Knowing your hotel’s feeder markets, year-over-year booking trends and last-minute opportunities can help keep summer business sizzling.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Summer is peak travel time, and this year should be no exception.
While increased occupancy might be a given during vacation-friendly months, independent hoteliers can do a lot to maximize revenue returns during this busy season. Rick Day, VP of marketing at Real Hospitality Group, answered six questions about how to make summer marketing work for your hotel, including some last-minute tips.
HNN: What’s a good timeline to keep in mind for marketing summer deals and promotions?
Day: “At the beginning of the year, the ‘book early and save’ type of people create a baseline of reservations for your hotel. Then as you move in closer to the season, you become more niche-oriented in what you’re selling. Because independent hotels have more unique brand messages, they have the ability to really know their product and create customized packages.”
HNN: It’s already almost June. Can hotels do anything to push business for this summer besides last-minute rate discounts?
Day: “Booking pace governs timing, but you have to find a creative mix of business (between long stays, short stays, early booking and last-minute booking). There’s always time to put something in place. You can push people to buy without a super-discount mentality—you don’t want to short-sell your rates, but as windows get shorter, you have to get creative. As you close in on the season, weather and short-term forecasting will affect last-minute pickup, and then you can revenue-manage those last few rooms to manage the rate you get for them.
“Last-minute deals for 24-hour sales and flash sales can help you drive traffic to fill in gaps. Doing those offers to your in-house database can work. Maybe you identify repeat visitors who haven’t made a reservation yet for this year.”
HNN: What trends and stats should independent hoteliers be aware of when considering seasonal marketing ideas?
Day: “Independents have to be much more aware of where they’re at year over year and look at factors that can have an impact, like weather. If your primary feeder markets have bad weather in the winter and spring, that can sway pickup for people who want to escape that. Independents must spend more time on how the top line is being marketed. They’re dealing with a hotel that has its own brand, so they have to take that brand message, stay true to it and really sell it.”
HNN: How do online travel agencies factor in when hoteliers consider boosting last-minute summer business?
Day: “OTAs offer the ability to flip the switch on and off. But because of those margins, if we can focus on advance marketing, we must try to drive traffic to the site. The goal is to lay a steady base at a steady rate to be where you want to be. There are popular apps and mobile sites that encourage last-minute booking, and consumers have been taught to book this way. If you focus more on pre-marketing and pre-arrival and create your marketing plan from there, you can create your own booking pace.”
HNN: What about local business? Is that a reliable demand source in the summer?
Day: “Actually, a lot of locals might be more apt to visit your hotel in the offseason rather than the summer, if it’s popular among tourists. A good tip is to host local events in the summer season to make locals aware of your hotel. Make those local connections and host fundraisers and networking events to complement high occupancies in the summer. Your F&B outlets and meeting spaces may have more availability in the summer, so use them to keep networking.”
HNN: What trends do you see in summer marketing promotions?
Day: “With independents, it’s becoming more about the community and the neighborhood. Packages are important, but they’ve become much more personalized. Look at add-on or a la carte items so people can create their own package. Look at neighborhood food, shopping and art opportunities, and give customers the ability to click and basket each item to create their own package.”