In the ever-changing hospitality landscape, staying on top of socioeconomic trends is as fashionable as it is necessary. One trend that has been gaining steam is the "Support Local" campaign which advocates supporting small, independent businesses that help keep and circulate money within their respective communities. This year, more than ever, we've all come to realize the true value of supporting our favourite local businesses and likewise, as business owners and operators, the need for a loyal, local customer base.

Although as hotel operators our primary markets, and probably our secondary markets, are likely longer-haul travellers, 2020 has demonstrated that the local community cannot and should not be ignored. No hotel can genuinely thrive in isolation from its surrounding community, so it's time you incorporate #supportlocal in your brand and marketing strategy. As you plan for a strong and resilient future, here are some essential considerations for why supporting local matters:

1. It Builds your Reputation

A positive image helps you to stay top of mind amongst your community members and mobilizes them to utilize your facilities. While they may not want or need to book rooms, your hotel can still offer a place to meet, dine, host events, or relax. This generates reliable income for your secondary revenue streams and is especially important if you operate in a location with stark shoulder seasons. It can also help to position your property as a go-to spot for VFR tourism.

To build your reputation in your community, consider participating in community events, contributing to projects, or providing sponsorships. You can also offer special promotions for local residents so you have the opportunity to really impress them once they're through the door. This leads not only to excellent word-of-mouth marketing amongst community members but also to recommendations by other business owners to their own patrons.

2, It Gives Your Brand an Edge

As travellers become more and more sophisticated about their consumer spending choices, your brand needs to give them a clear reason to choose your property above anywhere else. Modern travellers are discerning, they're looking for unique and authentic experiences and your local community offers your hotel an opportunity to position itself at the heart of what sets the destination apart.

Refine and differentiate your hotel brand with an eye for what stands ou t locally. What does your destination offer that travellers can't find elsewhere and how can you integrate that into your hotel's identity and messaging? Aligning your property with the culture and the offerings around you not only helps to create those bespoke experiences guests are looking for, but also leads to stronger local partnerships and helps to bolster tourism to the region as a whole. The more travellers are looking at your destination, the more will find your hotel.

3. It Creates Strong Partnerships

Sourcing local vendors creates lasting, positive relationships with other business owners in your community, helping them to generate revenue and strengthening the local economy. By buying local for your business needs, you promote one-of-a-kind products and services which are a cornerstone to the distinct character of your destination -- a major reason your guests choose to travel to your location as opposed to the competition.

As businesses s upport other businesses, it creates more jobs for residents, generates further growth, builds a culture of expert-level service, and reinvests money back into the community. That means you're helping to develop a knowledgeable, skilled workforce who are established neighbours and more likely to to be invested in the community's long-term quality.

4. It Nurtures a Loyal Team

Front-line staff are the face of your brand and it's essential that you attract the best of the best to deliver a consistently exceptional experience for your guests. When your hotel is a respected part of your community with a positive reputation and strong connections to other local businesses, you have a network of local professionals that can speak highly of your professional environment, make recommendations, and pass on suggestions so that you can make great hires.

Don't forget, building goodwill and forming community allies is as important amongst local businesses as it is amongst your own staff who are bound to discuss their employment experience in one context or another. Make sure they have positive things to say. Create a working culture that values employees, recognizes achievements, and cultivates teamwork so that your hotel is always a coveted place for locals to work.

5. It Reduces Your Impact on the Environment

Your hotel is only as good it's surrounding environment which means you have a vested interest in the long-term sustainability of your destination. When you source products locally, your hotel cuts down on fuel consumption and air pollution as well as the need for shipping facilities, packing facilities, or refrigeration. Don't discount the value of environmentally friendly business decisions and, when sincere, find ways to highlight your sustainable initiatives. It likely matters more to your community, and to your guests, than you realize.

As hotel owners and operators looking to future recovery, we n eed to keep in mind all the ways that our community is supporting us today. Demonstrate your hotel's commitment to local businesses, projects, the workforce, and culture, and you'll earn community members' lasting, loyal patronage.