The holiday season of 2020 may have been good for some hotels and abysmal for others. With the pandemic still ongoing, revenues for Q1 2021 may not look so good. Barring any municipal or state lockdowns, perhaps there’s a way to drum up a few last-minute bookings by extending the holiday cheer into the first quarter with a great-yet-safe winter getaway package.
And luckily, with COVID-19 drastically shortening leisure lead times, you can still get something out to the public if you act fast to get your promotion out there. As a forewarning, anything you do must be cognizant of the still-dire situation, keeping guest and staff safety front and center.
So, how will you extend the holiday spirit into January, February and March to help drum up last-minute leisure sales during this dearth-of-occupancy period (at least outside of the sunbelt)? How would you go about discerning what rates and packages would be most enticing to guests who are chomping at the bit for a weekend sojourn after delaying their trip which was previously scheduled for the late autumn or holiday season in 2020? What channels would be best for promoting your availability during the winter and early spring?
There are many ideas and programs to consider for priming your hotel for success in this regard, and all must be discussed on a per-property basis, as no two will be quite the same. We know that we are still very much in a pandemic state of mind, so thinking regionally and in terms of drive-to markets is a prudent strategy. But beyond this, it depends. We can give one such example as inspiration to help your team prepare a viable offering for transient guests.
One program from our playbook that we’ve helped deploy at a resort location here in Canada was a touchless in-room dining experience for small groups. In its broad form and without mentioning all the bells and whistles, this package contained a two night’s stay for two rooms (at double occupancy) that would be assigned as close to each other as possible within the PMS. One (or both) of these rooms would be a suite product which would then be set up with a prix fixe dinner for one of the nights, with all courses and beverage accompaniments delivered on a cart for the four guests to then bring into the suite and serve themselves.
This self-serve aspect allowed the multi-course plated dinner to be delivered in a safe and contactless manner while still delivering a bespoke dining experience. Overall, the project wasn’t all that hard to get rolling operationally, while promoting it to drive-to markets required a nimbler hand. For your own hotel or small group of properties, something straightforward like this shouldn’t be an insurmountable hurdle to deploy for the first half of 2021. At this stage, it’s all about quick wins and setting yourself up for accepting any form of revenue, so consider all options for February, March and April while we all await lower COVID case numbers and wider vaccine dissemination.