Whether you’re managing a boutique urban hotel in a busy downtown location or a sprawling resort property on a windswept beach, it’s difficult to escape the effects of seasonality. Some periods are going to be busier than others, and you need to handle the subsequent changes in guest volume and workload to keep things going. Regardless of your market, the realities of fluctuating demand—and its effect on your property’s bottom line—can keep even the most experienced manager up at night.
These days, hoteliers can use data to anticipate trends. Here are four ways you can monitor seasonal changes to get ahead of demand.
Your Property Management System
This technology system makes up the backbone of your hotel’s day-to-day management. It uses smart algorithms to automate many different functions like bookings, pricing and ordering. But your property management system (PMS) is also a valuable database—one that hotel managers may not always use to their full advantage. For example, the booking history in your PMS will tell you when more guests tend to visit or when they’ve booked longer stays. These patterns can help you determine what the upcoming year might look like so you can plan ahead in terms of marketing opportunities and staff resources.
Besides your PMS, your own guests can tell you a lot about their travel behaviour. A post-stay survey can provide you valuable information about how seasons affect their trips. For example, you can ask them what motivates them to travel and what activities they took part in while staying at your property. You may discover some of your guests will travel to see certain festivals or seasonal attractions. Or conversely, you might learn that they prefer to go on vacation during shoulder seasons when prices drop.
This specialized information will help you target specific guests as potential return customers (e.g. sending email offers to remind them about an off-season sale coming up), and it might also inform your larger marketing strategy. For instance, you could partner with a local festival to offer a discounted hotel/ticket package to attract a larger audience you might not have considered before.
Market Research and Industry Data
You can look to market research organizations for more information on seasonal trends. For instance, Euromonitor collects data on consumer behaviour in a variety of industries, including travel. Though you’ll have to pay to access their reports, you can view forecasts based on market trends and growth. Or consider the International Facility Management Association. It offers information on facilities management for hospitality and other industries. You can hear from your peers about their own learnings from the front lines of hotel management. Plus, you can refer to professional associations for their insight into seasonal hospitality and travel trends.
Of course, you can also rely on government statistics related to labour and travel and tourism to see what citizens are doing with their work and leisure time, and what times of year they’re most likely to travel. If reports suggest, for example, that a cool economy is prompting families to stay closer to home, you might want to create a marketing campaign that promotes your property as the number one spot to enjoy a “staycation” for locals.
Studying reports is one thing but a good manager should also take time to get out into the community. Maintain an active membership with your local chamber of commerce and stay up-to-date on what sport, social or fundraising groups are doing in your community. This will help you keep an informal record of current and upcoming events in your area.
By tracking data from a variety of sources, you’ll keep on top of seasonal trends, which you can use to inform your marketing strategies and ensure your hotel operations stay busy, even during the usual downtimes.
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