By Hâfi Martinsdóttir
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes | 833 words
At the time of writing (mid-May 2020) we are beginning to get a clearer view of what the future might hold for hospitality businesses as we start the slow climb to recovery from the COVID crisis. We anticipate that as lock down restrictions are slowly lifted, people will tentatively begin exploring closer to home to begin with before slowly venturing further afield.
A recent report shared by Airbnb founder Brian Chesky cited “the importance of cleanliness of private spaces as one of four key trends that Airbnb has seen in the past few weeks. In a survey, three out of four guests cited the cleanliness of properties as an important factor in choosing where they stay when traveling. The other trends were 30 percent of guests booking stays within 50 miles of their residences, one-third of bookings being made for stays of $50 per night or lower, and 65 percent of reservations being made within one week of the stay.” Source:
From this, Chesky surmounted that near has become “the new far”.
Aside from the other insights that we gain from this report, it’s the proximity of bookings in relation to the guests’ homes that we are going to explore in this article. It’s clear that a large amount of people are currently seeking an escape from being cooped up at home but aren’t feeling confident enough to stray too far and are especially weary of taking a plane. But the overall consensus is that people are itching to go somewhere – anywhere – as soon as they’re allowed to do so.
“Initially people won’t want to venture far from home, preferring long weekend stays to drive-to destinations and the corona-cation will be born,” Misty Belles, the managing director of Virtuoso.
So, with air travel not set to return any time soon and nearby drive-to destinations likely to benefit from this, hotels are beginning to encourage road trips that include a stay at their property. With most people feeling safer in their own private vehicle at the moment, it’s more viable than hoping people will be able to fly. It also keeps people feeling more in control of their situation which is crucial in growing their confidence to consider making a trip and booking a stay.
“You can count on people opting for driving versus flying vacations once the worst of the coronavirus crisis passes. The execs at Winnebago are no dummies, hoping to get some plants up and running in May.” Tom Lowry shares Winnebago’s plans to reopen as they bank on road trips making a strong come back as people choose to roam while also maintaining control over their environment.
By showcasing your local area and the multitude of unique experiences available to your guests you can also tap into the market of experiential travellers who are increasingly more likely to want to engage with your local culture through experiences during a visit.
Of course, at this time we can only responsibly encourage socially distanced activities which is why we are suggesting hotels formulate a road trip itinerary for guests to enjoy. This would enable people to enjoy your area and its offerings all from the safety of their own vehicle.
To do this, you might consider writing or sharing an article covering all of the local spots that people can enjoy (including a stay at yours) within a 1 or 2 hour driving distance from your property. This would entice people to consider alternatives to their usual international holidays. Or perhaps a video showcasing the highlights of your region. Naturally, these will likely be places that people can visit amongst nature in wide open spaces where socially distancing can be comfortably maintained.
Here’s an example of how the West Virginia Tourism marketing team created a scavenger hunt to encourage locals to get out and about and have some fun exploring their state from the safety of their own vehicles.
As a hospitality business, in order to market this idea successfully, it’s important to position your hotel as a central point within your local area. To pitch your property as an ideal spot from which guests can explore in order to gain a deeper understanding of your destination’s unique offerings.
Perhaps your hotel could even provide lunch boxes for guests to take with them while they explore the area by car as well as a road trip playlist to get them in the mood. We would also recommend providing a checklist on how to stay safe and healthy during a road trip, what supplies to take and advising people check for road closures and regulations of areas they might be passing through.
Restoring people’s confidence to travel will be crucial for the tourism industry’s recovery, and that can start with drive-to destinations. So, as long as this is done well, adequate precautions are taken, the data is monitored and as much guidance as possible is given to those who are interested in getting on the road again, then road trips could be the ideal stepping stone back to our new normal.
Unsure of your next step? Get clear on your hotel’s recovery strategy
As COVID-19 is unlikely to disappear completely without an effective vaccine, it’s expected that we will have a W shaped recovery with lock downs repeatedly being enforced, relaxed and enforced again over time. Being prepared for this tumultuous recovery will stand you and your hotel in good stead to ride the waves to come.
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About Magpie Creative Co.
Magpie Creative Co. is a digital marketing and design consultancy with a worldwide client base. We provide branding, web design and online marketing for businesses that offer luxury guest experiences and require an efficient online booking system.
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