How to reap the benefits of a staycation boom – now and in the future
In association with NFU Mutual
This article is written by tourism and hospitality expert of 30 years, Susan Briggs. Susan is Director of The Tourism Network who are one of NFU Mutual’s selected industry partners. In this article Susan looks at the must-do marketing activities and how they can help businesses bounce back from not only the global pandemic but the usual off-season that will soon be approaching.
With the UK seeing a boom in domestic holiday taking this year, how can you maximise the impact of this surge of popularity and make sure it lasts for years to come?
You’ll hopefully be busy welcoming visitors over the coming months and perhaps not have too much time to think about marketing for the future. Here are a few simple things you can do now to help you effortlessly build a loyal following for years to come.
TELL PEOPLE ABOUT YOUR EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE
Every good tourism business prides itself on offering excellent customer service every day. Market research agency, the BVA BDRC found people are more excited than ever to hear what welcome they’ll get, or how happy you’re to welcome them back and how you’re going to go above and beyond to make their visit safe – as some people will still have their reservations about travel.
Is there something you could do that would make people smile and have real word of mouth benefits too, creating a ‘talk trigger’ for guests? A talk trigger is anything that gets people talking about your business.
A good way to develop talk triggers is to think through every aspect of what you offer and how.
Start with the initial contact such as booking, or someone arriving and think through the overall experience. Most businesses think about their ‘service’ in only general terms. If you consider every customer touch point, you’ll find moments when you could delight instead of just offering ‘good service’. For example, you might offer dog chews, bowl and towel for guests arriving with a dog to show your dog-friendliness or give out travel sweets (branded with your business name) as guests leave.
We know making a good first impression is important.
What about the last impression – the moment when people leave?
This is something some businesses forget about: they simply take payment and wave goodbye. What could you do to make people smile as they leave? It doesn’t have to be anything complicated. I still remember a hotel that cleaned car windscreens before each guest left. They didn’t just clean it – they left a smiley faced message on the windscreen saying they’d cleaned the windscreen to make sure guests had a safe journey home because they wanted to see them again. Whatever talk trigger you use, don’t forget to ask for recommendations as well.
After such difficult times, visitors are likely to be delighted to be able to explore so there’s a good chance they’ll write even better reviews that usual. Actively asking for reviews (in the right way) can pay dividends.
Make sure you respond to reviews, good or bad, tailoring your responses rather than offering stock replies. Many visitors pay as much attention to the responses as they do the original reviews.
BUILD YOUR MAILING LIST
Use every opportunity you can to build your mailing list. Whether it’s at check-in, on your Facebook page, or by follow-up email, ask permission to send your newsletter or ideas for future visits. You need to plan consistent mailings with enticing content. Once you do, you’ll see your mailing list grow steadily and can use it to convince people to visit again and again and tell others about you.
SHOW WHAT ELSE IS IN THE AREA
Make sure you provide plenty of information about all the attractions of your area. Don’t just limit yourself to major events and things to do. Visitors enjoy small-scale, quirky unusual ideas too. If they’re your personal recommendations, they’ll appeal even more as visitors love insider tips. Try to save a few ideas to suggest for a future visit.
USE CURRENT VISITORS FOR MARKET RESEARCH
Do you sometimes struggle to write promotional content so that it really appeals to your target market? Get inside the mind of your visitors, they know best!
It’s useful to get some answers to simple questions now so you can use the responses in your future marketing. You could do this via a brief questionnaire, face to face in a casual conversation over breakfast, or through social media. You might ask them what they really enjoy about your business or the area, what they most looked forward to before visiting, or what made them want to visit.
There are lots of reasons why it’s worth doing this.
It’s a good excuse to speak to customers or get in touch with them and remind them about their previous good experience – using the indirect angle or asking for help can work well. Making a note of their words will help you to think about the keywords you need to use on your website to improve your search engine rankings.
They may say something about your business that you haven’t really thought about or say something that helps you realise you’re not making the most of some aspects of your business. It might give you ideas for some extra photos or wording on your website that you didn’t consider before. It could also give ideas for blogs or future promotional ideas.
They might even say something that you could use as a testimonial in future – with permission.
It’s great to see your business through others’ eyes. It can help refresh your marketing and give you a real boost. And we all need one of those.
Susan Briggs Director of The Tourism Network
from Darren Seward, Hospitality and Food and Drink Sector Lead, NFU Mutual
At NFU Mutual, we use our expertise and knowledge of the Hospitality Sector to provide the best solution for the customer’s needs in these challenging times and help build resilience. We’re producing a series of articles with our partners which offer advice and guidance for use with both existing customers and prospects.