Hotels we have spoken to say their bookings are looking good and party nights are as popular as ever. We hope you are finding this too. General consensus is that people are looking to the UK for the festive break this year. Whether there is still concern with travelling abroad or seeing this as an opportunity to be with family they’ve not seen for a long time, this is great news for hotels.
So what to do if you are still needing to generate more enquiries?
The final push
- Have a plan. Your festive campaign plan was well thought through so monitor, learn and adjust so you can put more focus on what is working. Revenue meetings can become a brainstorm of new ideas when numbers are down on forecast so consider now what you may do if bookings need a boost 8, 6 and 4 weeks out, so you are prepared with an action plan to present if needed. “We’ve looked at 12 days of Christmas campaigns” says Amy Brown, DHM Agency and HMA Young Agency Marketer 2020 “including new products and limited time offers to encourage gift vouchers and bookings into the new year as well as the festive season.”
- Amy adds “Ensure you are extending your Festive season as much as possible. Festive afternoon teas in November is a great way for people to catch up with friends before the holiday rush. And don’t forget about Twixmas and January.”
- And look at other revenue streams adds Claire Bell, Dorchester Collection. “Continue ‘at home offerings’ for Christmas 2021 so people can enjoy a taste of your property from the comfort of their own home”
- Send a message to your database from the general manager to your database to acknowledge the season and the year past and future. This not only builds rapport but may capture some last minute enquiries, especially if you combine this with last minute Christmas offers, present ideas or January sales messages.
- “There’s still time to engage pre-pandemic guests via email” says Stephen Moran, Supercity Aparthotels. “Those who may not have been confident to travel since the pandemic may now feel more comfortable.” Maintain your messages about cleanliness protocols and to give them plenty of pre-arrival information about expectations around the wearing of masks and high traffic areas. This will reassure them and avoid awkward conversations in the lobby. “Promote the safety measures you continue to maintain and offer a welcome back promotion” says Stephen “Communicate flexible cancellation policies. Those who may hesitate to book can be reassured with cancellation policies that offer maximum flexibility.”
- At this late stage boost your paid marketing. “Use the full ‘toolkit’ on offer from paid social to PPC etc, to hone in on the perfect target guest. Focussing on upper funnel activities to garner new audiences” says Claire Bell, Dorchester Collection. Beth Murrell, Marriott International agrees “For more quick results, we’re starting to see hotels get promising results from Google Ads (especially for F&B), alongside retargeting via Facebook and Instagram”.
- Claire Bell also reminds us to look to some of the tech platforms that are strong in this area and mentioned in the HMA Ideas and Innovation webinar we hosted.
- Companies will be looking for perhaps quieter celebrations so consider your private dining areas in banqueting rooms and restaurants. “Focus on targeting local businesses for early week entertaining” suggests Stephen Moran, “many companies have returned to the office Mon-Wed and some say ‘Tuesday is the new Thursday’ for team celebrations! As we approach the holiday season, budget conscious companies will be looking for cheaper alternative to celebrate the holiday season”. Also promote how you are able to hold safe party nights. It can get messy on the festive dancefloor so be aware of the latest guidelines for mass gatherings.
- Think about the customer journey through the hotel to your party venue or festivities. Are you promoting all areas of your hotel that they may not be aware of? Spa? Afternoon Teas? Gift vouchers? Dine at home? This will not only help sales throughout the year but can be used as last minute gifts for those attending events throughout November and December.
- Amy Brown suggests her clients connect with local festive events in the area (i.e. Longleat festival of lights, Malvern winter glow, Birmingham Christmas markets). “Consumers attending these events will be looking for somewhere to stay/dine/drink. Make it clear your proximity to the events, tag them in your social media posts, and make sure that your website and SEO references these key selling points.”
- “And continue to acknowledge our key workers” says Amy Brown “offering NHS discounts throughout the period, if you can“.
- Many hotels have worked closely with their community, suppliers and partners throughout the pandemic and this may have extended to partnering with them for the holiday season. The pandemic has still left a lot of people in crisis and so your community outreach is still needed now and as part of your ongoing CSR strategy. Keep up the wonderful work and maintain your PR in this area.
Wishing you a safe and successful holiday season.
Written for the HMA by Andrea McKay, Amano Marketing and with thanks to all the contributors.
Copyright HMA 2021. All rights reserved.