With the exception of agriculture, it’s hard to think of an industry more affected by seasonal pressures than the hospitality sector. Along with the times of exceptionally high demand, surviving and even thriving during times of low demand is perhaps the biggest challenge facing independent hotels. Often lacking the efficiencies of scale and considerable marketing budgets of the bigger chains. So how do you boost your hotels’ occupancy?
However, there are plenty of ways that independent hotel owners can attract more bookings all year round. Without any huge investment or having to resort to third-party travel booking websites. In fact, believe it or not, right now you are surrounded by deep wells of untapped demand. All you have to do is figure out how to uncover them. And your hotel could be filled to overflowing, seven days a week, 365 days a year!
Once you open your mind to the possibilities, you will see opportunities to boost occupancy in all kinds of areas. To help you, we’ll cover four different ideas in this article. Bear in mind there are many more – really, we’re only scratching the surface.
As an independent hotel, you are in a uniquely powerful position to forge relationships. But also take advantage of trends that would take bigger organisations years to emulate. Intrigued? Let’s dive in and explore this together!
Idea # 1 – Become a destination for Digital Nomads
We’ve written before about digital nomads. Those with in-demand skills who travel the world while working remotely, utilising just their laptops and smartphones to remain connected to their employers. This is a trend that is set to grow substantially over the years ahead. So establishing your hotel as a great place to stay and work could reap handsome rewards in years to come.
Of course, the beauty of these travellers for you is that they tend to be completely free of the need to follow the usual holiday patterns. They travel at any time of year, or often all year round. Making them perfect for filling your otherwise quiet times.
And how might you tap into this lucrative market, we hear you ask? Well, to begin with, you may already know of some regular guests who fit this description. So why not have a chat with them to find out what would make your hotel an even more attractive destination for them to visit. Recommend their contacts to visit also? Here’s a few more suggestions to get your ‘idea bulb’ flashing;
- Could you repurpose one of your function rooms into a bright and modern co-working space? Available to non-residents to take advantage of in return for a small monthly fee? This would be bound to attract free publicity, as well as boosting your status as a destination for remote workers!
- Create a dedicated page or section of your website specifically on how you cater for digital nomads. Index the page for search engine optimisation. So that this section of your website will start to get organic hits from those searching Google for ‘workations’ in your city or area.
- Hundreds of social media groups dedicated to this lifestyle. Not to mention membership organisations and job boards. All of these contain opportunities for you to advertise or post links to your website offering your services. Why not kick off with a time-limited special offer just for those quoting code “Nomad” to claim?
Idea # 2 – Turn drop-in visitors into overnight stays
There is a branch laden with low-hanging fruit that many independent hotels overlook altogether in their marketing. We’re talking about the people who are right at this very moment utilising your hotel bar, cafe, or lobby area as a venue for a work meeting. A chance to catch up with a visiting friend, or just popping in for a quick meal on their way to their next destination.
These visitors may have never used your facilities before, or they may be regulars. But you just haven’t given them a reason to stay overnight yet! They all know exactly where you are. They know many of your facilities, and they have had a chance to experience your service. Without a shadow of a doubt, they represent a much easier prospect for you to entice to visit. Compared to someone who hasn’t visited your hotel yet.
And if you’re wondering how you can get the contact information of these drop-in visitors, wonder no more! WiFi Marketing gives your visitors the option to connect to WiFi in your hotel, and at the same time lets them opt-in to get special offers from you. Easy!
Idea # 3 – Special Offers for Senior Citizens
This might seem like the kind of strategy more suited to a hairdresser than an independent hotel but stay with us. Similarly to digital nomads, retired travellers are not constrained by traditional holiday seasons. Not only that, the current generation of senior citizens from all around the world are more likely to travel than any of the previous ones. With over half of the retired people citing “travel” as the most important part of their plans.
Even better, retired travellers stay for longer. They are less likely to make use of rented accommodation and are known to be receptive to marketing campaigns that specifically aim for their patronage. (Did you know that Saga, which specifically caters for those over 50 years of age, has over 2.7 million customers?!)
If all of this sounds like a good fit for your hotel, you can follow similar steps to those outlined in the Idea # 1 Digital Nomad section above to target this market. Maybe you could create a bar and a socialising area specifically for your “Silver” visitors? Again, there are membership organisations, magazines, and travel companies that specifically target this sector. All you have to do is create some offers to attract the attention of savvy senior travellers – and get them out there!
Idea # 4 – Partner up with Business Associations
As business travel tends to be a lot less seasonal than those on vacation. It makes sense to consider how you could position your hotel to be the ideal conference destination, or the obvious choice for employees of a particular PLC to stay overnight.
Again, this tends to be an area that is much overlooked by independent hotels. Perhaps you think that the big chains will always be the first choice for the busy business travellers. However, there’s no reason why that should be the case if you’re smart with your marketing.
Study the industries in your district. Especially look out for any large companies that have headquarters, training centres, or other significant properties nearby. Don’t forget existing clients. There could be a CEO who regularly visits that could be persuaded to make your hotel the default option for all her employees.
Again, you can create a search-optimised dedicated page of your website for business travellers. Use offer codes for conferences that might be held in your city so that you win more of this passing trade. Create simple flyers that you can drop off at local companies. This tool is a great way for even non-graphic designers to design attention-grabbing leaflets and postcards! Offering them exclusive rates in return for their patronage. Maybe even a free or discounted first drink in the bar?
Bringing it all together
We hope that these ideas have given you plenty of food for thought on how you can boost your year-round hotel occupancy. All this without having to resort to offering huge discounts via third-party resellers. If you found this article useful, why not sign up to our email newsletter so that you can be sure not to miss out on future posts?
Want to find out more about how WiFi marketing can further boost your hotel occupancy?