The adage of knowledge being the key to success holds true even – or especially – for increasing your number of midweek bookings. Midweek travelers are likely to be retired or traveling for business; they could hold unconventional jobs (freelancers or hotel and restaurant staff, like yourself) whose ‘weekends’ occur midweek, or they could just be on the lookout for an enticing deal. In other words, they’re eclectic with potentially niche desires and expectations for a midweek stay. But with a little innovative thinking, you can find strategies to appeal to the guests you most want to attract. How?
Create and Promote Distinct Value-Added Packages
Significantly reduced room rates often do not entice enough bookings to offset the reduced revenue, and in the end, they set the wrong expectations and seriously erode your price integrity. As an alternative, use your imagination and resources to combine your hotel’s services into an appealing package. What does your hotel do best? Do you have a spa? Modern gym? Renowned restaurant? Know your hotel’s strengths, understand who your midweek guests are, and build packages that add value and appeal to individual tastes.
Build Community Relationships and Collaborate with Local Businesses
Knowing your community is important for all hotels, but it’s especially vital for smaller inns and B&Bs and anyone who has built their brand on delivering a personalized experience. Many travellers are looking to immerse themselves in cultures and communities, so it’s important to know not only the local tourist attractions (bus tours, wine tastings, amusement parks, zoos) but also to have a finger on the pulse of what events bring out the locals. Is there a musician who is beginning to gain attention? Or a university sporting team that’s set to beat a record? Travellers in their 50s and 60s are particularly intrigued by cultural festivals, art shows, and theatre. Those who are in the service industry might be intrigued by a midweek chef pop-up at a local restaurant. Collaborate with other businesses to build and promote mutually beneficial packages that encourage guests to travel midweek or to extend their weekend stay.
Reach out to businesses, like…
Larger restaurants. This is particularly important in the early fall (or even earlier) when restaurants start to book and plan Christmas parties. It’s in their interest and yours – and it offers flexibility to potential clients – to collaborate on an option for midweek celebrations that include accommodations. It’s becoming more common for businesses to offer post-party hotels to their staff, and large organizations with offices across the country are increasingly flying their staff to a central location for a once-a-year party to build staff relationships and boost morale. You may be the right place at the right time. Plus, don’t forget, that businesses that are particularly busy over the holiday season often hold early (November) or late (into January) Christmas parties, so expand your thinking to include not only midweek but off-season parties.
Real Estate Agents. Many people travel to cities and towns to view a new house or office building. Find out which agents are most likely to bring in out-of-town clients and discuss collaborations, special rates, and the potential for mutually beneficial advertising.
Building Contractors, especially those who bring in a large portion of their work force for large scale projects. These contracts are lucrative, but they require you to be proactive. Speak to contractors about the incentives, long term rates, and other services you offer, like earlier breakfasts and packed lunches.
Universities and other companies that interview candidates from out of town. Not only can you offer a hassle free and comfortable place to stay during what’s undoubtedly an anxious time for the interviewee, you have the opportunity to show them the community they will potentially be joining through providing the right package promotion.
Train and Encourage Employees to Know and Discuss Local Events
While related to community building and collaboration, it’s important enough to mention separately. Your staff is the voice of your hotel; they talk to guests every day, so educate your staff on events and encourage them to contribute their own knowledge of the community. A chat about a midweek author’s visit may inspire an impromptu extended stay, or a conversation about an upcoming concert may inspire a return visit.
Update Guest Profiles
This is especially important for repeat guests and those who are visiting from within a 250-mile radius. They are the ones most likely to be persuaded into a last-minute midweek getaway. Use your technology. The guest data provided by your PMS (property management system) can help you build your promotions based on demographics and past behavior. It can show a guest’s preferred rate and the days of the week he or she is most likely to stay. An updated profile with interests (like a preference for a certain fitness class or love of a particular sports team) can help you build the right packages and then promote them to the right people at the right time. To add an even more personal touch, it would be a particularly nice gesture if a guest shows interest in an upcoming festival, to make note and send them an email as a reminder.
Develop Email Lists
This is still an effective way to communicate with repeat and potential guests. Again, though, know your clientele and word your promotions accordingly. Some guests will be tempted by 2-for-1 appetizers or free kids’ meals while others will prefer a complementary tasting of local wines.
Keep on Top of your Social Media
It’s important and repetition is key, especially on Twitter because posts have a short life span. Be aware of the different advantages of each medium. Facebook can target a specific demographic or interest group, whereas Instagram should be used to promote the most visual aspects of your hotel experience. Dynamic social media accounts convey a dynamic hotel.
Promote Midweek and Off-season Weddings
With more people working flexible hours and unconventional jobs, midweek weddings are becoming increasingly popular, especially for second marriages, older couples, and those who are looking for a subtler, more intimate celebration. Learn to plan and execute midweek weddings well, and then why not promote them by holding a Midweek Wedding Fair midweek?
Midweek travellers are savvy. They’ve either thrown away the rule book on what a ‘getaway’ should be or they’re a business traveller with accumulated generic hotel experiences. So get creative and be proactive. Know your brand and what kind of clientele you want to attract, utilize your hotel resources and staff to create personalized experiences, and learn about your community to propose inventive collaborations. Combining knowledge, imagination, and action is how to increase your midweek hotel bookings.