Mould Your Off-Season Crowd For An Efficient Booking Calendar

Opening a hotel is a challenge in itself. However, running a successful hotel business is a challenge bigger than the establishment of one. There are a lot of checklists and strategies to be employed once a hotel begins its operations. One dire aspect, which needs a hotelier’s attention, is the off-season. Off-seasons are generally very slow for seasonal tourist spots. Hotels are not seasonal businesses and need guests coming in, even during off-seasons to maintain their profit figures.

I’m sure, as an established hospitality property, you have a social media marketing strategy in place! No?

Read my article on the Social Media strategies to adopt, for pre-opening a new hotel.

Read on to know the different ways in which you can use pre-existing marketing tools to build a guest-base for your hotel’s off-season occupancy issue. Your efforts must be divided amongst your guests and competitors.

I. Pamper your prospects

List and analyse the following in occupancy trends with the help of tools available at your disposal:

a. The Low occupancy days, weeks and months from your booking records.

b. The factors that attract tourists during seasonal periods (could be local events or attractions; site of historical significance; UNESCO World Heritage Site etc.)

c. Profiled Demographic: Distinguish between the people making up your past off season crowd. You could filter them according to age, number of parties per room and the length of stay. Some of the types of guests that generally travel during off seasons include families, business travellers, backpackers, students, big groups of guests in the age band of 18-35 and elderly People looking for a retreat etc.

 1. Knowing your statistics about occupancy i.e., the days and weeks on your booking calendar that face the lowest bookings, you can focus your marketing strategies on those days. If you’re using MS Excel to make bookings and then use it to analyse your data, there are more sophisticated tools out there, which will help you receive culminated booking data date faster.

Tableau is a generalist data analytics tool, which helps you collect your data on the cloud, while enabling you to process more and more data in the same amount of time.

Another tool available in the market for fast data analysis is SnapShot. Its data platform and marketplace is a unique resource for the hotel industry. It allows fast and efficient access to technology for hoteliers. It is also a marketplace for secure access to hotel data, for app developers.

  1. Fast analysis aside, now is the time to apply these conclusions. If your hotel is located in an area that has local festivities or events happening in the off-season, feature them as packages on your website and other booking platforms, in order to increase bookings. Use the festivities as the package’s modus operandi. If you market local events, you’ll be able to better use Google’s localised search, which has been the new prominent feature of Google presence management.
  2. By highlighting the fact that visiting your hotel during off-season, travellers will have the benefit of exploring the area with smaller queues, minimal crowd and better temperature conditions, you will form the unique selling point of your promotional offer. You can also do this, even if there are no local activities to promote. Provide special offers and discounts on low-occupancy days e.g. if Mondays at your establishment are generally less occupied, launch an offer called ‘Beat Monday Blues’, offering discounts to any guests wanting to stay at your hotel and/or avail any of the services you provide.
  3. On similar lines, the following advertisement promotes a different type of tourism; it promotes tourism that attracts travellers from another big city, with its own attractions. Make your space habitable to every type of tourist. Add a discounted hotel room rate to that mix and you have a strategy in place!

5. Apart from that, if you have a beach resort which experiences high booking during seasonal time, with any special activity that makes that possible; try to arrange the feel of seasonal months in off-season months. For example, Auli features a frozen lake scene in winters, where you can skate on the solidified lake surface. During off-season, change the dynamic of your lake attraction by introducing or arranging private boating sessions on the lake, complimentary with hotel bookings.

II. Know thy enemy

  1. I mean your competitors, not your actual mortal enemies. If your area faces seasonal tourist footfalls, your competition is facing the same kind of issues as you. It is always a good strategy to observe how your direct competitors (hotels with the same property style and ratings as you) are managing their occupancy problems.
  2. Whether your competition is lowering room rates by the night, week or month, everything will have an impact on your business. To overcome this problem, employ one of those ‘Dynamic Pricing’ softwares to fluctuate rates of rooms as need be. These tools can be easily integrated to your website or OTA (Online Travel Agency) page.
  3. This is how you can know your price competitiveness on Google, if you employ their software:

a. Open Hotel Ads Centerin any browser.

b. Navigate and select the Intelligence

c. Select Reportson the left-hand side navigation bar.

d. Click the link in the Price Competitiveness Reportcolumn that corresponds to the date you want. Hotel Ads Center downloads the report as a CSV file to your machine.

Hotel Ads Center reports view

  1. If you do something as small as remove the charge for an extra bed, you would be able to reach out to three people travel parties or families who are bringing a child along. This increases your prospective guest list, to people other than that eccentric off-season traveller.
  2. You could also invite business from large parties of conference bookings if you have the infrastructure. This will give you bulk business and providing discounts will be much easier and interactive. Look at this advertisement for example.

6. If you have a loyalty programme for your hotel, use it to reach out through emails and social media, to retain regular customers. Give them special offers to make your hotel and the tourist spots around it, irresistible. These offers could include complementary tickets to an event happening around, along with booking your suite.

7. It may seem counter-productive to inject more capital into your social media strategy, like metasearches, SEO and other social content platforms such as blogs, during slow periods. But, this is when your hotel needs it the most. As times are slow, students, solo travellers and people who like travelling during seasons with lesser crowds are looking for great budgeted options for travel. These are your target audience for this slow season. By boosting your presence on Google and other social sharing platforms, you’re reaching out to this demographic. This is also essential because your competitor is probably doing the same.

As staff cannot be fired for non-busy months and a property cannot shut down, to be able to incur everyday opening costs, special marketing strategies to invite guests during slow months needs to be adopted. This is also essential to complete the financial year’s earnings required to keep the hotel up and running.

If you want to learn and grow your hotel business with the help of social media, join this thriving community for interesting discussions: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1927514324182846/?source_id=1521825604798754