Tuesday, April 26, 2016 6:00:53 PM

Gone are the days of saving up for years to take a two-week trip across the country or overseas. Vacationers are cutting costs and transforming the travel industry by looking for excitement and value right in their own backyards. Google reported that searches about staycations rose annually by 10 percent between 2011 and 2014. Most consumers are searching for attractions in their hometowns or neighboring cities. For example, New York City and Atlantic City were the top hotel searches for New Yorkers, while San Francisco was the top search for Northern Californians.

Staycations offer three important benefits.
• Eliminate the hassle and high cost of airfare
• Give families more opportunities for quality time
• Allow families to take frequent mini-vacations, instead of longer, infrequent trips

Unsurprisingly, millennials (the 18 to 34 demographic) are leading the trend toward staycations. Many millennials grew into adulthood in the midst of recession, making cost-consciousness and bargain hunting top priorities for these young singles and parents. Millennials take an average of 3.1 staycations per year, and approximately 55 percent regularly take overnight trips.

Marketing Staycation Discounts and Packages to Locals

Staycations are happening more frequently, which means retailers have more chances to reach consumers while they're in a pleasure-seeking mindset. The goal is to design promotions that make shoppers feel like they are experiencing something new or valuable from local vendors. Staycationers look to three major sources for activity ideas: newspaper spotlights, word-of-mouth recommendations and consumer reviews.

Word-of-Mouth Recommendations
Client recommendations are a highly valuable source of local marketing, as consumers trust their friends and relatives more than brands or ads. Referral rewards programs are one way to leverage an existing customer base to attract more staycationers. Organize contest promotions that drive locals to come back to your business for more product, and offer discounts to guests who bring new customers.

Ask guests for feedback about services, and use those moments of connection to encourage them to share their experiences online with other people. After all, consumers are more likely to be active and enthusiastic when good experiences are still fresh. Share specific Twitter hashtags with customers on your promotional materials, such as #Connecticut dining, #lobster roll, so your business gains a steady stream of online mentions. At the same time, online searches are drawn to your content when looking for local places to stop for seafood.

Social Media/Consumer Reviews
Millennials turn to social media to find out where other pleasure-seekers go for products and services during their staycations. Retailers can use these high-activity periods to build an online following and drive traffic to their websites. Follow local event and travel organizations in the area, such as the Chamber of Commerce, and post content that helps consumers streamline their travel plans.
A ShareThis study showed that nearly 70 percent of consumers share travel-related content on Facebook, while many turn to informational sources, such as Blogger and Pinterest, for planning tips. Retailers should use their expertise to create information hubs for consumers, building a reputation as a knowledgeable and caring brand. They can also post reviews from local clients alongside useful content to demonstrate that they have a history of providing attentive, consistent service to local customers and general information seekers.

Newspaper Spotlights
Local newspapers and travel publications regularly compile lists of fun things to do, influencing how consumers plan their calendars. Retailers should build marketing strategies around popular local events, such as state fairs, and use targeted advertising that shows consumers how a product adds convenience or enjoyment to the staycation experience. Does an annual music festival bring crowds to your area? Promote blankets and coolers to people who plan to spend all day at the festival grounds. Market discounted oil changes and other auto services to people traveling to nearby cities.
Reach out to news publications to feature entertaining products, tours or hospitality packages. Show your appreciation for year-round patronage with locals-only deals. Whenever possible, promotions should offer ways to build mailing lists, so retailers can keep locals up to date on product offerings throughout the year.

The staycation trend is steadily growing, and retailers should focus on building long-term relationships with visitors. The LA Times can help you determine the best times to target staycationers, so contact us today for information on showcasing your promotions.

Categories: Consumer Insights, Marketing Tips, Small Business

Tags: marketing tips, consumer insights, SMBs