Your November check-list
It is that time of year again and whilst most of us would like to like to join the ‘Keep Christmas in December’ campaign, unfortunately it is not possible in this industry. So what should we be doing? Well here are some November tips that I hope might trigger some actions for you:
- Demand for vouchers surges mid-November and lasts right up until Christmas Eve (and that statement is backed by Google), so now is the time to ensure that your gift vouchers can not only be purchased online but are ‘up-front-and-central’ on your Homepage.
- Make it easy for customers to find links to purchasing Gift Vouchers and make the imagery and text you have on your website enticing and engaging.
- For many hotels it is also a good idea to have not only monetary value vouchers for sale but also specific gift packages that can be purchased. For example: Afternoon Tea for Two / 1 hour Spa Relaxation Treat with cocktail / Dinner for Two or perhaps a 1 night break valid until a certain date (that you are happy with i.e. during your low season) at a fixed price. If it is limited then it means that you don’t have to allow a reservation during your high demand months.
- Now is also the perfect time to add a package that will appeal to customers who are looking to buy their loved ones a pre-booked overnight stay as a Christmas Present.
- Consider adding a rate that is specifically targeted at those customers – release it now and again use Rate Fences to ensure that this rate can only be purchased when you want to sell it.
- Keep the price point low and my recommendation would be to include only breakfast so that the rate looks attractive and is an affordable gift.
- Dinner or upsells can then be presented through the booking process, so that someone could increase their spend and bundle in more items such as dinner or wine but initially offering a low price point will ensure you attract the maximum number of sales possible.
- By using Rate Fences you can limit the dates this rate is available to suit your own individual market – say end of February as an example and then manage on your booking engine to ensure that peak days are blocked out.
- For goodness sake remember to close out Valentine’s Day and the busy weekends around.
- We all have need dates between now and the end of February so this is a great way to offer something attractive to your customers and help you gain base business.
- Those of you who know me, know that I tend to recommend staying away from the words ‘sale’, ‘bargain’ or ‘offer’ as in most cases this can be seen as devaluing your brand but January and February are the only time I feel this is an appropriate way to market your hotel. After all, even high-end stores have January Sales.
- I would however recommend that you make the text emotive. Please don’t just add a January Sale Rate and then add bland text – ‘this January Sale rate offers 10% off our normal rate and must be pre-paid at time of booking’ – if you do something like that then I am sorry but you deserve an empty hotel in January! Think outside of the box and think what would make you purchase. Keep it ‘soft’, perhaps mention things they could do during their visit such as a countryside walk or drinks in front of a roaring fire. Paint the scene and make it inviting.
- So now you have these wonderful Christmas vouchers and special rates, now what? Well we need to think about promotion.
- Courtesy of the wonderful Chris at Google, I am delighted that he is happy to share some generic search terms that peak for voucher sales at this time of the year:
- hotel gift vouchers (then add your country / county and town as 3 separate bid terms)
- prepaid debit card
- gift cards
- prepaid gift cards
- gift vouchers for hotels in (then add your country, county and town)
- gift voucher
- gift card
- online gift cards
- credit card gift card
- booking com voucher gift
- best gift vouchers (again add your country, county and town)
- buy gift cards online
- buy gift cards
- airbnb gift voucher
- Ask your online marketing team to review these as they may well be worth considering for your own personal online marketing campaign
- Ensure that everything that you do is easy to view and book on mobile and tablet, as searches and transactions are up by 50% on last year
- You should also consider a targeted e:shot. You should by now have a database that is ‘clean’ so send only to those customers who are relevant i.e. there is no point in sending a January Sale rate to someone in Australia who visited your hotel once last summer.
- Plan at least 2 if not 3 of these e:shots before Christmas.
- Sending to your own closed database before you release on your own website works well.
- Allow your database 24 or 48 hours to get the best availability (as an incentive to book early) before you put on general release.
More tips next week but remember, we only have a limited window to get this right, so please maximise what you can…
(and for all things revenue, please just email firstname.lastname@example.org)