All hotels have the generic romance package and Stay For Breakfast special, but are your hotel's specials and offers elevating your property and setting yourself apart from the rest? Not only can hoteliers use specials and packages to capture the local flavor and personality of the market, but they can also use offers to target the hotel’s specific goals, strengths, weaknesses and needs.
Know Your Traveler
Does your hotel naturally attract business travelers, leisure travelers, or a pretty even balance of both? Do you tend to have families or more couples looking to get away? Knowing your traveler profile will help define weak spots, allowing you to better craft your offers.
What does your traveler want?
If your top feeder markets are all within driving distance, there is a good chance your visitors would be interested and thankful for complimentary parking. Trying to obtain more business visitors? Make sure that your Business Package, complete with complimentary wireless internet and shuttle service, is easily visible on your site.
For leisure travelers, dig a bit deeper. Are your leisure travelers families or couples? Couples may be intrigued by happy hour vouchers at the bar, while families are more interested in a Kids Eat Free promotion or something to do around the city, like museum tickets for four. However, think honestly about what your travelers want; a package thrown together without much thought will look out of place and won’t sell successfully anyway. Look at your onsite amenities, local opportunities, and business partnerships to create packages that will actually sell and not just take up space on your Specials and Offers page.
Building relationships with travelers
If you are determining what your travelers truly want, it sounds like you are trying to build relationships with your travelers that will translate online and off! Certain specials should be designed to foster relationships with long-term stays and recurring travelers. If you are an airport hotel, or located near the airport, take advantage of the recurring business of airline personnel stays. Is your hotel all-suite with full-size kitchens? Be sure to target extended stay visitors and people in the process of relocation with extended stay specials. With a longer length of stay, your hotel not only has the opportunity to generate some good revenue, but your staff also has the chance to wow your guest repeatedly during his or her stay. These two examples are situations where value-add packages aren’t necessary, but having the special rate available opens up a great opportunity for building relationships for repeat and long-term customers.
Know Your Goals
While it is important to have specials beyond the generic romance package, adding specials just to have them on your site won’t do much for your hotel. What are your actual needs, and what goals do you hope to meet?
If you need to fill rooms but cannot discount BAR, you can still fashion a package that promotes the savings that your visitors will receive. Try a Free of Fees package. Valet parking and wireless internet can cost upwards of $50 these days, so offer a package to save your guests from all those fees that can really add up. A hotel credit can work the same way. Book one night and receive a $25 credit to be used at the hotel spa, restaurant, or bar? This not only generates more revenue within different departments of your property, but it also translates to guests as free credit that will help contribute to their vacation.
The Sunday struggle
Sundays can be slow at hotels, but that doesn’t mean that your property has to stay dead at the end of the weekend. Encourage guests to stay until Sunday with length-of-stay specials. For example, if guests stay Friday and Saturday, perhaps they receive Sunday’s stay at a nicely discounted rate. You can even tie in something seasonal or local. This year is Comic-Con’s 43rd annual convention in San Diego. If your San Diego property is trying to build longer lengths of stay, you could build a special that was “Book Friday and Saturday, Stay Sunday for $43 To Honor the 43rd Annual Comic-Con.” This can easily translate to all days of the week if you are trying to improve your length of stay in general as well.
To target Sundays, hotels can also try Sunday Staycations. Sunday may be empty at your hotel as visitors drive and fly back home, but why not attract the people who are already in your city. Staycations are growing in popularity since traveling can be expensive, and what is better than escaping from the normal Sunday routine of getting ready for the new week? Extend the weekend for locals with an ultimate Sunday Staycation, complete with dinner, spa credit, and anything else that would scream “escape” before the case-of-the-Mondays hits.
Does your Presidential Suite never sell? Create a package that is specific to your actual inventory weakness. By creating a focused package you can shape a special to sell the inventory that you truly need to sell. Tiered specials can work effectively in this instance as well. For example, create specific booking windows for your new Presidential Suite Special with particular discounts for each window. If a visitor books six weeks in advance, the discount is 30% off; one month prior gets a 20% discount; and lastly, two weeks prior only receives a 10% discount.
Selling Your Specials
Now that you have your offers all packaged up for success, now you need to actually sell them! While you can definitely market your specials and offline with on-property flyers, QR codes, and attractive hotel collateral, having a strong online presence with high visibility to your specials page is key.
Brand website, of course!
You do not want to take the time to create awesome packages and not upload them to the brand site and invalidate the Best Rate Guarantee. Make sure that your specials are easily visible on your official Brand website, both on your Specials page and in the Reservation system. If your brand site allows you to add banner ads, use some visually-captivating and relevant photography to create an ad to promote a specific offer.
OTAs, third parties and other relevant sites
Having listings on OTAs and other third party websites is crucial for having a strong online presence, so making your specials and offers present and visible on these channels is very important. Work with your hotel's online marketing managers to highlight your seasonal or local packages, and showcase your business-driven specials on business travel-targeted sites like CVENT and HotelPlanner.
With a TripAdvisor Business Listing, you can not only highlight a specific special, but also have a link to your brand site Specials and Offers page. In addition, it is important to utilize relevant sites and blogs that will find your specials interesting and beneficial to their visitors and readership. These sites and blogs will bring you quality visitors to your booking channel, so market towards your specific demographic or profile for which your specials are targeted.
Reach out to the local CVB site to see if they have extra exposure opportunities, and build relationships for niche partnerships. If you are building your pet-friendly special, search for pet-friendly travel sites that would be interested in linking back to you. Not only will it give you the extra exposure, but it will also provide some link building opportunities. Plus, you can always use your social media channels to promote your new and exciting packages.
Making Your Specials Special
By addressing your hotel needs and goals, shaping offers around them, and marketing them effectively across your online channels, you can get your visitors intrigued by the interesting things you're doing on property. Use these guidelines to help your hotel build successful promotions, thereby increasing exposure for your hotel and ultimately its occupancy and revenue!