the best souvenirs imaginable; it’s personal, it doesn’t use too many resources, and it captures both the place and the people involved. Some activity-based businesses now offer professional photographs or videos for their customers, which gives them the best of both worlds—a picture to commemorate the event without being tethered to their own camera. Many zip lines, for instance, take action shots of their customers and offer the prints for sale, creating a unique commemoration of a fun experience (and adding what can amount to significant revenue). Digital photography has made this option relatively easy, and your customers will appreciate a custom souvenir they can take home and share with friends and family.

Some companies have decided to turn photographs into part of the experience. Alaska Photo Treks offers breathtaking tours of Alaska’s wilderness, but each outing is also a photography workshop. Attendees learn how to frame shots, use unique cameras and lenses they wouldn’t otherwise access, and can come home with a series of incredibly beautiful and very memorable photographs—a souvenir of both the location and the skills they learned.

Make it relevant

If you’re going to offer merchandise, don’t just go with figurines and keychains which will end up in a junk drawer in just a few months. Make your souvenir offerings relevant to your business, and give your customers something they’ll use on a regular basis. Yoga retreats can sell branded yoga mats or water bottles, for instance; an outdoor tour could offer compass keychains. Wine tours can sell corkscrews or wineglass trinkets. It can also go along with the holidays; here are some creative holiday marketing ideas. When a souvenir is practical and relevant, your customers will remember your company every time they use the item they’ve purchased.

Make it ethical

Ethical and sustainable business is becoming (rightly) more popular, as travellers attempt to be more conscious of what they consume and where they go. As many Checkfront businesses derive revenue directly from the beauty of the outdoors, it’s also quite common to see a theme of conscious conservation run through their business operations. Print your brand on reusable cloth tote bags, or go local and see if you can get nearby artists to produce handmade souvenirs for you; eco-friendly or locally sourced souvenirs make truly meaningful gifts, one-of-a-kind commemorations that customers can take home.

For business owners there are now a number of companies that cater to the sustainable merchandising model. As an example, Sitka (one of our neighbours) offers apparel and outdoor equipment that is ethically made in North America with as small a carbon footprint as possible. In Sitka’s case they go a step further by sponsoring the Sitka Society for Conservation with a portion of their revenues. The sustainably produced t-shirt that your customer takes home becomes a way of remembering their experience and supporting conservation efforts that will benefit tourism (and business) in the long run.

Brand it

Make your brand, or the location a part of the souvenir.  Beyond the initial revenue bump, there is always the possibility that the souvenir sparks a memory or conversation that results in a repeat or referral booking with your business.

The best souvenirs are the ones that are enjoyable and memorable — which helps drive more repeat bookings. Be original and selective in the types of products and quality you sell – your customers will appreciate it.

Want more great ideas for your tour business?

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