The occupancy rate of a hotel is one of the key determinants in deciding its profitability, profile, and success.
A hotel room not occupied for a night is a perishable property - that unoccupied hotel night will not come back, ever. Time is of the essence here because it’s usually difficult to make up any particular day’s revenue loss.
Factors like seasonal fluctuations, amenities, competition etc. make it a daily challenge for a hotel owner to maintain optimal occupancy rates. The usual go-to strategy to deal with this is to offer big discounts and price slashes. This often backfires as it usually fails to significantly offset the resulting revenue loss. Lower rates do not drive demand - they set the wrong expectations with your guests and adversely affect your pricing integrity. So, a much more effective and long-term strategy for driving your occupancy rates would be identifying your unique value addition and employing innovative promotional and marketing strategies to communicate it effectively.
Here are four strategies that will help you highlight your USP, expand your access to the potential customer base, but still keep your competitive pricing edge -
1. Improve your social media listing
Social media is not only an important tool for personal interactions with customers but also impacts the organic search rankings of your hotel.
Not all social media is equal - pay due consideration to your customer profile and your own marketing strategy before investing in these channels.
Make sure that you use relevant hashtags with your posts so that the potential guests can easily find your posts. Make it a point to reply to all the queries and comments - even the negative ones. Promote your facilities like chef/restaurant, spa, bar, shopping arcades etc. on social media to draw the guest’s attention to your value addition. Encourage your guests to share their location and status updates from your hotel on their own social media pages to drive word-of-mouth publicity. Display the QR codes for your social media pages prominently so that the guest scan and like your pages instantly.
When it comes to content, employing the storytelling technique and using images and videos that provide an emotional connect will help you stand out among your competitors. For instance, a video testimonial by a guest about how their kids enjoyed your hotel pool or how your restaurant helped them explore local cuisine would add reliability and human touch to your communications.
2. Leverage your website
Your website is an important resource and often the first point of contact between you and your guests. So, keeping it updated and attention grabbing is vital for ensuring conversions.
From a design point of view, your website should be clean and clutter free. Visitors should be able to find the most important details instantly. Make sure that your website is optimised for mobile phones and different operating systems like iOS and Android.
The content that you share on your website should be accurate and up to date. It should mention the options (pricing, size, check-in/check-out, location of rooms) and amenities ( Mini-bar, Wifi, pool, TV, chauffeur service, airport pick-up etc.) available to the guests along with attractive photographs of the facilities. It is a good idea to have a section of the website dedicated to recommendations for sightseeing and local attractions nearby your hotel.
On the functional side, the online booking process should be as simple as possible, collecting only necessary details and integrating the payments so that potential guests can register with minimum hassle. You will also benefit greatly from having chatbots that instantly answer any FAQs that the guests might have in a pop-up window. Make sure that you incorporate proper SEO and keywords so that your website appears at the top of relevant searches.
3. Connect with events
Partnering with events is a win-win situation as events will save valuable resources, while your hotel can benefit from increased occupancy and enjoy exposure to a new client base.
Events like concerts, conferences, exhibitions, marathons, festivals, fairs, and parades are an excellent marketing opportunity for attracting new customers to your hotel. Tie-ups with events can also help you secure occupancy especially during off-seasons and mid-week slumps.
To ensure that all relevant event organizers can find your hotel and its offers, you can list your hotel on online event partnership platforms such as Onspon.com. By listing on Onspon.com, you will save yourself the time and money spent in market research, proposals, presentation etc. and instantly get access to verified event organizers. On the platform, you can share additional details like the type of property (5 star, amphitheater, poolside, banquet hall, theatre, cafe/bar etc.) along with facilities that you provide like AV support, transportation, catering etc. You can also specify the number of guests you can accommodate in terms of both standing and seating space. Then, the prospective event organizers can look up your hotel by applying relevant filters and reach out to you if they find your hotel to be a good fit.
On Onspon.com you can also search for local events across different categories. Participating in local events either by sponsoring them or bartering your services as a venue is an excellent way of building a connection with locals so that you are on the top of their minds while making recommendations to out-of-towners. Even if you are not hosting the event, find opportunities for partnerships (even pro-bono) where guests can get a taste of your facilities. Use the mileage and contacts gained at these events to pitch your hotel as the ideal event venue for larger events.
4. Get listed on hotel search engines
Hotel search engines like Ixigo, Roomkey, Foursquare, Tripadvisor etc.are the google equivalents specifically built for finding relevant hotels. Along with hotel discovery, they also enable users to compare information like room tariff, amenities etc.
A hotel search engine listing is all about exposing your property to a large number of customers and then convincing them to choose you through customer reviews and testimonials. Add a wide selection of engaging photographs that highlight your hotel’s amenities. It would be a good strategy to check out the profiles of your competitors and make sure that your profile can match up to them in terms of pricing, discounts, amenities etc. Add a link to your website and contact info so that customers can get in touch with you easily if they have any queries.
Ensuring verified reviews is a key part of boosting your hotel’s search engine profile. Make sure that you give free Wifi to your guests so that they can give their reviews right at the venue. Include a link to the listing page and request for a review with the guest in your follow up email. Remind the guests during check-out to give a review on the listing. You can also add a widget in your website so that the visitors can both give reviews and check-out other reviews easily. Respond to the reviews in a timely fashion- add appropriate responses to bad/negative reviews that will alleviate the doubts of future visitors.
No matter what discounts or amenities you offer, unless you communicate your value additions to the right customers, your occupancy rates are bound to be low. So, look beyond slashing the price and adopt new age promotional tactics like partnering with events and focusing on digital promotions to drive your hotel’s occupancy