Just because the temperature’s dropping doesn’t mean your hotel’s bookings need to.
Despite what some may think, travelers — especially those looking for deals — book plenty of trips during the off-season. Still, you might need to offer a little incentive to get vacationers to come to your hotel or resort. Consider these hotel management tips to promote your location during slow times.
Come Up With Creative Specials
To appeal to guests outside of peak season, add value to the price of their rooms, says David Brudney, founder of David Brudney & Associates, a hospitality marketing consultancy in Carlsbad, California. “Offer vouchers guests can use toward food and beverages, merchandise or spa purchases.”
The Abbey Resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, includes credits in several of its off-season packages. “Our ‘Overnight Spa Package’ includes a deluxe guest room, a $50 food and beverage credit and a $120 spa credit,” says Marketing Director Sara Schmitz.
Throughout the winter, the Emerson Resort in New York’s Hudson Valley offers a mid-week special that allows visitors to book two nights and get the third night free, and includes lift tickets at a nearby ski resort. “Guests come back year after year and tell their friends and family,” says Kayleen Scali, public relations and sales assistant at the resort. “We hope to sell 300 packages this winter.”
Become a Holiday Destination
December temperatures in Kohler, Wisconsin — home of five-star resort the American Club and the Inn on Woodlake — hover around 27 degrees. In spite of freezing temperatures, these hotels are often at capacity during the weeks leading up to Christmas, thanks to their lineup of holiday events.
“Daily events include breakfast with Santa, holiday afternoon tea, caroling and cookie decorating,” says Christine Loose, director of hotels. “We also offer culinary opportunities like Christmas-themed buffets and mistletoe brunch.”
Offering these activities each year encourages families to visit annually as part of their holiday traditions, Loose says.
Gather Intel About Your Guests
Hotels know more about their guests than ever before, thanks to customer relationship management (CRM) programs that allow hotels to collect data about past, present and future guests, including their contact information and interests, Brudney says. This insider knowledge provides a wealth of opportunities to offer guests deals that will appeal to them.
A Colorado resort was able to boost its off-season occupancy by analyzing CRM and social media guest data and targeting promotions accordingly, Brudney explains. “[The resort] segmented names into groups and noticed that a lot of them were Harley-Davidson bikers,” he says. “So they sent them an email offering a low-demand weekend package that included a customized ride and dinner banquet.”
Hold a Flash Sale
Email past and prospective guests with a limited-time offer they’ll have a tough time refusing. “Explain that if they book a room in the next 72 hours, they’ll get a 50 percent discount over a selected period of time,” Brudney suggests.
Third-party websites like Groupon or LivingSocial can take care of the logistics for you. And while they’ll take a cut of the profit, there’s evidence their flash- and private-sale tactics succeed at bringing in new customers — and fast.
Upgrade the Guest Experience
Many hotels let their pricey suites sit vacant every night, Brudney says. Rather than leave those rooms unoccupied, impress guests with spontaneous upgrades. “Why not upgrade a guest to a suite?” he asks. “Let the guest know the suite usually costs three to four times more than the room they paid for.”
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