How to Market your Hotel Property to Locals

It used to be that when people thought of the word “travel,” they’d picture far-away and exotic places, dutifully saving up their vacation days (and their money) to go on multi-week getaways.

Today, that’s the exception, not the rule. According to a 2013 study by the Center for Economic Research, the average American worker receives around 13 days of paid vacation a year. Between the time-off constraints and the tough economy, people have had to get really creative about how to get the most out of their limited time off.

While many will still take a one week-long vacation each year, people are looking to stretch their remaining days off by taking short breaks a little closer to home. This goes with the current trend of buying local or drinking local… people are traveling local, too.

No matter where in the world your business is, here are five ways you can approach marketing to local customers so that they pick your hotel, inn or B&B for their next local getaway.

Focus on the offseason

If you want to explore drawing in locals without spending a ton of effort, focus on the offseason. Remember: it’s the offseason for your community, too and chances are locals are itching for a little change of scenery… even if it’s just down the block! During your slow season, entice them with a special “locals-only” promo code and share it on regional blogs and community websites for a low-risk high-reward approach. Or, if you find that your property has a number of empty rooms one weekend, turn to social media to get the word out with a special “last minute deal” perfect for locals looking for an impromptu night away from home.

Promote the idea of an Enhanced Staycation

The word “staycation” hit the American lexicon in 2008 and after five years of staying at home, the concept has gotten a little stale. Freshen it up for your local crowd by promoting an Enhanced Staycation… encouraging customers to use your property as their relaxing home base to explore the area’s lesser known attractions. Come up with a name for the package (such as “Stay and Play”) and develop several itineraries geared towards your area’s top draws (like craft breweries, offbeat attractions, “diners, drive-ins and dives,” etc.) to help get guests in the vacation spirit. Consider collaborating with relevant local businesses to offer an accommodation + activities package deal specifically geared towards your community’s interests.

Host a ticketed event designed to garner local attention

If you have a good reception space or outdoor entertaining area, hosting a ticketed event geared towards the locals in your area has the potential to raise awareness for your property, create affinity and customer loyalty… and fill your hotel for the night! Pick a theme that will really resonate with your community, such as a beer sampling with all of the local breweries or a benefit to help a local charity. Offering a “room + event” ticket option will give customers a little extra incentive to make a night out of it. After the event, follow up with your party guests with a special promo code for a future night’s stay.

Highlight your best R&R amenity

A local crowd will be more likely to forgo their own bed and stay in one of yours if you provide them with something they can’t possibly get at home. Has your property recently undergone a renovation? Do you have a killer pool or spa or restaurant? Do you have a location close to some of your area’s top attractions? In your local marketing efforts, really play up these unique “can’t-get-this-at-home” amenities to entice potential guests to come and get away.

Have local bloggers do the work for you

If you’re creating packages and promotions specifically geared to locals, you’ll need to get the word out! Reach out to the locals blogs and news outlets and share what you’re doing to help the community have a little bit of an escape. In all of your outfacing marketing, really emphasize how your hotel fits in with the immediate and regional area’s vibe. If you can, invite a few key influential local bloggers to stay the night to experience your property and share their “local travel” hotel experience with their readers, offering a special promo code that the bloggers can share with their readers for a small discount.

 

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Christina Ricchiuti

Christina Ricchiuti

Travel Blogger

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Last Updated: September 5, 2013