We recently hosted a cocktail function at one of our new properties – invited guests included many local business people, all of whom are passionate about their community and proud of what their neighbourhood has to offer – they are excited yet desperate for us to succeed as new owners and operators of their much loved hotel.
This got me thinking… How careless we, as hotel owners or managers, are in the way we treat the local markets, albeit unconsciously! We maintain our clear-cut marketing strategies after years of providing less than decent service to the local market, alternating good with bad, retaining high charges for food and beverages, coupled with an elitist approach that considers all sorts of inbound markets, but does not value the locals. We concentrate more on the perceived lucrative markets such as corporate, conferencing and groups, all the while whittling away at local confidence – a market that votes with its feet and often after many consecutive years of disappointment, ultimately stays away for good.
Often, through a combination of sheer ignorance and a lack of understanding of the local markets, particularly those within a 5km radius of our hotels, our main market – our locals – are overlooked. Some people are getting it right – domestic wholesalers are trying to encourage the package market to stimulate domestic tourism, but it’s not enough. We believe in the same approach – that hotels need to identify the locals as a separate market segment, which requires attention and dedicated marketing actions through skilled hands on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. As hoteliers and hotel owners our challenge is to think of creative ways to drive value to this market segment, via value added and interesting food and beverage offerings, amenities and targeted events in order to create a buzz and draw demand to the entire property resulting in spin offs in room sales and additional discretionary spending thoughout our hotels.
Lets make every effort to get those locals back!