International Travel Likely Won’t Rebound Until 2021. What Should Hoteliers Do?

With international travel on hold, hoteliers need to focus on domestic guests. Here are some strategies for winning local guests.

In our largest ever global study about travel trends during Covid-19, we discovered that 70.1% of travelers expect to travel domestically when they take their first trip. 49.1% of travelers expect to travel first within their country and 21.0% expect to travel within their home state or province.

I don’t think anyone is surprised by these results since most international borders are still closed, international flights have been cancelled and countries are scrambling to put some health procedures in place for international travelers.

What does this mean for hoteliers? It’s all about domestic travel. Here are four ideas for hoteliers to capture local bookings.

Hoteliers should focus on local guest marketing

Hoteliers should focus their promotional emails on capturing bookings from local travelers. Looking for clever ideas? Segment your database by the main cities around you and send targeted emails about the adventure of road tripping to your hotel. Include recommendations from your staff about the best sights and destinations along the way. Your local guests will love the recommendations and it’s a great way for guests to learn about your staff and the warm hospitality you provide. And, since you know people will be arriving by car, waive parking fees or provide valet service for the park of self-parking.

Hoteliers should partner with local attractions

Partner with local attractions to help your guests rediscover their local area. By putting together package deals or simply co-marketing with destinations around you, you can raise awareness about the great businesses nearby and drive new guests into your lobby. Share sample itineraries or highlight the best of the area to help locals explore, right in their backyards.

Hoteliers should encourage ‘tell a friend’ programs

Word of mouth marketing can be a great channel over the next year since most of your guests will be local to the area. Segment your database by drive-to guests and send targeted emails, with fun promotions about traveling locally. Encourage your email recipients to share the promotions with their friends for a locals’ discount.

According to a study conducted by OnePoll of two thousand American drivers, 62 percent admitted they need a break from their loved one(s) after being quarantined together for weeks on end so create a girlfriends getaway or manly escape promotion and send it to local guests, along with ideas for the vacation. If you do it right, the emails (and social media posts) will be shared among groups of friends.

Hoteliers should encourage social media

Your social media accounts have likely been pretty quiet lately. Ensure your first guests share their experience staying with you on their social media pages and tag you. How can you make this happen? When guests arrive, bellhops can offer to take photos for guests in front of your sign, so they can let their friends know that they have arrived. You can leave a basket of fun props by the bellhop station with stick cards that read, “First Covid-19 Break #yourhotel” or “Staycation Summer 2019 #yourhotel.” Get creative and your guests will be taking pictures and posting photos their whole trip.

For hotels, especially those in major metropolitan cities, that rely on international travelers, it’s a challenging time. But, by refocusing efforts on people within driving proximity, you can make up some lost revenue and begin building marketing muscle that you haven’t flexed in a while. Implement these steps and strategies for your recovery, and we hope it will be a success!

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