As I sit down to write this blog during the Dussehra festivities, I can’t help but think about my childhood. My grandparents made sure that I’m taught about ancient scriptures like Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Gita. I strongly believe that everything that was said in these texts thousands of years ago still holds true in 2017. The roads have remained the same, the path to success and enlightenment are still the same! I always try to use this path to help hotels grow their business. Every hotelier who meets me has the same question in mind – how to increase hotel occupancy? With this thought, I want to share with you strategies on how to increase hotel bookings.
I’m very disappointed when managers simply slash room rates to put heads on beds. It doesn’t always justify the loss in revenue, and also sets wrong price expectations. Instead, take inspiration from ancient wisdom and ADD VALUE for your guests. Let me show you how –
1. Promote special packages to people
Guests don’t always think of services like spa, gym, and restaurants while booking rooms. Come up with a great deal that adds value to staying at the hotel, like clubbing free Wi-Fi and or a spa offer with the hotel stay. It will encourage guests to use services that they haven’t thought of before.
2. Stand out from the crowd
Give your guests a reason to choose your hotel over a hotel two blocks or two miles away. You can differentiate your hotel from your competitors on the basis of price, policy and service. Offering free Netflix or a 2 pm checkout are just a few possibilities. While you do not want to get into a losing battle by dropping your room rates 20 % below your competitor’s rates, you can have a policy where you are always at or near the lowest rate in town.
3. Time for an OTA audit!
It is easy to get caught up in the OTA trap. Online travel agencies can send business your way, but they also charge a commission and you usually have to sell those rooms at a discount to the customer. In certain situations, using an OTA to increase occupancy works well, but should know how much or how little it is adding to your bottom-line. For that you should regularly audit your OTA sales and expenses.
4. Host business and private functions
If you have the space and facilities, put more energy in using them to host business gatherings, reunions or other social events. You can do everything from holding a training session in a conference room to being the venue for a wedding on the grounds of your hotel. This will help you get loyal guests for the future!
5. Make a few rooms pet friendly
As a proud owner of multiple dogs, I pull my hair in frustration when I see hotels still have a no pet policy. I feel some of the rooms in a particular section of a hotel can definitely be made pet friendly. Many travellers love to take their pets along for trips and tours. Why not attract them as a different customer segment? It is a great hotel room sales strategy.
6. Your staff persons are the best salesmen
Your employees are the key to increase hotel bookings. If your employees are happy, they will naturally talk positively about your hotel. In addition to relating positively to hotel guests they encounter, you never know when they may inspire a guest to return to the hotel the next time he or she visits town. Don’t ignore your employees. They are your most valuable asset.
7. Publish a hotel newsletter
Give a boost to your hotel by publishing an effective newsletter. Guests can opt-in to receive an email subscription to the newsletter and it is a great way to stay in touch with current and future visitors to your hotel. Always add great topical content and offer incentives that are only available by subscribing (for free) to the newsletter.
8. Promote your city – not just hotel
I don’t see many hotels doing this. Market your location as a destination, and you’ll increase the visitors to your hotel. Promote and market specific attractions in your city – this will prompt guests to actually pack their bags and travel. And once you’ve convinced them to travel to your location, you’ll be the automatic choice for their stay.
9. Share more videos
People are crazy for videos. It’s also a major source of travel inspiration – so it makes a lot of sense for your hotel to include video in the marketing efforts. Adding videos to a hotel’s website helps to engage visitors and increase time on site. Posting videos on YouTube and other social media sites does wonders for engagement there too — just make sure to link back to your website, where a “Book Now” option will be waiting for them!
10. Use your blogs
Your blog is one of the least utilized and most important weapons in your arsenal. I’m a big fan because of their influencing power – it is information that affects consumer decisions. Once you start putting up great content, your hotel becomes a source of information, the hotel website grows in page size and also the amount of time people spend on the site increases – this is great for SEO.