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One of the most persistent challenges faced by hoteliers is how to increase hotel occupancy. While there are several tricks in the book to achieve full occupancy, few prove effective in the long-run.
The trick is to put yourself in the shoes of your guests and understand their journey to make this task effective. To get closer to your guests’ requirement, understand where they are most likely to find you and to design a strategy that will put you ahead of competition is a definite way to boost hotel occupancy. We’ve put together a list of 9 simple and easy-to-implement steps that can help you increase hotel room occupancy.
Target the right market
This one is as obvious as it is crucial to increasing your hotel occupancy. There is a ton of difference between a ‘shot in the dark’ approach and a targeted one. Gather data from your guest records and understand the market- the demographic you cater to, the type of traveler you appeal to, from which part of the world or your country most of your guests are from, etc. Delve into data and chalk out the exact market that you should target.
Customize packages and promotions
Once you have the target market chalked out, you can then start designing packages and promotions which appeal to this specific audience. Understand that different guests expect different experience, and this can vary depending on age, cultural background, ethnicity, profession, income group, etc. So be sure to know every little nuance about your target group and make them an offer they cannot refuse! The more at ease the guests feel at your property, the higher the chances of increasing your hotel room occupancy.
Partner with corporates
Signing up with corporates and other large businesses is a solid hotel strategy to increase occupancy. By roping in multiple sources of reservations, you diversify and, thereby, increase chances of hotel room occupancy. And to help the corporates to make a booking independently whenever they have a requirement, implement a smart Property Management System.
A robust cloud-based PMS, like Hotelogix, lets you give every corporate their own individual login to enable them to make bookings on their own.
Count on events or cultural festivals
If you often find yourself wondering how to increase your hotel occupancy, this one is a sure shot winner of a tip. Make the most of any big event in your area that attracts visitors- be it a cultural festival, a huge conference, a concert, or just about anything which brings in people to your region. Promote the event and alongside use that event to promote your property. Get creative and offer a special discount for people who produce proof that they are attending the event! Or even better, tie up with the hosts or managers of the event so they can list your property on their website or brochure. This way you are sure to garner more attention and possibly achieve full occupancy, even if only for a few days!
Discounts, loyalty programs and other perks
Who doesn’t like discounts! It is innately human to opt for something that is discounted- even if it is more expensive than other options available. People are psychologically predisposed to thinking that they are getting the best deal when they see a discount offer. Have separate discounts available for students, children below a certain age, for business travelers, etc. This way you have a reason to attract different types of guests. Also throw in a bunch of other offers like early-bird discounts during peak season.
Another great tip to increase hotel room occupancy is to get started with some solid loyalty programs for your guests. Loyalty programs are also extremely helpful when it comes to encouraging repeat guests. Guest loyalty is an extremely useful weapon for hotels because it costs lesser to retain guests than to attract newer ones.
One more hotel strategy to increase occupancy is to offer discounts to long-term guests. Many a times, it pays to tie up with your local real-estate agents or realtors for a small fee.They could redirect people to you when someone is on the hunt for an accommodation ranging between a few weeks to a couple of months.
Make your property as inclusive as it can get
One thing that can set you apart from the noise is “inclusion”. This is perhaps the most under-explored hotel room sales strategy. What do we mean by inclusion? We mean, make your property as welcoming as it can to your guests. Here are a few pointers in that direction, which could help increase your hotel room occupancy:
Have a wheel-chair handy for older or differently-abled guests
Make sure you have high chairs at your restaurant for families travelling with an infant
If you have a lot of queries about whether your hotel is pet-friendly or not- consider making it one! Pet-friendly hotels are few and far between.
If yours is a big enough property, throw open the opportunity for guests to host events at your hotel- be it a small get-together for a family, a wedding or even a business meet- depending on the size of your property.
Create a buzz around your locality, not just your property
Sometimes, an easy way to increase hotel room occupancy is to promote the locality, town or city. As a local, you have the advantage of knowing places of interest that may not be as popular. Something low-key yet spectacular. Use these as the bait to attract visitors to your region. That’s half the battle won. Now prompt them to make a booking at your hotel depending on the factor that matters most to them- creating a package customized to their needs, add-ons, discounts, arranging a day tour for them to go visit these places, or whatever works best for them.
Offer something that sets you apart from the noise
How to increase hotel room sales when you’ve tried every trick in the book and nothing brings about a drastic change? Disruption is the solution. While it could have worked well in the past, being ‘run of the mill’ just isn’t enough today. You need to have that one thing which guests are not likely to find anywhere in the vicinity.
People are naturally drawn towards ‘superlatives’- biggest, tallest, smallest, widest, first, only. While some superlatives are only possible with a huge investment, others can be achieved with a little bit of creativity and quirk. You can redefine your hotel’s image by going with a theme that guests cannot experience anywhere else- like the 1950s- reliving an era from the past; or something from pop-culture like Lord of the Rings or Star Wars-based, or just about anything that is unusual!
Be thorough about the theme and make sure it is awe-inspiring. This is bound to get you more and more visitors and therefore increase hotel room occupancy, since word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool!
Engage with online audiences
And lastly, never ever underestimate the power of social media when it comes to increasing hotel room occupancy. Engaging with your audiences online goes a long way in building trust among your prospects. By being active on review sites and by responding to queries posted by prospective guests, you communicate the message that you care. And that is step number one to winning their loyalty. Not only that, it also communicates that you take your business seriously. Also, be consistent with your communication.
These 9 tips to increase hotel room occupancy are as effective as they are practical. While things aren’t going to change overnight when it comes to achieving full occupancy, small steps taken in the right direction will surely fetch you results.
This article was originally published in ehotelier