Staycations are big business these days. The travel trend for holidays and mini breaks to be taken near home has been growing markedly over the last few years. Last year, over half of the population enjoyed a staycation, with nearly 60% planning to do the same this year. This is a huge market that your hospitality business can’t afford to ignore.
Domestic travel: on the rise
Domestic travel means staying in your home country (or area) instead of traveling internationally..
There are many different factors affecting reasons why people prefer to holiday in their home country, such as lack of time available for a long haul holiday or a fear of airports and flying. However, the most compelling reasons can be summarized as budget, convenience, the rise of work-from-home, and a renewed curiosity of the national heritage.
Holidaying in your own country is often a more affordable option than taking a foreign holiday. Flight tickets recently seem to be off the roof, with many flights getting canceled, luggages getting lost, etc. The overall cost of flights, accommodation and spending money for, say, a family of four, can be substantially higher than a comparable holiday taken in your own home country.
Vacationing at home is preferred by many as a convenient alternative to going abroad. There are no size or weight constraints as far as luggage is concerned, other than the parameters of your car, meaning you can bring along all your home comforts. For holidaymakers with dogs, a staycation offers the advantage of being able to take their pet with them – a useful marketing tactic for many dog friendly hospitality businesses.
So, whether your Airbnb business is located in a remote rural location or in the city, there should be plenty to attract visitors to the local area that you can leverage.
How your business can benefit from domestic tourism
In contrast to a typical holidaymaker taking an annual trip abroad, staycation tourism is less reliant on seasonality. Trips can be slotted in when schedules allow, perhaps as a handful of shorter trips replacing the traditional summer vacation. What’s more, many visitors discover a favorite area and choose to return time and again for another break. For example, a recent study has shown that 43% of Brits regularly return to their staycation destination.
For hospitality businesses, this presents two golden opportunities for commercial engagement. Staycationers have the potential to become regular return visitors and a valuable loyal customer base, and they can be marketed to all year round.
Using effective communications channels and building strong relationships with existing and potential customers are key strategies for businesses in the hospitality sector to employ in an effort to maximize opportunities in this growing market segment.
Top tips to attract staycationers
Create the right vibe
Domestic travelers want the perfect place to slow down. They want a place to “getaway.” As a vacation rental owner or manager, you can brand your properties to domestic travelers as a relaxing retreat and the ideal spot to unwind.
Use high-quality linens, provide a comfortable work-desk and ergonomic chair, add in a bookshelf with books and boardgames (maybe a recipe book or two?), throw in a Netflix and Spotify subscription, fully stock your kitchen, install a bathtub, and create relaxing spaces throughout your property. Add in a hammock if you will. Decorate it with real plants. If there is a nice space outside, consider a hot tub. Create a holiday vibe within your vacation rental property. These little changes will make your guests enjoy spending time in your rental without the need to go out!
If you want to go the extra mile, consider adding:
- Fast Wi-Fi and a workspace – especially if they are business travelers planning to work remotely
- Smart devices such as voice-activated virtual assistants
- Gym equipment inside the home
- Kitchen gadgets such as blenders and espresso machines
- Retro additions such as vinyl players
- Luxury toiletries, including scented candles and oil diffusers
Perhaps these items are not found within the guests’ own home, therefore they will be more compelled to book with you.
Convey the right message about your vacation home
On your direct booking site and OTA listings such as on Vrbo, booking.com, and Airbnb, use the following themes:
- Mention that you use high-quality bed linen
- Emphasize the sleep quality guests will achieve
- Note how the property is away from the hustle and bustle. If you operate in a city center, spin it to your advantage. Mention how the experience is invigorating outside, but that your property is an oasis amidst the chaos.
- Include terms like: unwind, relax, rejuvenate, refill your batteries. Depending on your properties, you can also use: escape the crowds and reconnect with nature.
As for photo selection, you’ll want to highlight these special corners and amenities. Try to take aesthetically pleasing photos that give off a relaxing vibe. Get this done and you’ve sold them 🙂
Strive to seduce millennials
Millennials are the age group most likely to spend money on vacations. Many of them are already remote workers, so more likely to have disposable income during this economic downturn. Millennials should therefore be considered in your marketing strategy.
The great thing is, marketing a short-term rental for domestic travelers isn’t mutually exclusive to attracting millennials. It’s a win-win every host or manager should strive for.
If you’re looking for one easy way to attract this younger generation, there are two important notes you need to hit. The first is great photography – millennials need to get a feel for the property before they commit. The second is trending decor choices like pot plants, neon signs, and gallery walls. The goal here is to make your home more ‘Instagrammable’ (which goes hand in hand with great photography). Note that 90.4% of millennials are active social media users. So if your guests share photos of your home with friends, they’re doing your marketing for you.
