No matter where your hotel is located, chances are that guests will be traveling there for the holidays. Over 110 million Americans travel for the holidays every year, and not all of them can stay in the spare room at Grandma’s. This massive wave of travelers represents a golden opportunity for your hotel to jump into the festive spirit and embrace holiday sales and marketing. Read on for festive tips to stand out from the crowd and bring in the revelers this holiday season.
Discover Simple Holiday Sales Tips:
1. Use nostalgia and positive emotions to increase spending.
The holidays are an emotional time for travelers, and feelings of nostalgia can strongly influence holiday buying behavior. When people are happy, they are likely to spend more than they normally would. To capitalize on this principal, brands need to position their campaigns as festive, and need to tap into the meaning behind the season for their core audience. Keep your messaging light and happy, and double-down on all things jolly to bring in the holiday crowds. Simple additions like holiday flowers in your lobby, festive music playing in the background, and warm drinks on offer in the bar can evoke feelings of nostalgia and begin to get guests in a festive mood.
2. Create a unified marketing plan just for the holidays.
The holidays are a great time to review your marketing plan and create some specific initiatives to take advantage of the season. While your audience, brand, and offerings will generally stay the same, you should begin to think about each of them from a seasonal perspective. For instance, how will the behavior of your business travelers change during the holidays? How will you communicate your brand messages with a seasonal twist? Which of your offerings can be repackaged with festive holiday themes? Your plan should include cohesive holiday messaging on your website, social media, digital media on the property, and physical displays, so that guests can feel the holiday spirit shining through in every place they encounter your brand.
3. Keep holiday deals as “holiday only”.
When we see that an offer has an end date, we are more likely to buy because of a subconscious fear of missing out. This is similar to sales closing techniques where features or services are taken away “to save money”, only for customers to realize they really want the whole package. So capitalize on the holiday season, but make sure those holiday deals end when the season ends. Your guests will see that they really are getting a great limited time offer.
4. Use underutilized spaces like conference or meeting rooms creatively.
Promote the space to local professional photographers as a venue for holiday card photo shoots starting in October or November. This secures a booking for the space throughout the season as well as offering a valuable service for busy guests who are staying and still need to get their holiday cards ready. Photographers will bring their own decorations and equipment, which makes this a simple way for your hotel to capitalize on holiday cheer without much extra effort.
5. Create demand-generators just for the holidays.
Holiday themed activities can be strong demand generators for certain audiences, like families and couples. These could include holiday events on-site, holiday specials online, and special holiday activities for kids, families, pets, or other key audiences. Is your hotel in a cold-weather location? Consider a festive hot cocktails tasting, cozy cooking class, or hot chocolate served near your lobby fireplace. Make sure to stay focused on themes and activities that are consistent with your hotel’s brand and message to get the most impact.
6. Build anticipation ahead of the holiday.
When our brains anticipate a reward, we feel greater pleasure than when we receive the reward itself. Make your brand part of that anticipation by including a holiday countdown, escalating deals as the holiday approaches, or mystery deals and content that are revealed each day. This generates buzz along with associating your property with happy holiday anticipation.
7. Create a local holiday events guide.
Work with marketing to create an informational page on your website to tell your guests about local holiday activities, events, and gifts. This should generate more traffic for your hotel’s website. Include details about opening times, pricing, transportation, and how far the activity is from your property. This type of page has numerous benefits for your hotel: you will improve SEO rankings for holiday related phrases, highlight the festive atmosphere for your guests, and have a source of easily updatable content that you can use from year to year. Use information from this page in your sales conversations so that groups can tap into local festive events.
8. Entice guests to stay longer than the holiday.
Holiday travel is often limited to the holiday itself, with maybe a day or two surrounding it for travel. Consider adding a “stay longer, save more” type offer to encourage guests to stick around. You can include informational content about the cheaper flights, shorter lines for activities, and after-holiday discounts at local businesses to further persuade guests to stay longer.
9. Personalize your offers to increase emotional buy-in.
This season is all about emotions, and a strong way to increase those feelings is to personalize your content. Personal relevance appeals to our sense of self-identity and increases our emotional bond with the product or brand. By providing tailored perks and rewards or custom packages for certain types of audiences, you will be better able to amp up feelings of holiday happiness in each group.
10. Run or repurpose a holiday special.
Running a holiday special is a classic technique to draw in new crowds and capitalize on holiday demand. But remember that most specials you run during the year can be repurposed with a holiday twist. Add some peppermint cocoa and a festive name, and your romantic dinner package is suddenly ready to draw in a new holiday crowd!
11. Spark holiday conversation at the right moments.
When talking to sales leads, ask them whether they have holiday-related plans during their stay. This is an open way to show interest, find out information to qualify the lead, and open up opportunities for you to offer assistance with reservations, local information, or hotel holiday packages.
12. Appeal to the spirit of reciprocity with holiday gift giving.
When we receive a gift we feel compelled to return the gesture in some form. Customers return this gesture through making a purchase from a brand that has given them value. Offer gifts in the form of discounts, value-added services, free content or small welcoming items upon check-in during the holidays. Offering value to customers first demonstrates that reciprocation isn’t expected and is therefore authentic.
13. Run a Facebook giveaway, contest, or sweepstakes to increase holiday engagement.
A hotel Facebook giveaway/sweepstakes is a great way to get in the spirit of giving. This appeals to holiday shoppers with a fun incentive, while boosting fans and followers and generating more traffic for the hotel’s website. A Facebook giveaway is also a great way to quickly build on the hotel’s email list, so that you can reach more of your audience during your holiday email marketing campaigns. When creating a sweepstakes, be sure to select the appropriate incentive. The prize should connect to your customers and relate to your hotel’s brand and values. Gift certificates to popular shows in the area of the hotel are an attractive incentive, since the winner can have complete exposure to the local area if they travel from somewhere out of town or utilize it as a “staycation” getaway. Reach out to your local businesses to find additional unique ways to partner for great giveaway ideas. The key is to find a way to drive healthy engagement with your fans before and throughout the holiday season as they make their travel plans.
14. Decorate digitally with holiday themes on your website and social media.
Digital decorations show visitors that you are in the festive spirit and ready to celebrate with them. Apply a unified holiday theme to the front page of your website, holiday specials pages, and all of your social media profiles to show your holiday cheer. Themes should be consistent with your hotel’s brand, values, and messaging in order to have the most impact. Great options include snowflakes, colored lights, and winter scenes, as these evoke the holidays without focusing on just one religion.
15. Encourage guests to create their own holiday content.
Your marketing team shouldn’t be the only ones creating and sharing holiday content featuring your hotel. Help guests add their own holiday cheer to your social media by creating a festive backdrop and a “selfie booth” – simply place a sign in the hotel lobby encouraging guests to take photos of themselves with the holiday decorations in the background, or you can set up a more elaborate holiday scene somewhere else on the property. Be sure to include holiday and hotel themed hashtags for them to tag their photos to promote consistent messaging and drive awareness for the hotel. Don’t have the space or resources for a physical display? A branded holiday frame to add to social media content allows guest to add their festive content from anywhere.
16. Reward loyal guests with discounts and specials that will keep them coming back year after year.
Your loyal guests should receive extra attention and thanks at this time of year. Consider offering a special promotion just for returning guests, and using email campaigns and social media to let them know about it. This will keep them coming back year after year, and maybe your property will become part of a new family tradition.
Now You’re Ready to Make the Most of the Holidays to Drive Sales.
With these proven strategies, your hotel will be ready to celebrate the holidays with more groups and events than ever before. And for strategies for the rest of the year, check out these great hotel marketing ideas to elevate your brand and win more group business.