ith airfare skyrocketing and stories about mishandled flights bombarding the headlines, many people are asking themselves, “Where can we go that’s driveable?” It’s the perfect opportunity to position your hotel as not only a place to rest their heads, but the basecamp for everything on your local area’s must-see list.
Suggested itineraries are something we see quite often from tourism departments, online travel sites, and other destination-based businesses, but it may not be something you think of as a resort amenity. However, offering up packed itinerary options filled with exciting adventures goes to the very heart of hospitality – showing your guests that you care about their entire experience, whether they’re on-property or out sightseeing. But how do you go about planning the perfect day for a wide range of visitors? We put together a step-by-step guide for creating craveable itineraries.
1. Create a map of local points of interest
Borrowing an idea from tourist-destination cities like Boston and St. Augustine, one great way to visualize all there is to offer in your area is to make a map. Whether you do this as an internal exercise or turn it into a public-facing piece, marking all the local attractions, restaurants, and must-see spots helps you get a good idea of how close various stops on your itinerary are. The map can simply include locator pins, or extra information like the mileage from your hotel to the destination or other information about the point of interest.
Hawthorn Creative put together a number of different itineraries for the Lakes Region Tourism Association of New Hampshire, including ideas for older couples, wellness seekers, foliage viewers, and more. Every itinerary was created based on visitor profiles to the region, and it’s something that translates perfectly to a specific hotel or resort.
2. Develop various guest profiles
Who are the guests that book stays at your property? Are they families, spring break revelers, honeymooning couples, business travelers, or a little bit of everything? Understanding your audience is important here, because you can put together itineraries for them that you know will appeal. And you don’t have to choose just one. You can create versions for adventure, fun for all ages, wellness and relaxation – let your guest profiles lead the way.
For example, The Snow King Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, has created a Wanderlust guide that includes ideas for foodies, adventurers, weekend warriors, and more.
3. Mix and match for a variety of options
Once you know who your audiences are and what’s available around you, it’s time to put your itineraries together. Most commonly, visitors arrive for a weekend getaway at check-in time on Friday and leave at check-out on Sunday, so begin with a Friday-night activity and end with something for Sunday around noon.
In addition, you can create itineraries that are more loosely constructed – a general one-day itinerary, for example, could cover all of the area’s most popular highlights for travelers who are on a limited timeframe. For business travelers, highlight after-work activities and open-late restaurants. The better you know your guest profiles, the more fun you can have.
4. Make your hotel a focal point of the itinerary
While the point of this exercise is to give your guests a guide to getting out, it’s also important to bring them back to the hotel to enjoy your amenities! For example, a weekend itinerary could include “Saturday afternoon poolside” or kick off Friday night with “drinks and dinner at our award-winning on-site restaurant.”
That said, if your resort is all inclusive or packed with amenities, you could also offer an itinerary that takes place entirely on-property. This can be especially helpful for guests who are looking for a weekend escape from the grind.
5. Partner with other local businesses
Everyone loves added value and perks, and one of the best ways to offer those to your guests is to partner with businesses in the area. If you have a family-friendly property, for example, reach out to the local indoor golf or arcade and see if they’d be willing to offer discounts to hotel guests. If you don’t offer any late-night dining options, see if a local pizza place will do the same.
This differs from individual partnerships that you may have already established that include these businesses in your itineraries. Here’s an example:
For a family-friendly weekend itinerary:
Saturday afternoon: Get your golf on! It’s kids vs. grown-ups at this exciting arcade, where you can bowl, play laser tag, play retro pinball, and more. Mention that you’re staying at our resort for a free round of mini-golf.
6. Ask your guests for feedback
One thing we’ve learned in our years of marketing is that sometimes what we think is the perfect solution isn’t even close to what our audience is looking for. (You may think a pottery studio is a great family activity, for example, but discover that it’s not something your guests find engaging.)
The best way to avoid missteps and incorrect assumptions as you’re planning your itineraries is simple: ask your guests what they’ve been up to. This can be a simple question as they’re checking out – “What did you do while you were in town?” – or a more formal survey that you send via email once their stay is complete.
7. Treat your employees to some fun team-building
If you aren’t sure that you want to recommend a local restaurant or have never been to the brand-new rock-climbing facility, there’s no better way to check it out than inviting your staff members to an afternoon getaway.