3 ways the local industry can attract domestic travellers
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With South Africa moving into level 2 lockdown, Niels Verspui from RoomRaccoon South Africa predicts a surge in travel bookings.
"Now that the industry is placed in the spotlight and is opening up for business – hoteliers need to make hay (and bookings) while the sun shines," he said.
According to pre-Covid-19 statistics released by the World Travel & Tourism Council, the tourism industry generated more than $200 billion (about R2.9 trillion) in Africa, accounting for 6.9% of Africa’s GDP and supporting +24 million jobs.
“This (stats) shows the potential that the industry has to offer for local hoteliers, and they must be supported to operate at full capacity in the near future.
“This can be made possible as more locals embark on staycations and people, both locally and abroad, receive their Covid-19 vaccinations. Sooner than later, South Africa will become a popular tourist destination once again,” he said.
Verspui said the main aspects that a traveller looks for when they book a trip were value, economic stability, transparency in bookings, and flexibility of hospitality properties.
He shared three tips to assist hoteliers as they gear up for an increase in business:
Enable flexible rates:
He said with the pandemic, travellers sought flexibility.
"For example, it was reported that more than 90% of recent trips in China were booked within seven days of the trip itself. To accommodate this, hoteliers should extend their cancellation policies flexibility to one day before arrival or even the day of arrival," he said.
Offer the non-refundable alternative
Offering a lower non-refundable option with a different rate than the flexible one allows hoteliers to reach more customers, said Verspui.
"As travelling for business continues during these volatile times, travellers may prefer to have the booking payment handled by their company, and a non-refundable rate would be more appealing," he said.
Update rates and availability for the next 12 months
Verspui said that data by Vacaay has indicated a 520% increase in Europeans adding South Africa to their upcoming travel itineraries.
"It’s for this reason that hoteliers should update their rates and availability for the next 12 months so that it will be visible on all their potential customers' searches. Additionally, hoteliers can set up an automated system to increase rates when demand increases," he said.