group of people enjoying music concert

How to attract local tourist bookings when international numbers are down

Pandemics, natural disasters, civil or political unrest can all deter foreign travellers from visiting your local destination. During times like these, when international travel is banned, it can be challenging to keep your business afloat if you rely heavily on overseas tourists. International bookings are great, but they shouldn’t make or break your business. Now is the perfect opportunity to shift your focus towards attracting local visitors.  

If you’ve spent a lot of time and resources building a global brand, you may have overlooked local prospects. If international bookings are off the table, these are the best strategies to use to bring in local bookings instead. 

 

Promote local events and festivals 

Tying your operation to events and festivals is a smart strategy. First and foremost, it’s one of the best ways to showcase your support of the local community. You could sponsor a local festival or community event. This is a win-win situation; you’ll be helping to boost the local economy while getting some exposure for your business amongst local prospects.  

Another benefit of promoting local events and festivals is that you will establish your business identity as part of a specific communityThere are a lot of people out there who are inclined to support local businesses and tourism – you can use this opportunity to target them. 

 

Create a Travel Guide about your area  

Travellers are the lifeblood of any tourism operation. It is always a good idea to focus on their needs and wants. Visitors love an informative guide which provides information about the region and its offerings while covering all of the things your guests may need or want during their visit. These guides can ignite visitors’ interest in the area and inspire them to visit other local operators. Doing some research on other operators in the area, and developing a working relationship with them is a great place to start.  

 

Attract attention with social media

Challenges or giveaways are a great way to attract attention on social media and build brand awareness and engagement. 

Encouraging your audience to use custom hashtags, tag their friends and share your page will expand your reach, getting your brand in front of more and more people.

 

Share user-generated content 

User-generated content is another powerful tool you can use to attract local tourist bookings for your business. Encourage your guests and visitors to share their photos, videos and reviews on social media, using your brand’s hashtag or by ‘checking in’. By showcasing real-life examples of people who have visited your destination, you’ll boost your brand’s credibility with other travellers. Sharing user-generated content is also a great way to keep your marketing costs down. It costs absolutely nothing to share a review or an Instagram story.

 

Offer gift cards  

Increasingly, a move towards sustainability has seen people preferring to give the gift of experience versus material items. You can exploit this by offering gift cards to your local target market. The best part about gift cards is they are a suitable gift all-year-round and not just during the holiday season. 

 

Get Help 

It’s okay to seek help when you feel overwhelmed by the challenges your business is facing. You can seek advice from experts like Tourism Accelerator for ideas and strategies that will propel your business forward, even during challenging times.  

 

While the tourism industry can be volatile, you can build a more resilient business by diversifying your customer base. 

Hayden Zammit

Hayden Zammit

Hayden is the Director of Tourism Accelerator and leads tourism strategy, digital marketing and online training for small businesses.