The local travel industry’s revival is now underway and countless families, couples, and individuals are understandably desperate for a holiday this festive season. Here are just 5 ways to go about effectively promoting your guesthouse for the upcoming December holidays, encouraging plenty of enthusiasm, a surge in bookings, and a healthier bottom line.
Provide peace of mind
If there is one thing that everyone has learned about living in the times of COVID, it is that it is impossible to predict what life is going to look like in the future – even just a few weeks from now. It is for this reason that many prospective holidaymakers are holding back on booking a December getaway for themselves and their families, no matter how needed the break may be!
The reality is that for many South Africans (and international travellers alike), money is tight and job security is uncertain. In short, they are hesitant to risk losing their money after making a booking only to have to cancel at the last minute due to falling ill or more stringent lockdown restrictions being put into place.
Alleviate this concern by updating your cancellation policies and highlighting that all bookings will be fully refunded in case of a COVID-related event outside of the traveller’s control. Communicate this clearly on your website (via a pop-up message or right at the very top of each web page), emailers, personal phone calls to previous guests, and social media.
Create an online presence & Leverage social media
Make sure, you make it as easy as possible for your potential customers to book your establishment by having an online booking tool on your website. This doesn’t have to break the bank – you can sign up for the Jurni booking tool free of charge to get your property online.
Social media is every travel supplier’s best friend right now. It allows you direct access to your previous guests, as well as to prospective guests. There are various ways to put the different platforms to good use:
- Communicate how your guesthouse is going the extra mile to ensure optimal guest safety
- Encourage previous guests (particularly those who have stayed at the guesthouse since the virus hit) to post honest reviews detailing their experiences
- Upload inspirational content and beautiful imagery of your establishment and its surroundings
- Post ‘exclusive’ specials, discounts, codes, and incentives to give prospective travellers the push to make that booking
Create tailored packages for all traveller types
Most guesthouses operate on fixed ‘per night’ or ‘per person’ rates. Unfortunately, these are not doing the establishments any favours. Cater to the unique needs and wants of particular traveller types and you are sure to notice a significant increase in both interest and bookings.
Think back to the different travel parties that have enjoyed your hospitality in the past – families, couples, newlyweds, groups of friends, people travelling with their pets, etc. From there, you will have a good general idea of which traveller types to cater to.
Your family-friendly package could offer a fixed rate for two people and allow kids to stay for free, while a package geared towards friends coming together on holiday could include a complimentary six-pack of beer, coals, and firelighters for their first-night braai. Don’t hesitate to get creative or to ask your guests directly for insights into what incentives would mean the most to them right now.
Focus on the overall experience
Avoid concentrating solely on selling your guesthouse as a standalone offering. Sell the location in which your guesthouse is situated too! Which tourist attractions are nearby? What activities can guests partake in during their visit? Which restaurants promise a gastronomic adventure of note?
Now is the time for all travel suppliers to collaborate, coming together to boost the revival of the industry. Promote each other, support each other. Aim to provide your guests with more than just a good, comfortable night’s sleep or a stunning view. Instead, aim to provide them with an experience to remember!
Ensure clear communication regarding COVID safety protocols
Safety is at the top of every traveller’s priority list in 2020 (and will probably remain at the top of the list for a very long time to come). Before feeling confident enough to make a booking, you can be sure that prospective travellers will take the time to research how your guesthouse is taking action to reduce the chances of visitors coming into contact with the coronavirus. Therefore, it is vital to ensure that this information is easy to come by and is clearly and comprehensively communicated.
Also, take the time to double-check that your COVID safety protocols are, in fact, up to date and in line with best practice guidelines as issued by the government, the TBCSA and various global health authorities, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
To sum up…
Safety, communication, and a personal touch are all key to making the most of the December holiday period this year. Travellers want to feel protected, confident, and valued above all else. Keep this in mind when it comes to your promotions, as well as your virtual and face-to-face dealings, and you will be well on your way to seeing an increase in bookings and happy, satisfied guests who are eager to spread the word…