11 Ways to Boost Hotel Occupancy
make hotel guests happy
As a small hotel owner, you’re no stranger to the peaks and valleys of the travel industry. Filling your rooms every night may be a breeze during your busy season, but when your low season comes around, getting enough bookings to fill even half your rooms can feel about as easy as getting teeth pulled.

Whether you’re a B&B next to a ski hill or a small beachside motel, hotel occupancy is heavily influenced by seasonality. Maintaining a high occupancy rate during your low- or off-season is key to ensuring your small hotel’s longevity, but it can be challenging for busy property owners or managers to devise new strategies for how to increase hotel occupancy when you’re busy putting out (metaphorical) fires, overseeing your staff, and providing a top-notch guest experience.

Discounting is a common, easily-implemented tactic many small hotels use to fill rooms during quiet seasons, but reducing your rates can eat into your revenue—not ideal for smaller properties with tighter profit margins.

Instead of slashing room rates, tactics that focus on creating demand for travel can help you get more bookings without sacrificing your revenue. In this post, we’ll share 11 of our best tips for how to increase hotel occupancy during your on- and off-season so you can count on strong revenue no matter what time of year. Keep reading to learn more about:

  1. Creating specials and packages for guests
  2. Implementing loyalty programs and encouraging repeat visitors
  3. Making it easy to book
  4. Optimizing your online presence
  5. Adding in-demand amenities
  6. Streamlining your workflows
  7. Leveraging events in your area
  8. Partnering with local businesses
  9. Trying dynamic pricing
  10. Attracting larger groups
  11. Running remarketing ads

But before we dive into these tactics, let’s first explain what occupancy rate is and how to calculate it.

What Is “Hotel Occupancy Rate”?

Hotel occupancy rate measures the number of occupied rooms compared to the number of available rooms.

Occupancy rate is an important key performance indicator (KPI) for small hotels, along with average daily rate (ADR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR). Monitoring your hotel occupancy rate regularly—we’re talking daily, weekly, and monthly—can help you understand booking trends and patterns in guest behavior so you can plan deals, promotions, and other marketing strategies to help boost your occupancy during typically slow times. It may even unearth opportunities to increase your room rates during busy times when you know the bookings will come.

Understanding hotel occupancy trends is about more than just knowing when your occupancy rate fluctuates—it’s also about why. Understanding why you get more bookings during some seasons and fewer in other seasons can help you devise effective strategies for combating predictable lulls, whether you discount prices or create new attractions to generate demand. Plus, when you understand your occupancy trends, you can also plan ahead to adjust your staffing, whether that means taking on more staff during busy times or adjusting your workflows to accommodate a rush or slow down.

If the thought of reviewing occupancy rate reports daily, weekly, or monthly fills you with scheduling dread, don’t panic. With an all-in-one property management system (PMS) for small hotels, you can review important KPIs like occupancy rate and quickly identify seasonality trends. From a quick glance at your current performance and key operational stats to year-over-year occupancy and revenue reports, innRoad’s in-depth reporting features give you the information you need to review hotel occupancy at-a-glance and develop compelling strategies that will help increase hotel occupancy.

How to calculate hotel occupancy rate

Number of Booked Rooms / Total Number of Room = Occupancy Rate (%)

For example, if your hotel has 12 rooms and 7 of them are occupied…

7 Occupied Rooms / 12 Total Rooms = Occupancy Rate of 58.3%

11 Ways to Boost Hotel Occupancy

1. Create specials and packages for guests

The best hotels are more than just a place to stay. With more flexibility to create unique promotions and personalized experiences, this is where smaller hotels have a key advantage over larger chains that have more staff and bigger budgets.

Small hotels are in the best position to offer personalized, memorable experiences, whether that means complimentary champagne in guest rooms upon arrival, spa visits, fine dining, fitness classes, or special experiences like campfires, stargazing, picnic baskets, wine tastings, or live music.

Understanding your hotel occupancy rate trends can help you develop effective promotions, specials, and packages to create more demand and get more bookings during slower times. If you have low occupancy mid-week, for example, you could:

  • Offer incentives to help attract more bookings from businesses, such as retreat packages or team-building activities
  • Advertise co-working spaces to attract remote workers who are looking for a mid-week change of scene
  • Target out-of-towners who are visiting to view real estate

Or if you’re a beachside property and you tend to have lower occupancy during the winter, seasonal specials like complimentary happy hour, heated fire pits, and other amenities can make a shoulder or off-season stay feel cozier and more desirable.

