With so much competition in the hospitality space, hotels must do more to show guests they’re the number one choice.
Classic promotions have become tired and lost their impact. And if everyone’s using the same marketing strategies, how will you stand out?
Middling in a sea of percentage-off deals doesn’t show your unique differentiator. You’re not giving them that no brainer value to book.
You need a proposition that doesn’t compare. A promotion that’s never seen before and is personalised to the guest.
All you need for an effective promotion is a little creative thinking. Or you’re welcome to take inspiration from our thoughts below.
Often when people go away, they don’t want to think about planning their days. Some would rather have the entire trip arranged for them.
By creating ready-made itinerary bundles, you can create an immersive guest experience that’s made for specific guest types.
For example, a family bundle package. This could include tickets to local attractions with vouchers for a meal at your restaurant and eateries near-by.
On another day, you could include tickets to a children’s play centre while mum and dad enjoy spa treatments in the afternoon.
Or, if there are renowned biking routes near you, offer a package that includes bike and helmet hire, a packed lunch or lunch at a local pub, a map, and points of interest along the way.
Try before you buy
Try before you buy gives new guests the opportunity to get a taster of your offerings without risk to them.
This promotion could entice people to try something new or steer them away from their regular choice.
For example, host a free taster evening for a new menu or wine list. If you use small samples to pique their interest, you may find they stay on to order a full meal and drinks. You could then offer a voucher for a second visit to encourage repeat custom.
Another option is to invite local businesses and clubs to use your meeting facilities for free for their first meeting. Or promote the first use of your events room for free if they book a string of events.
Popular holidays such as Christmas and Valentine’s Day have heavy competition. Promotions are everywhere, but you could boost occupancy rates during those slow periods by celebrating some more unusual dates.
Create a whole day around the event with custom menus, activities, decorations and costumes to encourage locals and guests to attend.
A few dates to consider are: Remembrance Sunday, St Patrick’s Day, St Andrew’s Day or the Queen’s Birthday. You could celebrate the anniversary of a celebrity’s death or create a theme around a local hero.
Get in touch with your suppliers and find out what kind of promotions you could pass on to your guests.
Could you team up to offer a special discount from your wine supplier. If your toiletries are a talking point, could you offer a gift hamper leading up to Christmas or Mother’s Day.
If you’re known for your quality meats and cheeses, you could put together a selection for guests to win in a raffle or contest.
You could also find out if your suppliers would be open to holding workshops at your hotel. Perhaps a wine or chocolate tasting session. Or maybe a flower arranging or bread making workshop.
There’s nothing new about loyalty programmes, but very few small hotels use them to their advantage.
Which is a shame because they can be effective to encourage repeat custom. The incentives are a great way to keep guests coming back for more. Within loyalty programmes, guests are generally keen to build and claim their reward points, creating more chances for you to sell.
The rewards need to be something of real value to your guests, while still delivering a profit.
For example, you could offer an extra night free when they book at least two nights. You could create a sense of exclusivity with a member’s lounge offering discounted prices on drinks. Or perhaps you could invite them to bring a friend for free.
If you’re an expert on a specific topic your guests love too, you can build new connections with promotions centred around that topic. This type of promotion can really set you apart because it’d be difficult for your competition to copy.
Use your expertise to arouse interest through blog posts, articles and events relating to that topic. This will help you attract guests exploring the topic on Google, and generate more email signups for future promotions.
For example, if you’re particularly passionate about your wine list, perhaps you have over 100 different varieties or they’re unique, you could write articles about food and wine pairings and tie this into a taster session promotion.
Or, maybe you’re a keen gardener. You could form your own ebook with the best public gardens to visit in the area, or give garden design talks. You could hold a tour of your own hotel gardens and take questions about the specific plants. What they need to thrive and some basic care tips.
This is not a promotion exactly, but your employees can be great ambassadors for your hotel online. Guests appreciate an insider view into what companies are really like.
By using your employee’s social media accounts to talk about your hotel, you give guests a unique perspective and a way for them to form a bond with your brand.
It connects them to the people that bring the hotel alive.
Ask your staff if they’d be happy to upload pictures and videos of them working behind the bar, or preparing meals in the kitchen. Have them share their interactions with guests and reveal what it’s like to work there.
Early bird promotions
Early bird promotions encourage guests to book in advance. These incentives can ensure you’re not forgotten after they carry out the initial research phase. It means you have a better chance they’ll book then and there.
You could simply offer special discounts for booking early, but there are plenty of other options to consider.
For example, you could offer a ‘book by x and secure a complimentary breakfast.’ Or ‘book by x and get a free room upgrade.’
Or you could offer ‘book your Valentine’s table for two before January 30th and get a complimentary bunch of flowers.’
Free upgrade promotions
Offering free upgrades gives guests a taste of your best services, which may entice them to buy the better options the next time they visit.
They may also arrive with lower expectations, and by over-delivering you set them up for a great guest experience which they may rave about to friends, family and online.
Upgrade examples include, room upgrades when they stay for more than two nights, or upgrade to half board when they stay two nights or more.
Or something as simple as get a full English breakfast at the cost of a continental breakfast when you book.
With so many hotels offering promotions these days, we’ve become vaguely numb to overused discounts. But hotels can get a foot forward by adopting originality and basing their promotions around personalised offers for the guest.