The seasonality of the hospitality industry and the impact it has on revenue is a reality that haunts hoteliers everywhere. While hotels can generally bank on having heads in beds throughout their high season, there are invariably weeks or even months throughout the year when occupancy rates are worryingly low.
Properties throughout the Southern Hemisphere are about to enter their annual quiet season—when the weather turns and hotels based around tropical splendour suffer significantly. However, loss of revenue is not an inevitability that simply needs to be accepted. If hoteliers proactively implement strategies to combat their low season during their high season, it’s possible to drive occupancy and increase revenue year round.
Capitalize on Existing Data
Overcoming dips in demand requires preemptive action. The ultimate goal is to maintain high occupancy throughout the year rather than boost occupancy after it has already dropped. Studying past data about occupancy rates and booking trends allows hoteliers to identify both obvious and unexpected quiet seasons, allowing them to prepare well in advance.
For example, if a hotelier knows that they routinely see a bookings slump during the months of September and October, they can plan accordingly—whether that means scheduling fewer staff, arranging renovations or repurposing some rooms so they can be used for conferences or other events.
Study the Event Calendar
Specialized hotels that operate niche amenities, such as a day spa or a yoga retreat, are not as susceptible to seasonal highs and lows as those whose appeal is directly linked to weather. If a property is not an attraction in and of itself, hoteliers can capitalize on local events and attractions to draw in crowds during the quiet season.
For instance, if there is an exciting concert coming to town, hoteliers can target attendees or even form a partnership with the event to become its official host hotel. When there are no enticing local events on the horizon, they can consider hosting an event within the hotel itself—even if it doesn’t result in overnight guests, such as a menu preview or wine tasting. And with automated marketing outreach, hoteliers can easily target those specific guests who are most likely to be interested.
Offer Rewards for Referrals
Referrals and recommendations are still the most effective way to attract new guests. In fact, 92% of consumers put more trust in recommendations from friends and family than in any other source of marketing, and in this age of online reviews, it’s easier than ever for word of mouth to spread. Ask past guests to offer a referral, give a rating or write a positive review. Offering a small incentive in return ensures that the request is not a burden and helps build goodwill with loyal guests.
Create Package Deals
When occupancy is low, it’s natural for hoteliers to feel an urge to slash prices to attract more guests. The problem is that when room rates become lower than the costs associated with housing guests, there’s no—or even negative—ROI. The better strategy is to offer guests more while keeping rates the same.
Compelling guests to make a reservation by offering up free food, tickets to local attractions or access to on-site amenities is more cost effective and ultimately more attractive to potential travellers. Studying guest data can reveal what specific packages or offers will most appeal to a property’s ideal guest segment.
Appeal to Loyal Guests
If you do elect to lower prices, offer discounts to past guests first. One study showed that repeat guests spend between 13% and 29% more than first-timers. This highlights just how valuable loyal guests are to a hotel over their life cycle—they know and like your property, making them likely both to return and spend more within your hotel. By reducing room rates for loyal guests, hotels may make less money on the rooms themselves, but they strengthen their guest relationships and gain numerous opportunities for upselling.
Update the Website
A hotel website should not try to hide the fact that it is the slow season. Instead, it should highlight all that the property and area have to offer even at less appealing times of the year. For example, hotels can promote content about what to do in the region during the off-season to showcase the year-round appeal of their location.
Similarly, hotels should ensure their off-season offers and rates are front and centre on their website, alongside any other added bonuses guests will be treated to if they book to stay during quieter periods.
Hoteliers dream of being able to turn on their ‘No Vacancy’ sign permanently—and it may not be as far-fetched as you might think. To increase bookings during the slow season, hoteliers need build a low season strategy that makes use of the data already at their fingertips. By proactively considering booking slumps while business is still booming, hoteliers can avoid big dips in revenue and make sure occupancy remains consistent even as the calendar changes.
With RoomKeyPMS, it’s possible to plan for and prevent quiet seasons. Contact our team today to take control of your bookings all year long.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock / Dragon Images