Every hotel, regardless of the size or type, experiences days, weeks or months of slow periods. Every hotel has an off season when vacancies outnumber occupancies. During these low peak periods, hotel managers lower hotel rates in order to increase the hotel occupancy, however this strategy doesn’t increase the room revenue. By lowering the room rate, it is very difficult to sell enough rooms to recover the cost. Hence, instead of reducing hotel rates during the slow periods, it is a better business strategy to offer more value to the guests by keeping the rates competitive.
Determine low occupancy periods
A ski resort would be more popular when it snows, similarly a beach destination would witness a low season during the monsoon. Hence, it’s important to keep note of which weekends, weeks and months your hotel sees a low occupancy. Study your hotel’s previous occupancy pattern to identify the times when the occupancy has been consistently low. This will help you in brainstorming with your team and planning in advance effective strategies to take care of your lean room bookings.
Piggyback on popular events
Not the entire low season needs to be low occupancy for your hotel. There is something called the ‘shoulder season’, a travel season which inspite of falling in the low occupancy period sees some travelling and occupancy. It may be due to an event like a triathlon, carnival, festival or a parade. Get in touch with the local authority or the event organizers to become the official sponsor or host hotel for the event. You might have to spend for such a collaboration, but the kind of exposure your hotel will get on their website and other marketing mediums will be worth the investment. You can also choose to offer your guests discounted tickets, a discount when they show you their ticket stub or complimentary transportation to/from the event. If you have marketing budget constraints, then explore cross-promotion opportunities. For instance, you could promote the said event on your social media or put the event banner in your reception area for free in lieu of promoting your hotel on organizer’s marketing campaigns.
Dig into your CRM
Through your customer relationship management programs, collect data about past, present and future guests. Also, compile a list of guests you get during off-season. Learn about your customers’ behaviour and booking patterns with Hotel Sales and Revenue Analytics.
Were they couples with kids? Retired people looking for some quiet time? Where do they stay? Entrepreneurs looking for a one-two day conference/retreat for their employees? How many guests per booking? How much did they spend? What type of packages or extra did they buy? How did they hear about you (through your website, referrals from previous guests, social media promotion, etc.)?
This insider knowledge is a powerful arsenal in your kitty to contact your guests and offer them customized deals and hence, will appeal to them. For example, a couple without kids does not have to adhere to children’s school schedules and thus, might be tempted into taking a mid-week break or an off-season holiday if provided a lucrative offer by the hotel. Similarly, a guest staying at a 2-3 hours drive away from your hotel destination, might take up on your offer of a weekend package that includes a complimentary wine and dinner or a couple’s spa session. Or a retired couple may be lured if you market your property as less crowded, noise-free, etc, or a guest might agree to celebrate his 60th or other landmark milestone if you offer a great package.
With a data-driven approach, you can identify your best sales channels, compare historical data, identify trends and build robust revenue, marketing and pricing strategies.
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Offer exciting packages and creative specials
- Guests love to visit a destination during off season as it is less crowded and cheaper.
- Leverage this opportunity by:
- creating special 2-3 day packages for your off-season guests that might include local sight seeing, extended happy hours, spa massage for the couple, rain dance, pool parties, etc.
- promoting culinary or fitness tourism by offering 2 day culinary package with a famous chef or 2 day Yoga/fitness package.
- offering 3 week nights for the price of 2. By giving away 1 night if guests stay for 3 nights during the week, you avoid giving away too much discount while still keeping the occupancy.
upgrading your guest experience by offering them your best and pricey suites (that are sitting vacant) at regular room rates (do not forget to mention to your guests the actual price of your suite). This will definitely impress them and tempt them into staying with you.
Spruce up your website
- Keep your calendar updated to keep your potential guests informed about available rooms and dates. A lot of hotels after the holiday season show disinterest in updating their calendars.
- Change the cover photo and other pictures in your gallery that might help in attracting visitors.
- Do not forget to enter your USP. For example, if you are a pet-friendly place, feature it into your listing headline.
- Mention the season special activities that guests can enjoy. For example, hotels in Coorg advertise walks in the coffee or spice plantations and hotels in Gujarat promote their colourful garba nights during the period of Navaratri.
- Promote your off-season offers, and display your low season and shoulder rates.
Promote testimonials from satisfied guests.
Request your existing guests for referrals
People who have fond memories of staying in your hotel won’t hesitate to refer it to their friends and family. Request your past visitors to refer a friend or a family, and make it worth their while by promising them a discount on their future stay in your hotel.
Apart from the above pointers, you can also run a rewards program for your regular customers by offering them gifts if they reach a certain level of loyalty. Another golden pointer would be to ramp up your social media marketing ahead of time that can actually amp up the excitement for your guests to stay at your hotel during the off-season.
Do let us know how well your efforts paid off and if you could turn around your low occupancy rate.