How to attract, retain local guests

You’re probably already familiar with term ‘staycation;’ a vacation set in your own home country or city rather than abroad.

Contributed by Regitse Cecillie Rosenvinge, hospitality consultant, Copenhagen, Denmark

Of course, the staycation trend has provided hotels with lots of new opportunities to create revenue, but where does a hotelier begin? How do you truly reap the benefits of this new concept?

As the world is opening up again, many people will venture out like in pre-pandemic times. However, there’s also a large segment preferring local travel for the reasons mentioned above, and the risk of a new COVID wave is simply something we’re forced to deal with moving forward. Pandemics are here to stay, and so is the staycation format, which has gained foothold in the hotel industry. Hoteliers all over the world would be well off choosing to focus on domestic travel – for many, it’ll simply be the key to recovery. In other words, there’s too much revenue at risk if you’re not preparing for the staycation boom.

Luckily, it’s not too late and there are several ways to go about it.

Evaluate your guest persona. Needless to say, a hotel must know its target audience – or its typical guest persona – to bring value and sell more rooms. Perhaps you’re already familiar with this, but many properties still don’t know their audience(s) in-depth. Now is the time to evaluate to figure out your market tactics and get ahead of your competitors.

While you’re at it, take a look at the hotels in your own area; what are they doing to attract more local guests? And more importantly, what can you do different? What can you offer that they don’t already?

Highlight your destination and promote local tourism. Get to know your local environment as in-depth as possible – or even better, team up with them. By building local partnerships, you’ll be sure to attract a broader segment, and in the process, you’re making new connections. Supporting your local community is crucial these days, and it’s also one of the easiest things for you to do.

Here are a few ideas:

• Partner up with local tourism board to offer special deals, tours or workshops.
• Collaborate with local shops and tour guides to provide your guests with new and exciting experiences while staying at your hotel.
• Partner up with a car rental agency to secure a good deal for your guests.
• If you have a restaurant, purchase produce from local farmers and communicate it through your website and social media channels.
• Create a flyer (or an online magazine) telling the story of your hotel and/or local environment. You can also install a QR-code which guests can click on to get the full story.

•The sky is the limit here. Be creative.

Leverage social media. I bet you’re already out there, but are your efforts truly paying off? Evaluate your social media activities and get a clearer image on what to do better.

When tapping into a new segment of travelers – the staycationers – being visible on social media is vital. More than that, you must be consistent. One post a week won’t do much good.

Apart from regular posts on Instagram and Facebook (or whatever channels you prefer), try paid ads as well. It’s usually the combination of the high quality content you put out (‘owned content’) and paid content that sets the deal. Especially because you can target a specific audience when boosting ads (e.g. couples between 35-55 years old in your area).
Speaking of social media; I’d recommend you to consider having one or two local influencers staying with you as that can be a great way to get more bookings. In my opinion, micro-influencers (5-25,000 followers) work much better these days, as they’re usually more connected to their audiences.

Create a comfortable office space. Tap into another growing group of people – the work-from-home segment. As wonderful it can be to work from the comfort of your own home, there’ll always be days where you simply need an escape – this is where your hotel comes into the picture.

Whether or not you’re already catering to business travelers, setting up a comfortable office environment for your guests shouldn’t be too much of a hassle. Every room should obviously have its own desk and comfortable chair, as well as fast WiFi and a coffee machine. Don’t forget the hand sanitizer and wet wipes.

Provide a daily office space rate and create a special staycation package for the business travelers in your local area.