Over the course of the year, occupancy rates in the travel and hospitality industry fluctuate constantly.
However, you don't have to accept reduced business just because it's low season. With strategic planning, you can significantly boost your success during the off-season, regardless of your hotel’s type and seasonality.
In this article, we provide you with several tips to overcome seasonal fluctuations and elevate your occupancy rates all year round. Keep reading!
Your first step should be defining when your property is in low season. Depending on factors like weather, your geographical location, nearby attractions, the overall demand for a particular region, or other factors, the low or off-season can vary.
These factors significantly impact hotels' revenues. By keeping these patterns in mind, hotel managers can develop initiatives to mitigate their consequences.
So, how can you identify these fluctuations? Here are some ideas:
Market research and trend analysis: Stay up-to-date with industry happenings to identify trends that might affect your occupancy.
Additionally, you could get to know your guests even better by conducting surveys, for example, and find out what they look for when choosing a hotel.
Historical data analysis: Examine past occupancy rates to identify patterns and predict future trends.
For instance, if you notice a consistent drop in certain months, such as October and November, you can anticipate low occupancy during those months. You can use this insight to develop a strategy aimed at increasing guest bookings during this period.
Once you've identified your low seasons, it's time to implement various tactics to boost your occupancy.
But don’t apply all these tips simultaneously. Start with techniques which align closely with your needs, and then expand to others. You understand your business' strengths and weaknesses, so we recommend you act accordingly.
Depending on the season, you should implement different pricing strategies. Here are some examples:
During peak season, consider premium pricing. On the contrary, during the low or off-season, contemplate applying promotional pricing rates.
Check which room types perform best during low occupancy periods. Analyse occupancy rates by room category and identify whether higher-tier room types are lagging behind in terms of conversions.
Also, consider offering guest-friendly cancellation policies and attractive early booking rates during the off-season. This reassures potential guests and makes them more inclined to book.
Maintain these policies until you achieve a relatively high occupancy rate, and then evaluate whether to retain them. While there will always be a percentage of cancellations, as long as this remains low and your hotel's occupancy rate is healthy, you can continue with these policies.
Creating packages has several benefits: Studies indicate that guests who purchase packages are less likely to cancel their bookings than those who only reserve a room. Additionally, there’s a growing interest in unique travel experiences.
These special packages can help attract guests during the low season. Consider creating service packages that can be enjoyed within the hotel. If possible, include at least one night's stay and offer a special price when combined with other services. Such packages can also encourage guests to extend their stay.
These packages can be tailored for special dates (such as Valentine’s Day, Christmas or New Year’s Eve) or even regular weekend getaways. They can include:
Early check-in or late check-out to maximise their stay
Stand-ups or comedy shows at the hotel
Monitored dance classes
Beer and wine tasting
Workshops for children
Combined accommodation and restaurant offerings
During the low season, focus on different market segments compared to those in the peak season. These alternative segments can present great opportunities to boost your occupancy rates. And some of these potential market segments to explore include:
Millennials and Gen Z & X: These groups tend to travel consistently throughout the year. Therefore, it might be beneficial to partner with tour operators to provide all-inclusive packages for young travellers from other countries.
Students in some countries, such as Spain, typically take a trip during January, when the first quarter of college ends and the second one begins.
Wellness travellers: The trend of wellness travel is increasing, with many people seeking trips to improve their mental, physical and spiritual well-being, with yoga retreats or culinary wellness retreats.
As a curiosity, most wellness travellers are women, and Forbes has compiled a list of popular wellness destinations to inspire you.
Baby boomers: Approaching senior citizens, for example, is an effective strategy in countries like Spain. Thanks to the national programme ‘Imserso’, senior travellers travel within their country and Europe.
This is crucial for many hotels, which profit from these travellers during the off-season or low season, since Imserso trips are conducted then. In fact, this programme was created to help hotels in low season and provide them with a regular influx of guests.
Digital nomads: In our article on remote workers, we mentioned that there is an increasing trend for people to travel while working from anywhere. These travellers seek peaceful places to work. That's why you can consider creating a coworking space in your common areas with stable Wi-Fi and workspaces to attract them to your property.
Business travellers: If your property is centrally located or near transportation hubs, you should cater to business travellers. Offer special deals for business travellers, conference organisers, and group bookings.
These are examples of segments to target during the low season. Depending on each segment, you can create appealing offers to entice them.
Invest time in partnerships with local businesses (restaurants, attractions, shops or galleries) and the tourism agency to create collaborations. Promote each other's services and collaborate on new activities.
Some collaborative ideas include:
Partnering with local companies to sell tickets for spas, theme parks, museums, and outdoor excursions. Consider commission sales agreements with wholesale suppliers.
Collaborating with associations to host various activities at your hotel, such as congresses, sports races, dance competitions, and more.
Attracting local residents to your hotel's amenities, such as restaurants, bars, terraces, wellness centres, gyms, and pools. Offer special deals or packages to entice locals to visit.
For example, terraces for after-work gatherings have become popular among local workers. Some hotels even offer special pool and restaurant packages during the summer, even if they aren’t located in tourist areas.
Certainly, Hotelbeds can help you increase your occupancy rate in low season easily.
We aren’t just another online travel agency (OTA) and don't compete with your direct booking channel. So, what exactly do Hotelbeds do?
We provide your property access to our portfolio of 71,000+ travel distributors, including over 64,000 travel agencies, 4,500 tour operators, 1,260 affiliates, airlines and other partners. These distributors create travel packages that include your hotel.
We ensure that travel agencies and wholesalers in relevant regions are aware of your property and include it in their travel packages.
You can forget about spending time and effort on visibility; we handle it for you. Simply let us know which markets you're interested in, and we'll connect you with agencies operating in those markets. Once everything is set, we'll assign you an Account Manager who will be your point of contact at Hotelbeds.
Your Account Manager will assist you in managing market demand, selling your rooms to customers in the markets of your interest, and giving you greater control over distribution throughout the year.
And in terms of boosting occupancy while in off-season, you only need to inform us, and we'll connect you with the travel distributors that best suit your needs.
For example, depending on your location, if you're a European hotel in winter, you might consider targeting long-haul travellers from the Middle East seeking cold destinations for their summer.
If you're still not part of Hotelbeds, register your property today for free.
Take advantage of the low season to review and improve your marketing strategy. Utilise different digital marketing channels to increase your hotel's visibility and reach potential guests.
Ensure your website works flawlessly, and address any guest complaints or difficulties related to the booking process or user experience.
Also, update website images and add videos showcasing your property and amenities to ensure that your website features current photos of the property.
Continue to publish blog content consistently. Focus on topics relevant to your low or off-season, and create content related to your property's location or region.
Invest in digital advertising, including Facebook/Instagram Ads and Google Ads, to enhance your presence on social media and reach a broader audience. This can drive bookings during low-occupancy seasons.
Maintain an active presence on social media platforms. Encourage guests to share their experiences and images from their stay during peak seasons. Repurpose these images during the off-season. User-generated content can be highly persuasive.
Promote your hotel's appeal during different seasons. For example, if your low season aligns with autumn, create posts showcasing your hotel's beauty during this time.
Share information about local events, landmarks, and attractions in the area to provide reasons for guests to stay at your hotel. Highlight any recent renovations or improvements in your marketing materials.
Finally, implement email marketing tactics to engage past guests. Offer discounts, special packages, or personalised perks to encourage repeat bookings. Consider creating a loyalty scheme to reward guests who stay with you multiple times. Also, reach out to past guests to promote your hotel's tranquillity and charm during quieter times.