Every hotel experiences fluctuation in the market due to seasonal slumps and varying market conditions. The key to run a hotel profitably and maintain a steady flow of bookings during low season is to take a long-term approach, view it as an opportunity to explore new niche markets, use data to understand the patterns, strategize based on findings, rework product offerings and revamp marketing endeavors to make it appealing for your target audience and market to maximize conversions.
Here are the recommendations to help you boost your occupancy rate during the low season:
Determine low season for your property
Use data to determine what time of year the low season takes place. An analysis which looks at the data points over a certain period of time, such as past booking patterns, occupancy rate, number of bookings, number of visitors, demand forecast report, current & future trends – will help provide meaningful insights to strategize and create low-season marketing efforts to make the most of the season,
Identify your ideal low season guest
Look at past low-season bookings to understand who your guests were during the low season and define the demographics of guests who prefer off-season such as retirees, business entrepreneurs, groups, etc. , how many rooms did they book, what was the source market, etc. Rely on data to know the target market and customers and to make your property appealing to these guests to capture bookings.
Create content & update your listings
Update your listings with new content to attract low season guests. Promote the features that would appeal to your target customers. Create content to give them a feel and a glimpse of how it would be like to stay during the low season. Example: Outdoor images that show snow-laden pines, a light dusting of snow and interiors that highlight a cozy log fireplace, selection of board games, coffee counter, season-specific activities that people can enjoy and share the content on social media to attract customers. If you have a special offer, feature it on the website, booking channels, and social media. Also, mention local events taking place during these months near your property.
Try niche bookings channels – Offline & Online
The low season gives time to test new booking channels and expand the distribution network. Try out other channels both offline and online, tweak distribution strategy to drive bookings during low season. Utilize not so busy season to expand your audience base, conduct surveys, ask for reviews to improve product and services and reputation.
Price realistically and increase value by creating packages and offers
Do your research well before deciding on reducing the rates as this won’t boost the low season hotel occupancy rate for long and negatively impact the overall revenue and image. Analyze data to understand the demand and if your hotel is listed on Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, etc use tools offered by these sites to understand the trends & get pricing suggestions. Also, consider how competitors are setting their low season prices. Another way to avoid lowering too much is to increase offerings at the same price. Create value-added deals such as free night offer, special weekday/ weekend offer, group discount, free treatment at the wellness center, discount on food and beverages, lowering or removing minimum stay restrictions, flexible booking terms, pet-friendly policy, etc. to boost queries and bookings.
Contact previous and potential guests
In addition to new potential guests, reconnect with the previous guest by emails, phone calls, etc. and share details of the special offer or information. Ask them for referrals and make it worthwhile for them by offering incentives in return for recommendations. Also, contact lost leads to who you had to decline in previous years around the same time of the year due to the non-availability of rooms.
Group bookings and MICE
Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions (MICE) is a great way to increase and fill-up rooms during the low season. Partner with events organizers and corporate travel agencies to maximize revenue and occupancy. Upsell services offer discounted spa packages, free access to the business center for organizers, local tour discounts for attendees, free shuttle services, etc. to make the deal appealing to them.
Local events / Contact organizers of local events
Collaborate and combine efforts with other businesses affected by seasonal slumps and organize events such as a food and wine festival, winter carnival, shopping festival, shows, etc. to draw visitors in the low season. List hotel in the promotional materials and offer exclusive offers just for the attendees, for example – discounts on food at a restaurant or bar, happy hours, etc. If there are local events taking place, create a special package combining rooms and tickets to the event.