Mining your Local Market: Bookings from your Area

booked_rooms_5Sometimes the potential for bookings from your local area can be overlooked. We have put together five tips to help you develop relationships and look for opportunities in your own backyard.

The ability to view available accommodation in the area can be a valuable source of bookings, if you just make people aware of the realtime option.

1. Partner with local attractions, & restaurants

No one books a holiday just to sleep, no matter how fine the linen is. Most guests want to do something, or at least eat something during their stay!

It very useful to develop relationships with the owners, managers and staff at attractions and restaurants in your area and work on opportunities to market your accommodation to their guests. Options could range from adding your information and a link from their website and Facebook page; to agreeing a referral commission for bookings;  to working together to create joint promotions, specials and packages, especially during low season; or simply regularly stocking your brochures in their racks (and theirs in yours);

In fact, we are so passionate about accommodation and activities working together that we spent two years developing ActivityBridge with the idea that you, the accommodation provider, should have the opportunity to promote activities in your area by making them part of your online booking process. The aim is for you to earn commission when your guests book activities.

The link between the NightsBridge booking form and the ActivityBridge automated booking facility will be available later this year.

Email us your favourite providers in your area so that we can sign them up to build up a group of bookable attractions for your area.

2. Network with other accommodation businesses in your area

Developing a referral network with other accommodation establishments in your area is also beneficial. This provides you with options to recommend to your guests as well as the opportunity to get bookings, often for an agreed commission, when the other establishments cannot accommodate the enquiry. Most accommodation providers have a group they network with regularly via phone, email or in person.

A handy tool for checking the availability of other businesses that use NightsBridge is via the website http://travelbook.co.za/. This site lists all businesses using NightsBridge and can be searched by location and date. Another reason to ensure that your availability is always updated on your NightsBridge system!

This is also useful if you want to assist your guest in booking accommodation for the rest of her or his trip, in other towns.

travelbook

Use http://www.travelbook.co.za to refer guests.

3. Keep in touch with local businesses

Develop a list of local businesses and organisations that may need accommodation for colleagues and other guests. Do you have hospitals, old age homes, boarding schools, business schools in your area? Get in touch with the person responsible for making accommodation bookings or referring visitors and find out how they make their decisions. If they are able to make bookings directly with you, show them how to find your availability via your website.

You many want to provide a special rate for regular bookings. You can create a client login for corporate customers, travel agents or regular guest on your nightsbridge booking form. You can attach a special rate so that when they log in, they see their own rate, rather than the rack rate. We call this system Client Logins — ask us if you would like this set up.

4. Use local media to promote your business

Most towns have websites that provide information about the area and include listings of accommodation businesses. Passionate locals often regularly update these sites and listings are often relatively inexpensive.

You should also connect with local businesses via social media. Posting pictures, specials and updates on local destination and business Facebook pages will help promote your business. If you are on Twitter you should tweet about your area, mentioning other local businesses, to create a buzz.

twitter_buzz

Local restaurant and De Noordhoek hotel use Twitter to create a buzz

5. Join your local tourism or business association

If your town has an active tourism or business association it can be beneficial to your business to join. These forums often provide good networking opportunities. They are also platforms to ensure that key items that affect the attractiveness of your area for visitors (and locals) are in place. These include issues such as street cleaning, safety, parking and traffic issues.

Working with partners and businesses in your town and area may not always deliver substantial or immediate results but developing these relationships is key to the long-term success of your business.

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