The summer months were hectic. Your staff was working full steam, your marketing initiatives were in full swing, and you were running around trying to stay on top of everything. You were probably thrilled about the hospitality industry’s seasonality. Your premises were full of guests, your staff had lots to do, and you were basking in the glow of a wonderful reputation and increased profit.
Recognise the impact of off-season marketing
November arrived before you knew it, and suddenly seasonality doesn’t seem like such a good thing. It can be unsettling to see your bookings start to decrease as the season changes, but it doesn’t have to be. With a few off-season marketing techniques, you can boost your sales for autumn—and all year round. Believe in your business’s potential, and follow these tips to never get down about seasonality again.
Start with your online presence
Online marketing techniques evolve at a terrifyingly fast pace, and the low season is your chance to catch up. In other words, now is the time to reconsider your online marketing strategy and prepare for the months to come. Whether you realised it or not, there must have been issues you missed and opportunities you lost while getting through your busiest months. Take advantage of the quieter months to address them.
Catch up with your team. Ask them to report on the difficulties they encountered while handling guests’ online requests. Keep a record of all the aspects you could improve upon to make the online experience as positive as possible. Were there any missed conversions because of flaws in the booking process? Was your website friendly enough to make the guest stay on the pages? Did your mobile app succeed at cross-selling and upselling?
Content remains the king
During your busy months, you invested a lot in your online content. You’re fully aware that in 2016, your strongest online asset was your content—your text and visuals. Guess what; it still is. Though apparent interest in your hotel may have waned, your content remains the king of your online presence. So trust in its power, no matter the season.
Let’s start with your blog. If you’re thinking there’s no point in giving a “tips on packing” blog post in November, you’d be mistaken. Building a loyal audience who trusts you requires time, but mostly it requires consistency. If your blog is boring half the year, you’ll undo what you’ve achieved—which would be a pity. It might not be relevant to share information about the best summer activities, but it would be fantastic if you published a post on the current attractions in your local area. Besides, there must be something special to share about autumn activities.
The same applies to the content on your website. Don’t let the summer mood exuded in your homepage pictures turn autumn website visitors away. Replace those summer photos with beautiful, professional photos of your premises during autumn. Imbue the whole website with the autumnal spirit by switching up the colour palette. Add information and catchy banners about autumn activities and other pieces of information that would attract travellers at this time of year.
Get more social than ever
As I mentioned, content is your best ally in getting over the off-season blues. Along with your website and blog, you should work on updating your hotel’s social media pages. Keep in mind that these networks allow you to share content as frequently as you like. And since they tend to be way more personal than your official website, you should make the most of them.
You could, for example, hold photo competitions to not only get free user-generated content, but also to remind your guests of the beautiful memories they created during their stay. Give the winners (determined by the number of “likes”) a special discount on their next stay and enjoy countless benefits as a result: brand ambassadors, more visitors, return customers. Sounds brilliant, right?
This period also offers a great chance to improve your social presence and strengthen your relationship with your followers. Check for comments or questions that you missed when you were busy. Create new photo albums that demonstrate to potential guests the beauty of your hotel during the autumn. What’s most important is to keep your audience engagement level high.
Beat the bank-holiday drought with autumn weekend specials
One of the cleverest things you can do right now is appeal to the traveller’s yearning for a bank holiday so they can escape the daily grind. While there are no bank holidays — and therefore no coveted three-day-weekends — this season, travellers can still unwind with a regular weekend getaway, so consider offering special rates for two-night stays on weekends. Sweeten the deal with package deals that include breakfast or other perks, or offer them early check-in or late check-out so they can maximise their stay. If you’re a country hotel just outside the big cities, suggest a Monday check-out so they can head straight to work feeling pampered and renewed.
Give travellers more reason to make the weekend getaway by planning events on your premises to support your special offers, or partner with other local businesses for discounts on things happenings in your local area. If none of the above applies to your type of hotel and locale, all is not lost: Why not take advantage of this time to plan ahead for Christmas? It’s better to be early than late.
Make them check their inboxes
All those guests you welcomed during the busy season translate into more contacts in your database. Reach out to the newest additions with discounts to thank them for staying with you, incentivise them to return, and ultimately, help you redress the seasonal dip in profits. Run an email marketing campaign offering recent guests a discount when they book another stay within a two-month period from the moment they checked out.
As for your entire contact list, send newsletters with autumnal happenings and activities. If your goal is to increase retention, send promotional emails giving loyal guests a free gift: maybe a free night, free treatments at the wellness centre, or anything else you think would work. Last but not least, inform them about your hashtag and that if they use it, they’ll earn a special gift.
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to give your autumn marketing efforts a kick and spice them up with the above tips. Have a favourite tactic? Let us know about it in the comments below.