The saying goes ‘make hay while the sun shines’ but there is limited sunshine in Blighty and so being able make hay indoors – preferably with central heating – is an essential of doing business in the British Isles.
Using PR and social media to build vibrant local communities
Today, the next phase of lockdown eases, hotels, bars, restaurants, theatres and more open their doors to welcome people inside, albeit still with restrictions. With international travel still carrying some uncertainty, local tourism is hoping to come back with a bang.
It's a big day, with high expectations for tills rolling and credit card machines going into overdrive. Being able to spend money indoors in venues other than retail is important business for hotels, restaurants, attractions and more. Many of those with outdoor capacity have found it economically unviable to open before now. There is light at the end of the crippling Covid tunnel.
To say that getting people back through the doors and spending again is an urgent need is something of an understatement. Many gems of the UK’s hospitality and tourism industry also rely on international visitors – who are in short supply due to international travel restrictions – and so nurturing repeat visitors, loyal fans and finding new ways to attract spend has never been more important.
Social media to reassure
Anxiety about being out and about is real. We all want to know how we will be kept safe when we visit restaurants, stay in hotels and generally explore more of the world. Using social media channels to showcase what you have in place can bring reassurance. Show pictures of what to expect, while bringing to life the warm welcome you offer. Social media also allows real time updates – a last minute table cancellation means you have availability, let your fans and followers know and inspire them with what you have to offer.
More than ever we want to be enjoying and supporting great British hospitality, and knowing there is a brilliant business owner behind the mask makes our spending decisions easier to make. Be personable, do the simple things well such as thanking those who post or share about their experience online and offer them incentives to return. The basics of social media are that engagement brings growth, so respond, comment, like and share like your business depends on it.
Media relations to boost awareness
It’s not a surprise that readership of local news has spiked during the pandemic – local news websites throughout the country are reporting record page views. We’ve all got friends and family coming to stay (how wonderful it is to hear those words), and that means we need places to take them, great restaurants to keep them fed and watered and brilliant local attractions to entertain them.
Let your local media know your plans, highlight what has changed and share how your business has innovated to weather the last 14 months and counting. Uncover the little interesting facts that make your business intriguing. Have you started growing your own vegetables, did you house key workers during the heat of lockdowns, did you start your business during the pandemic, or have you turned your hand to something else during the last year to support the national effort to manage this crisis?
Tell these stories to your local media through traditional PR such as picking up the phone to the newsdesk of the local paper, radio station of hyperlocal website. Prepare a simple press release – remembering to get the most important and interesting facts into the first paragraph. We have a track record of supporting great small businesses with exactly this kind of activity. Take a look at our work for Pilgrim’s Coffee House in Northumberland, or the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company.
Make friends – exploring partnerships
Being in it together has been a strong theme of the pandemic, and hold onto this as you emerge into trading successfully again. Look at the other businesses in your area that have similar values and complementary services and explore if there are ways to work together. For example, special offers on attraction admission for customers of a local shop, or refer a friend incentives. You could even consider joint tickets, or an extra small gift or low-cost item thrown in when booking multiple times.
And, as part of your social media engagement, promote and support other local businesses in your community. The more people come and visit everyone around you, the more propensity there is for spend with you. Be an active part of the local community and do what you can to promote your area as a great destination, as well as, of course, your own business as a central part of that experience. Vibrant tourism communities thrive on recommendation, and so share the love.
If you’d like to hear more about how we can support your local tourism community in building back better from the pandemic, get in touch with Siren Comms.