You could also offer upsells to guests who have already booked, such as a free massage for guests who stay for a certain number of nights during the off season. With a seamless online booking engine, specials and add-ons can even be reserved during booking to help boost your revenue.

HOSPITALITY FACT: Using our hotel booking software, innRoad’s clients typically add 10% more revenue by offering on-brand touches like bottles of champagne or other unique experiences within their booking engine, right before guests complete their reservation.

2. Implement loyalty programs and encourage repeat visitors

It’s easier to attract guests who have already stayed at your hotel—especially if they had a memorable experience during their previous stay.

The best time to start developing loyalty programs or encourage repeat visitors is during your busy season when occupancy is high and you have a captive audience. During your busy season, invest in creating email lists for different audience segments (business travelers vs. recreational visitors, for example) so you can reach out during the off-season with targeted promotions or remarketing ads that show what you offer throughout the year. You can even offer personalized experiences based on guests’ previous preferences and requests.

Loyalty programs can also motivate repeat bookings, helping you increase profits. Special discounts, reward points and limited offers are excellent methods to attract repeat guests.

3. Make it easy to book

Making it easy for guests to find your property and book their stay online is a key tactic for increasing hotel occupancy year-round, but it can be especially helpful during your slow seasons.

Hotel channel manager software makes it easy for hotel owners or property managers to update key information on different booking channels from a single platform, including all popular OTAs, so guests can find your property and book their stay from wherever they prefer to book.

When your channel manager software is integrated with an all-in-one property management system (PMS) like innRoad, room availability will even be updated in real-time on all sites whenever a booking is made. innRoad’s PMS also includes a direct online booking engine, with options for guests to reserve and pay for add-ons such as meals, spa visits, arrival perks like champagne, early check in or late check out, or even airport shuttles so you can capture more revenue year-round.

HOSPITALITY FACT: innRoad customers report seeing a 20% increase to their direct bookings from our high-converting online booking engine and increased visibility through channel management.

4. Optimize your online presence

Channel manager software and an effective online booking engine can go a long way to helping you optimize your small hotel’s online presence simply by making it easy to find your property and book rooms online. But your online presence is about more than just being findable and bookable—it’s also about your personality and your reputation.

A small hotel, B&B, or inn with positive reviews will naturally attract more visitors. On the other hand, prospective guests might have second thoughts about booking a venue with strikingly low star ratings or lots of negative feedback from previous guests. Make time to read through your new reviews at least monthly so you can spot negative comments, respond accordingly (yes, you should always respond to negative reviews), and make changes to your services as needed. If you have time, you can even respond to the positive reviews to help inspire loyalty and repeat visits.

5. Add in-demand amenities

By listening carefully to the needs of your guests, you can find ways to increase demand and boost your hotel occupancy rate. For small hotels, the options for what amenities you can offer are endless. Toiletries, coffee or tea kits, and a complimentary breakfast are a must. Other perks like free parking, a fitness center, a spa, and 24/7 WiFi are also commonplace.

If you notice that guests are asking for specific amenities, either at your front desk or in their post-stay reviews, consider adding them to your offerings. For example:

  • If your online reviews consistently mention a lack of cribs and high chairs, consider purchasing a couple so you can better service travelers with kids.
  • If your front desk staff are fielding repeated requests for healthier breakfast options, you may want to adjust your menu.
  • If you’ve noticed an uptick in guests using communal spaces to work, you could use your dining room as a business center when the kitchen is closed, or add desks to some guest rooms.
  • If you regularly host weddings, reunions, or other large events, you could add an “open bar” option for guests to add on to their booking.

6. Streamlining your workflows

Streamlining your workflows and optimizing your daily operations will free up time for you and your staff to focus on higher-value activities, such as reading and responding to online reviews, reviewing your occupancy rate reports, and devising specials and promos to create more demand during your slow seasons.

A property management system like innRoad will help you streamline many of the time-consuming administrative processes that take place behind the scenes, such as:

7. Leveraging events in your area

Special events happening in your area will create demand for travel and attract visitors—and they’ll need somewhere to stay. When you know these events are coming, you can advertise directly to your target market and develop special promos for these audiences.

