When the sun is shining and the mercury is close to (or beyond) triple digits, the last thing on your mind is planning for the holidays—especially if summer is your small hotel’s peak season. Festive menus and seasonal packages may not be top of mind, but it’s important to start planning for the upcoming holiday season as early as possible so you can get a jump on your competition.
The holiday season is one of the most lucrative times of year for many small hotels, even if summer is typically your busiest season. Whether travelers are looking to use up the last of their vacation days, need a place to stay while visiting family and friends, or are planning a family adventure while school is out, demand for travel always surges around the holiday season—and that can mean big business for small hotels.
By planning your holiday marketing strategy in advance, your small hotel can take advantage of this surge in travel to maximize your revenue, even if summer is your normal peak season.
If visions of sugarplums are suddenly dancing anxiously in your head, don’t panic. You don’t have to go all out by lavishly decorating every corner of your hotel or hosting an extravagant holiday party to attract holiday guests—instead, focus on making it easier for travelers to find your hotel and see your various holiday offerings.
In this post, we’ll share our top 6 tips for enhancing your holiday season marketing strategy, including:
- Planning ahead
- Making it easy to book
- Updating online photos
- Adjusting your messaging
- Offering special seasonal packages
- Targeting return guests
Let’s get started.
1. Planning ahead
We know you’re busy, but if you can find the time, it helps to plan (or at least think about) your holiday marketing strategy as far in advance as possible. The sooner you start planning, the sooner you can start running holiday campaigns. Fall is an ideal time to launch—no one wants to see a holiday marketing campaign while they’re lounging at the beach.
Here are two simple things you can do to kickstart the planning process:
- Set goals. When you know what you want to achieve, you can create packages and promotions that are specially designed to help you reach these goals. How much do you want to increase your holiday season revenue year over year? What are your occupancy goals? Are you hoping for more repeat bookings? Try to be as specific as possible.
- Look back at last year’s holiday season. Booking information from last season can help you plan your marketing strategy for the coming year. Were any dates more popular for check in and check out? Were certain rooms more popular than others? Noting these trends will help you predict holiday season travel patterns so you can plan accordingly by adjusting room rates or taking on more staff. You can also take note of how far in advance rooms were booked for the holidays so you can launch your marketing strategy on time.
INNROAD TIP: Watching holiday booking trends can also help you understand if your small hotel would benefit from time-saving features like a channel manager or online check-in. With innRoad’s advanced reporting features, it’s easy to identify holiday booking trends and review your property’s performance so you can make adjustments as needed.
2. Making it easy to book
Making it easy for guests to find your property and book their stay online is a simple way to increase your occupancy year-round, but it can be especially helpful during the holiday season.
With channel manager software, you can easily manage profiles 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. And 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 OTAs whenever a booking is made.
innRoad’s PMS also includes a direct online booking engine so it’s easy for guests to book directly on your website, including group reservations and multi-room bookings. Guests will even have the option to reserve and pay for special holiday add-ons or packages when they book.
HOSPITALITY FACT: innRoad customers report seeing a 20% increase to their direct bookings from our high-converting online booking engine and increased visibility through our channel manager.
3. Updating online photos
Updating your website and social media photos to reflect the holiday season is a simple way to spread the word about your holiday offerings and encourage travelers to book. Many hotels only provide “evergreen” photos that stay the same year-round, but showcasing seasonal photography will add a relevant and personal touch that can help travelers better envision themselves spending the holidays at your property, which may be the final nudge they need to book their next stay.
Here are some examples:
- Update your cover photo to showcase your holiday decor or your property covered in a fresh blanket of snow.
- Add images from previous holiday events to your website, social media profiles, and OTA profiles.
- Share images of any holiday touches you add to guest rooms.
- Upload images of holiday menu offerings or other special packages you may offer.
4. Adjusting guest-facing messaging
All of your guest touch points, including team member phone greetings, front desk collateral, website, text messages, email marketing, OTA profiles, and social media channels, should mention the holiday and/or winter travel season. Whether you’re highlighting local winter activities for guests, seasonal menu items, or offering a simple holiday greeting, updating your messaging can set your hotel apart from competitors and provide seasonal cheer for your guests.
INNROAD TIP: Use a channel manager to instantly update all of your OTA listings in just a few clicks. Our channel management add-on directly connects with all industry leading OTAs so you can update room rates, inventory, descriptions, and photos on all of your OTAs without having to manually update each profile.
5. Offering special seasonal bonuses or packages
It can be tempting to offer discounts during the holiday season to entice more bookings, but discounts can reduce your revenue during what could be a lucrative season for your small hotel. Instead, offering value-added bonuses can provide travelers with the incentive they need to book with your hotel instead of a competitor without cutting into your revenue. Some examples of value-added bonuses include:
- Free champagne at check-in
- Spa vouchers for free or discounted treatments
- Access to outdoor activities like ice skating, skiing, and snow tubing
- Free or discounted tickets to holiday concerts and performances
- Cookie decorating events
- Snowman building contests
- Holiday card making workshops
- Movie nights with holiday favorites
You could also create special seasonal packages that appeal to your target audience—the more unique and compelling the better. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Create an NYE package for millennial travelers without kids, including complimentary champagne, tickets to local events, or a free shuttle so guests don’t have to worry about driving.
- Develop a family friendly package that includes access to daytime holiday events in your area, or other activities like sleigh rides or cookie decorating workshops.
- Offer group booking packages that target business holiday parties, such as cocktail hours, team building events, and discounted rates for multiple rooms.
As an added bonus, developing seasonal packages can also be a great opportunity to partner with other local businesses such as restaurants, bakeries, performance venues, ski hills, and more.
6. Targeting returning guests
Show last year’s guests that you remember and value them by creating special promotions just for repeat bookings. Your hotel will be their home away from home during the holiday season, and personalized offers that show you remember their last stay could be the nudge they need to make a booking.
- Special pricing for return visitors
- Free breakfast
- Discounted spa treatments
- Exclusive invites to events you’re hosting on your property
The holiday season is a lucrative time of year for many small hotels, even if summer is typically your busiest season. By planning your holiday marketing strategy in advance, you can take advantage of increased demand for travel, capture more bookings, and maximize your revenue.
innRoad’s property management system is equipped with the tools you need to prepare your property for maximum exposure this holiday season. With connections to hundreds of online travel agents, branded websites, and a mobile-friendly booking engine, your property will be well on its way to making the most of holiday season demand.