Whether you own/manage a 20 room Inn, a 200 room hotel or a 2,000 room super tanker, you most likely have occupancy gaps.
Most typically these GAPS exist Sunday –Thursday and it’s easy to do the math – you can’t bank roll an operation by just staying busy 2 nights a week – the weekend. Such pressures lead many to cutting services, or expensive marketing affiliations and even to expensive franchise fees.
Throughout my career in hotel sales and marketing, these GAPS remain a constant – regardless of your center city, resort or suburban location. Regardless, I believe and have continued to find creative, resourceful and available means to fill these GAPS – and the profitability that follows makes all the difference.
WHY are we all so afflicted by these GAPS?
WHY do most just accept these GAPS as part of the business as usual?
WHY is the only answer / resolution / solution an array of expensive marketing options?
Because most operators are afraid of Direct Sales…and are reluctant to invest the time…and at the end of the day, it’s all about how we spend our time.
Allow me to help make the best use of your time by proposing 3 effective – impactful – proven and successful ways of filling these GAPS.
- Meetings: get this – the average size meeting in America is only 30 people.
Most independent hotels / resorts / Inns have a living room, dining room, social room that can accommodate 20-30 people in any combination of social or formal setting.
Most of these meetings take place Sunday through Thursday.
Most of these meetings include attendees from the local office and those who fly in – PERFECT!
You have the space, you have availability and you have a great opportunity here to fill your empty rooms…and not just with the out of town guests. Meetings are always ways to strengthen working relations and build a sense of teamwork – and so even the locals are inclined to stay overnight and thus not miss out on the chance to build camaraderie with their colleagues.
The challenge? Identifying the contacts – whether executive or gate-keeper; familiarizing them with your presence and capabilities and then developing the relationship which results in a booking.
This is a direct sales process that takes TIME…patience, the ability to ask good questions, to be perseverant, to do some wining and dining and all of these activities take TIME.
Recently, I worked with a 14 room Inn, within an hours drive of Charlotte and within the first year of new ownership – having taken this Meetings Mode seriously – they are already thinking and researching financing options to double the size of their Inn – all because of their success with mid-week Meetings…and they have found these meetings tend to happen quarterly!
- Corporate transient travelers: road warriors are tired of traveling and staying at the Box hotels.
Most business travelers are on the road – Sunday through Thursday and as a result, have accumulated more reward points than they can ever use. Further, as long as the rate is right, they have a lot more prerogative about where they want to lay their head on the pillow.
Given the emerging focus on LIFESTYLE travel, baby boomers and millennials alike are expressive nowadays about wanting their hotel destinations to match their lifestyles and NOT just be sleeping at another franchise brands.
Once again, the TIME commitment is the same, the gain is the same of filling rooms Sunday –Thursday, and get this….the focus here is 1:1 with the guest once they arrive, so no Group arrangements; the difference – they tend to wear a suit and tie and not khakis or shorts – so – what’s the problem? This strategy takes TIME.
Recently, I worked with a small Inn in central Michigan who took this strategy to heart and worked it and as a result – I enjoyed breakfast with a consultant who was in for his second visit in 6 weeks…oh yea, each visit was for 5 nights a week for two weeks.
- Elopements: short term weddings, looking for privacy.
What a perfect niche for small independents! Timing is the priority of the event. For whatever reason, there is a smaller group invited, there is a focus on intimacy and making a memory and as a result of the smaller group and the urgency – price is NOT the driving factor…
Recently, I worked with an operation in suburban New Hampshire and another in Tennessee and they both put in the sweat equity effort of networking and calling on and inviting influencers in their locale and NOW they claim that Elopements are the difference in their financial success.
In closing –
The GAPS are not easy to fill.
The GAPS will not be filled with good marketing.
The GAPS require time, effort, creativity, perseverance…but, working a plan to fill the gaps with Meetings, Corporate travelers and Elopements can make alllllllllllllllll the difference.
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