Segmenting your target audience is key if you want to leverage events in your area to boost your hotel occupancy. For example:

  • If there’s a business convention in your town, you’ll want to develop promotions that target business travelers, such as advertising your conference rooms or remote working spaces.
  • If there’s a music or cultural festival, you could offer complimentary events like guest speakers or special menus.

You could also look into partnering with local event organizers to create special promotions, such as discounts on room rates for ticket holders.

8. Partnering with local businesses

Speaking of partnerships, developing strong relationships with other businesses and organizations in your community can help you boost hotel occupancy and generate more revenue. For example:

  • Chambers of commerce, convention and visitors bureaus, and destination marketing organizations can help you connect with other businesses and new customers
  • Tour operators in your area are well positioned to refer tourists to your property
  • If your property doesn’t have a restaurant, you could partner with local eateries to offer deals to guests, such as vouchers for a free appetizer or a percent discount
  • Offer discounts to local realtors that they can pass on to out-of-town property hunters
  • Developing long-term stay discounts for seasonal or contract employees of local businesses

9. Trying dynamic pricing

In the hospitality industry, dynamic pricing (also referred to as time-based pricing) utilizes flexible pricing for rooms and services based on market demand. Based on this concept, room rates would increase when demand is high (i.e. peak seasons or local events), and decrease when demand is lower.

HOSPITALITY FACT: Lowering room rates can help get more bookings, but it can also cut into your profit margins, which can be even tighter for small hotels in the off season. Instead of cutting rates, you may be able to generate more revenue by creating demand for travel or offering more value for the same price, such as complimentary breakfast or a free spa visit for stays over 2 nights.

With an all-in-one property management system like innRoad, you can review occupancy and revenue reports to easily identify opportunities to adjust your pricing strategy. And with our channel management add-on, you can easily update rates and availability on all your OTAs, whether you’re raising rates after receiving a surge alert or your discounting rates during slow times.

10. Attracting large groups

Weddings, reunions, and corporate outings are just some of the events that could help attract large groups to your hotel. There are a number of tactics you can employ to attract large groups:

  • Advertising meeting and event spaces by sharing photos of past events on your website and OTAs
  • Creating specific packages that include custom menus and group room rate discounts
  • Offering a discounted rate for block reservations
  • Bundling value-added amenities like free breakfast or discount vouchers for your restaurant or spa or other local attractions

11. Running remarketing ads

Have you ever looked at something online and seen ads for it a few minutes later on your social media feeds? Then you’ve seen remarketing ads.

Remarketing allows you to advertise directly to potential guests who have already demonstrated an interest in your property, whether that means they’ve visited your site, stayed with you before, joined your email list, or interacted with you on social media. This kind of advertising is a key tactic for remaining top-of-mind during off-seasons when people might be planning travel or are looking for a quick getaway/change of pace, or even a staycation. They can also help you target repeat visitors and begin building brand loyalty.

Checking Out

Whether you run a small beachside B&B or a boutique ski resort, hotel occupancy is heavily influenced by seasonality. For small hotels, maintaining a high occupancy rate during your low- or off-season is essential to ensuring your small hotel’s longevity, but it can be difficult for busy property owners or managers to find the time and unearth opportunities to increase hotel occupancy when you’re managing your property.

There are a number of tactics you can use to increase hotel occupancy in your off-season, including:

  1. Creating specials and packages for guests
  2. Implementing loyalty programs and encouraging repeat visitors
  3. Making it easy to book
  4. Optimizing your online presence
  5. Adding in-demand amenities
  6. Streamlining your workflows
  7. Leveraging events in your area
  8. Partnering with local businesses
  9. Trying dynamic pricing
  10. Attracting larger groups
  11. Running remarketing ads

Cloud-based systems like innRoad’s all-in-one property management system integrate all your daily operations into one easy to use platform you can access from any connected device, so you can focus on reviewing occupancy trends and creating specials and promotions to boost occupancy year round. With no annual contract, upfront costs, or hidden fees, you can access our all-inclusive hotel check-in software, as well as all the tools you need to position your small hotel for success and achieve your long-term goals.

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