My fellow hoteliers, we have hit the jackpot! February 14 falls on a Friday this year, which I suspect will lead to many people rolling Valentine’s Day into an extended weekend. This is doubly true for us here in Ontario, as Family Day (a statutory holiday) lands on the following Monday, February 17.
I consider Friday to be the best day of the week for Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t overlap with the weekend, and yet it’s directly adjacent to the weekend, meaning that more people will consider staying away from home as they won’t have to get up early the next day to carry on with the weekly office grind. Moreover, Friday has the advantage over Monday because for the latter, people aren’t in “weekend mode,” making them less likely to splurge or book a night out.
Perhaps boasting this as a jackpot was a little too hasty on my part because it will require some serious work to get the word out about whatever special offer you put out there. Hopefully you spotted this opportunity when you first started your Valentine’s Day promotions. But if not, there is still time if you are willing to put in a few extra hours these next few days to get it all sorted out. Here are a few recommendations:
1. Extension discount
A great way to maximize revenue and occupancy for this Valentine’s Day long weekend is to offer guests a discount for staying Sunday night if they stay Friday and Saturday or a rate cut on Thursday night if they stay Friday and Saturday. Think of it as a “buy two get one free” promotion. You might even consider offering an extra-special discount for staying over Thursday night and Sunday night.
2. F&B package
What would romance be without a finely prepared meal? People have to eat; to make the day even more memorable, couples will want a special meal to go along with it. Not only would you aim to package a prix fixe menu with a one-night or two-night stay, but alcohol should also be an option. I recommend wine pairings or complimentary champagne. Chocolate is also a must, as are strawberries — the heart-shaped fruit.
3. Spa getaway
One central advantage of a weekend getaway is that it gives guests a chance to partake in lengthy activities. A Valentine’s Day weekend is a great opportunity to offer your customers promotional deals on spa treatments for couples, either in the form of a discount or as part of a package. Bonus points for creating special romantically themed treatments.
There are many other ways to motivate sales for Valentine’s Day, most of which are property-specific (beach access, golf courses, proximity to urban attractions and so on). One key tactic that applies to all hotels no matter the location is surprise. Whatever promotion you offer to your incoming visitors is the new baseline for expectations. If you truly want to satisfy your guests, you have to go above and beyond — you have to wow them. On top of packaging a fine dining experience with your rooms, for instance, you might also give guests a complimentary amuse bouche, themed aperitif or dessert — without warning, of course. If your guests plan to cash in a voucher for the spa, use an unannounced rose petal and red fruit oil or scrub for the treatment. It’s a tried-and-true sales approach: always give a little extra.
(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in HOTELSmag on February 4, 2013)