Romance packages are a staple of hotels everywhere. They offer couples a stress-free vacation with the romantic details already arranged for them. Romance packages have the opportunity to contribute revenue to your hotel as couples celebrate anniversaries, relationship milestones, and “romantic” holidays like Valentine’s Day. They possess the possibility to build guest loyalty in the couple. But stop and think about when your romance package was most recently booked. Was it a while ago? Was it booked by a young, adventurous couple? Did it lead to any benefit beyond one room’s booking, like a return stay or food and beverage income or even a wedding RFP?
These questions are relevant because, despite romance changing drastically in the past 15+ years, romantic hotel packages have mostly stayed the same.
Don’t believe us that romance has changed? Even statistics agree love is much different nowadays.
Firstly, technology has drastically changed modern romance. As of a February 2016 report by PEW Research Center, “online dating has lost much of its stigma, and a majority of Americans now say online dating is a good way to meet people”. Plus, it is not just younger generations who are trying online dating: “online dating has jumped among adults under age 25 as well as those in their late 50s and early 60s”. And, 5% of Americans who are in a marriage or committed relationship say they met their significant other online. I’ve even heard of a couple who met when they got paired in an uberPOOL together.
Beyond dating, modern marriage has also changed. According to the PEW Research Center, the median marriage age for women has risen from 20.3 (in 1960) to 27.4, and from 22.8 to 29.5 for men (as of 2017). Furthermore, the PEW Research Center also reported that cohabitation (those living with an unmarried partner) has risen 29% since 2007 with around 18 million Americans cohabitating.
Beyond the hard numbers, there was a recent post on Facebook asking people to share one of their favorite romantic movie or TV show moments/lines. As a few days passed, over 20 comments rolled in. Answers ranged from the novel Ulysses to Disney movies to the medical-comedy TV show Scrubs. Each response was touching, and unique, in its own way.
So if modern romance is so unique, why do our “romance” hotel packages all look the same?
Rebuild the hotel romance package for modern couples.
As a disclaimer, you do not have to scrap the roses and champagne and all that. If that package performs well for your hotel, by all means keep it. But consider that you may be missing potential bookings by not adapting to the needs and wants of modern couples. The studies linked above and hundreds of think-pieces around the internet acknowledge that younger generations are changing romance. If your hotel is trying to target new, younger, or different guests, it is time to re-think what your hotel’s packages truly offer to them.
Utilize the perks you already have.
Consider an alternative to a meal at your on-site dining option. Unless you are offering a truly unique dining experience, couples may be more inclined to visit somewhere offsite more suited to their tastes. Instead, create an incentive that may catch them for pre or post-dinner drinks, appetizers, or breakfast the next day. While this may not produce much food and beverage revenue, it invites guests to interact with your on-site dining, encouraging them to consider your restaurant as an option for more impromptu meals.
Along the same lines, consider including breakfast for the couple; maybe even throw in some mimosas or bloody marys. This will help ease some of the stress of finding a breakfast place and again create a touch-point with your on-site dining.
Include WiFi. If this is already complimentary, great, but point it out as a feature to the guests. Social media undeniably plays a role in most modern relationships, so you can expect couples will want to post that super cute picture of them on Instagram when they get back to their room.
If you have Netflix/Hulu/Cast-Enabled TVs/Smart TVs in at least some of your rooms, add that to the package. With cable-cutting becoming more and more of a trend, younger couples will appreciate the comfort of being able to watch their favorite shows on-demand just like at home.
Get involved with your local community.
First and foremost, recognize that activities/food/gifts do not have to be traditionally “romantic” to be a part of your romance package. Is there something unique and super cool that your city has and requires at least two people to do? Great! Add that to the package! For example, if your city has a big food scene, see if any nearby restaurants or culinary centers offer cooking classes, then book the class for your guests so they do not have to.
If you are planning on this package being Valentine’s Day-centric (more on why it should not later, but that is ultimately your choice), then explore which nearby restaurants, art centers, etc. are having unique Valentine’s Day events and then secure tickets to a few in advance. By securing the tickets beforehand, you are eliminating stress points for your guest and supporting your local community. Plus, guests might be more inclined to book your hotel specifically because you have already secured tickets/spots to this event they are interested in. This gives you an advantage over your competitors if they cannot offer tickets to the same event.
Instead of cheap grocery store champagne and roses, if you want to offer an in-room perk, try something like local craft beer or flowers native to the area from a farmers market. This twist will differentiate your package and celebrate the unique qualities of your surrounding city. You do not even have to stick to flowers and booze! Try luxury robes they can take home or soft scarves if your city gets cold in the winter months.
