Riding the Staycation Wave

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August 8th, 2018

Gas prices are rising, the highest they’ve been in almost four years. Airfare is up. All this has sparked a renewed wave of news stories and predictions about the number of “Staycations” that will take place this summer and fall.

Are you ready?

Even Merriam-Webster now recognizes the term staycation or even better yet—a staycationer. These are folks that due to time or budget restrictions, or just curiosity, are choosing to take more experiential trips closer to home. These visits tend to be more spontaneous and typically are heavily influenced by social media.

If you’re not yet in a Staycation frame of mind—don’t fret; here a few tips to get you going.

Promoting your name/brand may not be not enough.

Staycations are about discovery and exploration of sights and sounds locals have either never visited, haven’t seen in a while, or ignored. (If it’s the latter, better reach out to me offline; your problems go deeper than this email can manage.)

 

Find new ways to tell your story. Or create some new chapters in the book you already have.

One of our clients, Utah’s Hogle Zoo is excellent at this. They see over 1M visitors each year, many who’ve visited numerous times before. How do we tell a new story? When it gets hot—as in 100-degrees hot—they offer a Family Night discount with dinner specials and stay open until 9:00. To attract more socially-conscious younger adults, they’ve added evening events focused on conservation learning, while serving beer and wine. Neither of these events cannibalize core visitation dayparts, yet both tell new and very different stories about what makes the Zoo such an amazing attraction.

 

Create relatable value.

We know, as marketers, we hate this word. But remember, many Staycationers are motivated by tightened budgets. How you choose to address value may determine if you are selling them a ticket, or if it’s your competitor down the street or mountain.

Consider non-traditional packaging or bundling of services you normally don’t promote. Extend a single-day purchase into visits over multiple days, perhaps through special events, guest artists or activities tied to a central theme. Bring in a restaurant or hotel partner to create a package deal. And here’s one (blasphemy, we know), consider a package deal with the aforementioned competitor down the street. Getting something is better than nothing.

Another thought… make their transportation to you easier and more rewarding. Remember, they are driving to you. Consider incentivizing early purchasers with pre-paid gas cards; facilitate scheduling and/or reimburse Lyft or Uber rides; or maybe offer a car wash while they visit (free or with a nominal cost going to a charity closely related to your brand). All or one can be on slower days where you have staff bandwidth.

 

Help them socialize their experiential memories.

For better or worse, technology and social media have dramatically shortened consumer’s attention spans and forced brands to provide means for immediate and continual gratification. Embrace this. What areas of your attraction provide highly visual and experiential opportunities for guests to not only interact with your brand, but also shoot lots of photos with content you’d love to them to publish? Simple directional signs and cut-outs are perfect for this.

 

We hope these ideas help inspire you to jump onboard the Staycation wagon or upgrade the one you are already driving.