The holiday season is coming to a close and that means you have survived the rush. While busy and slow seasons differ by region, the holidays typically cause an influx of reservations followed by a lull, according to USA Today. For example, Europe’s low season is from November to March, and high season is mid-June through August. In contrast, ski resorts in Aspen, Colorado experience their high season January through March.
Times of low occupancy are great for catching up all the things you put on the back burner during the year. Here are a few ways you can get through the holiday hangover and prepare your property for busy season.
Work on Your Website
A lull is a great time to take a look at your website and do minor updates. Reread your copy and see if can spruce up the language and add or take away information. Use colorful language that highlights everything that’s great about your property. Make sure that you have big beautiful pictures that accurately represent your property. If your property experiences seasonal changes, include photos to show what guests can expect during each time of year.
Update your pricing and packages page as well. You want to ensure that your website displays the most up-to-date information. Guests want accurate and helpful information, and an out-dated website will be trouble. Also, take a look at your FAQ page and see if the questions and answers are still relevant. Think about questions people have asked you since you last updated and add ones people ask frequently. Potential guests and arriving guests often check the FAQ to answer questions they haven’t even thought of. It’s a perfect place to offer advice on your property and the area, which can, in turn, push a potential guest to book or save your front desk staff a call.
Install a New Booking Engine
In order to increase direct bookings, an optimized booking engine is essential. If guests can’t quickly find the direct booking options on your website, they will either book on an OTA or at a different property completely.
Most importantly, choose a booking engine that does not charge a commission. You worked hard to get a potential guest to your property and you shouldn’t have to pay a fee to get a booking on your own website.
Pick a booking engine that allows you to showcase the differences between your property. Cloudbeds’ software mybookings allows you to upload photo galleries for all of your different room types. This shows guests exactly what they get with each room type and leaves little room for guesswork.
Make sure your booking engine has flexible payment option capabilities. Choose one that integrates with many different third-party payment gateways, major credit cards, and Paypal.
It’s also important to choose a booking engine with analytics so you can track visits, clicks, and conversions. Analytics is the key to creating an effective online marketing strategy.
If you are going to put a booking engine on your website, you want to make sure it matches your branding. Choose a booking engine that allows you to change the style so that it doesn’t look out of place.
Lastly, make sure that the booking engine lets you personalize emails based on the type of booking. Not every guest should receive the same automatically generated email. Make sure you create different emails for different room types, payment types, deposits, etc.
Update Your Marketing Plan
In our how to prepare your marketing for 2016 blog, we listed several ways you can prepare for the new year. After the holiday rush has come and gone, take a look at how you are marketing and advertising your property. Even without a large budget, you can achieve your goals.
We mentioned above that your website is one of your property’s most valuable assets. Take a second look at it and make sure your guests are greeted with the best experience possible.
Use your existing database of emails and start sending timely, non-spamy emails. Here are some example emails:
- Offer an upgrade or some other low-cost swag when someone shares a piece of content via their social channels
- Send a pre-arrival package
- Send a post-stay checkup email
- Share guest stories
- Notify past guests of upcoming seasonal events
- Share-owner, manager, or employee stories to humanize your property
- Share your regular blog content
- Gather and share interesting articles
Experiment with Different Marketing Strategies
In order to meet your occupancy goals during the off season, you should get creative with your marketing strategies. Daily deals, such as Groupon and LivingSocial, can help you promote seasonal packages to new markets. In a previous article, we outlined how daily deals can become an added revenue stream for your property.
While it may not be necessary to use daily deals in high-seasons, you can target local events during the low season.
Book Now Button
Facebook business pages allow you to put a large call to action button at the top of your profile, such as book now. The book now button allows potential guests who are browsing your Facebook page to instantly find their way to your booking engine. You can find a guide on how to enable the book now button, here.
You can also create Facebook ads specifically for your Call to Action button as well. These types of ads can show up in the news feed, on mobile devices, and the sidebar. These ads are especially powerful because you only pay based on a very specific outcome, whether it be visits to your website or actual conversions. Facebook has a brief guide on how to set this up here. When you arrive at the ad targeting portion, read our guide on Facebook ads in order to effectively reach your target market.
Promote Your Pins
If your target market includes wealthy, urban women, Pinterest pins are a fantastic way to promote your property. Pinterest users are interested in planning many things, with travel among the top of the list. During the off season, you can target users interested in travel with gorgeous property and destination pictures. You can include information about your off-season specials in the caption. Like daily deals and Facebook, Pinterest can help you reach a new market that will be interested in visiting your property.
Complete an Upgrade to Your Property
The off-season, when occupancy tends to be low, it is a great time to complete renovations and upgrades. Renovations often mean rooms are unbookable and construction noise affects guests’ experience. While extensive upgrades and additions can be expensive, you can also complete smaller upgrades. For example, you could upgrade the TVs, light fixtures, bedside alarm clock radios, mini-fridges, etc.
Use this time to create partnerships with local businesses and create positive relationships. For example, if your property does not have its own airport car service, you can partner with a black car or cab service. That way, you can attract bookings with your free airport pick-up and the car service will benefit from a consistent revenue stream.
Also, Uber offers business partnerships that allow you to gain either money or Uber credit for referring new clients. With your hotel’s unique code, guests can enjoy any of Uber’s vehicles and you gain a (small) comission. You could even use the Uber credit as a way to incentivize your hotel staff to recommend the service to guests. You can contact Uber through your local town’s office, which you can find here.
Lyft offers a similar deal where you can get $10 for every new rider you send their way. You can fill out a form here to get in contact with one of their representatives.
Whether your property experiences a lull after the holidays or this happens to be your busy season, you can use these tips during your down season. Continuously updating your website and marketing plan throughout the year will help you reach more guests and meet occupancy goals. Renovations and other updates will help you prepare for the busy season and set you up for success. Whatever you decide to do during your off season, set yourself up for success for the rest of the year.