Another route you can explore is a package built around a romantic film or TV show filmed in your city! Help recreate the film or show for guests with maps of sites they can visit, gift certificates to experience those sites, and a polaroid camera to document it all! For example, if you are a Chicago hotel, you could recreate the classic rom-com High Fidelity. Arrange for your guests to have weekend CTA passes so they can ride the L. Compile a list of great local record stores so they can browse vinyls for their own Top 5. Finally, get tickets to a show at Martyrs’ (since Double Door is no longer around) so they can experience Chicago’s live music scene.
Make a totally crazy expensive and over-the-top package.
Seriously, pretend like money is not an object for a moment. Make a package that pulls out all the stops. Then, price it really really high. This package is not meant to be booked. Rather, this crazy package is meant to garner media attention. If all goes to plan, your hotel will get PR coverage, driving people back to your website where your reasonable and doable romance package is available to book. Plus, the press will drive backlinks to your website, growing the hotel website’s domain authority and improving its ability to rank in organic search!
Nothing is off the table when building this dream package. Think Michelin star restaurants, helicopter rides above the city, and private bartenders. Think luxury spa treatments, personalized stylists for the night, and a limo to drive anywhere your guests would want to go. Have fun with it!
A word of warning: this tactic should only be used if it is in line with your brand. If one of your brand pillars is about being an affordable hotel, a crazy-expensive and lavish package will seem off-brand, and this will confuse guests rather than interest them.
Build a non-romantic love package.
There are many types of love in this world, and not all of them are romantic. While travelling with a significant other is common, guests travel with platonic friends too. Why not make a friendship package too?
For proof, last year a boutique hotel in the Dallas Fort Worth area ran an email marketing campaign during February. The hotel ran three different romance packages, two of which were “traditional” romance packages meant for couples. However, they also ran a Girlfriend’s Getaway package for up to four guests per room at no additional charge. The Girlfriend’s Getaway package got the most clicks of any of the packages in the email, and was the most clicked link in the entire email that included general booking links and links to the weddings page.
Plus, creating a friendship package is pretty much the same as building a romance package. Use the activities you researched before if they can accommodate four or more. Still highlight the perks of your hotel you already have at your fingertips. You can still even include the local beer and native flowers or other in-room amenities, as those do not necessarily have traditional romantic overtones!
Ultimately, when you are building a new and unique romance package, remember two things: do something different and have fun with it!
How to Market Your New Romance Package
Now that you have created an interesting new romance package or two, the other half of the battle is marketing this new special.
Do not limit the package to just run for Valentine’s Day.
Or, if that is not possible, at least try offering the package all of February if it does not put a drastic strain on resources. Valentine’s Day sometimes falls on odd days of the week, or some couples may want to plan a romantic getaway not on Valentine’s Day because of the cost. Or, if you build a friendship package, guests may want to do that separate from their Valentine’s Day plans.
If possible, offer the packages year round! Anniversaries happen every day. Friend-aversarys happen every day. Whether guests want to observe the day they first met or a couple just wants a break from their kids, every day can be a celebration of love. And, not to sound cheesy, but your hotel can help be a part of that.
If you are limiting your package to just February or Valentine’s Day, start planning your campaign in October. No, seriously. Planning an effective, integrated campaign takes time, effort, and money. Your campaign should be underway by the new year, which means you need at least a few months to plan it out.
Commit to it.
As mentioned above, an effective integrated marketing campaign takes time, effort, and money (a lot like a relationship does). Committing to a campaign is ideally something you should do for each of your goals, but we understand that you have limited time and resources. However, for an effort to be successful, you have to commit to it like you are getting married to it.
Invest in a multi-channel effort. If these packages are something you are proud of and truly want to sell, you should be promoting them across multiple channels. Feature them on your website. Look into paid search ads. Post about them on social. Send out email marketing about them. Make efforts to pitch the highlights to local PR outlets.
Interested in what an integrated campaign could look like for your hotel? Contact us today.
Even after your romance package has run its course for February or Valentine’s Day, utilize the information about guests that did book your romance package. Target them with fun holiday offers or adventurous specials for two by making them their own segment in your database. If they keep booking that package every year, your hotel becomes a new tradition for the couple!
Highlight your wedding services! After a couple books your package, send guests to your weddings page, since you know they are in that romantic mindset. Make sure your wedding page is up to par with our wedding page best practices.
Take your romance package to the next level.
Simply put: Differentiate your hotel with unique, non-traditional romance packages and commit to marketing it to leverage more bookings.
The flowers, chocolates, traditional thing is no longer unique. You must adapt to the modern couple. To build a modern romance package, leverage amenities and local connections you already have. Then, use a multi-channel marketing campaign that runs for more than just Valentine’s Day to build loyalty.
Stuck in a rut when it comes to creating new packages and marketing them? We can help.