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Strike Cupid’s Heart During Valentine’s Day

Here’s how to make sure you love your Valentine’s Day room and F&B sales.

Friday, February 14, 2014
Cherryl Marie
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Love is in the air and the most romantic day of the year is here. So how are you sweeping your guests off their feet during this opportune time? What is your destination doing to make guests fall so in love that they will be dreaming about their visit for months after their stay?

Not everyone celebrates this particular “holiday” and for many, they don’t consider it a holiday at all. But whether guests are looking for love, looking to rekindle their relationships or looking just to have a little fun, make sure you heat things up and take advantage of the potential cash flow that Valentine’s Day can bring your way. Here are some of cupid’s tricks of the trade on how to make this holiday a pleasurable one for both your revenue stream and your guests.

Valentine’s Day comes and goes every year on the same day – February 14 – but this year is unique in that it’s the first time in seven years that the holiday has landed on a Friday. This is a thumbs-up thing for both you and the guest because the first thing you can count on is that many will book a minimum two night stay; in fact, to ensure just that, include a minimum requirement or perhaps offer extra incentives for stays that are two nights or longer.

Words as simple as “$20 off room rate” or “10 percent off” make a difference and people naturally gravitate to anything that screams “deal” on it. Also remember that President’s Day, February 17, is the following Monday which means a four-day weekend for some.

Valentine’s Day may not be a top contender amongst the other holidays like Labor Day or New Year’s Eve so understand that difference when launching your promotions through the proper channels and platforms.

“Valentine’s Day tends to have a shorter decision time – usually around 45 days out. People planning for the 4th of July usually are making plans further out so marketing may begin sooner,” explained Mark Jennings, Kimpton’s Regional Vice President of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Some might be planning their travels for New Year’s now; but for Valentine’s Day and holidays that are equivalent, many make plans on a spur of the moment. For many, they keep this trip close to home so perhaps offer an extra reason to book to locals – this gesture could keep them close to home for more than just the holiday but the goal is that a restaurant will impress them so much during their stay that it will become a regular outing for that guest.

And know that many couples simply can’t get away on this particular weekend. Consider making your Valentine’s Day package available month long. At Kimpton’s Mid-Atlantic properties, they are inviting guests to “Take it Off for Love” with 10 percent of a one night stay, 15 off two nights and 20 off three valid for stays through March 2.

And start planning early for next year, which is yet another advantage to us since Valentine’s Day lands on a Saturday.

Do know that sometimes it’s in the name that counts. Grab their attention and make your Valentine’s Day package memorable by branding it and giving it a life of its own. If your hotel is known for its luxurious decadence, fancy up your package with high-end amenities and an extravagant name. If there’s room for frisk and edge, make the name a little naughty, to complement the package’s “adult-friendly” inclusions.

“A clever or fun concept is more likely to gain both customer and media attention and therefore be remembered,” said Jennings. Play with words, but make it appropriate to its offerings. “Take it off” with a discount; “ignite the flame” and “spice it up” with a candlelit dinner for two; “get a room” with your partner. Work it. Market it. Show it off!

Display it front and center on your website. The age of online hotel bookings means that there’s a good chance your average guest books their travel via the web. A report conducted by Alexa.com in 2013 shows that 57 percent of all travel reservations are made on the internet and that internet travel booking revenue has grown by more than 73 percent over the past five years.

Revere Hotel in Boston created a unique tab just for “Valentine’s Packages” on their homepage. The second you visit the page, all five of their holiday packages appear on the bottom left corner. Make your page easy and fool-proof.

Social media’s empire seemingly keeps expanding and while some platforms work better for other hoteliers where it makes the most sense, you and your marketing team should take the time to understand your audience and identify the most successful ways to get their attention.

Kevin Scott, General Manager at Seattle’s Hotel Max, shares their social media following is important for both awareness and call-to-action. “Instagram, in particular, is a popular platform for our hotel because our property, with its art collection and unique amenities, is very compelling in photos. Sharing our Valentine’s Day packages with our social media followers is a key strategy in our promotion of these special offers.”

The tools are at your fingertips. Consult with your web and interactive team and pick their brains. Make sure they are leading a strong effort during these times. Your Facebook page should always have a consistent stream of sharable content that then helps drive traffic back to your hotel’s website and include links when appropriate. Execution of your V-Day package (and any package) should be seamless across all departments.

Hotel Max also awards loyalty which demonstrates that you consider your guests as more than just “likes” or “followers.” “Hotel Max always offers a great discount for our social media followers – we have standing Facebook and Twitter rates of 15% off (plus free wifi) for our fans and friends,” Scott shared.

