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Wyoming Business Tips for Jan. 31-Feb. 6

January 22, 2016

A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Sarah Lancaster Hamlin, WSBDC Fremont County business adviser

“I own a tourism-based business. Does it matter if my business has an online presence?” Sheryl, Cody

These days, having an online presence -- a basic, well-maintained website and listings in online directories and peer review sites -- should be an important part of your business marketing plan.

The Pew Research Center estimates that 84 percent of American adults (over the age of 18) are online. This continues a 15-year trend of growth in the number of American adults who are online.

Wyoming is no different. Pew Center research suggests that residents of rural communities have been slow adaptors to using the Internet. By the end of 2014, 78 percent of people living in rural communities also reported being online. Though 18-29-year-olds were still the most likely adult Internet users in a community, it is the 65-plus demographic that is growing at the fastest rate.

Like it or not, most customers go online to find basic business information (contact information, location, etc.) and to read reviews before making a purchase of a product or service, especially when it comes to making reservations for an upcoming vacation. With the growing adoption of smartphones, this becomes even more common in the tourism markets. If your customers and potential customers cannot find you, how will they be able to make the decision to visit while on vacation?

It is estimated that in 2014, $122 billion was spent online booking for travel. This represents about 40 percent of all tourism and booking -- and we have seen this activity grow by about 73 percent the last five years. Between 2013-14, we saw an 11 percent increase in the amount of money that was spent booking travel online. It is estimated that this trend continued in 2015.

In this market, how can you afford not to have an online presence?

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments are available at http://wyen.biz/blog1/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu, or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.


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