While some people travel to get away and escape to a relaxing hotel or resort, others travel to experience new places and cultures. Unfortunately, when we stay in hotels, sometimes we can feel like an awkward outsider, dampening our experience. Travelers often want to feel connected to the local community, not isolated from it.
On the flip side, some locals have difficulty dealing with tourists, feeling as though they are only there for their gain and do nothing to help contribute to the community. Some of the best hotels and resorts bridge the gap between visitors and the local community, bringing them together to benefit one another. However, doing so is not always easy.
It’s about more than simply providing guests with a few local hot spots and areas of interest. Typically, most travelers already know about the touristy locations in their chosen destination. What they want is to feel a sense of community by discovering the hidden gems and the places where they can connect with the locals. Finding ways to help them do this will improve your guests’ experiences and benefit the local community as well.
Utilize Social Media
Social media is not only essential for getting noticed and establishing a following, but it’s a great way to connect with your local community. Hotels exist in the community but often feel set apart from it. However, you can use your accounts to showcase other local businesses and events. Show your support and provide your guests with ideas for things to do and places to visit on their trip.
By sharing content that supports your own business and others, it creates a sense of community that will appeal to your guests and attracts those who are particularly interested in experiencing the local culture. This will also prove to locals that you aren’t just in business to make money but to support your community and share all of the great things that it has to offer.
User-generated content is another way to connect with your guests. Sometimes, previous guests may have discovered something or create content that you didn’t even think to post about. Resharing their posts on your account is a great way to get new followers and provides you with a free source of content.
One way to establish trust and loyalty with your guests and the locals is through community engagement. Customers see community-oriented companies as more authentic and the community itself will appreciate and benefit from your support. Employee retention rates and job satisfaction are also higher when staff feels they are contributing to the local community instead of only serving and benefiting the guests.
The following are a few ways your hotel can establish itself in the community and provide engaging experiences for guests, employees, and residents, and businesses:
Instead of providing your guests with a list of the usual “tourist traps” and more established businesses, connect them with smaller, local businesses and places that are less known. Supporting small businesses is better for the economy, and it will provide your guests with a way to feel more connected. Just be mindful not to direct them towards any protected or sacred areas, where tourists will do more harm than good.
Sponsor or Host Events
There is a lot of money in the hotel and hospitality industry, yet hotels often take that money and put it right back into their own business. Instead, if there is money to spare, put it back into the community by hosting or sponsoring local events and organizations. If you are tight on funds or still establishing yourself, you can at least show your support by participating in or attending other events in the community.
While many destinations have existing businesses that provide local tours, they often only show off the more popular sites. You can create your tour options for guests by showing off lesser-known spots and local businesses. You can even use it as an opportunity to teach them about the local history.
One of the number one things that attract guests to a hotel in the photo gallery. This should include pictures of the hotel itself and other points of interest, local businesses, and general images that capture the feel of the local culture and its aesthetic. Potential guests are more likely to choose your hotel if the photos you use are attractive and show off more than the rooms and the amenities.
Don’t be afraid to get creative. Photos of broad sweeping landscapes and the local community are great, but it’s also helpful to throw in some more artistic shots that capture the feel of the area and the culture as well. And make sure you are posting the photos both on your website and your social media accounts. It’s often easier to browse through dozens of photos on social media than on a website.
A Marketing Strategy With Your Customers and the Local Community in Mind
Overall, the best way to provide a sense of community to your customers and engage with the locals is to implement a community-based marketing strategy. Supporting the local community through your marketing efforts will help your hotel establish itself as a trusted brand and bring more value to the customer experience.
While marketing your hotel with only a specific aesthetic and customer in mind might help you create a unique and niche venue, it’s not necessarily a strategy that will hold up over time. There is always something new and unique popping up that will overshadow previous trends. However, a hotel that provides community-based experiences and gives its guests a true taste of the local community and culture will never get old.
Jori Hamilton is an experienced writer residing in the Northwestern U.S. She covers a wide range of topics but takes a particular interest in covering topics related to the hospitality industry, business productivity, and marketing strategies. To learn more about Jori, you can follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Over to you
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