The hospitality environment currently evolves in the blink of an eye. Travel circumstances and your guests’ needs and wants can change overnight. So your approach to the market should be as fluid and dynamic as possible.
It seems certain that local and regional travel is to be the main income source for the foreseeable future. The recent South African Tourism Road to Recovery Report reports that inbound travel from the traditional source markets like the US and Europe is likely to be low this year due to reduced flights and strict government policies.
The Oxford Economics forecasts predict Domestic and Regional markets will contribute 86% of South African tourism spend in 2021 and 82% in 2022.
In the light of this, let’s focus our attention on some actions you can take now and some of the opportunities that are on the horizon.
Four things to do as soon as possible:
- Try out some local or regional channels you overlooked in the past. NightsBridge can link your availability to a varied distribution network.
- Consider flexible cancellation policies to give travellers the confidence to book.
- Keep up to date with credible news sources to find out about changes to regulations in both your own and the countries your business traditionally would come from.
- And make sure your rates and availability is set up far in advance to secure forward bookings.
Based on current booking trends, industry experts have identified some key opportunities to take advantage of in the months ahead:
Focus on the family.
Travelocity predicts that family travel will be the first type of travel to make a comeback in 2021. Think about how you can make your product offering more family friendly. Include suggestions on kid-friendly activities in your area on your website and booking form. Perhaps offer a baby sitting service for an hour or two, or add toys and board games to your units to keep the family entertained.
Follow the trend for shorter (and safer) stays.
Travel restrictions and quarantines made us all dream about travelling the world and seeing everything there is to see. But in reality the numbers show travellers are rather planning “toe-dipping” trips. Bookings are made at familiar destinations for shorter getaways to build travel confidence again. Cater for these guests by setting up some enticing weekend packages and don’t forget to emphasise your cleaning and safety measures to seal the deal.
Touchless technology like online check-in and check-out features have become the expected norm. Guests will prefer to use their mobile phones for daily interactions during their stay. Remove the need for face-to-face interactions with staff as much as possible.
Make it worthwhile to deal direct.
While you should consider trying out new distribution channels, it is also wise to work on increasing your direct bookings at this stage. Travellers seem to be more keen on booking direct and forming relationships instead of working through the larger online travel agents at the moment.
Your website and social media platforms could turn into your most profitable sales tool. Especially since the NightsBridge booking engine is geared towards conversion by showcasing your content in the best light. Read more here.
With a direct booking you are also completely in control of the interaction you have with your guests — prior, during and after their stay. This gives you the chance to convert these clients into loyal returning visitors.
Think outside the box.
Did you know that you can rent out your property as a film set if you have a few days open without bookings? A new online platform can link your details to commercial video crews looking for venues.
You may also consider attracting “workationers” – guests who book your accommodation so they can work from it remotely. These guests are simply looking for a great long-stay rate, a change of scenery and most importantly reliable and fast internet. Read more about this trend on the Digital Nomad Wikipedia page.