‘Mancation’ packages can bring a steady stream of vacationers through a hotel’s front door. Hotels are targeting golf and adventure travel activities for buddy leisure trips.
REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Whether it’s a weekend of golf, a deep-sea fishing excursion or a wild time in Las Vegas, “mancations”—as leisure trips for groups of male friends are sometimes called—can offer a steady, lucrative stream of business for hotels. The key, according to sources, is to leverage both a hotel’s existing amenities and the off-site demand generators nearby.
There’s no singular solution for creating effective mancation-type packages, marketers said, but rather a host of options depending on the hotel’s location, facilities and local attractions. Even if the property is nowhere near the beach or a golf course, there’s always the potential for alternatives like sporting events, brewery tours and concerts to drive male leisure business.
“The core of that segment would certainly be the buddy trips that center around golf or other sporting events, and that is big and it is growing,” said George Brennan, EVP of sales and marketing for Interstate Hotels and Resorts. “There is a whole range of ways those take place, from people who drive together to do that, to others who look for a destination resort, or a combination of alpha golf resorts that have that bucket list type of golf (courses).”
How much do they spend?
There’s also a wide range of dollars spent on such trips. Since adult men of all ages like to take vacations with friends, there’s no consistent average for spending. In many cases, spend is dictated by the purpose of the trip, as well as the demographic of the guests in question.
“You could have a group of 23-year-olds a year or two out of college who want to go somewhere and really just party hard for a couple weekends,” said Bob Gilbert, president and CEO of the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International. “It could be a bunch of 50-60-70-year-olds who want to go play golf. The younger groups will probably want some of the more extreme-type activities, whether it’s bungee jumping or surfing. In each of those age tiers, there’s significant width and breadth in terms of what the potential spend is going to be.”
In some cases, that extra spend may not be significant at all, however. According to sources, not every hotel needs to specifically target mancations as a bookings generator. Sometimes male guests arrive for the very same reasons as female travelers, so creating a male-focused package might not drive interest much above the normal levels.
This was a lesson that Tracey Welsh, GM of the Red Mountain Resort in St. George, Utah, learned after the property launched a recent mancation promotion. Renowned for its on-site health and wellness services, Welsh said the resort’s appeal is unisex, and ultimately the promotion failed to generate any notable interest. The resort has no plans to revisit mancation packages in the future.
“We’re all humans, and human males and human females can like the same thing, so I think there’s just a blending in that whole arena,” Welsh said. “In our case, when we’re marketing health and wellness, we can pretty much do it across the board. We kind of have the perfect blend here, because we have a very active retreat and I think that appeals to men already, yet we don’t have to have a golf course or the other things you’d typically market toward gentlemen.”
Include neighboring attractions
For those hotels that do have a mancation angle to promote, sources said it’s important to tap into existing amenities and activities at the property, as well as the surrounding area, and package as much of those elements together as possible. This offers small personal groups like mancation guests the convenience of having their wants and needs all covered with one booking, ideally with each guest paying a flat fee for everything contained in the package.
“It’s really leveraging what your product already is,” Gilbert said. “For resorts, it’s going to be simpler, because they typically have a lot of those built-in amenities, whether it’s hiking, biking, golf or mountain climbing.
“They just need to package it in a way that makes it easier for the consumer to buy and recognize the value in how they’ve packaged these activities, so the consumer says, ‘I want that package. It has everything I want to do,’ rather than the consumer buying a room and then picking things a la carte to rent the Jeep or the skis or golf clubs.”
At the moment, much of the mancation-type demand still comes from golf, a time-honored interest among many men. Brennan pointed to Interstate’s Streamsong Resort in Bowling Green, Florida, as a perpetual mancation magnet, thanks in part to the high ratings its golf course has received from golf magazines. That said, nearly any activity that men specifically enjoy can be crafted into a mancation package, provided the offering is special and offers some form of added value.
“Obviously the quintessential guy group (outing) is, ‘Let’s go play golf,’” Brennan said. “There is a premium on being self-contained, because usually these trips are not long—many of them are one or two nights—so being at a resort that has it all right there, it’s efficient, particularly where there’s golf or fishing.
“But it’s all about the activity. Guys are also going to want to go to see NASCAR, or go to see the Yankees or Red Sox play. So it depends. The draw tends to be, ‘This is something I’ve always wanted to do, and I’m willing to pay for it now.’”