As we’re all very much aware, most hotels and guesthouses struggle in the winter months. Less leisure travel happens locally as well as internationally and this leads to lower occupancy in general. Marketing at this time is now absolutely key to helping you get more bookings! So, the messages you put out into the digital arena are what compel customers to book with your establishment.
Fortunately, there are some cost-cost effective steps you can take to make your establishment more attractive to your target market, helping you attract potential winter guests and get more bookings.
- Get Creative with Winter offers
Many establishments in South Africa focus on their summer trade and when winter comes along, their offers don’t always align with what visitors would like to experience during the colder months. Make sure that you project warmth. People want to feel cozy during this time, so think fireplaces, red wine and warm blankets. If your establishment banks on things like a beautiful pool and cocktails during summer, have a rethink. Offer a cozy couples getaway, include romantic dinners for two at a local restaurant or offer a family special during the June holidays. Chat to your local activity providers and restaurants to perhaps offer a deal together. This way the community benefits as well, as everyone gets involved to encourage the tourists to visit. It’s very important to identify your target market and who you would like to attract so you can create compelling offers to draw your ideal visitor.
- Focus on Local Tourists
As South Africa is no longer the cheapest of holiday destinations, locals often feel like they can not experience all the wonderful attractions and afford the activities and accommodation that the international tourists can. Now is the time to give them the opportunity to do so. June holidays are still a popular time for locals to travel and offering them a good deal is key to have them stay with you. Think about offering a special price to local travelers. You can even get in touch with local activity providers to assist in organizing events focused on locals. The Knysna Oyster Festival is a great example of a town making the most of off-season. Running during June/July, the town is literally over run with tourists and establishments are pretty much all fully booked over that period, so if your establishment is located somewhere with something special to offer, why not celebrate it. Local is mos lekker!
- Don’t be Scared to Drop your Rates
Advertising special winter rates are a great way to ensure that you draw visitors to your establishment. Many feel that dropping the rates aren’t lucrative enough, but if your offer has value, prices don’t have to be dropped too much. Think about what your ideal guests would perceive as value for money and would still help you turn a profit. Perhaps including a guest basket on arrival instead of a huge price adjustment would work better for you or include vouchers to local restaurants or activities. Again, think about your ideal guest, what can they afford and what would they like to experience when visiting you. This should help you determine your winter rates and inclusive deals.
- Promote, Promote, Promote!!!
With winter months being as slow as they are, marketing is an absolute must. And here, social media, especially Facebook, is your friend. Just posting and relying on organic posts to encourage booking unfortunately doesn’t cut it any more. Creating smart, catchy advertising campaigns are the way to go. Social media is the perfect platform to make sure that you get your offers out there. Getting your guests to help by posting about their experiences with great reviews and images is also a great tool to encourage visitors. Send a friendly email to your previous guests and ask them to post and you can throw in a friendly invitation at the same time too, advertising your winter specials. Sending out a newsletter ad to your database is also a must!
- Don’t Forget the Business Travelers
With Covid pretty much under control there has been an upswing in business travel over the last few months and winter months are traditionally the time when most corporate travel happens. If you have a conference room, why not offer a special on rental and include lower rates for all attendees. Also think about targeting the individual business traveler or company. Loyalty programs can work greatly to your advantage here ensuring those business travelers return again and again.
Make sure your listings are updated with the latest, seasonal images too. And remember, images aren’t just pictures of a bed or a bathroom. We want to see people enjoying your amenities, so someone sitting in front of the fireplace enjoying a nice hot glass of gluhwein or someone relaxing in a hot tub speaks volumes compared to a picture of just said hot tub. We’re selling a lifestyle, not just an establishment.
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