Staycations – A threat or an opportunity for your destination?

Written by: Renate Engelbrecht

There is a lot being written about the word, Staycation, but do we really get what it’s about? Do we realise that Staycations could either be seen as a threat or an opportunity for local businesses?

Staycation

Staycation – Photo taken by Renate Engelbrecht

We often tend to focus all our marketing efforts on guests coming in from abroad – you know, those with the dollars. But then, when last have we really taken a good look at what the customers right under our noses, the locals, are looking for? That family of four driving past your destination every day on their way to school; the couple who just bought a new home around the corner and committed themselves to weekly date nights; the retirees who love to invite their precious grandchildren for a visit, but don’t know where to take them for entertainment…

STAYCATION: A period in which individuals or families stay at home and take part in local leisure activities within driving distance from their homes and sleep in their own beds at night.

What causes guests to revert to Staycations?

  • Economic pressure or recession
  • The rise of fuel prices
  • The increase of tourists who want to reduce the carbon footprint
  • The urge and necessity to save time (travelling could take up to two days, where Staycations require one hour’s travel at most)
  • The larger the family, the less the finances for travel when you take into account the costs of restaurants, transport and accommodation
  • Health concerns may alter travelling plans
  • Work commitments may thwart plans of travelling abroad or even just out of town

How can Staycations be to your destination’s advantage?

  • You can get the locals on your side – the best all year round customers you could wish for!
  • Local businesses can work together, for once, and build a stronger, more steadfast relationship
  • You could wind up with a whole new group of customers, allowing you to broaden customer experiences offered, hence catering for a wider range of clients.
  • It will drive you to get involved in your local community – a must in today’s competitive business environment and economy.
  • It will encourage you to learn more about your immediate and surrounding areas – something we tend to neglect when focusing on foreign tourists.

How can you drive locals, or rather, Staycationers, to your destination?

It so happens that not all towns and cities are ideal for Staycations. This is where you, as a destination, have the obligation to create experiences for Staycationers and keep them from driving to the nearest best town for the day. Yes, you still want to make a buck or two, which is why you need to think clever! You need to find a way to cater for guests who want to relax in a wallet-friendly environment, while still growing your profits:

  • Open your destination’s swimming pool for the public on certain days, offering refreshments and snacks on a budget that might up your sales for the day. Add some water activities, i.e. water aerobics at an hourly fee and increase profits in that way.
  • Put up some alternative activities that may be used by the public at a minimal fee. Think table tennis, volleyball, giant chess, put-put and some facilitated local games like the well-known South African Boeresport. That’ll keep’em busy!
  • Run local tours – not only at your destination, but also in the surrounding areas. Make it interesting and try to educate. Educational tourism is just as much a thing as Staycations. Put together an “Explore your city” package with local businesses like museums, botanical gardens and local breweries, for example, and put a mark-up on it.
  • Host a fun run and have participants enjoy a breakfast buffet at your on-site restaurant afterwards at a discounted rate. Often you will find, if it was a good experience, that these guests stay for longer or they return.

I say, let’s turn Staycations into the best opportunity for destinations yet!

The challenges of starting your own company

Starting your own company is a pretty big challenge in itself – let alone starting it in the middle of an economic crisis. And yup – that is exactly where I am! Yet, it is the most fulfilling thing I have done in a long time.

This challenge comes with even more challenges, which I experience hands-on every day. Here are a few of the challenges you will face when starting your own company:

  • Finances. If you didn’t have enough capital to begin with, you definitely won’t have enough now. Make provision for more than you think you might need – things get rough out there.
  • Your biggest enemy is you. This was a very scary part to realize, but trust me – you are a bigger enemy than your competitors. You are the one who get tired and lose faith at times. You’re the one who start thinking it’s not going to work. You’re the one starting to trust that voice in your head telling you that you were stupid to think it was going to work in the first place. Don’t fall for the lies! Keep your eyes on the goal and march on.
  • Making time. You tend to work harder than usual. Ten to twelve hour days, seven days a week is nothing. Therefore, there is less time to spend with your loved ones, but remember: they are your support system. They are the ones who cheer you on when you feel like you can’t go any further. Make time for quality friend and family time. You need it and they need you to still be you no matter what.
  • “What if’s”. Stop right there. Don’t even go there. Thinking “what if it doesn’t work” is not going to get you anywhere. Train you brain to rather think: “Okay, what next”. Don’t stop thinking, don’t stop doing and never stop researching.
  • Possible clients will always have a comeback. Oh, this happens too often. People will tell you they don’t need your service, because they’ve been in the industry for “almost 20 years” and they don’t think anyone can teach them anything. Even though I really feel sorry for them (because you learn new things everyday) I respect their response and take them of my contacting list. Don’t let this demotivate you – there are always people like that in life and you don’t want to work with people who think they know everything anyhow.
  • Sacrifices. When starting your own business, you need to be willing to sacrifice certain things in order to save some money. Testing out a new coffee shop every day will need to wait a year or two. Buying the best phone will need to wait another two years. Window shopping will need to become the new way of shopping for a while and holidays will need to be put on hold. In the long run, this will pay off – trust me.
  • Forgetting the important things. Don’t forget or let go of the important things like exercise and relationships. These are things that will keep you going – don’t omit it from your routine.

These are but a few of the challenges I’ve encountered in the first few months of starting my own business and I suppose there are still many to come. But these challenges teach me something new every day and I love it. Starting your own business is definitely a good way to get to know yourself (and your limits).

So, to all the entrepreneurs out there: Up top for taking on the challenge and good luck!