How to prepare your hotel for summer staycations

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Becoming increasingly apparent is the unlikelihood of summer holidays abroad. With dreams of boarding planes and jetting away into the sunshine essentially dashed, all any of us can do is start thinking about staycations!

This week, Failte Ireland announced details of a new €55 million business continuity scheme for the tourism sector in 2021. Naturally, it includes initiatives like the Outdoor Dining Grant Scheme which will improve the quality of outdoor dining spaces and the Urban Animation Grant Scheme, which will ‘animate our cities and towns with innovative lighting and art installations’.

Summer 2020 was the original summer of staycations. This summer, it looks like they’ll be all the rage again. After getting a taste of them last year, how can you make the staycation experience as desirable as possible for customers? With the scheme mentioned above, last year’s experience under our belt and the foresight we have on the 2021 situation, start thinking, planning and preparing your hotel now. The recurring theme running through your preparations should be: enriching your guests’ experience.

In order to entice them with rich experiences they’ll be keen to book, consider doing the following.

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Updating your website content

Put a strong focus on the local amenities in your area. Of course include the regulars – the zoo, the cliffs, the local theme park. But you’ll need to widen it out a little more than that! Go beyond the surface. What else is there to excite, engage and interest your guests? Bringing it back to enriching their experience, how can you make it special, different? It does not need to be extravagant. It could be little things, less visited places.  Is there a local farm to bring children where they can see animals or pick strawberries? Is there a local art gallery or brewery, a distillery or cookery school, a monument of significance maybe? Perhaps there is kayaking, hill walking or cliff walking trails nearby?

These small or seemingly insignificant things should all be re-evaluated under the new lens of summer staycations. No local activity or attraction is unworthy of your consideration, and all have the ability to create a memorable experience for a guest. This is what will stay with them long after they leave – and what will make them want to come back.

When you’re compiling this list of attractions and activities, include useful and practical information too, like driving or walking distances from your hotel, any costs involved, any special deals with local partners that your guests can avail of. This creates an easy, no hassle experience for your guests.

Make sure this content is easy to find on your website via a tab in your menu or a feature on your homepage.

Another handy bit of content to consider developing is an FAQ page answering all types of different questions depending on the type of guest travelling. For families, they might need to know more information on the kids pool opening hours, travel cot availability, highchairs, that kind of thing. For couples, it might be more along the lines of spa rules etc. They will differ depending on your hotel.

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Marketing this content

  1. Once you have all the content there, you need to decide who it’s relevant for, and how to reach those people with it. Who are your market segments? Create personas for these profiles and design your ads and campaigns specifically for each one you wish to attract.
  2. Switching on a last minute ad to attract a family, for example, is not an action part of a healthy marketing strategy! Plan for the markets you want and build your offers, content and attractions around them. Do this early and revisit them consistently.
  3. Create two, three, four and five day itineraries for your guests. Take the planning off their hands and, like we suggested earlier, include all of this content on your website so they don’t need to go anywhere else.
  4. Update your website’s visuals regularly. When you’re choosing them, remember you are communicating with people – not robots! People will often respond to images of people, images that are nostalgic, that express happiness or inspiration. Keep this in mind and use your visuals to help tell the story of the experience you are selling.

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Convert customers easily with the right rate plans and booking engine

We recommend targeting shoulder months like May, June and September by using better value rate plans and creating a longer period of base business. Your target markets will most likely include young couples, pre-schooler parents and empty nesters who might want to avoid travelling at peak season.

Rate plan descriptions

Make sure they highlight the main points of interest like ‘free cancellation’ and “flexible booking”. Perhaps include a note on your facilities or location. Summarise the key selling points of your property.

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

Room type descriptions

Review these thoroughly and be as informative as possible so you reduce the amount of potential phone calls!

A final word on rate plans

In 2020, we saw an evident increase in packages vs 2019 with dinner, bed & breakfast and other inclusions proving popular again due to the uncertainty people had as to whether they could get into the town’s local restaurants or not. Spa and golf packages were also strong, naturally enough. It will all depend on the country’s level of lockdown, but planning competitively priced and attractive packages to suit various levels of lockdown will benefit you.

More revenue-generating considerations

If you’re a Net Affinity booking engine customer, use our technology’s booking enhancements effectively!

Make sure your enhancements are all up to date with fresh visuals, clear copy and competitive pricing. For starters, think bubbles, wine, beer, chocolates, birthday treats, reunion games and novelties. Consider a ‘kiddies pack’ with colouring books, sweets, ice-cream. And, to go with it, a ‘mammy & daddy pack’ with wine (of course!), beer, chocolate, crisps. Make them available to purchase at the time of your guest’s booking, to be ready in the room on their arrival. We have been seeing a pickup recently on enhancements, which makes sense. Guests are happy to flourish their booking with little extras, given the year that’s been in it… and the year that’s approaching!

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