Hotel promotion during the pandemic – how to use discounts?
In my previous post on the KWHotel blog, I discussed the general benefits of creating a hotel discount policy that can boost your revenue. I also suggested a few situations when you should adjust the discount to the given customer group. I’m really grateful for your enormously positive feedback!
Today we will analyse how to perform the hotel promotion during the pandemic by using discounts. We will base our considerations on two types of locations – city hotels and holiday resorts. Enjoy your read!
First, ask yourself these 10 important questions…
If I were to say in one sentence why hotel location is such an important factor, I’d go with:
Hotel location determines not only the target group, but mainly what events and tourist attractions we can integrate into our sales and marketing activities.
If you never thought about creating a flexible hotel discount policy, I’ll tell you the greatest secret in the world.
Start with a blank sheet of paper.
Seriously! My best ideas as a hotel manager were born there. Once you sit comfortably in the armchair, accompanied by a pen and aromatic brewed coffee, write down the following information:
🔹 Where is my facility located?
🔹 What type of facility am I running?
🔹 Which group of clients brings me the most revenue?
🔹 Do I want to attract new customer groups, or I’d rather attract more of the best ones?
🔹 What areas of seasonality do I have? Do I want to extend them and in what period?
🔹 What attractions and events are taking place in my area?
🔹 What discounts do I already offer? Are they differentiated depending on the customer group?
🔹 Do my discounts apply to additional hotel services?
🔹 What is my break-even point (the lowest acceptable cost of a given room)?
🔹 What do I want to achieve with each of my discounts? Increase sales? Reach new customer groups?
Ready? So let’s take a closer look at using discounts for hotel promotion during the pandemic.
Discount policy of the city hotels
In cities, where the influence of business and foreign tourism was enormous, everything suddenly turned upside down. Borders were closed and companies have switched to remote work. Conferences and business meetings became a thing of the past.
When pandemic restrictions were partially removed, hoteliers had to focus on completely different target groups. All of a sudden, it turned out that cities haven’t really focused on expanding their infrastructure for domestic tourism. Now hoteliers have to think about marketing their region to national tourists.
That’s why you must quickly determine what your hotel’s neighbourhood offers to potential guests. Don’t wait for information from the city officials. Prepare a list of attractions to fulfil the guest’s leisure time – make sure to spread it over several arrivals. This can turn your guests into returning customers. You can also call the City Hall and ask about worthwhile attractions in your region.
Since business meetings are slowly reappearing in some countries – it’s worth considering discounts for corporations. For example, you can prepare a discount for days when you have lower occupancy.
Some other examples include:
✅ Learn what your city does for families – are there websites or videos advertising attractions in your region?
✅ Nearby parks and lakes – create a visualization for couples or families. Let them know you’re the perfect holiday destination.
✅ Inflatable attractions, zoo, etc.
✅ Swimming pools – tickets included in the accommodation price, relaxation by the lake, etc.
What about holiday resorts and agritourism?
Here, the season is determined primarily by the so-called holiday months (e.g. July, August, December). However, I must stress out that seasons in coastal and mountain resorts may differ – be sure to write down your area of seasonality when answering the 10 questions I have listed before. You can define your area of seasonality by analyzing the reports in the KWHotel software (e.g. the “Revenue export” report).
Recreation and agritourism centres have fewer business clients and more families. They are highly impacted by the off-seasons (e.g. winter at the seaside). Check if you have any winter excursion routes and if the nearby attractions are opened during that time. Prepare the entire leisure offer for the client, organize time and attractions for him, and include it in one package. You can give your guest an overnight discount or discount other services.
Another aspect of hotel promotion during the pandemic you should pay attention to is the presence of large cities in the area. What is going on in them, are there any cultural events?
It’s also worth focusing on industries “unfrozen” from the pandemic, such as gastronomy, construction, medical – it’s not just doctors!
Also reflect on offering business and leisure trips for corporations. If you haven’t dealt with business clients so far, pay attention to aspects such as transport, catering and the presence of a conference room. Think about what you can give “from yourself” and what you should look for in the area to prepare a business offer.
A few universal tips for hotel promotion during the pandemic
It may sound obvious, but … discounts are a really powerful weapon – it’s worth using them on a large scale! Look:
🔸 Breakfast can be an attractive discount for families. You should calculate your FoodCost and offer breakfast included in the price or give a discount above +3 people etc. Sometimes discounting a breakfast service is financially more profitable than lowering an accommodation cost. In addition, it can translate into greater satisfaction with the stay.
🔸 The discount may apply to services – first analyse the services report and think about the costs of providing each of them.
🔸 The hotel’s discount policy may depend on the length of stay – you can use it when you want to get more revenue from certain days of the week or boost the overall length of stay. It fits perfectly with the dynamic price policy, about which I plan to record a dedicated online course 😊
🔸 It’s important to simulate the discount before introducing it. You definitely should know your break-even point (the lowest acceptable room cost). You can find formulas on the Internet to help you calculate the room cost.
🔸 Monitor the discounted bookings – watch if it goes in the right direction, which discounts work better, which don’t work at all, and make necessary adjustments.
A very important factor when fighting for the domestic tourists
Since we’re now more focused on domestic tourism, you should give more love to your hotel’s activity on social media.
In the past, when foreign tourism was the way to go, social media didn’t play such a huge role. However, the transition to domestic tourism requires us to regularly inform people about attractions and events in the area.
Hotel promotion during the pandemic – important final comments
I have to emphasize this – it’s not about discounting customers all the time. Of course I’m against price undercutting! As hoteliers, we shape market prices, just like our competitors. That’s why self-education and … educating the competition are so important.
If we all keep the prices stable, they won’t go below dangerous levels.
Now, in times of the pandemic, it is not discounting itself that is important, but rather HOW we discount and whether we are getting close to the point of being not profitable. Many hoteliers have faced the need to completely change their target group – I know from experience how huge of a challenge that is.
I wish you to get through these difficult times – I truly believe that one day it will all get back to normal. Meanwhile, in the next article, I’ll explain how to turn your front desk into an important part of the hotel promotion during the pandemic.
PS: “difficult times” phrase – don’t you think it has already worn out, being mentioned by millions of advertisements and newspaper articles?