Adjust your prices
Domestic travelers typically want to spend less than international ones and with COVID having triggered an economic downturn, many will have less disposable income. That means your vacation rentals are more likely to attract domestic travelers if you can offer a good deal. Keeping your prices competitive puts you in a better place to fill cancellations and vacancies.
Implement self check-in
The pandemic highlighted the importance of cleanliness. Since then, people also like to travel privately, without having to meet many people. Make sure your marketing emphasizes that you thoroughly disinfect your property, going into detail about the cleaning process to reassure guests. Consider also implementing automated check-in to ensure visitors experience minimum contact with other people. Self check-in brings many benefits to both the host and guest, and you can read them here.
Change your minimum stay
Reconsider your minimum stay to take advantage of domestic travelers who are only able to get away for a few days. While normally you might have a policy of 7 days minimum, more short-term guests now is preferable to no guests at all.
Share local secrets
Staycations are about exploring places that are less obvious. Travelers want off-the-beaten-path attractions with their own unique charm. They might already be familiar with a destination and instead are more interested in the unexpected and unusual sights.
In big cities, each area has a different vibe and feel. Point out the distinct local culture of your neighborhood. Any recommendations that let guests into local secrets and introduce them to hidden gems are a win. Are there any unique restaurants you can think of? Markets? Fairs? Music festivals?
What about the best spot in the city to watch the sunset, or the best scenic walks? Hostfully’s Digital Guidebooks are a great way to share your recommendations in a simple and intuitive format, adding that all-important personal touch to the guest experience. And, by offering local perks, you can establish an ongoing relationship with your guests and give them a reason to return.
Join forces with local business owners
Consider teaming up with local restaurants, promoting their products with take-out menus or home delivery flyers, or offering their products as welcome treats.
Not only is it great to support small local businesses at this time of economic difficulty – winning you brownie points with guests – but in return, these businesses might also promote your vacation rental business. The added benefit to spending time to find allies, even in these difficult times, is that those bonds will last. That mom and pop grocery store you helped stay afloat will remember you, which might come in handy in a year or two.
You can consider creating your own packages with specific products and services – spa treatments, special wine tasting events, local boat trips, fun outings etc. – and use these to differentiate your business from others in the area. Sell these via your Guidebook Marketplace and you’re golden.
Make your policies more open
Consider loosening some of your policies so as to attract as many people as possible. Think about allowing pets or child-proofing your property. If it’s a last-minute deal, people might not have time to think about babysitters or boarding kennels. Plus, a recent TripAdvisor survey discovered that over half of respondents would only stay in pet friendly accommodation.
Making your property kid and pet-friendly means:
- Ensuring your home is safe. Hide ornaments. Invest in corner guards for sharp-edged tables and provide some baby gates. A few toys wouldn’t go amiss either.
- Equipping your property for pets with additions like treats, a dog bed, and water and food bowls. By allowing pets, you not only encourage more bookings – but you can also charge a pet cleaning fee, boosting profits.
Make sure you follow up with recent guests to ask about their experience and to provide feedback. Not only will this help you identify and build on your business’ strengths and weaknesses, it will help to reinforce positive feelings towards your brand, which may well lead to a repeat booking.
Promote through paid online advertising
Now is the time to rethink your Facebook and Google Ads strategies. These are great ways to increase your exposure.
If you have a Facebook page, build it up well. Complete your about, contact sections, create a content calendar and share appealing images and videos regularly. Then, run some ads. You can choose who you’d like to target with your Facebook ads – filter people from a specific region, city, radius, age group, etc. This is a great way to target domestic guests!
You can decide exactly how much you want to spend, for how long and also set an exact budget. Facebook will never exceed your budget, so you have full control over your spending.
You can create ads for your services on Google as well. This way when someone searches for accommodation in your area, your listing can show up in the results. Make it an enticing ad so they will click.
According to Google’s economic impact study, businesses double their income from paid advertising. You need to use the correct and relevant keywords to target guests, so put yourself in their shoes. What will they search for?
You’ll only be charged when the guests click on your ads, but remember that you’ll easily cover the investment with the increase in bookings.
We hope that with these tactics you’re able to reduce your vacancies and capitalize on the growing demand for staycations. Remember, it takes time and effort, so you may not see results immediately. Good luck!
This is an updated version of an article written for Hostfully by Dakota Murphey. She is an experienced property manager and her portfolio of properties is expanding. Her passion for renovation and home improvement projects is shared through her writing to help educate and inspire others.