Shurmer says an online presence is key for advertising Chattanooga Segway Tours, specifically banner ads within a three-hour radius of Chattanooga. “We’re drawing from Birmingham, Atlanta, Nashville, and Asheville,” he explains. “We also make a concerted effort to encourage guests to post online reviews if they felt it was worthy of a good review.” Shurmer asks guests specifically to post about their experience on Facebook, Trip-Advisor, and Google. When he became general manager more than five years ago, Chattanooga Segway Tours was ranked by TripAdvisor as No. 7 out of 30 different tours in the Chattanooga area. Since actively encouraging tour guests to review their experience online, Shurmer says, the tour has maintained the No. 1 position in TripAdvisor’s recommended Tours & Rentals in Chattanooga.
Outdoor Chattanooga also looks to digital marketing, utilizing social media platforms such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook to promote tour opportunities. The company also offers introductory skills classes like How to Ride a Skateboard and tours such as the Chattanooga Classic Hike Series. Additionally, Outdoor Chattanooga partners with Get Out Chattanooga magazine and VisitChattanooga.com.
Outdoor Chattanooga’s biggest marketing asset, however, is its building in Coolidge Park. Customer relations specialist Erik Hancock says people walking through Coolidge Park will enter the building to ask questions about where to hike, paddle, or ride a bike. The foot traffic naturally brands Outdoor Chattanooga as the information hub for all things outdoors and the place to turn for outdoor experiences.
By contrast, Chatt Taste Food Tours has no brick-and-mortar home base. Because each ambassador operates an LLC, Garza gives each Chattanooga ambassador an individual discount code to recruit guests for Chatt Taste Food Tours. As the company owner, Garza advertises primarily through co-op opportunities with the Convention and Visitors Bureau, which matches all of her out-of-town marketing dollar-for-dollar, she says, and her primary market for advertising is Atlanta.
Tradition also plays a role in the business of Chattanooga tours. Morrow says Ruby Falls invests in hundreds of billboards in four states, in relationships with tour bus associations, and in print and online media, but it’s the generational aspect of a tour that can bring people back again and again. “If you’ve been here as a child, when you’re an adult, you bring your children back,” he explains. “If you bring your children back, then you’ll bring your grandchildren back.”