I had the privilege of being invited as one of the panelists during the last Hotel Show held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was a very invigorating panel which included veterans in the hotel industry. The discussion was very lively and I wanted to share my point of view on this topic, “Ways to Ensure Maximum Occupancy During Off-Peak Times.”
1. Hotels can introduce travel industry rates, which is a rate plan applicable to all employees working in the industry, for example, travel agencies, airlines, hotels, etc. If they already have this rate plan set up, they can enhance its benefits. These can be low yielding, but since it is an off peak period, it would be better to sell them on this rate rather than getting zero revenue. Besides, think of the opportunity when you sell to this market. By giving travel agents a chance to get to know your hotel, you are increasing the prospect of getting more bookings, as they will be more inclined to offer a property they have personally visited to their customers. Do not forget that they are your extended sales team online. This can be a strategy to improve your visibility on the GDS (Global Distribution System), as the best way for them to remember your hotel is through personal experience.
2. It is very important for hotels to always plan ahead in determining and identifying low periods. Off peak seasons entail very low demands mostly for reasons unrelated to the prices, and dropping rates does not create demand. It is always better to add value to your rates, value that would appeal to your market segments such as free airport transportation, free breakfast, etc.
3. Hotels need to make sure that they understand their market. When a hotel has a complete understanding of their market, a strategy can be very effective. What kind of clients avail them, better yet, what are common traits of guests that stay with them during quiet times? By analyzing this data, hotels might be able to come up with packages that would perfectly entice this clientele.
4- Check out local events and activities, create packages for potential clients attending local happenings e.g. concerts, charity events, festivals. Hotels can even tie up with organizations sponsoring such events and even be featured on their website as a preferred or exclusive hotel.
5. Crank up your loyalty program to entice your regular customers to stay with you more during off peak season.
6. Hotels should always think of winning guests through channels with the least cost of acquisition. Right now, this is through your own brand website. Create discounts and packages that can exclusively be availed through your website. To avoid rate parity issues with OTAs protect these with promo codes.
7. Make sure to effectively manage your profile on TripAdvisor Business Listing. This gives you the ability to add your special offer via a link which directs guests to your brand website.
8. Create special offers that are channel exclusive. Analyze which channels give you low cost of acquisition and focus your special packages on these avenues e.g. mobile, GDS, partner marketing agencies that help you with re-targeting, geo targeting, affiliate promotions.
9. Offer special packages/promotions to your clients e.g. 25% discount on F&B on their corporate rate, roundtrip airport transfers, upgrade, etc.
10. Analyze room type production for higher room categories. Create special packages/discounts on these room types, and send them specifically to clients that avail them during regular/peak seasons.
11. If you participated in consortia programs, offer 5–10% incremental commissions to agents to entice more bookings. You can even extend the promotion to their clients e.g. 5% off on their rates and additional 5–10% on their commission. Make sure to announce this via your consortia program contacts or representation company account managers.
12. Effectively manage your social media pages, make sure to promote your special offers through this channel. Create e-flyers with links that will redirect your followers to the special offers page where they can readily book the promotion. Make sure to use the advertising functionalities of social media platforms to get more exposure. Always include links back to your website in every post you make on a social media platform.
13. It also helps to include a booking engine on your Facebook page, and give special discount for your followers on this platform.
A very keen observation of market behavior is a must in order to make the necessary tweaks. It could be that a combination of the recommended ways can be more effective than doing them separately. Keep in mind to make a record of whatever works for your property, so you can have a repeat performance in future situations.