Uplevel Tourism — March Town Hall Event

Joe Martin
3 min readMar 25, 2021

Another impactful and inspiring evening is in the books with our extended UpLevel family of food tour operators. Tonight, we were lucky to host Dalton Barton, owner of Clear Sky Tourism, as our featured guest. Dalton is a tour marketing expert (and an ambitious triathlete!) who brought some incredible insight to the table.

This evening, we focused on specific struggles facing food tours as we begin to see a light at the end of this pandemic tunnel. We identified some challenges facing us going forward, and then discussed strategies to work within this volatile market ecosystem and to set ourselves up for success on the other side.

The biggest questions everyone has: What is the post-COVID world going to look like? How do we plan for a world we can’t yet wrap our heads around?

To address this, Dalton suggests that we break out pen and paper, and game out three to five different scenarios for what we see happening in our markets over the next 1–3 years. Find the best-case scenario — the vaccine is a miracle, and everything is back to pre-COVID numbers within the year; and the worst-case scenario — maybe it takes several years to recover back to pre-COVID numbers. Then, try to imagine a few scenarios in between. Once we have those, we can come up with strategies for each. That way, we have a general roadmap with which to move forward given several different possibilities.

Other challenges our tour operators are currently facing:

  • Unclear about the best place to invest time and money into marketing
  • Unsure about the future of the new products they created when they pivoted their businesses during COVID
  • Concerned about timing to reopen group tours

Our team at UpLevel provided some valuable nuggets of wisdom that can help any tour operator navigate these issues:

  • Only control what you can control. If there are still restrictions on dining and travel in your area, try to focus on markets or products where those things aren’t as important to your business. Can we still innovate around new products or new markets?
  • Define the problem, be the solution. What is a specific problem that your potential customer has that your tour addresses? Are they unsure about where to go in your city to eat a safe meal? Are they overwhelmed by the choices in front of them? Find ways to target those problems, then solve them with your products.
  • Focus on one ideal customer. The more specific you can get with who you’re trying to target, the more universally appealing your messaging will become. Define for yourself one ideal customer — give them a name, an occupation, a problem they need solving that only you can solve. Flesh them out into a real person, then keep them in mind when creating your marketing strategies.

We look forward to see you all again at our next UpLevel Town Hall taking place in April!

Uplevel Tourism is a Chicago-based creative agency that provides email marketing for tour operators.



Joe Martin

Entrepreneur, author, and TEDx Speaker who believes real world interactions are more valuable than digital ones.