Every hotel contends with a slow period, but the dip in bookings that typically accompanies the off season doesn’t have to be a bad thing. During this period, hoteliers have some extra time at their disposal, making it a perfect opportunity to focus on the big picture and start planning for the future. Revenue may be lower for a few months, but if you spend the slow season productively, you can increase revenue in later months. Use this checklist to maximize your efforts:
- Perform Renovations and Repairs. It only makes sense to complete work on the hotel at a time when it will affect the least amount of guests possible. In addition to necessary repairs and maintenance, consider using this time to perform renovations, implement new technologies or integrate new guest services.
- Audit the Past Year. The previous 12 months have generated a tremendous amount of data that should be used to guide the next 12 months. Pull the data from every module in your PMS to understand what factors truly impacted revenue and occupancy. Then use the audit to adjust your pricing and distribution strategy.
- Upgrade Reservations and Bookings. Overhauling the reservation process during the busy season is difficult because it can interrupt guests’ experience when bookings are at their peak. While things are slow, take steps to improve your booking system for both staff and guests. A process that is simple and seamless can eliminate confusion and reduce abandoned bookings.
- Engage Former Guests. Don’t assume the busy season will be swamped. Use the data you have on past guests to send targeted messages about events, offers and new attractions most likely to appeal to them. You can also use this as an opportunity to clean up your guest profiles so that the process is even easier down the line.
- Study the Calendar. It’s crucial to know how local circumstances will positively or negatively affect your hotel during the busy season. Look for events that could draw big or specialized groups of tourists to town. Research other factors like construction projects or traffic closures that could make a future stay less pleasant for guests, and start planning for ways to deal with these. Being proactive about potential inconveniences will make life so much easier when the hordes of tourists arrive.
- Freshen Up the Website. A seasonal update helps to inform potential travellers of your hotel’s highlights. Updating your website copy will also ensure your hotel is properly representing its features and offerings, and will enable you to put the hotel’s best foot forward. Plus, functional website improvements can help to drive direct bookings.
- Plan Your Social Media. Social media is integral to a hotel’s digital marketing campaign. Spend the slow season planning a comprehensive and cohesive campaign that spans platforms and targets specific demographics. Doing this effectively is much harder when daily operations occupy most of a manager’s time, so use the slow period to schedule posts for when things get busier.
- Prioritize Training and Recruiting. You need to have the right staff in place before the busy season starts. Begin by reviewing staffing data and determining where you need to add or cut resources. Once you know what your existing team looks like, you’ll be better equipped to make the right external hires—and taking care of this early gives you plenty of time to train them before bookings pick up. If your hiring budget is small, the slow season can also be a great time to cross-train existing staff to ensure you can fill more roles with fewer people.
- Set New Goals. Just because bookings are high does not mean the busy season has been successful. Review the data from last year and commit to improving the numbers this year. Every effort you make during the slow season should lead to hitting higher marks and increasing revenue from the year before.
- Keep the Present in Focus. Don’t let your efforts to plan for the busy season compromise the guest experience during the slow season. A slew of negative reviews posted right as people are booking their holidays could hurt reservations significantly. Ensure that your team is going above and beyond for slow season guests, and encourage guests to boost your TripAdvisor page with positive reviews.
By the time you complete this checklist, the busy season will likely be under way. Thanks to all the preparations you’ve made, it should be seamless to kick operations into high gear and delight every guest—even when every room is occupied.
With a next-generation PMS it’s easy to plan for the busy season and build on last year’s success. Don’t wait to optimize your operations. Contact RoomKeyPMS today.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Dragon Images