Become a master at ‘local advice’
In photographer Ross Honeysett’s experience, local culture is a most important factor. “A business must accurately represent local culture. For example, a small, family-run hotel in Europe or Scandinavia may be a modest building but a guest’s experience will be enriched by a hotel culture that has been passed down through generations of hoteliers.
“As soon as the guest enters the hotel they would immediately feel absorbed into and embraced by a new and local culture. A guest must feel at ease in a hotel and these hoteliers perform this task naturally. No amount of staff training, for example, can achieve this result. It’s just part of the culture.”
Digital expert Josh Rowe says: “Try and uncover anything unique about your destination and your local area. People love secrets. They love to find things out. The In ‘n’ Out Burger chain’s ‘secret menu’ is a good example. The secret menu is available on their website and every regular knows what it is, so it’s not particularly secret.
“However, there’s something that feels good about being an insider or a local, with local knowledge. Start by simply letting your guests know where to get the best local pizza or let them know about a hidden gem, such as a little bar or shop they must know about.
“A guest may be able to find those things out for themselves, but often it’s time consuming, not easy and they could miss out. Sharing your local knowledge and secret tips with them will go a long way towards helping your guests have a unique and unforgettable experience with you.
“We live in Malavista, which is just behind Venice in LA. I can find out where the local school is for my son simply by visiting Google Maps, but there’s not really extra information, like what’s the best playground within five minutes of my house.
“There’s a layer of information that technology can’t provide and a real opportunity for accommodation businesses to add value. For example, they could include real human stories from locals on their website. Imagine an interesting local guy who is at a particular coffee shop everyday, telling you about his tips and secrets.
“Airbnb launched a great feature about experiences. I can go to San Francisco and go to Harvey Milk Walk and walk around with some local from the Castro who’s been there for 50 years and knew Harvey Milk – those kinds of things give me a great connection with the destination before I’ve even arrived.
“There’s also a platform called Detour worth checking out. It’s GPS-driven audio walking tours that inform you about the area as you walk around. Offering this type of service is hyper-localised storytelling and would set you apart from your competition, adding value to your guests’ experience with you. In such a competitive space, the businesses that stand out are the ones with the cool point of view, or something interesting to say about the culture or just the ability to express themselves by being proud of who they are and the places they represent.”