The well-known Tourism industry has its roots over almost all industries in the world. That’s one of the reasons that it is connected to everyone’s lives and that’s why they travel. Inbound and outbound travels has its own differences and unique characteristics. However it does matter to destinations when certain situation develops or repeats. Either it’s a disturbing and fearsome terrorist attack, a global pandemic, an economic recession or a simple repetitive reason like the seasonality; the travellers number fluctuation will happen while impacting the core business.
Most of the DMCs and operators, specially SMEs are highly depending on the government or authorities promotion tools which is an common factor. True, benefits of the taxes they paid in the name of tourism has to be utilised. In the long run, this method is very effective and economical where the inbound tourist to the country will be shared by the ability of each operator.
Looking at the past disturbing incidents in the world, such as the Brussels bombings, Sri Lanka Easter Sunday attack or the France attack: There were different trends in recovering. The current Covid-19 has made the whole world clueless with its tentacles wrapping all the continents. The past lessons and the analysis shows the most effective actions that these countries has taken. After addressing and controlling the immediate security or the threat level of the country, there were many things followed after. Carefully reaching the possible markets, usage of social media, promote heavily but carefully and reduce restrictions were some visible actions from most of the countries. These were aimed at the International tourist, which took time to flourish.
Why the Local Traveller?
The local travellers played a vital role in these situations as they were enjoying the heavy discounts offered by the operators in the industry. It encouraged them to travel to destinations with less expenses. However the cash flow kept the businesses running by supporting the community and their employees. As an example the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka, the hotels offer discounts ranging from 50% to 70% on accommodation, which was an another accepted tool which was practiced around the world after a major disturbance in the industry. Many institutes including hotels, restaurants, spas and specially the transport sector recovered to a certain level without declaring bankruptcy.
When the wind is in their favor, most of the operators ignore the local traveller as they don’t deliver the expected amount of USD to the business. Focusing on the big fish is becoming the day to day preaching when the foreigners are available. This is highly practiced around highly seasonal areas in regions and the upmarket institutes. Business perspective, it’s fair by them. Considering the average check and the ARR, it is always appealing to see a larger number. But shouldn’t you have business ethics? Should you have responsibility, relationship and principle towards your countrymen?
Personal stories and the posts on social media highlights some of the incidents that the local travelers face versus the some operators, where they were ignored and rejected over the foreigners. The disposable income of the locals also differ due to their expectations, so don’t underestimate the spending power of the local tourist.
How to Reward and Retain the Local Traveller?
The local tourist will always travel within the country for different purposes. Irrelevant if its leisure, business, medical, spiritual or VFR; The local traveller will contribute in many ways. In certain areas local travelers could be the number one contributor to Pro Poor Tourism. Even for SMEs. The cash that will be injected and circulated to the tourism industry is considerably high by these transactions. So why waste the opportunity?
6 ways to appreciate the local Tourist while gaining the benefits
Giving Discounts When Possible
Without compromising your high demand products and services on the high season, always look for opportunities to reward the local traveler. Guess what, you are spending on your direct marketing. Just add that discounts to your marketing expense and see how much you have spent vs what you get. The locals will talk about your services. They will become the ambassadors of your property. You will receive more local guest to experience your services. Since it local it is easy to travel, they don’t have to pay for an expensive flight seat.
There are negative and positive perspective about having two different pricing structures for locals and foreigners. However, be careful when introducing or changing your pricing strategies of your product or services. Do not harm the flow or the behaviour of the local tourists.
Create a Loyalty Free Scheme
No need to invest on an expensive system or paperwork implement this. Recognize your customers, offer them services. Everyone likes to be recognized than the other. That’s human psychology. Look in to your past records, analyse them and train your staff to focus on developing your local customer base. This could be interpreted as taking care your guest with extending value added service and products. Give information, create the environment and accommodate special requests.
Do Not Discriminate
Do not decide your guest by the look. It could be anybody. There can be foreign passport holders who pays less and locals who pays more. All are travellers. Everybody is there to taste your amazing food or to feel the hospitality that you offer. So do not discriminate the local traveller by saying this property is “Foreigners Only”. Refusing to give the services to any guest without a valid reason is a legitimate concern of the courts too.
Offer the Same Service
This could be the most recorded concern of local tourists. Differentiation of the guest will lead to a conflict. The owners and the company might have a fair understanding about the situation but it has to be conversed to the employees who offers the products and the services. Under the operational restrictions, always willing to offer all the available services to all the guests in the property is a another way to respect your guest.
Social Media Updates
Let the domestic travellers receive your pics and stories to know your product. The reach is very important. They will be the first to come to your property to try your new dish or your innovative cocktail. Try to include the local tourist in your stories. There is no other person to describe the destination and the attractions to the world in your region, and your company.
Madushan Jayathilake – The Blue Team