Christmas music is on the radio. Twinkling lights are popping up everywhere. The holiday season is officially here. If your bookings are looking bleak, don’t fret. Here are eight easy marketing plans to boost your holiday bookings and revenue.
Swap Out Your Photos
Your homepage is the first impression of your property. What do guests see when they first arrive? A photo of your inn in the peak of summer isn’t immersing visitors in the winter experience. If you have any photos of your property dressed up for the holiday season, put that on your website. If winter means less kayaking and more snowshoeing, then reflect that with your photos. Guests see themselves in your photography. Match it to the season. After the holidays pass, bring out the Valentine’s-romantic photos, then the summer ones, then the autumn ones, and repeat. Paulina Lake Lodge, outside of Bend, Oregon is a popular resort both in summer and winter. During the winter season, guests are greeted with a thick blanket of snow and photos to reflect that.
Check out our guide for more ideas to update your site and marketing with the change of seasons: https://www.odysys.com/guides/seasonal-marketing-ideas/
Promote Gift Cards
Trends like #shoplocal and #smallbusinesssaturday are growing. The idea of waiting in line for hours at big box stores is quickly going out of style. Use this momentum to promote gift cards. Do more than say ‘come and get it’. Entice your visitors by pointing out who would benefit from a getaway. The Wicker Park Inn in Chicago mentions giving a gift card to friends and family to visit the area. They are selling the cards to locals who want their family to stay nearby. If you live in a rural area, mention giving the gift of a getaway to the new parents, the overworked neighbor who could use a break, or to give to a partner as a promise for more adventure. Your target gift card audience is people who have already stayed at your property who want their friends to stay there too.
Sell Your Stuff
Don’t go around auctioning off every piece of furniture in your hotel just yet. Guests have probably asked you about your soft and silky sheets or wanted to bring home one of your darling mugs. Offer guests little souvenirs to bring home or share with their friends. CS Coach House in New York’s Hudson Valley lets guests bring home a piece of their getaway with their Camp and Stream Shopify. The shop basics are hats, t-shirts, and bags with the CS Coach House logo. Beyond that, you’ll find custom candles, wall plaques, and fun wood doorstops.
Write a Blog
How are your guests supposed to know what’s going on if you don’t tell them? Not everyone knows about the holiday light parade, or the popup shopping markets, or the special holiday sale at your local winery. Enlighten them with a blog post outlining all of the best parts about the holidays in your destination. This year may seem dismal if your annual parade or tree lighting ceremony has been cancelled, but there is always something going on. Talk about local breweries creating seasonal beers, where to go gift shopping, a local sweet shop offering bites of the holidays, and where to find gorgeous light displays.
Read our recent blog post What to Blog About Right Now: 2020 Fall & Holiday Edition for popular keywords and topics to get you writing!
Borrow a Blog
If you don’t want to write your own, promote someone else’s! Search on your local DMO, scroll through your association’s, and find some destination positive blog posts. Share these on your Facebook page and include them in your email newsletter. These destination-positive blogs are usually filled with great travel tips, itineraries, and guides to explore your region. Here in Bend, OR (home of Odysys HQ) we love VisitBend’s Adventure Journal. Recently they put out a blog post 5 ways to have a safe, happy Bend holiday in 2020 that encourages safe & healthy travel while promoting local businesses and plants the idea of a getaway in reader’s minds. Your local chamber of commerce, association, or DMO likely has a similar article.
Share Your Holiday Treats
The pumpkin spice craze is nothing compared to the irresistible nature of holiday treats. Eggnog, hot cocoa, peppermint, and gingerbread are the flavors of the season. Here at Odysys we are always drooling over the treats we see on our innkeeper’s websites. Share your holiday treats on social media, include some of your guest favorites in your email newsletter, and add some photos on your website. While it’s hard to track on Google Analytics, nothing has us planning our next getaway like a photo of cinnamon streusel crepes on our Facebook feed before lunch.
Bonus Tip: Take lots of photos of your holiday treats, Christmas decor, and any ugly sweaters. Save these images in a folder and you’ll have all the resources needed to promote next year’s holiday season!
Promote Work From Here-cations & Staycations
Our CEO Kent Schnepp recently took a Work-From-Here (WFH) ski vacation. He was working online from his hotel and would take off to hit the ski runs during his lunch break. Odysys isn’t the only one taking advantage of this WFH trend. Forbes, Travel + Leisure, Fortune, Business Insider, and others are taking notice. Write a blog about the benefits of working from your inn or hotel. Put together a package or offer lower rates on weekday stays. Throw in a branded coffee/travel mug, deliver breakfast to their room, include complimentary WiFi (obviously), all while ensuring that your COVID protocols are safe.
A lot of people are cancelling their holiday travel plans but don’t want to stay at home either. A local staycation instead of a large family gathering can still let people enjoy the magic of the holidays.
New Years Eve in Style
Every year New Years Eve creeps up on us. We’re so worried about present shopping, family gatherings, and decorating the house that once New Years Eve comes around, we’re behind. Start marketing for New Years reservations now! This year we are expecting to see a lot less NYE clubbing, large parties, and mega-events and more intimate, relaxed evenings. Lucky for you, relaxed and intimate is what you do best. Promote a quiet and romantic new years getaway with champagne and spending time with the people that matter most.
The holidays are just the beginning of a season of important travel dates. After Christmas comes New Years, then Valentine’s Day, then spring break vacations. Position yourself for success by confronting and overcoming these 3 major challenges.
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