As COVID restrictions continue and overseas holidays seem still out of grasp, happy memories of 2020 UK staycation experiences have started to turn getaway dreams into booking realities.
Holidaying close to home looks very likely for many in 2021, but even though Visit Britain predictions put domestic tourism at only around 68% of 2019’s pre-pandemic figure, competition will undeniably be fierce.
It has never been more important for visitor destinations, attractions and places-to-stay not just to stick their head above the parapet, but really stand out from the crowd.
Xtrahead tourism marketing shares a 5 point plan to help make your staycation offer shine.
Let’s keep this local just for a moment. From converted windmills and watertowers to a house in the clouds and even a balancing barn, a county like Suffolk for example has a fab crop of naturally outstanding accommodation. As destinations go, the Suffolk Coasts and Heaths Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty alone has a huge array of habitats which are perfect for gentle journeys of exploration from camping or mo-ho moments to right old rambles, scenic on- and off-road cycling and plenty of sand, sea and splash.
West Suffolk boasts some of the tip-top places for hunting down hidden stately homes, not to mention antiques.
Then there are all those high-flying attractions too – new Netflix starlet, Sutton Hoo; Ed Sheeran’s Framlingham Castle on the Hill; the UFOs of Rendlesham Forest…
The point is, there’s simply a constellation of opportunities for all sorts of leisure experiences all around wherever you are – and it’s not rocket science to give a boost to your tourism offering by adding their accessibility to your set of unique selling points.
Need some original ideas, words or photos tailored to your specific Suffolk tourism offer or location? We’re here to help.
You’ll need this to bring your target markets into sharp focus. Whether you’re in a position to contact past or present potential clients directly or you’re looking to broaden your horizons and engage with them on social media, you need to know not just who you’re looking at, but what planet they’re on.
Remember that the past months have undeniably sent people off on all sorts of trajectories, so best not take anything for granted. The way people now feel about risk; the time they wish to spend sharing life with loved ones; their disposable income – or distinct lack of it; the day-to-day experiences missed in lockdown like a trip to the coast, good food in a pub garden or just being in a real live, off-line audience – these will all have an influence on people’s holiday choices and how they reach out to find the information they are looking for.
Be there for them. Put yourself in their shoes. Be prepared to pay attention to things which matter to them.
It makes sense to put minds at rest by providing practical information on your website – like COVID precautions which you have in place and changes in service availability or opening times. It’ll help counter health, wellbeing and cancellation concerns, show that you care and that you’ve thought things through.
If you’ve been part of the Visit Britain ‘Good to Go’ campaign from the outset last year, or even joined it just now, don’t forget to flag it up to your followers.
Evaluate your social media strategy and be prepared to share your posts across the range of platforms which your target markets are likely to engage with. And be sure to include the ones which they may have got more used to in lockdown.
It’s important too that when your posts land, they do so in the most appropriate format for the social media platform in question– get those inspiring images on insta; upload that little video of the way your B&B’s garden is looking in the sunshine to YouTube; share some behind-the-scenes bits and bobs from your attraction on Facebook.
Plan a mix of info, locally focused did-you-knows and more sales-y posts – and link back into relevant sections of your website when appropriate.
P.S. Your FAQs page is a great place to start – find out how and why here.
Whether your ‘staycation-ers’ are likely to travel across the country or just down the road to reach you, you can win business by turning enquiries around quickly, creating innovative packages and flexible alternatives.
We’re back to ‘the experience’ again. Rather than just pointing out that your self-catering property in the countryside has a nice patio, why not paint a picture of enjoying that early evening glass of wine there?
Afternoon tea on any terrace can be a really relaxing treat, so what about adding some scones, locally made / homemade jam and cream to your guest hamper or the pint of milk you’ve already put in the fridge? It has the power to turn that must-have cuppa on arrival into an ‘ah-we’ve-really-arrived’ welcome – an experience which is sure to be appreciated, remembered and probably shared on Instagram too!
Think the patio is a great spot for a barbecue? Share a tip or two about the best local butcher for burgers or the salad veg you might be able to source in the summer from honesty box stalls as you explore the country lanes nearby.
Showing that you know the area and sharing a love of local has the power to introduce your visitors into the community even before they arrive. Make the connections for them by suggesting selections of local experiences which appeal to the senses – the best place to blow away the cobwebs, to be wrapped in an expanse of sky, to look out and enjoy a different perspective – it might sound a bit hippy, but you’re reaching out on a human level and isn’t that something we’ve all been missing?
Think creatively, sharing collections of places to explore, under different themes perhaps. Showcase places which are free to enjoy and suggest ways to experience them slightly differently – park the car and walk from a certain spot; take a one-way ticket and try a station to station walk or cycle; rise to a photo-challenge or discover a town or village by looking up, rather than in the shop windows. Resist pigeon-holing family-friendly opportunities as ‘Kids Stuff’ – what about re-framing the experience gently as ‘places where little ones can lead the way’?
Signposting shouldn’t just stop once you’ve got the sale. If you spot something coming onto the horizon before your guests or visitors reach you – such as local festivals or events – flag them up not just in your general info, but in a specific communication so they can plan ahead either booking-wise or in terms of what they pack before they come away.
If you run an accommodation, spend time creating or commissioning ‘bedroom browsers’ or holiday cottage manuals that are more than just a handful of leaflets thrown together in a file or draw.
The internet is great for access to up-to-date attraction or restaurant opening times and the Trip Advisor relay of recommendations, but there’s a chance to offer something as a local expert and something personal here too, as well as helping people think outside the box.
Don’t forget – making a Guest Book available can also help others to share a discovered love of local and support your recommendations too.
Teaming up with other local tourism providers and forging partnerships at all sorts of levels can be a great way to form packages which really add value to your visitor offer from the outset. Mutual signposting between attractions and/or destinations is sure to share both the local love and offer a service to visitors too.
Are you a Suffolk accommodation provider?
Need help creating fantastic visitor manual content or creating a stylish house history and locality book for your holiday cottages from scratch?
Just ask Suffolk specialist Xtrahead to give you a hand now.