By Vanessa Fagard on 4/23/20 8:00 AM
The world has changed. COVID-19 disrupted every aspect of our lives. With self-quarantine and nationwide lockdowns, the way people spend their free time was redefined. For a long time, most people were forced to stay at home, but this, just as predicted, will not always be the case.
Governments are moving forward with their plans, which let the public live a safe life outside the families' four walls without compromising the positive progress lockdown and isolation has had on flattening the curve. So far, it has been a big adjustment but also worked out well in many sectors.
Initial hunches about a boom in local tourism can not only be confirmed by first domestic tourism waves in the first weeks of July but are also predicted moving forward in 2020. As we get accustomed to a new way of life, this is what is in store for tourism & travel:
Ready, Set, Go - on Staycations!
As you might have guessed already, staycation describes when families or individuals participate in all sorts of leisure activities, which are within driving distance of their home. Often, these activities and the connected domestic travel do not even include an overnight stay.
As international travel is still decreasing and expected to take a dip by 20-30%, people are looking for options to create a get-away feeling closer to home. Close surroundings are areas they know, and thus, feel comfortable and safe.
Further, with the growing importance of values around health, safety, and the environment, decisions about travel plans will be made more consciously.
For venues, staycationers place an entirely new opportunity.
Imagine this: a family of 5 is coming to your venue from a town about 100km away. They have an amazing day and love their experience with you, they are most likely to come back, and you just gained valuable, loyal, and returning customers! And just think about word-of-mouth spreading to other families in the area, all with the means to actually reach you! It seems like many opportunities, doesn't it?
An international family visiting your park having the same amazing experience, is less likely to become a returning visitor as well as acting as a referral to attract more visitors.
Overall, Staycations bring many more benefits to travelers, including reduced travel time, reduced costs, and not having to bear a language barrier.
And let's be realistic, in the past months there has been a pool of unmet demand brought by a lack of social activities during isolation, which clearly resulted in suppressed feelings & needs that only piled up until they can now burst out.
'I want to break free.'
The past weeks have shown us; everyone wants to get out. Everyone wants to socialize and explore - even if it does not entail a trip around the world.
Local options such as restaurants, outdoor activities, public gardens, or amusement and theme parks are sought out more than ever, as they place an immediate relief to the social need that staycationers have been holding back on for so long.
You see, in the visitors' minds, with the local component, these activities will feel somewhat familiar and provide the level of security and entertainment people are looking for.
And you are following right, this shift in behavior is triggering an evident boost in local tourism!
People will have vacation budgets that are now not entirely spent outside of their home country, but at least partly for domestic travel and leisure. According to a travel study conducted in the Netherlands, over 32% already voiced that they won't be leaving their home country for a vacation this year.
The Dutch board of tourism is taking their piece of the cake by digging into this trend by actively promoting the country's 'hidden gems' to attract local tourists from all around the country. The NBTC Holland Marketing started a campaign 'You need to be here' ('hier moet je zijn') to inspire people in seeking out previously less frequently visited local markets, historical sites, and the natural beauty of the area.
While the rise in local tourism in Europe is still coming along, in Asia, it has already been clearly confirmed, leaving local committees and communities all around the world in high hopes for recovery.
"People will still want to go on holiday – they do not want to give up their holidays altogether. However, they are going to start to revert to 'safety first." - Nick Wyatt, Head of R&A, Travel & Tourism at GlobalData -
As we can see, however, by many examples within the tourism and recreational sector, a boost in local tourism does not mean we can let crowds stream into our venues.
Venues prepared, and are still preparing, to allocate and distribute this demand in line with all necessary safety regulations.
In a nutshell: Venues now need systems in place capable of securely spreading and controlling all people who want to visit their venue.
Next to in-venue measures taken, such as sanitary stations, spaced queues, and contactless service, there is a wide range of measures venues need to take even before the visitors enter their premises.
Many venues are already working with limited capacity, time slots, and upfront reservations instead of drop-ins and box-offices to avoid unsafe situations that lead to consequences, including fines and even closure.
But as always, there are little benefits that come along with every change. In this case, the combination of running on low capacity and a boost in local tourism can also have a positive effect on the type of visitor coming to cities and its venues.
Take the heart of the Netherlands, Amsterdam, as an example. The city has a difficult relationship with many international tourists visiting for reasons that might not necessarily be in the city's main favor. Running on lower capacity and attracting largely local visitors could subsequently filter out tourists coming for unfavorable reasons and lead to something one might call 'quality tourists.' And wouldn't it be great to know your visitors' decision to come to your venue or location is, overall, made up of more serious and conscious reasons than ever before?
"There are a number of potential winners, for example, anybody that is operating hotels and attractions." - Nick Wyatt, Head of R&A, Travel & Tourism at GlobalData -
So, yes, we know, the situation has been difficult for leisure venues as this industry has and is suffering significantly from the lack of visitors.
But now, it is time to refocus.
Staycations and an uplift in local tourism might not make up for lost easter weekend trips or big-time revenue loss - but it might lead to other outcomes in your favor!
Harvest your benefits now by concentrating on this demand and building local customer loyalty schemes and campaigns to attract and keep your visitors engaged.
A few ideas on how to get you started:
- How to regain trust upon your reopening & attracting the right people
- Digitizing your experience from beginning to end
- 4 online marketing tools to boost ticket sales