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How to attract the outdoor crowd

What can hoteliers do to cater for travellers looking for an outdoors-themed break? From working with hiking apps to offering guided cycle rides, here are some of the tricks from the hotels doing it best

Outdoor tourism is a growing market. According to a report by Human Company and Travel Appeal, the outdoor experience tourism sector was worth €4.9bn in 2018 - a figure that’s predicted to rise by 1.3% by the end of 2019.

Properties would be wise to jump on this trend. One way accommodations can attract outdoor-lovers is by encouraging them to explore the surrounding area on foot. This is no longer about simply providing a paper map. As well as offering top quality kit, hoteliers can also use dedicated apps to enhance guest experience.

One such app is Go Jauntly. Available worldwide, this new walking app works with different accommodations to help curate hiking routes to suit a variety of types of guests. For its property partners, such as the Brecon Beacons Holiday Cottages, the app is an additional perk for guests, acting like a walking concierge.

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Walking
Catering to a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts with varying fitness levels is key. Image: credit to Go Jauntly

 

“It’s much less time consuming for hotel owners than creating one-off printed guides that can date quickly,” says Hana Sutch, Co-Founder and CEO at Go Jauntly. “For guests, it removes the guesswork by providing tried-and-tested routes with helpful information like whether the route is pram-friendly or has toilet access.”

Diversify your activity offerings

Catering to a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts with varying fitness levels is key, Sutch believes. “It’s not just extreme long-distance hikers who appreciate the outdoors and nature. Everyone is at different levels of walking ability and hotels should provide a variety of recommendations to accommodate everyone, from six-hour mountain treks to quiet 30-minute strolls,” she says.

The Lake District is one of the UK’s most popular walking destinations, and many properties there cater for hikers. Linthwaite House provides guests with walking routes devised by hotel staff, as well as wellington boots. “It’s about making everything hassle-free for guests,” says General Manager Karen Irving.

Linthwaite House guests can also hire rowing boats and bikes, or try fishing, croquet and boules. “Not everyone wants – or has the ability – to walk long distances,” says Irving. “Providing different activities within your property means everyone can have a fun outdoor experience.”

The Langdale Hotel, also in the Lake District, offers guests guided mountain biking as well as walking. “The guiding is with some of the most experienced and highly qualified in the Lake District,” says Dan Visser, Director of Sales and Marketing for Langdale Estate, highlighting a key attraction to the rides.

For Visser, having staff who are passionate about the outdoors is crucial. “They are comfortable talking to guests about how to get the best adventure during their stay,” he says. “Hoteliers should have staff who interact with guests to impart their passion for the local area and the outdoor adventures on offer.”

Social media can also be an excellent marketing tool. “Hoteliers should get outside themselves,” Visser says. “Get out, get some relaxation for yourself – then create engaging content. Make potential guests want to be in that exciting moment.”

Find your unique selling point

Making the most of your local area is integral. The Esplanade Hotel, in Newquay, Cornwall, is located next to Fistral Beach, one of the UK’s top surf spots. The hotel has its own dedicated surf school, and guests receive an exclusive discount on lessons. “Hotels should enhance guest experience by offering different activities that competitors cannot,” says Laura Cameron, Operations Director of The Esplanade Hotel.

Mireille Gourbin and Nick Green run B&B Green Bike Pyrenees, near some of the Tour de France’s famous mountain cols such as the Marie-Blanque, Aubisque and Soulor. It offers transfers for guests with bikes or provides good quality rental bikes, and a hearty “sport breakfast” is available each morning. Guests can also use its bike workshop and emergency pick-ups are on offer if required.

“The most important thing to attract outdoor guests is local knowledge,” says Gourbin. “You can find the main cycling routes on the internet, but what makes a difference is telling your guests about the quiet back roads that aren’t in the guide books, or where they might encounter sheep or a dangerous corner.”

Being flexible with your timetable will also set you apart. “If our guests are competing in a race, we will be up at 4am to offer them an early breakfast. Adapting to their needs sets you apart.”

Gourbin also believes her experience in competition sport helps her understand guests’ needs and cater for them. “We give them cycling tips and make sure they know to take plenty of water and a jacket for the descent. If you don’t cycle, you don’t know this. It’s a much better experience than simply a hotel where you have bike storage included.”

 

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Hero image: credit to Go Jauntly
Takeaway
  • The outdoor tourism sector is worth around €4.9bn and predicted to rise by 1.3% by the end of 2019
  • Properties should cater to a wide range of outdoor enthusiasts, with varying fitness levels – whether they want to go on a mountain hike or simply play a game of garden boules
  • Employing staff who enjoy the outdoors is crucial – their passion will rub off on guests and they will be better placed to inform them on how to enjoy their surroundings
  • Local knowledge – particularly of walking or cycling routes – will set a property apart from the rest

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