Freebies, vouchers and other pieces of candy to lure guests

In these trying times we have to stay ahead off competitors, and have to use every inch of originality we have to survive. We have looked at some of the strategies employed across South Africa and have distilled some of the ideas for this article.

To get somebody to commit to your establishment is a bit like asking them to marry you after you first meet. The chances are very unlikely.

You have to entice guests, and this means many different types of bait, depending on what you are after.

Things you can give away for free

A travel itinerary

Guest are often lazy when it comes to researching local attractions, and they do not have the local knowledge. With your knowledge of local activities and attractions, you can put together a much better itinerary than would ever have been possible.

This itinerary may include stops at

  • Wineries ( include some enticing details, best sunset, best Cabernet Sauvignon, best deal etc)
  • Best restaurants ( the salmon at Antonios’ Kitchen is to die for, while Cuchina Alfredo makes the best ravioli)
  • Beer breweries ( Best lager, best burger etc.)
  • Nurseries in the area (you will be surprised how many people love this)
  • Museums to visit
  • Fishing in the area ( with detail of places to buy fishing gear)
  • Walking routes in the area (with maps, places to buy water and sunblock beforehand)
  • Local attractions


  • Vouchers for walk-ins, when you know the room will be empty anyway
  • Vouchers for staying more than two nights
  • Vouchers for restaurants, breweries in the area who will appreciate the referral

Partner with local service providers and provide vouchers for

  • Personal trainers
  • Yoga instructors
  • Therapeutic message therapists
  • Spa treatments
  • Bike rental companies
  • Tour operators

Local businesses will appreciate your referrals and would reciprocate. The 20% off voucher for the Beer tasting, might turn into a referral for a weekend stay, or they stay for a supplier of beer brewing ingredients.

Event specific specials

These specials are tailor-made for the particular events that take place locally, and even just the association with the name of the event, will bring you more customers.

Free concierge service

Big, upmarket accommodation facilities have a dedicated concierge who assists guest to book tours, as well as theater and restaurant reservations. Often you have the staff and the time, it will not cost some places any money to assist guests with these amenities.


Early bird specials encourage guest to book in advance and choose you above somebody else who did not have the special. This could run only for a certain time and could just be a straight-up percentage discount, but could also be something like, “book within a month” and get a room upgrade, book within two months and get free breakfast etc.

Last-minute upgrades

If you have a special room that will stay empty for the night, an upgrade might just be appreciated.

Direct booking special

If one of your better rooms is standing empty, consider upgrading guests and over-delivering on their expectation. This way they have an unexpectedly good time and get a taste of the good life.

Event-specific special

These specials are not always so special from a discount perspective, as they are tailormade for the specific type of customer that a local event will attract. Even just the association with the event will bring you more customers.

Create your own events to build “specials” around

Events you could cater for include

  • Wine tastings
  • Hunting trips
  • 4×4 routes
  • Skydiving
  • Bread baking workshop
  • Flower arranging workshop
  • Cooking demonstration by local chefs
  • Family reunions
  • Guest chef lunch or dinner

Free samples

By including local produce which could be tea, soaps, chocolate, beer and wine, you encourage people to visit your neighbours, and this will have a reciprocal effect.

Building local relationships

Your property is a small part of the big area that you guests come to stay at, so it is best to market your area, and thereby attract guests.

Some owners go to great lengths to create comaraderie, and these often involve events to bring together the community.

Events may include

  • Canine cocktail hour every second Friday (bring your best friend, free bicuits and water for doggies)
  • Posh boerie Friday – easy to make braai for everybody – mingle while allowing people to go back to work afterwards
  • Local chef gives tasting quantity tasting of his new creations, while showing off his catering skills
  • Gin Mix-off – This one can get dangerous