In a recent blog post, we outlined a few of the reasons why more travelers are “going local” and opting for “staycations,” vacations that are within easy driving distance of their homes.  Google search data shows that this is more than a passingSTAY IN TOWN trend among travelers.  The popularity of staycations is increasing annually, so their momentum stands to greatly benefit the bottom line of even more independent hotel operators this summer.

To help hoteliers capture the attention of these locally-curious travelers, as well their valuable reservations and revenue dollars, here are a few tips for capitalizing on the staycation trend:

Hyper-localize your marketing plan
One difference between staycationers and those coming from further distances is, due to their locality, staycationers are more likely to know where to look to find “locals only” insight and information.  For example, instead of relying on Starbucks for morning coffee, staycationers may follow a neighborhood food blogger who recommends the best local coffee shops.  It’s with these hyper-local outlets, like blogs, tourism groups and event planners, that independent hoteliers should look to develop relationships and promote their property.

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“Going local” is one of the hottest concepts influencing consumer spending habits.  More and more people are showing interest in eating locally-sourced foods, supporting neighborhood businesses and, STAYCATIONto the benefit of independent hoteliers, spending their travel dollars close to home, otherwise known as taking “staycations.”  And the great news for independent hotel operators is this trend is growing annually.  According to Google Trends, online searches for “staycation” annually in July and were up 10% in 2014, so operators have lots to look forward to as the summer travel months approach.

Taking a closer look at the staycation trend, here are 3 reasons why travelers are opting to vacation closer to home:

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Managing an independent hotel is a challenging, but rewarding endeavor.  Operators get into the hotel business for various reasons – they come from a family of hoteliers, are passionate about delivering hospitality or simply thrive in its fastIncrease Occupancy pace.  But regardless of what brought operators into the industry, a key to career longevity is learning how to successfully manage a hotel’s most important performance metrics: Occupancy Rate, Average Daily Rate (ADR) and Revenue Per Available Room (RevPAR).  A hotel can look great from the outside, but if it’s not performing at a high level, it’s unlikely it or its operator will survive over the long-term.

Let’s look at these three performance metrics in greater detail:

1)    Occupancy Rate
Achieving the “perfect” occupancy rate is like balancing on a circus tightrope.  If occupancy is too high, rates may be too low, so the property is unable to maximize its revenue because it has no inventory to sell.  And on the other hand, if occupancy is too low, rates may be too high for the market or perhaps travelers are failing to see the value in booking with that hotel.  Occupancy rate is impacted by numerous factors, so it’s critical that operators thoroughly understand the conditions that generally affect their property.  To do this, hoteliers can:

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“Millennials” is the hottest buzz word circulating through the media and business communities right now.  Companies across all industries are intrigued by the influence and purchasing power of the 92 million individuals who make up this Untitled design(9)tech-reliant generation.  Industries, including the hotel sector, are going to great lengths to learn more about how to communicate with millennials, gauge their interests and, ultimately, capture their dollars.  At first glance, it may seem that independent hoteliers won’t be able to compete head-to-head with the major brands who are spending millions to grab their attention.  However, the reality is that independent hoteliers are positioned perfectly to benefit from the shift in consumer behavior that is being initiated by millennials.

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The phrase “word of mouth” may sound old and outdated, but it’s still one of the most important marketing tactics for independent hoteliers.  In the past, word of mouth meant that a guest would tell 10 people about his or her experience andWOM then, based on this recommendation, those 10 people would each tell 10 additional people and the cycle would continue on with the hotel benefiting from the first-hand publicity.  This tactic allowed countless hotels to grow and sustain success over a long period of time.  Today, with the advantages of technology, word of mouth is executed differently, but the concept of guests sharing their experiences with others is stronger than ever.  Having a strong and positive reputation is critical for longevity in the independent hotel business, so operators must learn how to participate in and navigate today’s world of word of mouth marketing.

Today, by the time guests have checked-out of their hotel room, it’s likely they’ve already begun spreading the word about their experience.  Social media allows them to share stories, photos and videos about every moment of their trip with anyone who is interested.  Social media is a powerful tool, but there is one particular area where hoteliers must pay even closer attention – guest reviews.

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Day in and day out, independent hoteliers are consumed with making sure their property is operating efficiently, meeting guest expectations and, most importantly, generating revenue.  improve hotel OTA performanceThe downside of this occupational “tunnel vision” is that it becomes difficult to look beyond their in-house operations and keep a pulse on their local market competitors.  So, unfortunately, sometimes it requires hitting an unexpected bump in the road, like a drop in occupancy, to realize their competitors are capturing a larger share of the market.

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One of great benefits of being an independent hotelier is the flexibility to tinker and test ways to market and promote your property.  Local market advertising and strategic partnerships are some of the tried and true methods of marketing to consumers, but email still reigns as one of the most efficient and effective tactics.  With dozens of companies providing easy-to-use software, hotel operators are able to manage and measure the success of their email campaigns, and most importantly, remain connected with past and potential guests.DIY

One of the great features of innRoad’s web-based hotel property management system (PMS) is the ability to “slice and dice” historical guest data and export campaign-specific email lists for deploying targeted email marketing campaigns.  Using a bit of creativity, operators can create campaigns that are designed to generate increased exposure and, of course, capture direct bookings.  To help maximize independent hotel email marketing campaigns, here are a few tips:

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The question in the headline above may sound silly but research shows that the majority of Americans have curiously searched for themselves online, so if you’ve ever typed your name into Google, you’re definitely not alone.  Now, on a much more serious note, when is the last time your Googled your hotel?  Searching for yourself can be fun, but the results that show for your hotel can impact its financial future.NYC(1)

In your hotel’s online results, you’ll likely see your website, social media pages, consumer review sites and online travel agents (OTA), like Expedia, Orbitz and Booking.com – well, that’s if you’re connected to a global distribution system (GDS) and use OTAs to market your property.  The benefits of a GDS and OTAs are always some of the most highly debated topics among independent hoteliers.  Some operators argue that their fees are too high and cut too deeply into profits and others have nothing but praise for the online booking channels that drive revenue and reservations for their properties.  With these greatly varying opinions, it begs the question, “Who has the best argument?”  Rather than sorting through dozens of varying, but legitimate, opinions of hoteliers, let’s look at this from the perspective of those who have the greatest influence on your hotel

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