Peak season is the best! You, as a hotelier, enjoy high demand and an influx of guests. It’s not even difficult to achieve full hotel occupancy. However, you know that this is soon going to change – it does every year. After the peak or high season will come the mid or shoulder season, and eventually the low or off season. And, you’ll have to struggle with attracting guests and reaching maximum hotel occupancy. This is the harsh reality and the most distinctive feature of the global hospitality industry – every hotelier has to deal with seasonality every year.
Seasonality refers to the concentration of tourist flows during specific periods in a year due to various reasons. These include natural reasons, like temperature and climate and institutional reasons, like holidays, events, socioeconomic status, and travel habits. Whatever the reason, the fact remains that seasonality creates demand fluctuations that affect all aspects of finance, stakeholder, and labor operations of a hotel.
You should have a good understanding of seasonality to increase hotel occupancy during off season and avoid irregular cash flow, low returns on capital investment, and underutilization of staff and facilities.
Ways to increase demand outside high season:
Here are simple and practical strategies to help you attract more and more guests to your property even during low season.
1. Implement seasonal or progressive pricing
Seasonal pricing involves setting promotional pricing rates during the off season, and also, premium pricing schedules during the peak season. As the name suggests, your prices for rooms go up and down depending on the demand of a particular season. As discussed above, high or low demand of a season can be due to various reasons, such as how people love going to a beach property during the summer or how hotel prices in host cities see 360% increase in during the Superbowl.
BCG in its report, Why Progressive Pricing Is Becoming a Competitive Necessity, concludes that such kind of pricing wherein you can scale prices up or down on the basis of the value an individual customer derives is a competitive necessity in today’s digital world.
The first step in implementing seasonal or progressive pricing is to segment your market into known groupings by location, demographics, and so forth. Then, you can apply this attribute-level customization to come up with the value that your rooms and services create for each customer in that time. The core room price is just one input into the pricing engine. You should combine it with other factors like guest’s stay preferences, size of the party, and past ancillary purchases to create custom price points across seasons.
2. Reward your loyal customers
Hoteliers have been using loyalty programs to drive customer loyalty to acquire as well as to retain customers for years. Loyalty and bonus programs can also go a long way in attracting more people to your property during mid or low season. Mix it up with our next strategy and you’ll see guests coming to your hotel even outside the high season in no time.
3. Introduce holiday packages
Offering holiday packages or retreats is probably one of the best ways to lure guests during shoulder and low seasons. You can expand your products via packaging, for example, special-occasion packages for accommodation and restaurants to encourage longer visits. When your guests stay at your hotel, you can offer them repeat-visit discounts and deals on their stays outside the high season. You can also make sure with your deals and marketing strategies that they pick the extended length of stay to cover most of the shoulder season.
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4. Organize events
Events and activities are one of the biggest causes of seasonality as events are a great way to attract people. You can use this to your advantage, especially during the low season when people have nothing much to do. From hosting your own events, like local food fest to collaborating with local authorities by sponsoring a popular event, options to attract guests through events are endless.
5. Provide niche facilities
Niche offerings are becoming more and more popular these days. McKinsey notes, “In a world where it is less expensive and easier than ever for companies to address more targeted needs, and where consumers have never had more choices at their fingertips, satisfying the gen pop is becoming less and less viable as an objective or requirement.” You need to think out of the box while focusing on targeted customer needs and designing unique, interesting customer experience journey. As a hotelier, your goal should be to promote tourism products based on seasonal characteristics as well as your guests’ demands.
People dream of getaways and relaxing or adventurous holidays even during the off season. You can pick one or more themes for your property, depending on its size and scope. Consider holding special-themed weddings, offering spa and sauna facilities, park and trail tours, sport and activity-based holidays, local safaris, or educational tours. Don’t forget to have wet-weather and cold-weather provisions to make your niche offering a hit.
6. Manage stay patterns
Another way to increase hotel occupancy during the shoulder days is to manage stay patterns of your guests. Shoulder days are the low-occupancy days before and after high occupancy time-period. To maximize occupancy and revenue across these days, you can implement length-of-stay controls or restrictions. However, this needs to be done with extra care. You don’t want to repel customers with excessive restrictions. According to HospitalityNet, “Successfully striking a balance by managing the length of stay is how you get your hotel closer to full occupancy.”
To reach your hotel’s maximum potential capacity outside the peak season, you can employ stay restrictions. These include minimum length of stay, maximum length of stay, closed to arrival dates, and closed to departure dates.
7. Reach your ideal customer base
Last but not least, your marketing strategy must complement your product strategy. Try to implement a multi-segment marketing approach in order to promote different offerings to attract different markets in different seasons. Try to figure out who’s going to be the most attracted to your regular or niche offerings in that season. You’ll be surprised to find out that there’re a variety of travelers who might be interested in your facilities, like senior citizens, concertgoers, conference attendees, business travelers, incentive seekers, and short-break holidaymakers. You just need to reach your ideal customer base with off-season marketing.
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Have you ever used any of the above ideas to attract guests to your property during low season? If yes, please let us know your experience in the comments section. Also, feel free to leave a comment if you’ve any questions.
Featured image: Riccardo Bresciani on Pexels