Peak season doesn’t last forever. However, that doesn’t mean that your business has to take a huge hit. When you think about the cooler weather and smaller crowds that shoulder season often brings, it’s easy to convince guests that it’s the perfect time of year to visit. Follow our guide for 10 of the best ways to thrive during shoulder season. If you implement these tips into your hotel marketing strategy, you can guarantee yourself year-round success! Additionally, if you’re looking for a quick way to see how your Google Adwords account is performing, don’t forget to check out our free Google Adwords review!
HERE’S HOW TO THRIVE DURING SHOULDER SEASON
WHAT IS SHOULDER SEASON?
If you don’t already know, shoulder season can be defined as any travel period that comes in between the peak and off-peak seasons. This could be just before or just after high-traffic periods of the year. Most travelers take vacations in the summer, which means shoulder season falls in late spring or early fall for most!
1. USE BOOSTED SOCIAL MEDIA POSTS
Social media is one of the best tools when it comes to creating awareness about your brand. Use snappy taglines and beautiful photos to really play up what a shoulder season in your area can mean to guests! Use the boost tool to promote a post and reach more potential guests. Don’t forget to link to a seasonal special, a specific room, or your booking engine!
2. CREATE SEO DRIVEN CONTENT MONTHS IN ADVANCE
Is there a particular festival or event in the shoulder season that guests might be interested in? In addition to posting about it on Facebook or Instagram, write a blog about it! To give it time to rank on Google, make sure you’re targeting your keywords at least a couple of months in advance. If you need help with SEO content writing, we have the perfect tool!
3. RUN GOOGLE ADWORDS “HOTELS NEAR ME” CAMPAIGNS
If you want to get your hotel in front of a specific audience, Google Adwords is one of the best ways to reach potential customers. Target customers within your drive market or on specific direct flight routes to maximize your exposure to people that might be searching for hotels in your area! Again, our Adwords report is a great tool for seeing if you’re on the right track!
4. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN
Whether you run a B&B, a hotel, or a vacation rental company, successful marketing campaigns don’t just spring up out of thin air. Understanding when your shoulder season is and planning for it well in advance is the only way to guarantee success. When you see traffic starting to slow down, having an actionable strategy in place and ready to go will make it easier for you to focus on what matters most: the guests!
5. CREATE EXPERIENCES FOR YOUR GUESTS
Some of the experiences you are going to create for your guests will come naturally. For example, if you are near a college or pro football team, you can easily expand from just game day to having a “Game Weekend” experience package. You could also turn the changing of seasons into a tactful marketing plan, as travelers flock to your area to admire the fall foliage. Some options that aren’t season-specific include yoga retreats, cooking classes, or art classes!
6. PARTNER WITH LOCAL BUSINESSES
One of the easiest ways to do this is to find the restaurant you often refer your guests to, and establish a partnership. Purchase $50-100 gift certificates for the restaurant, include the price in your fall getaway package, and help ease the stress of planning a vacation for your future guest. Also, be sure that the restaurant (or any other local business) is willing to promote you in their marketing, including social media posts and email campaigns. If you are a small B&B, you’d be surprised by how often other local businesses are willing to cooperate on marketing campaigns where everyone wins.
7. KNOW YOUR AREA
Make sure that you are promoting any fall or winter festivals, as well as all the holidays that come up this time of year. Again, if a particular time of year brings fantastic weather and beautiful spring flowers or fall foliage, make sure to highlight that in your marketing campaigns.
8. WORK WITH THE CHAMBER TO BRING IN GROUPS
Make sure you have a presence with the chamber, and help those folks create reasons for more and more travelers to come to your area. You interact with dozens of guests a day, so your input is invaluable when it comes to knowing what people want. Can you have a Corvette Festival like Eureka Springs? Or maybe an Octoberfest celebration? The possibilities abound, so don’t be shy in helping create the next big thing in your area!
9. UTILIZE YIELD MANAGEMENT
Just because it is shoulder season doesn’t mean that you have to always offer a lower price! The best way to utilize yield management is to use a booking engine that can help automate the process for you. Set some rules, and watch your revenue increase! Remember, if you sold out for a shoulder season weekend well in advance, you were priced too low from the beginning.
10. INVITE YOUR GUESTS BACK
You know those guests who loved coming to visit you during the summer? I bet they’d love to come back again! Make sure that you are capturing return guests frequently. One of the best ways to do this is through email marketing. You should be marketing to them consistently, but especially when you are looking to fill some empty rooms! Check out our blog on how to drive last-minute bookings for some additional tips on how to fill empty rooms.
SURVIVING SHOULDER SEASON IS THAT EASY!
From running specials and creating buzz on social media to sending out targeted emails and creating banner ads on your website, curating a successful shoulder-season marketing strategy can be time-consuming, getting in the way of what you need to do to run your business. Luckily, our team at Q4Launch is trained to guide you through every step of the process or even do all of the work for you! If you have any questions about what we can do to help, feel free to get in touch with us! Don’t forget to take advantage of our Google Adwords Report to make sure you are running effective campaigns!