With a strong summer of staycations, it’s hard to predict exactly what the rest of the year will bring the hotel industry. A lot depends on where you are in the world and what kind of restrictions are in place, but for the most part (given the increasing levels of vaccinated populations) it looks as though things are ticking along nicely.
The US, eager to open its doors beyond domestic tourism, has announced that fully vaccinated Irish visitors (including those from 32 other countries) will be able to travel from early November.
We saw a healthy and happy 21% increase in August bookings compared to the same time period in 2020, and a 35% increase compared to the same time period in 2019. With summer over, the autumn and winter months can be slightly more difficult to approach when it comes to midweek stays. Weekends are a safer bet, but with less people inclined to take as many holidays, you may need to get creative to boost your midweek occupancy.
How can you entice your guests to stretch their stays to midweek?
Decide who you’re targeting
As with any strategy or offer, you need to review your target market and consider who it is exactly you are working with. Knowing who you are targeting is necessary in order for you to find out what they want/like, and then communicate this to them. So when it comes to people who are more likely to occupy your hotel midweek, who are they? For starters, they could be business travellers (thousands of people have returned to work in Ireland this week, meaning more domestic business travel is on the cards now), remote workers (workation, workation, workation!), families with small kids, retirees looking for deals, perhaps couples on a romantic getaway.
Create packages for your target audience
So, you know who you’re targeting? Great. What are they looking for? Think carefully about this. If they are remote workers, a midweek stay makes perfect sense – they can work from anywhere, why not treat themselves while they do? Entice them with an included breakfast, trips to your swimming pool/thermal suite/gym for an unwind after work, perhaps include a light lunch they can grab downstairs on their break during the day. Have you a comfortable place they can work? A meeting room they can use to join work calls?
If you are targeting a midweek stay offer at couples with small children, can you offer free desserts with dinner? (While we’re on the topic of families, this article is worth a read in relation to providing for families with more than the ‘standard’ two children. Remember – families come in all shapes and sizes!)
Include all of the relevant information as part of your packages directed at your various guest types. Think about all of your amenities and how they can entice your target audiences to stay with you midweek.
Are there amenities receiving a high amount of attention?
If there are perhaps certain amenities you notice guests asking a lot for (whether via reviews or even at the front desk) think about adjusting what you offer, where you can. Truly listening to what your guests want is the key to not only unlocking new target markets, but also to return guests. They will be loyal to you if you listen, and provide! Speaking of loyal guests, you can build an email list when you are certain as to who your target audiences are, and reach out to them with your midweek promotions if it’s suitable.
Pay attention to reviews
When people are browsing for their next break away, midweek or otherwise, they pay attention to reviews. As always, it’s crucial to make sure you’re reading reviews and responding to them – an important action both for the reviewer, and for potential guests who can see the review and your response.
It shows you’re on top of things, you care about your guests, and you’re listening! It also reassures guests, which brings us on to our next point…
Continue to reassure your guests, and keep Covid protocols close at hand
Although vaccination numbers are through the roof, Covid-19 is by no means behind us. Remember, no matter what type of guest you’re speaking to – remote worker, parent of small children, retiree – they are all more conscious of their (and other people’s) safety. Continue to link to your Covid-related health and safety/FAQs page. It doesn’t have to take over – but it does need to be there.
Collaborate with local businesses
We’ve mentioned this before, and since domestic tourism has risen, we’ve all gotten better at it – but think of your hotel not only as a property, but also as a destination. So much has changed since the summer – more people are vaccinated (therefore allowed indoors), gigs are going ahead, certain events are slowly migrating from virtual to real. What kinds of midweek experiences can you offer your guests? From big to small, consider it all. Check what’s coming up, speak to local restaurants, cafes, museums.
Keep in mind, even midweek stayers want:
To take advantage of nature and outdoor activities
To stay somewhere with high cleanliness standards
- To stay somewhere set up for remote work – even if all they need is an hour or two checking in with the office
Remember – it’s not exactly a lower rate that creates demand – it’s value added
Add that value!
If your hotel has less occupancy during the week, can you offer your midweek stayers a complimentary upgrade? All the little things are appreciated! You could also consider offering guests a discount code to stay with you an additional night or two. Particularly for remote workers and retirees, this kind of thing is incredibly enticing.
Implement a loyalty scheme
Creating a loyalty programme is a great way of enticing guests back. Your return guests can accrue points based on actions, like referrals to other guests, or continued loyalty through repeat business.
How should you promote your midweek stays?
A landing page
A landing page on your website is a great way to collate all the necessary information for your guests on the offer you are trying to target them with. Include everything relevant here – don’t make them feel like they need to search or visit another page for details they might need.
Social media ads
Facebook advertising should be an essential part of your hotel’s digital marketing strategy to drive direct bookings, including in this case. Facebook often update their algorithms to make sure their users get a great, personalised experience, so try and make your ads eye-catching. Once you create your midweek offer posts, link them to your landing page where your audience can book immediately.