Guests choose independent hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, and hostels for a variety of reasons: intimacy, uniqueness, price, and location, just to name a few. Many guests seek out independent properties over chains because of their desire for a closer connection to the local community and neighborhoods within it.
For hoteliers and hosts who want to showcase this valuable local knowledge, a robust local guide is a fantastic resource for guests. Since you know your destination well, your guide can help guests discover your city or town through your unique lens.
A well-written, thoughtful, and smartly-curated local guide does a few things:
There’s also a fourth benefit that many find significant: A local guide is a perfect marketing tool for potential guests researching destinations. Travelers may stumble upon your guide in an online search while planning their trip, or find it on your website while researching places to stay and become interested in booking your property. The guide can serve as a free advertisement for your property and prove influential in a guest’s decision to stay with you.
Now that you’re ready to create your own city guide, the following are a few questions to get you started.
An essential benefit of having your local guide available online is the potential boost in your property’s search visibility. Since a detailed local guide provides good content to feature and link to on your website, it will give your property more opportunities to rank for specific searches. This content also engages potential guests as they browse your site.
You may also want to consider providing guests with a physical version of the local guide. You can offer the printed guide at the front desk or leave a copy in the guest rooms. This option gives guests the ability to carry their guides with them as they head out the door.
Alternatively, a guide could be provided as a PDF so guests can download it onto their phones. Providing a downloadable PDF means no printing costs for you, and convenience for your guests since the guide will be easily portable and available on their phones even when they’re offline.
Whichever option you choose, there are a few things to consider:
Once you’ve decided your format, it’s time to consider your audience. Ideally, you’ve already completed a guest segmentation exercise to determine what type of traveler(s) your property most
attracts, for example, backpackers, families, business travelers, etc.
If you haven’t completed a segmentation analysis, then take some time to look through your past reservations and evaluate your current guests. Who are they? What are their interests? What kind of recommendations did they ask for? A thorough understanding of your guests’ curiosities will help keep your guide relevant and give you a solid foundation for deciding which places, attractions, and restaurants to include.
One of the most useful aspects of creating a city guide is the opportunity it provides for you to make connections with local businesses and create partnerships. Do you have a favorite restaurant or art gallery you love to visit?
If you haven’t already reached out to local business owners to forge potential partnerships, the local guide provides a perfect conversation starter to explore potential co-marketing opportunities. Most small businesses welcome the chance to share referrals and work out a commission deal for bringing in new customers. Perhaps you can negotiate a monthly mention on their social media channels in return for placement in your local guide. In cases like this, everyone wins – and the fabric of the local community pulls tighter together.
Now that you’ve identified your format, your audience, and your partnerships, you have the groundwork for deciding what content to include. Proper and accurate curation is essential to the success of a local guide, and understanding who you’re talking to should guide decisions on what tips and recommendations to share.
Each location has its own unique attractions, points of interest, restaurants, and other noteworthy spots. The task here is to filter your destination’s menu of activities through your brand’s lens, and then highlight the best places for your property’s guests.
Here’s a starting point for the types of content to include:
You understand your audience best, so use this list as a framework. You should emphasize the areas that your guests may be most interested in – for example, a hostel that attracts younger travelers could include more nightlife recommendations while a boutique B&B might focus more on culture and food tips.
We think local guides are a great way to promote your property and enhance the guest experience. That’s why we put together our best tips into a free eBook that goes more in-depth about how to create a local guide for your guests. We’ve even included a few FREE templates that you can use to easily create your own guide.
By following these steps, and putting together your own customized recommendations, you’ll have a local guide that you’ll be proud of and your guests will love. After you’ve completed your initial version of your local guide, set a calendar reminder to revisit it periodically. Things change… you want to be sure that your guide is up-to-date and useful. It’s a great investment for your property!
Isis is on the marketing team at Cloudbeds where she gets to put her M.A. in Writing, passion for travel, and hospitality experience to good use as Content Coordinator. Brazilian born, South Florida raised, she now lives in sunny San Diego, home to Cloudbeds headquarters. When she’s not busy researching and writing everything travel and hospitality tech you can find her at the dog beach with her pug, young son, and hubby– or plotting her next trip.