To all my American friends, I wish you a very happy Independence Day. And for everyone else in the northern hemisphere, enjoy the summer while it lasts.
And speaking of summer, it’s not too late to plan and execute a ‘last minute summer getaway’ package to help muster up a bit more added revenue for now until Labor Day weekend. Regardless of what your projection figures look like, you should always be on the lookout for ways to capitalize on the prime end-of-summer vacation period.
Keeping in line with the subject of today’s holiday, a good promotion theme to play with is the idea of encouraging independence. Summer is time for freedom, exploration and adventure, and if you can design packages that advocate new experiences or whimsical travel, then you’re bound to see a few faces around your hotel.
What I mean by this is that by giving prospective guests a bundled program with room nights combined with, say, an itinerary filled with outdoor exercise, romantic jaunts or F&B adventures, you are not only offering them a good deal, but you are making their lives that much easier. It’s common for people to have a touch of trepidation when it comes to experiencing new things. But if it’s already part of the agenda, they will already be ‘mentally prepared’ for the novel escapade that awaits them.
The concept of preplanned itineraries is built on the notion that normal vacations are an ordeal. You have to book your flights, your rental car, your hotel rooms, and then separately organize each day while taking into account travel times, hours of operation, meals and so on. Frankly, it’s a headache, and probably a key reason why jetlag sets in – we’re flat-out exhausted.
Hence, your marketing slug for these impulse late-summer vacation packages should be that vacations don’t have to be an ordeal; that you will chaperone each guest through a journey that they will cherish for years to come.
We’ve already touched on appealing to foodies, outdoor adventurers and real romantics for summer vacation themes. What’s most important, in my mind, is that you are target individuals who live within a drivable distance from your hotel (unless you are situated in a major urban airport hub). The reason being is that it is much easier to entice customers to drive somewhere on a whim over flying, which is always a hassle, especially when it’s last minute.
Market locally and design your vacation packages with the implication that arriving guests will be taking either one or two days off on either side of the weekend. This works especially well for younger or established couples who aren’t burdened by familial responsibilities or blacked-out stretches on the calendar.
Next, get a gimmick. Strive for that one thing that only you do or that you do better than everyone else. This is your unique selling point and it’s what you will build your marketing campaign around to get consumers’ attention. In line with this, you must know what people are coming to your region for. Is it primarily outdoor or eco-tourism? Or is it the culture and nightlife? Either way, find the one thing that makes you unique amongst your comp set without stepping outside your bounds.
Many hoteliers are afraid of income displacement in peak season. They figure that occupancies will be strong, so why add a package? The answer is simple: packages create buzz, anticipation and a call to action. Don’t be afraid to value-add excitement. Your customers might simply book a room, but at least you’ve caught their attention.
Do this and with any luck you should be able to get an effective last-minute summer package together within the next business week.
(Article published by Larry Mogelsonky in HOTELSmag on June 6, 2014)