Independent hoteliers primarily focus their marketing efforts on capturing bookings from out of town travelers who are visiting on business or looking to enjoy some leisure time away from home. The rationale is simple – out of towners need places to stay, so hotels are willing to accommodate them. While these travelers will always be independents’ primary occupancy drivers, the upcoming summer travel season will also feature another type of traveler – staycationers.
Staycationers are locals who spend their vacation time close to home rather than trekking hundreds of miles away. Staycations are usually associated with staying in your own home, but this trend is shifting and more locals are booking hotel rooms to mix up their experience – a great opportunity for independent hotels. With summer approaching, here are a few tips to help you convince more locals to spend a few nights away from home:
An open invitation
As odd as it sounds, there’s a chance that many locals don’t know much, if anything, about your independent hotel. They may have driven by, but they never had a reason stop by or stay the night – until now. A great way to get the attention of locals is simply inviting them on-property using social media, local media channels and word of mouth. Hosting a neighborhood “get to know us” social event is a casual way to familiarize locals with your hotel and help them get comfortable with the idea of spending a night away, but still close to home.
Reasons to stay
After warming locals up to the idea of staying at your hotel, you’ll need to sell them on the value they’ll receive with their reservation. Here’s where being dialed into the community will prove valuable. Hoteliers can rely on their community ties to offer locals experiences that will fit their interests. Here are some ideas:
- Hometown discount: A special offer/discount will be the most compelling reason for locals to give up sleeping in their own bed for a night. The more creative and enticing the offer, the better it will perform.
- Local exploration tours: Locals get so consumed with their daily lives that they often miss things that are “hidden in plain sight.” Partnering with a local historian or knowledgeable photographer who can take guests on neighborhood adventures will help them re-discover what’s been hiding in their own backyard.
- Dinner and a driver: Elevate your hospitality by making dinner reservations and providing transportation with Uber or Lyft credits so locals can enjoy an evening out without driving or waiting for a table.
- Tourist for a day: Locals usually avoid “tourist traps” at all costs, but let them know it’s OK to be a tourist for a day. Providing tickets to museums, events and other experiences will help them reconnect with their surroundings and hopefully provide a fresh reminder of why they love living nearby.
Keep them engaged
After you’ve started relationships with locals, keep them engaged via email, social media, and any other marketing channels so they can stay up-to-date with what’s happening at your hotel. Even if you don’t get them to stay this summer, be sure to continue building your relationship with them because they’re never too far away for a quick, local getaway!