Welcome to the recap of tonight’s first UpLevel Tourism Town Hall of 2021. If you were able to make it, we’re so glad you could participate. We hope you found our speakers enlightening, and the opportunity to network with your colleagues and peers helpful.

Our featured speakers tonight were small business advisor, Dave LeVeque; and social media expert, Sani Nielsen. Our topics ranged from how to best plan our budgets for another uncertain year, and how best to capture and retain your audience as we move forward.

Dave LeVeque is an entrepreneur, and a business and financial advisor who’s worked in and around the food tourism industry for many years. His goal is to help small business owners make the best possible decisions to cut costs, increase revenue, and weather any storm. Here are some of Dave’s key recommendations:

  • 2020 data is key to your immediate future. 2020 is the only data we have for what it’s like to do business in the current climate. Go back and analyze what worked, what didn’t, and where you may have missed opportunities.
  • Don’t make just one business plan for 2021. We have to be prepared for uncertainty, so think about making several plans based on different trigger points. Think ahead to the end of each quarter, and try to imagine a few market scenarios. Base your decisions about moving forward on the shape you think your market will be in at that point.

  • Don’t give up on marketing. Marketing dollars in your budget are revenue-generating dollars. Look at your 2020 data to see where to best spend your marketing budgets this year. Push what’s been working, and drop what hasn’t. Aim to spend 5%-10% of your gross revenue on targeted marketing efforts.
  • Stay optimistic, and try to be nimble. The companies that have weathered this pandemic best are those that didn’t get discouraged, and were able to find new markets and revenue streams for new and innovative products.

Sani Nielsen works as a social media and messaging strategist for companies of all sizes in a number of industries. She’s noticed that her clients are often afraid that focusing on social media is a time-suck, and isn’t worth the effort. She wants everyone to realize that social media is the first touch-point for any customer when they are researching a business to patronize. When done well, social media levels the playing field between small business operators and the big dogs!

  • Focus on the right platforms. If you already know where your market spends most of their time on social media, focus your efforts there. If you don’t, start with Facebook and Instagram — you get more bang for your buck since you can easily cross-post between both platforms.
  • Make sure your profiles are up to date. If you haven’t revisited your profiles lately, do a comprehensive audit. Make sure your logos and business information are up to date, and that the information available is clean, clear, and relevant.

  • Consider investing in ads. Once again, take a look at where your customers from 2020 were coming from. With the Facebook ad manager, you can target your customer-base with incredible specificity. Play with this tool to see how you can start segmenting and targeting based on data points like geographic location, age, and income level.
  • Don’t give up on your pre-COVID content. Nostalgia has a lot of currency these days. Repurpose older posts for new, throwback posts and stories. Tell an optimistic story!

We hope you’ll join us for our next UpLevel Town Hall on February 24th!

Uplevel Tourism is a Chicago-based creative agency that helps tours with their website and email marketing.

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