The snow has thawed, the flowers are blooming, and the sun is peaking through the clouds. Summer is right around the corner for the Northern Hemisphere, and for many properties, it is the start of busy season. As schools close for the summer and workers take advantage of vacation time, people are in search of a getaway. From research to marketing to staff training, there are many ways you can set yourself up for success this summer season. Take a proactive approach to the season and create a plan for your marketing, staff, and property.
Right now is the perfect time to plan your property’s summer season. Summer doesn’t officially start until June 20th, 2016 for the Northern Hemisphere. But, your busy season might fall somewhere before or after that date. No matter when it does start, research can help you determine the best way to approach the season.
With a couple months left before you enter the summer months, you should take a look at all the reports you’ve created throughout the year. Previously, we discussed how properties can act big when they’re small. Large properties often have the upper hand because they use all their available information to make decisions.
Analyzing data over a long period of time (month-to month or year-to year) will help you make better decisions. Data can help you create more effective rate management, yield management, and staffing plans. We suggest taking a look at last summer’s room and revenue data, as well as your revenue from this year to gauge your current status. If you already calculated your yearly projections, you know how much or how little you need to sell in the summer months.
It’s important to understand where your guests come from. Their location will influence what activities they want to partake in and their purchase behavior. Google released data on where guests in specific locations were looking to travel based on search results. For example, New Yorkers are looking to go to Newark, NJ, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, and Las Vegas. And people from Dallas are looking to go to Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
They also include a tool that does the opposite. You can plug in your city and it shows you where people are coming from. People going to New York are coming from Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Houston. And people going to Dallas, Texas are going to Grapevine, TX, Houston, New York, and Los Angeles.
Currently, the tool only uses data from major US cities, but based on your location you could find a city similar to your own. We suggest using your own data when determining where people are coming from as well. Macro-level search data is great, but micro-data specific to your property is more accurate. If you understand where your guests are coming from you can better market to them.
Google also reported on the growing ‘staycation’ trend. A staycation is when someone goes on a vacation in their own city. Google’s data showed that the top US destinations for New Yorkers, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago citizens was their own city. If your property has a lot of staycationers, you may need to market to them differently than traveling guests.
This may mean selling a guest on your amenities rather than your location. A Los Angeles native is aware that the beach is great, but they may not know that your pool and spa is top rated.
Based on both your internal and external research, determine what your potential guests are interested in. Use content and social media to share information that will attract attention.
Every year there are probably recurring events that take place in your property’s destination. It may be helpful to know when new and existing events are coming to town. For example, if you are a hotel in the South Beach Miami, FL area, the annual EDM concert, Ultra, will heavily impact your rates and availability. It may also drastically change how you should market to your guests. This is an example of an event that occurs every year and will be on your radar.
But you may not be aware of new events happening in your city. For example, the United States is in an election year. A hotel located in Columbus, Ohio will be affected by the 2016 Republican convention. This type of event will likely help local hotels because they will sell out. If these hotels prepare correctly, they can position their rate and yield management strategies to make more money.
Use your local tourism authority as a resource to discover local events. It’s always in your best interest to keep your finger on the pulse of your property’s surroundings.
We suggest creating a list of events and even publishing it to your website. Guests will easily know whether or not they’re booking their trip during a busy event.
On your property’s blog, create summer-related content that tells guests the best things to do in your destination. Highlight new additions to the area including restaurants and attractions, as well as popular things to do. Also highlight seasonal parts of your property that may be re-opening such as your pool, spa, daily excursions, etc.
Use this content to fuel your social media strategy. Post interesting content related to summertime at your property. Whether your property attracts families, young travelers, or business travelers, there are many ways to get their attention in the summer months.
Summertime usually means busy time, so you want to make sure you properly prepared your staff. Maker sure your A-team is ready to go.
Think about conducting training sessions prior to your busy season. Are there features of your property management system or inefficiencies that you can train on? You could also do a formal briefing of everything you expect for the summer in terms of events, new restaurants and attractions. If your staff is informed, they will be able to more efficiently aid your guests.
If you expect an exceptionally busy summer, think about adding seasonal help. High school and college students will be available for jobs while they are on break from school. It’s a good idea to start searching for new employees now so that you can find good candidates and fully train them in time. You can check out our guide to hiring, here.
Remember that it is your employees’ summer too. In order to keep your employees happy and productive, think about how you can show appreciation and reward them for good work. For example, you can offer paid time off, access to hotel amenities, or discounted rates to employees as an incentive to do good work. We wrote an in-depth post about how to show appreciation that you can check out here.
As you prepare for the busy season, take the opportunity to do minor work to improve your property. A lot of online reviews mention that a property would have been great with minor touch ups. Some of the things they include are bathtub/shower grout, rusty sink drains, trash cans, curtains, light fixtures, radios, remotes, etc. While many of these items cost a pretty penny to replace, now might be a great time to invest.
Before summer begins, you may want to think about what can lower your operating costs. Summer in North America means warmer temperatures and longer days, which cause electricity bills to increase. Energy costs account for almost 6% (source) of operating costs and can quickly get out of hand. You can use our guide to operating costs to help you identify your biggest cost contributors.
Any new season calls for adequate preparation. The Northern Hemisphere summer means that tourist season is literally heating up. Do your research and use your existing research to project your rates and availability. Then, use this information to fuel your content marketing and social media strategy to attract the right guests. Keep your staff in the loop and prepare your property for the long days, nights, and weeks that lie ahead.