“I don’t really know what to upsell” or “What are the offers that are always selling?” nevertheless: “How often should I change my offers and what can I upsell seasonally?” These are the questions we answer daily here at GuestJoy. Especially late August, early September, when high-season is ending hoteliers tend to turn to us for help. In this article, I am going to guide you through a couple of steps on how to increase your fall bookings and revenue from upselling. Seasonality affects the hospitality industry probably more than it does any other sector of the economy. It also plays a major role in determining how customers behave, what they purchase and why they chose your location, nevertheless it changes the demographics of your hotel, meaning different types of tourists come during the off-season than during the high season. It crucial for hoteliers to understand the seasonality of their location. Some have cute Christmas markets, some offer nature accessible with children.
So what can you, as a hotelier do about this?
According to hospitality.net, there are two approaches to the low season: the first one is analyzing the previous year’s booking patterns, and going along the lines of that. The second approach is to identify market segments and do targeted marketing, meaning: identify which customer would be interested in what, and target them accordingly.
1.) Grow your customer (data) base
This is an easy marketing strategy that can be used all year round. During high season encourage your guests to sign up to your newsletter, follow you on social media or just store their email address for fall or spring campaigns. You can do this via a CTA (call to action) button on your website. Once you have a great number of subscribers/email addresses and followers you can start your fall marketing. Design a simple campaign like below, except with a fall theme along the lines of: ‘Fall weekend getaway!’ or ‘Book now and enjoy the fall foliage!’. Of course tailor this to the type of guests that come to your hotel whether they are families, elderly or young couples. If you have an upselling tool then it could do the whole deed for you! (Read more on how campaigns work here).
2.) Publish content that will make people want to visit you
Get your cameras out and start taking pictures of the beautiful nature around you, show the public that it will worth visit you even in the fall. Embrace indoor activities in case of bad weather and spice up your kitchen’s menu with fall staples (pumpkin spice, apple pies, hearty stews). Learn about local activities, harvests – you can also include this in your kitchen menu, festivals and inform your potential guests about them on your social media.
3.) Do the things you had no time for, and evaluate the high season
Train the staff that needs a bit of education (read more about staffing strategies here), renovate, rearrange furniture, do a grand cleaning or update your website. Really, just touch up anything around your hotel that needs touching up. Then get your team together – maybe even do a teambuilding activity – and evaluate the high season. Go through your stats, discuss what worked and what went wrong, finally put together a list of things you can improve. Start doing these during the offseason.
Just think about how sports teams do it. After the season they have a short resting period but after that, they jump to training right away in order to make the most out of next season!
4.) Update your OTA content and invest in hotel tech
It’s the perfect time to put some love – no matter how we hate it – into your Booking.com, Expedia and other OTA profiles. If you think you could benefit from it, the offseason is the perfect time to try out new hotel technology! Have a look at what is on the market and try it out. If you think you can’t benefit from the latest hotel tech, think again. Installing software or a new app during the low season will allow your staff to get familiar with it when there is no rush or pressure so by the high-season they will be experts. Read about what Jan (HotelTime) and Birkir (Godo) suggests.
5.) Offer deals for weekdays to curb the low season blues
If your traditional weekend goes from Fri-Sun then most likely that is when you get your guests. In order to fill your rooms offer deals or gifts or percentages off for those who stay from Mon-Thurs.
6.) Reach out to local tour operators (just like we advised in this article)
If you do not already have valuable connections with local restaurants and tour operators (Hop-on hop-off, Tourguide agencies) this is the perfect time to contact them. They are also experiencing a ‘dip’ in their business so they might find the idea of collaborating more appealing than in high season. This will also come as tremendous help during the high-season because you will have even more attractions, tours and restaurants your guests can experience.
Further reading: Read tips on how to fill your rooms here, from our friends at Netaffinity Eurostat on tourism, 2017-18 and to be updated in October 2019.