Capitalizing on surrounding attractions can be a mutually beneficial relationship for hoteliers, and theme park destinations are no exception to that rule. The number of business-growing avenues through these partnerships can be plentiful, and not to mention, so much fun! While not all hotels have the advantage of being physically on park grounds, here are some tips on how to grow your bottom line and give your guests the most memorable and thrilling vacations.
Theme parks have a wide range of offerings – from water attractions, rollercoaster rides and of course, the beloved movie-inspired experiences. For decades, families have been drawn to these destinations, establishing annual park visits, generation after generation. It is smart business sense to put a hotel on park grounds. But it’s even smarter to educate yourself and your staff of these tactics and marketing methods that attract people to theme parks, all year long.
Tom Roditus, senior vice president of operations with Loews Hotels & Resorts, divulged in the hotel group’s growing empire of in-park hotels and how they’ve created successful campaigns with their partnership with Orlando Studios.
“The goal was to make each on-site hotel an attraction and experience in and of itself since they sit on theme park property and are connected to the parks,” he said.
Transform a room or two to reflect all the things a theme park fanatic would love. Dedicate dollars towards creating an exclusive experience, complete with décor, music, transportation to park grounds and more importantly, entry to the corresponding attraction. Often, in-park hotels can get away with spiking their prices because of the convenience of being within park grounds. For this reason, many visitors seek alternatives, so why not accommodate to the demands by giving guests a more affordable option that doesn’t compromise on quality? Guests will love starting and ending their day in a hotel room that complements their overall reason for vacationing in the first place.
Get creative with your food and beverage venues and develop a handful of fan-friendly items that speak directly to their love for certain characters and movies. Brainstorm with your marketing team to generate clever names for food and drinks that won’t necessarily require you to travel down a long and exhausting road of licensing approvals. Moreover, offer theme park-inspired food including oversized churros, candied apples and oversized turkey legs. Sometimes there is no easier way to lure guests than through their appetites.
Be in the know on new, up and coming theme park attractions because you know that these mean spikes in visitors. Create limited-time only packages in conjunction with these unveilings and openings. If you’re near a water park that is getting ready to open a new slide or tidal wave pool, splash up your marketing efforts by offering guests discounts on swimsuits and sunscreen.
Up the ante with your social media plan. If you can cultivate a mutually beneficial relationship with the folks who help operate the theme park down the road, the more “in-the-know” content you will have to share with your audiences. Arm your team members with the most up-to-date pricing and theme park information, because after all, exceptional customer service goes a long way. Post photos of your theme park-inspired offerings through Instagram and Facebook. Social media is also a great tool that allows you to communicate to past guests and to listen to candid and honest feedback.
“We know that it is a vitally important way to connect with past guests, future guests and to resolve customer service issues,” said Roditus. “Loews Hotels’ new #TravelforReal campaign is all based on consumer-generated media and is intended to showcase how our guests capture their experience at our hotels. So far, the response has been tremendous.”
Offer special incentives or prizes for guests who post photos of your theme-park food on their social media accounts. Encourage your social media experts to develop an engaging scavenger hunt that will draw guest excitement and can be easily executed. Scavenger items can include simple things already placed within your hotel, including a particular front desk clerk who might be wearing a name tag after a theme park character, or a beverage inspired after a favorite theme park ride. Because the games can be conducted within a period of time, items can created or temporarily named to suit your social media needs.
We’d be remiss not to acknowledge theme park’s biggest target audience – children and teenagers. Ensure that some of your theme park-inspired offerings are kid-friendly. If you’re near a theme park that accommodates to a large population of much younger children, have a little extra fun in your themed hotel rooms. Allow your team to channel their inner child or better yet, get the feedback first-hand from kids themselves. Sky’s the limit, so think themed bunk-beds, colorful wall murals and stuffed animals. Offer kid-friendly music and movies in select rooms. Happy kids mean happy parents, which ultimately mean very happy guests for your hotel.
If you’re a hotel operator fortunate enough to be employed by a hotel group with properties on-site, then you may already be familiar with the same strategies that have seemed to work well for Roditus and the Loews Hotel & Resorts group.
“Our guests staying at Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort take a short shuttle bus ride to the theme parks. Beyond the proximity and ease of getting around, guests staying in our Orlando hotels get a package of special benefits in the Universal theme parks.”
Some of those perks include express line passes, early park admissions and character appearances.
These on-site hotels may serve as competition for surrounding hotels, but look at it with the glass half-full. The recent announcements of new theme parks going up in major cities around the world are firm indications that these types of vacations are on the rise. Why not have one foot through the door by being a gateway for guests who may want to keep a little distance between the park and their hotel rooms? You could be exactly what many visitors are looking for.