With the current Covid-19 pandemic on the loose and South Africa’s nationwide lockdown causing much uncertainty, we are all left feeling a little unsure of what the future may bring. The tourism and hospitality sector has been hit hardest of all with travel bans and no influx from international tourists. This, unfortunately, might be the case for the foreseeable future. But fear not! Local travel will become our bread and butter for now and as soon as South African’s are free to start moving around, a break from lockdown will absolutely be on the cards and many locals will be looking to travel somewhere, anywhere, as long as it isn’t home!

We’re going to have a look at some clever and creative ideas on how to market successfully to the local market. But before we do that, there are some important basics you should have in place.

Firstly, think about your marketing goals, what are you hoping to achieve with your marketing efforts? Is it to get as many guests as possible to visit as soon as possible? Is it to generate some future bookings once you feel you are ready and able to receive guests again? Are you looking at long/ short stays? Are you going to aim your marketing efforts to the corporate sector or those who just want a well-deserved break-away post lockdown?
Secondly, now that we have more time on our hands, it’s imperative that we sort out our email databases to divide our guests into various sectors. We recommend keeping a separate list for locals which can then be further divided into guest types such as families, young couples, retired folk etc.

Now that we have established what and who we are marketing to, we can get cracking!

1. Offer Discounted Packages to Locals

I think we can all agree that a lot of us are currently feeling the economic pinch and although we would love to get away for a bit, finances might be limited. Discounted packages will most definitely encourage people to travel if they’re stays are more affordable. Think about things like percentage discounts mid-week, stay for 5 pay for 4 or include tickets to a local attraction. Make sure to advertise these offers in as many places as possible, including your social media channels, website and OTA’s.

2. Plan Events at Your Establishment and Collaborate with Other Small Businesses

All local small businesses would absolutely love a chance to showcase their products or services at this time. Why not organise a wine tasting or cocktail evening or ask a chef from a local restaurant to come and do a demonstration and include a lunch or dinner? You can charge for these events or offer it as a special include for a longer stay. This way you are helping local businesses get back on its feet and you are offering your guests something special and unique.

3. Create a Loyalty Program for Returning Local Guests

Using your neat database you have spent all that time on, consider sending your previous local guests a personalised email offering them a substantial discount for their next visit. You can then offer them VIP status where they either receive a discount with each visit or alternatively offer them a free night after a certain amount of stays. You can also consider including freebies, like restaurant vouchers or local attraction tickets. Again a great way to collaborate with other local businesses. This gives guests a great incentive to rather return to your establishment than booking elsewhere.

4. Gather User Generated Content and Promote It

Now is the perfect time to also contact previous guests and ask for some feedback on their past stays. This can be a review, some holiday photos were taken, some photos of a corporate event or conference held there or even better, video content. This makes for great social media posts and is a wonderful tool for showcasing your establishment and all it has to offer. Recent statistics show that decision making for us humans is largely based on what our peers have to say and have experienced, so sharing their positive feedback can only work in your favour.

5. Promote Your City, Town or Region as a Local Travel Destination

We need to get locals excited about the prospect of traveling to somewhere new and exciting as soon as we regain our freedom. Most travelers decide on a location first, before determining which establishment to book with. It will be super important that you promote your location as a fantastic travel destination and focus on the uniqueness of its situation. Are you on a farm that offers peace and quiet in a wine-growing region? Are you a chic boutique hotel in the middle of a bustling city? What does the area have to offer when it comes to activities and what can guests expect when they do decide to visit. Creating some awesome destination videos and even a customized guide about your area are great ideas to get the armchair travelers out of their seats and hitting the road.

As usual, we are here to help wherever possible and should you require a bit of extra info on how to get started with any of the above, please do not hesitate to contact us!