The winter season is the ideal time to encourage existing customers to make a return visit.
In the run-up to winter, think about how you can engage your current customers. You could, perhaps, send them monthly newsletters with exclusive offers or create a loyalty programme that rewards those who keep returning.
On the Christmas front, it’s worth extending the period to help attract Christmas bookers from last year who weren’t able to visit due to Covid restrictions. Reach out to them now and offer them first refusal – while extending the Christmas period can also replicate a festive mood for longer and improve the opportunity for bookings.
For instance, you can offer a Christmas-themed afternoon tea from as early as mid-November, while festive pop-ups can be stretched right up until the 12th of January. If it was your Christmas attractions that appealed in the past, maximise them now to take advantage of sentimentality for the festive season.
2. Assess unused spaces
As the colder months approach, it’s a good idea to assess your event spaces. Consider whether you’re maximising the potential of each room, or whether they could be converted into something more multifunctional.
An innovative approach here can see you not just take advantage of any unused rooms, but also change your approach to space that’s already in use – converting it to something that helps to drive revenue.
We’ve seen hotels partner with brands to deliver pop-up offerings that change depending on the season. One example in particular saw Laurent Perrier set up a stand within a hotel to deliver champagne themed extras, and it was something that proved to be very popular with guests, while also enhancing the ‘luxury’ nature of its offering – and also changing their perception of what hotels offer.
3. Collaborate with local businesses and suppliers
The Laurent Perrier example leads nicely into this. How often do you interact/collaborate with businesses local to you or even your suppliers?
There will be a wealth of opportunity on your doorstep to help diversify your hotel offering and provide something new for your guests to engage with – with businesses ready and willing to contribute and tap into something that offers a new opportunity for them too.
Focus on your values as a hotel to work out who best to approach. If you’re positioned as a ‘country living’ hotel then you can collaborate with brands that fit within that. In the past we’ve seen hotels partner with hand-made umbrella makers, bespoke welly brands and more. Find what ties in with your overall offering and look to use it to your advantage.
Christmas time also offers even more opportunity for brand collaborations. Bringing in your very own Christmas market for instance, will draw in visitors to your hotel looking to buy hand-crafted wares and other delicacies, while you can also showcase your hospitality offering by providing mulled wines and ciders for thirsty attendees.
4. Host live events
Have you ever hosted live entertainment at your hotel?
It’s a great way to bring the community together whilst also attracting those who live a little further away. You could, perhaps, arrange a weekly live music performance or a movie screening.
Of course, these days you need to factor in social distancing. What can you offer that conforms to this?
We’ve seen things such as flower arranging classes being brought in – where everyone has their own table/desk to stand at whilst watching the instructor. During summer months, this becomes even more practical if hosted outdoors, and not only is it socially distant, but it also helps people learn new skills – another theme of recent lockdowns.
If hosting an event, don’t forget to record/photograph it and post it on social media, as it serves to give you extra opportunity to showcase your offering.
Again on the Christmas theme, a Santa’s grotto can bring in local custom – especially if you pair it with an attractive package, such as festive afternoon tea to indulge in post-Santa visit.
5. Create a cosy, winter snug to attract local people
There’s little better than an inviting, cosy snug to keep you warm during the colder months. The Scandinavian concept of Hygge is becoming ever more commonplace, and many hotels look to evoke it within their setting. Depending on budget you can add a touch of cosiness through fairy lights, blankets and warming fires, or you can really go to town on it and roll out the theme wholesale – with outdoor dining in transparent pods under the stars (think Northern Lights spotting!) and more. There’s nothing better than feeling deliciously cosy during winter after all – especially under a crisp starlit sky.
6. Assess your website
Undoubtedly, one of the most important elements of hotel marketing and revenue strategies is ensuring that your website is up to date.
In an increasingly mobile-heavy world, websites need to be following the shift, ensuring that their website is fully optimised for smartphones.
Take some time to check that your website is user-friendly and adaptable enough that it can work well on different sized screens.
7. Focus on your USPs
What makes you different from all the other hotels in your area?
Focus on these aspects and be sure to bring them to life. Perhaps you’ve got strong connections to a particular historical event, or you pride yourself on offering all locally sourced produce (farm to fork and so on)? Perhaps you’re a family focused hotel? With staycations the theme of 2021 people are looking for family breaks now more than ever – so be sure to highlight this. Similarly, if you’re a dog friendly hotel, shout about this too. Lots of people became dog owners for the first time during lockdown – and they’ll be keen to take their canine friends away with them once hospitality reopens.
If you do things differently, make this known to your local community, and think about designing some events/special offers around your USPs.
Pair this with a tailor-made experience, and you can be sure that your guest journey will be like no other.
8. Offer special rewards/incentives for those who book directly
Encouraging direct bookings is perhaps one of the most effective hotel marketing and revenue strategies all year round, not just for the winter.
Nevertheless, it’s an important goal to achieve, since you’ll save time and money by avoiding the intervention of OTAs.
Entice your customer base to book directly by offering special prizes, rewards or incentives for doing so. This is about adding value and rewarding loyalty – so keep that foremost in your mind.
9. Research your audience
It’s important to take the time to get to know your customers a little better.
What are their demographics? What do they like to eat/drink/do for leisure? Finding out this information can help you tailor your marketing efforts to your audience’s specific needs and preferences.
Bear in mind that audiences have changed since the pandemic began – so adapt your offering accordingly. For instance, people are starting to look closer to home, which opens up a hyper-localised audience. People who, living down the road, may have looked for a more ‘adventurous’ offering further afield, are now looking to local hospitality venues more than ever – so do what you can to attract them.
10. Create a unique guest experience
Finally, one of your main focuses should be to create a guest experience that’s, if not unforgettable, then certainly unique enough so that it stays long in the memory.
The guest journey begins as soon as they land on your website – and that’s before they’ve even made a reservation. So, you want to ensure you’re hitting the nail on the head right from the word go. That means creating a seamless online booking experience – before then taking your guests through a personalised journey through your hotel as soon as they walk through your doors. Doing things a little differently, but well, will make you stand out. If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your hospitality business this winter, take a few minutes to browse our website, or fill out the form so we can contact you!