Most people have been opting for local trips due to the pandemic. Research has found that these new travelers are  looking for simple pleasures, working holidays, value for their money and knowing that their safety is a priority. They are also looking for wholesome experiences, bespoke services, and all the bells and whistles. These travelers are looking for accommodation that is flexible enough to meet them half way, should they need to change their bookings.
Now the biggest question is, is your establishment capable of providing at least 50% of these? If not, what are your plans to improve that? We might have a few quick wins you can employ to ensure that you move with the trends and are in a position to secure new customers and sustain your business.

Offer value

This has become one of the key deciders for travelers. The pandemic has restored the power and value of the currency (Rand). Travelers are now very intentional about their spending. They want to know that what they are spending their money on is really the best thing they can do with it. If you offer mediocre service, say goodbye to your customers. Be seen as the better choice amongst your peers, by offering more thoughtful and sustainable experiences. Make them comfortable with spending their money on your services and experiences.

Be flexible

During the current world order nothing is guaranteed, one minute the infections and death numbers are stable and the next they are sky rocketing. One minute traveling is permitted and the next it is not. This means as accommodation providers, you need to be mindful of the changes around you and how they are impacting your industry and mainly your customers.  If you show empathy towards your customers, there is a high possibility that they will be returning customers or recommend you to their friends, families and peers. Only businesses that are flexible enough will see an increase in the number of bookings.

Make customer safety your priority

As a travel provider make sure that you are up to speed with the changes and safety regulations in your country. Treat this as only the foundation and go above and beyond to tailor make it to your business and customers. Individualized/ personalized safety is more appealing than general safety. It gives a sense of “ I see you and I care about you”. Therefore, focus on ensuring that your customers know you care about their safety.
As rural providers this places extra burden on you as you will need to work harder to gain people’s trust. Making a short but concise video highlighting how you plan on keeping your customers safe may just do it for you. People trust people they see and can relate to.

Offer shuttle services

Due to the fear of being in close proximity with other people, a small gesture like offering a shuttle service will be one of the deciding factors during and beyond the pandemic. Furthermore, not everyone can afford or even wants to drive, therefore, a shuttle will come in handy. Public transport is least of people’s preferred choices as it is associated with an increased risk of catching the virus as sometimes the numbers are not properly controlled and #COVID19 regulations are not always adhered to.

Develop exciting itineraries for your guests

Do not just develop these itineraries, but be intentional about them. The days of just offering accommodation are long gone. You need to start offering value to your clients. Offer them all there is to offer in your area. Go out there, research the history of your community and nearby communities. Find good story tellers and collaborate with them. It’s that easy, you do not need to be the one telling those stories but be in a position to find someone who can and does it better.
Make sure you research the type of activities travelers of today like to indulge in and go out there and source them.

Cultural Tours are the new currency

In the past, we have seen a decline in requests for these types of tours. However, recently travelers are more attentive because they are traveling slow. They are no longer in a hurry to get to the next destination, they actually want to know more about the communities they visit. They are also genuinely concerned about destinations’ sustainability and are willing to contribute to it too. Therefore, cultural tours should feature in your itineraries. It is always a great experience to learn more about the destinations you visit.

Offer wellness related activities

We live in an ever changing and, an anxiety inducing world. Therefore, yoga, hiking, nature encounters and just relaxation would be a perfect add on to your offers. Yoga is versatile and keeps re-inventing itself. Find your niche within the different types of yoga activities and stick with it. Specialized offerings are the biggest winners currently. Be part of the winning formulae. Hiking and encounters with nature have also peaked during the pandemic as people are constantly in need of pure and mind freeing environments.

Add a Private Chef to your offerings

There are different types of travelers, hence  it is important to acknowledge that a one size fits all type of service offering will not work, especially with these new types of travelers. If there is one thing that the pandemic has showed us is that group activities might not cut it in the future. Even when it comes to the food offered, travelers will find comfort in knowing that only one/ two people touched their food. Mass produced food might not appeal to many at the moment and therefore your establishment should have a private chef as an option.

In all of the above, the key word is collaborations, there is no way as a rural business you can have all these in-house. It is therefore imperative that you look around your communities for people and businesses you can partner and collaborate with to offer a 5 star service. Currently, simplicity is the most sort after trait when choosing experiences, as the plan is just to enjoy the places they visit in their simplest form.

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