As hoteliers, you've all been there: a group cancels at the last minute and you're stuck with an excess of empty rooms. As the Director of Sales of a hotel, you're scrambling to get guests into your hotel that same night but have little time to coordinate a huge occupancy push. It's happened before and will likely happen again. But never fear! Next time, just turn to your online channel to drive some last-minute occupancy. Below are three easy ways to get some heads in your beds when you need them most.
1. Social Media Promotions
Start planning today--even when you don't have the dire need for last-minute rooms--by creating an exclusive rate for social media channels. Next time you need last-minute rooms, open this rate to your guests and share an announcement of the rate via social media. You can work with your social media team to implement targeting strategies and focus on guests looking for same-night rooms via Facebook, Twitter and other social channels.
If you already have a large fan base on Facebook, create a post about the special rate and ask your fans to share the post to help spread the word. Be clear with your message: your hotel is offering discounted rooms and you should be sure people understand this is a "one night only" type offer. Also, you should make your content something your fans would want to share. Post a picture of your most beautiful room or best hotel photo and encourage people to like the post if they like the photo. In addition, you should ask your fans to share the post. This will increase your "people talking about this" score and get your rates in front of more potential guests.
Blue Magnet has seen great success sharing deals & discounted rates on Twitter because of its open and searchable platform. By using hashtags like #cheaphotel or #sale in addition to a hashtag for the city name (ie, #chicago), you can reach a much broader audience. The best news is that these tweeters are already looking for deals in your city so they're likely to click through to your website and ideally book.
2. Same Day Sales
While some brands are shying away from using OTA sites for typical bookings due to high margins and decreased ADRs, many hoteliers agree OTA sites are still useful for gaining last minute occupancy. By running sales with your OTA of choice, you can see loads of extra exposure with very minimal management of the promotion. Not only that, but you get the added benefit of the billboard effect and its impact on future bookings.
As soon as you realize you may be desperate for same-night bookings, the first thing you should do is call your OTA market manager or online marketing manager. Explain that you are looking to drive occupancy for the same night. Most likely he or she will recommend you set up a same day sale and discount your rate.
Since same day sales run the same day as the booking, these deep discounted rooms don't violate brands' best rate guarantees. In fact, you could discount your room as much as you'd like and not have to worry about rate parity if the booking and stay are within 24 hours of each other. (This is true for most brands in the Blue Magnet client base, but please be sure to check with your brand performance team before assuming this is the same for your brand.)
Blue Magnet has also seen success with negotiating margins on top of using the one-day sales. For example, if we put together a same day sale on Expedia we typically commit to giving Expedia a slightly higher margin for the need date. Expedia sees this as a benefit and will temporarily bump your hotel up in the search rankings, thereby giving you even more exposure.
After receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, Advertising and Promotions from a small school in Ohio, Ashley Stevens moved to Chicago to make her stake in online marketing. Ashley's background ranges from promotions and event planning for nonprofit organizations to creating innovative online marketing strategies for Blue Magnet Interactive's hotel clients. Ashley conquered the world of account management as an Internet Marketing Manager and quickly became the team leader, working with high-level clients and ensuring her team stays proactive and provides the best service to BMI's clients. If you have an online marketing issue and don't know where to start, Ashley Stevens is your woman.