Google searches of “staycation” were up 10% year over year from 2011-2014, and the trend of having a holiday closer to home is predicted to continue for 2016.
There’s less to plan, less distance to travel, and less stress. And frequently, our local area or neighbouring city has just as much to offer as a foreign destination. It’s just a case of finding out what’s best to do and letting go of the expectation that you need to get on a plane to escape.
Here’s how you can market your tours and activities to locals and keep business booming all year round, even in the off-season.
1. Provide locals with a new experience or insight
If you offer walking tours, you can’t expect locals to be won over by the premise of a touristy circuit of the city they live in.
Instead, you could consider adding a more niche tour to your selection of activities that locals can learn from too. For example, a tour of the best coffee shops in London’s Covent Garden, or a walk around Copenhagen that gives budding philosophers an insight into Soren Kierkegaard’s life.
This is much the case for all tours and activities. You need to be imaginative, adapt your service, and market your business as providing unique and exciting experiences, even for local people.
2. Cultivate word of mouth advertising
Get locals talking about yours tours and activities. You want to be "top of mind" if one of your neighbours has a guest to stay from out of town, or if they know someone looking for things to do in the area.
Get out there, talk to people, and make everyone - even your hairdresser and the guy that makes you coffee - know about your tours. Here's our blog post dedicated to helping you generate more word of mouth.
3. Improve your TripAdvisor rankings
When locals research things to do in their area, there’s a high chance they will end up on TripAdvisor. TripAdvisor pages are usually near the top of a Google search, and as travellers we tend to trust its recommendations.
Take a look at our advice on improving your TripAdvisor ranking, and also ask local people to review you. This will increase the chances of someone else nearby viewing your TripAdvisor page, seeing that a Facebook friend has reviewed you, and perhaps even booking a tour.
4. Share a locals-only discount code or deal
To enhance the positive reception of your business in your area, and get more online reviews, you could introduce a locals-only discount, perhaps for those who share your postcode or zip code.
There’s no need to worry about paper vouchers: if you’re a TrekkSoft user, your customers can input a discount code when booking directly on your website and see the reduced price before paying.
5. Create a special mailing list for locals
In order to receive a discount, you could ask locals to be added to your email mailing list. Through this you can send out additional offers and news about your business, and in turn you can increase the chances of repeat bookings.
6. Turn locals into ambassadors for your tours
Another idea is to set-up a referral programme that allows locals to receive a discount for recommending your business to friends or family.
To do so, you could provide locals with personalised discount codes to give to their friends. This also allows you to track where recommendations originate, and in turn reward the giver. Maybe they will know someone who is visiting your city for the weekend, and your tours could be the perfect activity for a Saturday afternoon.
7. Get mentioned in local press
Local newspapers, magazines and brochures are often keen to help nearby businesses gain exposure, especially if your business provides people with ideas of what to do over a weekend–this is useful for readers, and hence worthy of printing!
Make a list of local press that you can contact about writing a story about your business or promoting your tours and activities. If this is too much to ask, you could offer a free tour for one of their writers to go on and review, or even pay for an advertising space.
8. Let neighbours support your business on social media
Ask locals to follow you on social media and create a base of loyal support. Start with your own network of friends and family: are they all following you on social media? Can you encourage them to share your page, ideally alongside why they’d recommend your business, to their own network?
When asking people to follow you, make clear what’s in it for them. Maybe you share special discount codes, post stunning photos of your city, or publish blog posts about your business’s involvement in the local area. Tell them.
Download your free copy of our social media ebook, packed full of tips and tricks from industry expert Colm Hanratty.
9. Use events and advertising to meet new people
By attending local events, networking, and meeting a wide range of people, you can become a familiar face to your neighbours. Any of your new acquaintances could send your next customer your way: increase the chances of that happening by getting out into your community! Local businesses drive local economies: talk about your tours and let people know about your plans forward.
To connect with other locals and increase your social media presence, you can also start a Facebook advertising campaign that’s targeted on promoting your page to your local area.
Start now and make 2016 the year you make a name for your tours or activities in your local area as well as further afield.
Written by Lucy Fuggle
Lucy is Head of Content Marketing at TrekkSoft. She tries to read a book a week, travel solo every month, and share ideas on lucyfuggle.com. You can usually find her in Switzerland's Berner Oberland.