How should you prepare your hotel for the winter season?

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While the hospitality industry is doing its best to recover, it is facing challenges, of course – one being a staff shortage (particularly in the UK, and in Ireland too) and another being general uncertainty as to what the future holds and when we will see a full recovery. With the Irish budget for 2022 being announced next week and further Irish restrictions being lifted on 22nd October (meaning weddings, conferences and other events can resume in November), all we can do is keep our eyes open and strive to do everything in our control to keep things going, keep standards high and keep guests happy. What should you be focusing on and planning for now? Winter campaigns.

What have winter bookings been like thus far?

According to our latest booking data, bookings are strong so far for the middle of December ahead of Christmas. We have noted many properties seeing a positive pickup for December, which makes perfect sense as the increasingly confident population start planning ahead for the Christmas season (a number of the properties who are seeing strong performance are running things like Santa experiences, which are booking up early). This is why it’s so important that you start planning your Christmas campaigns now, creating rateplans people can browse and book.

Remember when you are considering booking performance thus far that mobile – as always! – needs to stay top of mind. Our most recent mobile stats show that mobile traffic has grown and now claims 77% of all traffic. Mobile transactions are at 61%, and mobile revenue sits at 58% (2% higher than the same time period last year).

What winter campaigns should you consider setting up?

There are a variety of winter campaigns for you to consider including:

  • Dedicated multi-channel winter campaign
  • Christmas vouchers
  • Black Friday/Cyber Monday
  • Winter/January sale

We recommend you start your dedicated winter campaign no later than the week of October 18th. In relation to audiences, think about who would be most interested in this kind of offer, most likely your audience should include:

  • Couples looking to recreate missed moments & go on romantic getaways
  • Friends looking for fun getaways

We have noted voucher sales to be strong all year, with August turning out to be a particularly strong month. In the Republic of Ireland, voucher sales increased by 53% and in the North of Ireland, they increased by 75%. With this in mind, it’s a good idea to consider vouchers as part of your winter campaign strategy if you think they could be a growth opportunity for you. Start your soft promotion from early November and then consider increasing your budgets from November 24th onwards.

Black Friday falls on November 26th this year. In previous years, we’ve seen the best performance with hotels who run simple offers with a large discount and very few restrictions. Historically, costs for ads increase 2 – 3x over Black Friday weekend and guests expect a good deal – for these reasons, if you’re not in a position to offer a discount of 25% or more, we recommend steering clear of putting spending behind this campaign. We saw great performance with value-add vouchers last year too – so if you’re struggling with availability or staffing levels, could consider offering a Black Friday voucher!

January is traditionally one of the strongest booking months of the year so it’s crucial to start planning now. We recommend you start your campaign right after Christmas – don’t wait until January. Another trick is to limit the duration of your campaign to 2 – 3 weeks. The idea of this is that it will inject a sense of urgency into your marketing messaging.

How can you start planning for 2022 now?

As we’ve mentioned, we all know that the state of things in 2022 is still unclear and also unpredictable. It will be important to be flexible with your budgets so that you can aptly address changing demand patterns as you need to. Try to get your base budget signed off for the whole year which will allow your standard campaigns to be covered. Then, continue reviewing them on a quarterly basis to address seasonal requirements. This covers you while also providing you with some flexibility and reactive ability.

This is a busy time of year! Don’t put off planning Quarter 1 of 2022.

Your key campaign dates for Quarter 1 will include:
Valentine’s Day
February Midterm
Easter

Listen to our latest hotel marketing podcast episode: Preparing For Winter Campaigns

Preparing your website for winter campaigns

  • Always make sure you review your website on mobile whenever you make changes, eg – new campaigns, new visuals, new rateplans etc
  • Consider ‘Christmassing’ up your website by enabling Christmas themes/features/animations. Think about all of your visuals too and make sure your visuals match the theme, copy and spirit of your rateplans
  • Create landing pages specifically for your Christmas offers

Watch our content marketing masterclass here

If you are interested in more specific advice on your hotel’s Christmas campaigns, please reach out to us on hello@netaffinity.com!

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