Teach your guests a thing or two and school them (in the most non-condescending of ways, of course). You can take the traditional and safe route and include a two night stay, dinner for two, spa package and so forth. But if you can be bold and different, offer something interactive and engaging.

At Hotel Max, their “Let the Games Begin” package priced at $189 per night features the Bedroom Rockstar – a rock n’ roll themed bedroom board game that is sure to turn the night’s fun up to eleven – and late 2 p.m. check out the next day. At Revere Hotel, there’s the tantalizing “Screaming Orgasm” package which features a private one-hour mixology lesson in the secluded Ruby Bar where a master mixologist teaches couples to create X-Rated cocktails.

If you’re hotel houses a talented resident mixologist or wine connoisseur, exercise your right to make them a superstar during Valentine’s Day. Gently exploit your city’s reputation, whatever it may be – in San Diego, there are the waterfront attractions; in New York, there’s the Empire State Building or Niagara Falls; in Denver, there’s snow-covered slopes during this time of year; in Vegas, the Grand Canyon is just a short helicopter ride away. Foster those relationships with these signature attractions. Develop packages together and draw a revenue stream for both partners. Forces are always stronger and result in better results when people work together.

Many men (and women) get down on one knee and put a ring on it this time of year so if your hotel can host it, ring those wedding bells and bring on the bliss. Ensure that your staff is equipped and knowledgeable of some best practices during such a momentous time for a couple. If a guest needs extra assistance in his “operation proposal,” be ready to help him (or her) in any way you can. Have some fun with your staff and tell them not to shy away from providing an extra hand.

At Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, VA, Scott Elinsky, Director of Hotel Sales, gives the scoop on how his property is sweetening the day by offering couples who get engaged during their stay a 20 percent off their wedding celebrations if held in Chantilly by February 13, 2015.

“We host about 60-75 weddings annually,” Elinksy said. Westfields offers 40,000 square feet of event space and an outdoor Sunset Terrace, providing the perfect backdrop for weddings. The 20 percent discount will be applied to a master bill and is available to guests who purchase the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles' Valentine's dinner or stay the weekend with the Ultimate Romance package and get engaged during their time on the premises.

In addition to the 20 percent discount on the big day, Westfields offers guests an elegant five-course Valentine’s Day dinner with champagne and live entertainment. So no pressure guys; if this isn’t the year to put a ring on it, wait until next year. We suggest hoteliers develop various packages so that guests can choose their level of intimacy, commitment dives, dining decadence and fun (and price point, too).

It’s no secret weddings can be very costly. Twenty percent can be a deal breaker for some and Westfields knows how to hit that sweet spot. If your property already has the facilities and complete catering abilities, why not bank on them with a wedding package. It doesn’t have to happen on Valentine’s Day or even this month, but since the hot topic is love, now would be a great time to start marketing to those soon-to-be brides and grooms.

We would be remiss not to address the importance of cuisine that tugs on your guests’ taste buds. Make it irresistible for them not to feast on savory food and sweet treats during their stay. Encourage your guests to eat their heart out by offering in-room welcome chocolates or chocolate-covered strawberries paired with champagne. Create a romantic ambiance with candles and a live violinist in your upscale dining establishment. A simple red rose at the table setting or chocolate kisses on the pillow are nice touches. Remember to be tasteful, not cheesy. Be refined, yet make a statement that says “your experience and happiness matter to us.”

For many, it’s what’s underneath (and behind closed doors) that counts. The hotel room is one of the first chances to knock your guests’ socks off. Attention to detail is key, so even the slightest gesture counts. Perhaps for the occasion, offer some in-room bubble bath, a scented candle, maybe even limited-time movie rentals on a handful of timeless romantic classics and comedies. Ensure that your housekeeping management team and their staff understands the holiday and what that means for many – “do not disturb” signs, lots of room service and maybe even rose petals across the bed.

But don’t forget that every hotel caters to more than just the hopeless romantic; think about the families with kids and the single friends just looking to take advantage of a long weekend.

“No one should ever feel excluded on any date at any Kimpton,” said Jennings. “Our customer base is so diverse already that no one should ever feel alienated. We cater to every type of guest every day and Valentine’s Day is no different.

The sky’s the limit with Valentine’s Day so find your niche and roll with it. Feel free to break your competitors’ hearts a little with your creativity and pillow talk.
Cherryl Marie
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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