Yes, incredibly, it is that time of year again. We've had our first brush with spring and our Zoom-weary eyes are being soothed with pops of blooming flowers here there and everywhere. This means Easter is on the horizon, and following Easter? Summer.
Summer 2022 has been predicted to be “the busiest travel season ever” by Expedia's CEO, Peter Kern. Misty Ewing Belles, vice president of travel agent consortium Virtuoso, told Bloomberg that summer bookings are already accelerating - and back in Ireland and the UK, Ryanair's Michael O’Leary has said he expects summer 2022 to yield 115% of the passenger volumes that the airline recorded pre-pandemic in 2019.
STR reported very positive US Spring Break results recently, fuelling their optimism for a robust hotel performance heading into summer. While we still can't predict what will happen in the midst of a repeat in rising Covid cases, there's still great evidence to be hopeful for a successful upcoming season.
How can you prepare for summer 2022?
Be mindful of the practicalities
Try to have your summer campaigns set up no later than the week commencing April 18th. Any later and you'll miss a chunk of initial surges in domestic summer staycation searches.
Preparing your website content accordingly
Some key sections of your website you'll need to update are:
- Your location, 'things to do' and activities pages
- Your family pages
- Your restaurant menu pages including child-friendly menus
- Your leisure pages, ensuring family times for the pool and other facilities are current
Continue to place a strong focus on the local amenities in your area. From big to small, zoo to ice-cream parlour, think of every last little attraction or local business in your area that could add pleasure to your guest's trip. America has seen the introduction of app-based service Breeze which some hotels are using to provide guests with neighbouring restaurant food - while you don't need an app to partner with local businesses, it's interesting to see where things are going!
No local activity is unworthy of your consideration if it adds something special to the experience.
Remember also to keep your FAQ page up to date. This helps your reception staff by easing pressure on the phone lines and also eases guests concerns or worries pre-trip if they can find what they're looking for relatively easily on your website.
Accommodate different types of travellers
According to the New York Times, hotel stays are very much a solid in relation to 2022's summer travel trends. Urban hotels in particular should remember to accommodate digital nomads and workationers by providing great workspaces, extended stay deals and dinner/cocktail perks. Workationers are more likely to take their 'workation' during the summer while the weather is at its peak. Try and be creative when you're devising rate plans, and remember that they will be mixing work and play so keep this in mind when you are creating your plans.
When it comes to families (and predominantly we recommend you focus on the domestic family market), you also need to consider different types and not just the standard 2 adults/2 children prototype. Make sure your packages are bookable for the likes of 2 kids, single-parent families, kids over 12 etc.
Digital tools and practices can really aide your hotel performance, regardless of time of year. Automation is the big word on the industry's lips at the moment and adopting it across the board in relation to your email marketing, keyless check-in, chatbots and social content will be key as we continue to fly through 2022.
Rateplans and marketing
Make sure your rate plan descriptions highlight the main points of interest like ‘free cancellation’ and 'flexible booking', and maybe even include a note on your facilities or location. Summarise the key selling points that will attract the particular audience you're speaking to.
Your rate plan descriptions are a great way to communicate the final pieces of important information to your guest before they book. For example:
Free cancellation | Walking distance (9 mins) to XXX town | Enjoy complimentary access to the hotel pool & gym | The beach is an 8 minute drive away | The kids club is available from June to August
Before marketing your plans, take a look at your personas and make sure you are advertising the right rate plan to the right audience. Plan for the markets you want and build your offers, content and attractions around them. Do this early and revisit them consistently - a healthy exercise for the relevant members of your team to do.
Update your website’s visuals for the season. People respond to images of people, ones express happiness and joy, inspiration or ones that trigger pleasant memories. Keep this in mind and use your visuals to help tell the story of the experience you are selling.