28th October 2015
If you weren’t able to make it along to the ‘Fully Booked’ seminar at the Independent Hotel Show 2015, don’t panic. We’ve gone to the trouble of creating a full summary of Tom’s notes for everyone to absorb!
The seminar was a creative session offering realistic and practical advice to help hoteliers achieve maximum occupancy, even in off peak times. Here’s our top tips:
- Create bespoke packages. Every hotel offers an overnight stay with dinner, breakfast and access to the spa (if they have one) but being unique and original is where the money is. For example, Worcester White House made an impact by selling a ‘Groom Academy’. This included a full day of wine tasting, gym session, cooking lessons from the Head Chef and cleaning lessons by housekeeping
- Think about what your guests want and sell experience days. This could involve partnering up with local attractions to offer special rates guests wouldn’t be able to access if they stayed elsewhere. For example, a personal shopping service, afternoon tea at Harrods or country walks and picnics
- Nothing is worse than false advertising! Imagery is one of the fastest and most effective ways of selling a scenario; it’s essentially acting as the body language between you, the hotel, and potential guests. Therefore, it’s crucial that the scenario you’re offering is accurately mirrored in all your marketing. For example a romantic night away could be constructed through images of a room with a messy bed, candles, champagne and room service
- Understanding your positives and negatives are crucial to boosting your room occupancy. For negatives, don’t hide away from the fact you aren’t based in the city centre, embrace this and use it to your advantage. You may have free parking, a greater spread of facilities to utilise or as a get away from the hustle and bustle. On the other hand, when considering positives, pay attention to what your reviews tell you. Once you have these, creating unique packages will be much easier
- Once you have your ideas, how do you execute them? Ensure that you have a sufficient knowledge of marketing or alternatively approaching an agency or team to take care of this would be highly recommended. You should be able to deal with more pressing matters while your marketing agency action ideas and campaigns in the background
- Hoteliers cannot underestimate the power of reviews. Nothing produces trust quite like a third party review. This in turn encourages people to book. Hotels should use TripAdvisor reviews at the very least with the option to use other third party review systems such as Feefo. Despite Feefo probably being the most well-known, Google reviews are also effective and work well from an SEO point of view to get people to your hotels website
- Utilise your own database before giving away the earth to an OTA. In all fairness they do have large databases of potential guests, however if your offer is good, it will sell just as well through your own channels
- Being forever proactive is the secret ingredient and remembering that just because you’re busy now doesn’t mean you will be in a few months’ time. Plan your marketing in advance, create a 12 month plan and keep coming back to it. It’s fine if it changes but at least you have a structure to follow and guide you
- Learn about your own Google analytics. Within the seminar, a lot of people knew what analytics were but stated that they wouldn’t have a clue how to read them. If you have a marketing agency, they should be giving you this information monthly (at least) and explaining why numbers and figures are changing. If not, spend an hour or two every week to sit and look through it and see what happened in the same period last year to make it change
- Embracing the power of social media though advertising, user conversation and brand awareness is all totally free. With additional pay for Facebook ads, you can really narrow down your reach to your specific target market. For example, females who are 24-28 years old and live within 10 mile radius of your property and love shopping. This can be used to your advantage to sell off peak packages to potential guests who can come on a week day and without having to travel too far
- Always measure your successes and failures. Campaigns can sometimes be implemented too early or too late. Learn from your mistakes and set metrics or KPI’s to track their effectiveness
- Once your guests have been and gone, keep them on your side. By offering them extra incentives to booking direct will keep them coming and create loyalty. Mr & Mrs Smith have produced a wealth of success through doing this. From offering incentives such as boxes of chocolates, 20% off spa vouchers, bottle of prosecco or Champagne on arrival
If you would like to discuss further solutions to boosting your hotels room occupancy, get in touch with Tom Beasley by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us on 01179 30 4365.