Whatever timeframe it takes for borders to open and restrictions to lift, it’s clear that for the attractions, tours and activities sector, domestic markets are now key to your business, and have the ability to carry you through a road of recovery.
Apart from creating much needed turnover right now, this relationship with your local market can give you an advantage in the future by establishing a solid base to bolster business during international visitor highs and lows by creating a dynamic pricing strategy, and establishing collaborative local promotions.
Prior to this pandemic, many travel experience operators saw the local market as a bonus, and gave limited focus to domestic strategies, unintentionally perhaps reliant on their unending international customers.
But your local market presents huge and often overlooked opportunities which you can benefit from now, and consistently in the future.
Here’s some simple tips to help you kickstart a collaborative relationship with your domestic markets.
Ensure your business setup on Google is complete and up to date. Go to Google My Business and follow the simple steps. Help customers find you online and ensure you appear in both Google Search and Google Maps. After you verify your business you can edit all your business info.
Local searches are automatically suggested by Google to potential customers in your area, so make your profile shine! Add lots of excellent photographs, customer reviews, and tell your story using local language that makes sense.
In the past they may have been competition, but today local tourism businesses are working closer together than ever before.
Collaboration is the key word in the travel industry, from local to global, brands are supporting each other and sharing the positives that come from standing together.
Bundle your product with complementary products in your local area. Take it as an opportunity to differentiate what you offer, but acknowledge that both your property and your neighbour’s, have the same objectives - to have fun. Stand strong with a ‘Two for One’ promotion or bonus offers from both. Perhaps free photography, lunch vouchers or even a tshirt.
Get creative and team up with a popular local business that doesn’t necessarily need to be a travel experience product. Choose a business that’s frequently populated by locals and work out how you can work together.
For example, a popular eatery or market in your area may benefit from a promotion that gives customers a discounted or VIP ticket to your attraction, tour or activity, with every $20 the customer spends in their store.
Or select weekly date ranges for local postcodes to receive a discounted price to both help manage your capacity, while the limited dates create a buyer’s urgency.
Stand out by using the right terminology, create local pride and reinforce that your promotions or packages are exclusively designed for locals.
Locals supporting local businesses
I’m from around here
Supporting my local community
Reiterate the language you choose across your website, your emails and social media communications. Let your local customers know you appreciate them. You could even print some car stickers, headline with your logo and a simple message - "I support my local tourism community!".
Hand the car stickers out personally to all your guests before they leave your venue. It’s great advertising and promotion where it counts - across the streets in your local area.
You don’t need to hire a costly PR Agency to get yourself some valuable local promotion. Try some of these quick and easy (and free!) methods to shine the local spotlight on your business.
Share your story
All local media outlets, from broadcast, newspapers and magazines seek local content, especially when it comes to a recovering economy. Share a positive and unique story about how you’re taking a new approach to your domestic market and promote the activities you’re putting in place in support of your local community. If you’re collaborating with another business, invite them into your story.
There’s unlimited potential for free media coverage if you do some solid Googling to identify media outlets in your region and approach them. You can also invite a media outlet for a free experience of your attraction, tour and activity to show them in person the new health and safety measures you’ve put in place. Or invite them for lunch and explain how your focus is on the development and recovery of local business.
Find local events and participate. It doesn’t have to cost a chunk of money, sponsorship can take the form of free tickets, VIP experiences, F&B or retail items. Contribute to a local event, and get your whole team involved. It’s not only a sign of solidarity you’ll send a strong message that your entire team stands together.
A common factor across post pandemic consumer behaviour highlights three major considerations that will also apply to your domestic market. Ensure you approach your marketing messaging to include:
If you’ve not already activated a digital marketing strategy, it’s time to start. And it’s not as complicated as you might think.
Create clear messages for your local marketing using stunning photographs of the experience you’re offering, and use local, friendly language to make a connection.
Advertising on social media is less costly when you promote to local audiences. Jump into the Facebook for Business pages and start exploring. The steps are easy to follow and you can trial a small budget to see how effective your ads are.
Maintain a mix of creative! Keep it fresh, don’t run one ad for very long periods of time. You want to maintain the presence of your business across the Facebook and Instagram feeds of potential customers nearby, but not give them digital advertising fatigue (it’s a real thing!). Use the geolocation identifier to keep your ads relevant.
Research your domestic market, find out more about their tastes and habits. For instance according to a 2019 study by the Picodi Analysis Team, Malaysians appreciate the affordability of travelling during off peak seasons, with 42% saying they travel during this time.
Consider then, what this recovery period requires is a giant off peak seasonal strategy!
In addition, the research reveals that Malaysians actually have a preference for domestic holidays. 74% of surveyed Malaysians declared that they would rather spend their holidays in their country. For Malaysian operators, activating and targeting their domestic market seems a sensible step to take even after the recovery period.
Explore your local tourism board websites for any recently published research on your market. It can be a gamechanger.
It’s important to understand that there’s no longer a split between those who plan and book their travel experiences online and those who don’t. Let’s be real here, consumer behaviour has changed forever. Get used to digitally interacting with your customers, because the entire world has become digital savvy, and every customer is an online customer, thanks to the pandemic.
Create a streamlined e-commerce experience for your online customers that you can connect all your marketing efforts with, and watch as your domestic market leads your business to better days.
And as better days dawn, and international markets begin returning to your shores, going forward you’ll have a wonderful new relationship with your domestic customers who can continue to support you through the peaks and troughs of a much more dynamic and successful business landscape.