The holiday season represents a very busy travel period from Thanksgiving to New Years. As the United States and the rest of the world recover from a recession, buying power has increased and consumers are more willing to travel. In order to take your piece of the holiday pie, you need to revamp your marketing efforts to remain top of mind.
Black Friday, the shopping phenomenon the day after Thanksgiving, created more than $1.5B in revenue last year. Thanksgiving Day itself represented over $1B in revenue, while Cyber Monday revenue also soared. During these deal-seeking days, Search Engine Land reminds us that the hospitality industry is not immune to consumers’ demand for better prices.
As the holiday season approaches, prepare you marketing plan to include timely promotions and content. Create a story that appeals to seasonal travelers that will in turn encourage them to stay at your property. Here we have some tips for you on how to approach your holiday marketing plan.
Create Custom Promotions and Packages for Holiday Travelers
Promotions and packages are a great way to entice the deal seekers and get a leg up over the competition. Creating promotions and packages does not mean that you have to significantly lower your prices and slash your margins. Instead, utilize your property’s restaurant or bar to maximize your leverage. If your property doesn’t have a bar or restaurant, you can partner with local businesses and restaurants to create a strong offer.
A local business partnership may be a great strategy because it helps direct your guests to the best offers in town. Create offers that are seasonal to give guests a once-a-year type experience.
Examples may include:
- Offer fresh Gingerbread cookies in the lobby or in the guest rooms
- Offer free snow cones to the kids
- Every guest who stays with you on Christmas Eve or Christmas receive a free dinner whether it is from your restaurant and catered locally
- Discounts to local restaurants
- Free tickets to local museum with holiday events
- Ticket discounts to holiday events such as reindeer rides, snowman competitions, etc.
- Free holiday drinks in the lobby such as cider, eggnog, hot chocolate, wine, etc.
Refresh Existing Packages for the Holidays
Think about what type of experience you can offer your guests that they cannot get during the rest of the year. Use this as a starting point and create promotions around holiday experiences.
You can give existing packages a holiday refresh. Milestone Insights suggests adding a holiday twist with simple things like a themed bed and breakfast package. After giving existing packages a twist, include information about holiday happenings in your area. Give potential customers the feeling that they are going to experience something new and special on their visit.
We are firm believers in the power of content at Cloudbeds. Create a holiday ‘things to do’ page on your website and highlight it. During the holiday season, guests researching your property will love that you have done some research for them. Most destinations offer special festivals, shows, and events during this time of year so create a pro-tip, go-to guide. You know your destination better than anyone, so give your guests the inside scoop.
Some ideas to jumpstart your holiday content:
- Holiday recipes
- Scenic-cold weather hiking trails for those snowy photoshoots
- Ski/snowboarding/sledding rentals
- Local holiday events such as tree lightings, caroling, Santa photos, cookie bake-offs
- Charitable events and volunteer opportunities
- Local holiday traditions
Your property’s blog should be holiday centric from a few weeks before Thanksgiving until after New Years. There are countless stories you can share to pique guests’ interests and again, you are the expert.
Capitalize on your property’s unique characteristics. For example, if you’re a bed and breakfast located in Minneapolis, you could make a game plan for getting the most out America’s largest mall, Mall of America on Black Friday. Or if you’re a ski lodge in the Hakuba Valley in Japan, you would write about the prime snow conditions during the holiday season.
Essentially you are selling a story. For some, the story may be about Black Friday shopping and for others it may be about escaping reality for awhile.
We love when brands update their social media assets during the holiday season. Moz, a technology company, regularly updates their social media assets based on the current season. The photo below shows what they did last year for the holidays. They also have posted different pictures for the fall, winter, and summer.
Also related to social media, use those wonderful holiday blog posts you wrote to fuel your social channels. Share your specials and packages via social as well. During Cyber Monday, you can offer special “secret” deals to your followers, that are unavailable elsewhere.
Holiday vs. Christmas
It seems like every year around this time we have an international debate about how best to use festive words like “holiday” and “season”. The public gets turned-off by both political correctness and perceived exclusiveness, so it’s important to find the correct balance. We suggest you fully embrace the holidays you think best fit your property. It’s your property, and you know your guests best. Celebrate the season the way you’re comfortable with, and the way that is most profitable for your business.
A few years ago, Virgin Mobile released a commercial where they sang about Christmahannuquanzica, a quirky mixture of all the holidays that happen at the end of the year. This is an example of a fun way to celebrate the holidays while not being politically correct, nor excluding others. However you decide to approach the holiday season, remember to do so thoughtfully, with sincerity and fun.
The holidays are a great time of year to get creative with your marketing efforts. Create and refresh existing promotional packages to focus on the holidays and support them with holiday content. Embrace the season to give your property a unique edge and delight your guests in a fun way.