Hospitality is a highly seasonal business that varies heavily by location. It ebbs and flows throughout the year. This means knowing your destination is vital for setting your room pricing, assuming monthly revenue and setting your business up for success. Even though high season is best for business, it can be a frenetic and sometimes overwhelming time of the year. Shoulder and low seasons are filled with opportunities for you to get creative in your marketing and advertising. Keep reading to find out how you can avoid any low season pitfalls.
Everyone knows about high and low season, but it’s important to remember the shoulder season as well. Shoulder season encompasses the in-between time frames that straddle high and low seasons. The weather may be a little more unpredictable, traditional vacation times don’t align and your city isn’t packed to the brim with tourism. This season is in high demand for people without school-aged children, budget-savvy travelers and those who are looking to avoid crowds but still get most, if not all, of the perks of peak travel times. You should consider shoulder season your cool down or warm up for the season to follow, with typical shoulder season pricing typically falling around the middle point between your low season and your peak rate.
Clear Booking Obstacles
Whenever you’re looking to increase bookings remember to remove any possible booking hurdles you may have in place. These could look like minimum night stays, approval processes or other limitations that make potential travelers take additional steps until they’re confirmed guests. You want these in place during peak, and potentially shoulder season, to ensure you’re maximizing each potential booking when demand is high. But during slow season, you want booking to be as quick and easy as possible.
Price Your Rooms Appropriately
Slow seasons can call for discounted rates and updated pricing strategies. During peak season you may have a substantially increased price on weekend rates, but during low season you may want scale increase or remove it altogether. Discounting and pricing strategy is wholly dependant on you doing your homework and being in the know. You need to be aware of your audience demographics, your destination, and your competition. These will help inform your decisions and create a competitive marketplace. Knowing your destination is especially important for knowing when not to discount. Events or holidays that occur during a slow time of the year can mean high demand for those short periods of time. Be sure to set your minimum night stays and price your rooms accordingly to make the most of every opportunity.
While weekends are almost always going to be in the highest demand, during the low season you want to try and make every night as enticing as possible. Promotions are a good way to increase a traveler’s length of stay. You can try sending out offers that may have weeknights half off with a weekend booking or buy one weeknight and get one free. An offer may put you at the top of the list instead of similar competitors. Make your promotions work for you and your budget needs and goals.
Even though this should be an important part of your business, which you should be doing regularly, it’s especially important during low season: Go through and update your listing. Your calendar should be up-to-date, any improvements you’ve made should be showcased and all your photos should be recent and high quality. You want to put your best foot forward and capture every potential traveler’s eye. Be sure to highlight any upcoming events, mention your favorite coffee shop within walking distance and talk about all the perks and amenities that come with every stay. Travelers won’t know about all of the wonderful parts about your property unless you list them. Be friendly, informative and most importantly, succinct. The average adult’s attention span only 8 seconds, so you need to grab their attention and don’t bury the lead.
Lastly, don’t be afraid to get creative. You have a market of potential new consumers right in your backyard. You can put together staycation packages or offer discounts to anyone who has a driver’s license with your city listed. Advertise locally and connect with your local news stations to do a short tv spot or make a post on your Facebook page or Nextdoor. You should also consider using your space for something other than lodging. Start advertising that you host events, accommodate weddings, and/or host business events and happy hours. And don’t be afraid to be proactive and reach out to past guests, local businesses or friends and family for referrals. Don’t forget about potential passive income opportunities as well. You can sell gift cards or merchandise, and be sure to promote your wares during gifting holidays to increase your sales.
There are endless opportunities and strategies you can implement to avoid a seasonal slowdown, but the most important part is being in tune with your business, paying attention and making changes as needed.