A full occupancy rate every night is the ideal, but hardly ever the case. Off-seasons, certain weekdays, and other factors can affect the ebb and flow of a hotel’s occupancy rate. It’s one of the top factors hotel managers focus on to improve month-over-month. There are several strategies you can implement during these slower times of the year to see occupancy rates increase.
There are some which you can secure in advance to have ready on-demand and others that take a specialized strategy and creativity to allure guests to stay. Work with your team on a regular basis to brainstorm new ways. Finding fresh ideas to increase hotel occupancy while securing tried-and-true initiatives will keep your rooms full at all times.
#1: Provide Loyalty Discounts
Reach out to the guests that have stayed with you often who may be considering an upcoming trip or weekend staycation. Entice them with a special loyalty discount during less busy times. This not only gives them incentive and motivation to plan a fun getaway, but gives you a chance to fill your rooms with guests who have already expressed interest and satisfaction with your hotels in the past.
In addition to off-months, you can extend this offer on their birthday or their loyalty “anniversary.” The acknowledgment is a simple way to celebrate them and show gratitude. Another option is to provide a free customer loyalty program discount, where they can earn rewards like free nights, upgrades, or other special services or event invites.
All are excellent ways to help increase hotel occupancy rates and provide top-notch customer service. Start with your top-tier rewards members first to see if that helps improve occupancy before extending the offer to others.
#2: Create Holiday-Specific Packages
Although you may not struggle as much with occupancy rates during major holidays, you can take these same kind of hotel package ideas and apply to less significant, yet special days. Whether it’s the first day of spring or a for-fun holiday like Customer Appreciation Month, create an experience that entices your target audience to schedule a stay.
Rather than decrease hotel room prices, add on extras like a meal voucher or a welcome basket upon arrival. You can feature a free upgrade or include a spa service discount with the package, depending on the price point you’re trying to achieve in addition to increasing the occupancy rate. The goal is to make it feel like a special type of experience they don’t want to miss out on.
Everyone wants to take a vacation, but sometimes people need a little incentive to help them plan. Make it easy for travelers by creating a mini-itinerary or introducing a new amenity or service on the property as well.
#3: Promote Multi-Use Conference Space
One way to book up rooms quickly is by hosting a conference. Often conferences are hosted in the off-seasons of travel to accommodate availability and people’s already-scheduled personal travel plans. Find out which conferences your city hosts annually and extend a special hotel room offer to its organizers. Work with your local businesses, convention center and travel bureaus as well to see if you can get placement on their website and/or event listing.
Promote conference rooms by updating your photos, floor plans, and amenities on your website, emails, and social media. If you have services like a free airport shuttle or other business-related amenities that would help to encourage organizers to book your hotel, make sure to highlight those as well.
Summarize everything on an easy-to-read one-sheet and start reaching out well in advance of the conference date. Add helpful supplements like an area map, proximity to popular hotel chains and dining, as well as distance from the nearest airport. Many are recurring events, which means you can secure a long-term relationship.
#4: Make Your Hotel Wedding Ready
Like with conferences, market your space as a sought-after wedding venue. Showcase your amenities and make it helpful for them when planning. Here are a few of the questions soon-to-be brides and grooms want to know.
- Do you provide an onsite coordinator?
- What kind of meal options are available?
- What do your wedding packages include?
- Are there flexible floor plans?
- What kind of discount do you provide to wedding guests?
Host an open house with a catered lunch or a wine hour for couples who want to view your property and get to know more about its offerings. Attend all local bridal fairs and events to promote your hotel and take with you a portfolio of past weddings you’ve hosted. Ambiance, cost, and convenience are all top priorities for people when planning weddings.
Document which areas you excel in the most and implement ways to amplify and differentiate your property to others. Showcase popular areas of your hotel where people say hold their ceremonies and/or receptions. Illustrate how the different ballrooms can be transformed and customized to fit the needs of the happy couple.
#5: Offer Unique Amenities
People expect more from hotels than the bare essentials. They want to feel special and taken care of in ways that meet their needs, wants, and values. If you are a property that’s near a train or noisy neighborhood, provide complimentary earbuds and eye masks to your visitors. Consider hosting a complimentary happy hour or a mini breakfast bar with fresh, local pastries and coffee.
Additionally, swap out your free bottled water and gym’s water jug with a FloWater Refill Station. It doesn’t require the use of plastic and provides fresh, chilled water within seconds. The environment is a top concern for many people and eliminating single-use plastic is one of the key ways they are making changes in their life. By offering an alternative that’s also delicious-tasting and convenient, it gives them an amenity they can truly benefit from.
Having a water refill station prevents mess from dripping water faucets or spouts. It eliminates the need for constant replenishment of plastic water bottles. Plus, it can easily handle a large capacity of people. This is important when there’s a large surge of people or to have readily available to offer as an amenity for a large conference, meeting, or other event.
The attention to detail makes a big difference in the eyes of happy hotel guests. In many cases, amenities may be comparable so it may take an extra bit of attention that makes them choose your property over any of the others. Speak to their needs, wants, and add in a few surprises for good measure.
Review Customer Satisfaction Best Practices
In addition to strategizing ways to attract new visitors, it’s a good time to review best practices for maintaining the loyal guests you already have and improving on areas you’ve received feedback on. The first thing to do is review any unanswered online comments. This includes everything from your review sites to your social media channels to the personal emails you may have received.
Each time you miss a chance to right a wrong or connect with a customer on a personal level, it expands the gap between when they’ll likely stay with you again. Implement a standard response protocol for your team to maintain consistency and proactiveness. If there is something specific a person calls out, make sure to reach out privately to the guest to learn more about the problem and come up with a solution.
Identify recurring trends in comments as well. For example, if the front desk often gets poor remarks, schedule a training with your team to ensure everyone is up to speed on the level of service you want to provide. Is there enough people to maintain busy seasons? Is there a high level of customer engagement even during periods of low occupancy? Ensure every guest receives a smile and warm welcome with a swift check-in process. The first impression sets the tone for the rest of the stay. Letting the opportunity for improvement slip by puts the rest of your efforts at jeopardy.
Watch Your Booking Rates Start to Rise
Slow times are inevitable in any hotel. Depending on the season, city events, and general travel trends, it can affect how full or empty your rooms are. By having these marketing strategies in place to implement or encourage more booking in advance, it can give your hotel the occupancy boost it needs to last until summer and holiday months when everyone is looking for a place to stay.
It provides you and your team a proactive way to see which areas are lagging and can be improved. Maybe you’re doing well in the wedding space but want to take on more conferences. Set specific targets to help you achieve your goals and see growth on a regular basis.
Finding ways to increase hotel occupancy doesn’t always have to mean discounting prices or giving away freebies. It often results in uncovering new opportunities and investments to bring a greater experience to your target audience, which entices them to continue staying with you again and again. Know your top audiences and cater to them, but also leave room for those who may not have discovered your hotel yet who may potentially turn into frequent guests.