Ant vs Grasshopper – Which will Hotels be this Winter?Reading Time: 5 minutes
Most of you reading this will be familiar with the children’s fable about the ant and the grasshopper. As the story goes, the grasshopper danced and sang all summer, enjoying the pleasures of abundant harvest for a season while neglecting to store provisions for darker days ahead. Meanwhile the ant, diligent as ever, worked hard to store enough food for the harsh winter.
And what happened to these insects when the winter came? Well, the ant was able to enjoy the comfort of his nest with enough food to survive the winter. The grasshopper, on the other hand, was left with no food to eat, and when he ventured out in search of sustenance, was killed by the blizzard.
Now, this may sound like a silly children’s tale to you. But after your hotel and others have enjoyed the record-breaking summer of 2022, we must ask this question: Is your hotel ready for the shoulder season and winter months just around the corner? In this article, we highlight some of the top concerns as we enter the shoulder season, and what steps your hotel should take to be prepared.
What are the top Concerns as we Enter the Shoulder Season?
After over two years of economic downturn, hotels and the wider travel and tourism industry enjoyed a euphoric period in summer 2022. Travel boomed and ADR shot through the roof, bringing total revenue significantly above 2019 levels.
But as we approach the shoulder season, there are a number of concerns across the industry, which are as follows:
The Costs of Inflation
In a recent interview with Aviation Expert and Travel & Tourism Consultant, Gavin Eccles, he raised the concern of inflation during the shoulder and winter period, saying: “The euphoric levels of travel we are seeing now is a peak summer trend that we do not have in September, October, and November. We must also remember that family travel virtually ends when schools reopen.
The burning questions now are: What will happen when the cost of inflation starts to hit people? They want a holiday now, but will they want it in a couple of months? Will we return to the pre-pandemic standard of two to three holidays per year with major inflation concerns looming?”
Speaking at our most recent Hotelier PULSE session with Techtalk.travel in July 2022, Pedro Colaco, CEO of Guestcentric and Great Hotels of the World, said: “While the industry appears to have adopted a what-can-I-get-away with mentality in regards to pricing, it’s important to note that prices have also increased due to rising costs. Independent hotels must contend with rising energy costs, and particularly in the luxury segment, higher salaries.”
Will Pricing Hold?
Despite rising costs, people were eager to travel this summer. As a result, air travel and accommodation costs reached record-breaking levels. The big question now is, will this trend continue in the low season?
Gavin predicts that current prices are unlikely to hold in the lower seasons, and airlines and hotels may need to rethink their prices in order to retain demand, saying, “ Airlines, and I expect many other travel companies from hotels to travel agencies, may need to reevaluate their revenue management strategies and we may see discounts implemented to stimulate demand.”
So, what can your hotel do to prepare for the shoulder and winter seasons?
5 Steps your Hotel can Take to be Prepared for the Shoulder Season
The shoulder season is fast-approaching, we will soon start to distinguish the ants from grasshoppers across the hotel industry. To help you prepare for the low season, we share these five strategies you should implement right now:
1. Identify niche market segments and target their needs accordingly
If you want to be successful in the way you manage your hotel during the low season and start applying smart revenue management practices, it is essential to have a clear idea of which consumer groups you should be targeting.
The first step to effectively attract guests during off-peak periods is to identify market segments likely to be interested in a low-season stay. These may include pensioners, childless couples, families with children not attending school, but also foreign travelers (different holiday periods). These traveler profiles are not constrained by the school calendar. They prefer to go on holiday in the low season to avoid mass tourism.
2. Create packages to promote length of stay
Lower room turnover is undoubtedly more cost-effective for hotels, which is crucial during the low season and considering the current staff shortages across the industry. Promoting length of stay also creates demand for a longer period of time, thus giving hotels the opportunity to really connect with guests and establish loyalty.
Therefore, hotels should create packages that promote length of stay during the low season. These can be pre-defined, where you set the additional services and the guest cannot make changes. You can also deliver customized offers, where the guests can select additional services themselves, or you can deliver a personalized package based on their historical data in your CRM.
Some specific examples of long-stay packages may include a Spa Lunch Package or a Stay & Cocktail Master Class. The important thing is to ensure you give guests enough reasons to stay at your hotel more long-term, because why would they stay longer if all you can offer is a room?
3. Promote National/Global Holidays & Events
Do you have any major events coming up in your destination, or even on a global scale during the low season? We can think of a few, including Black Friday, the Fifa World Cup 2022, and Christmas etc.
Whether you host your own events like a local wine-tasting, or collaborate with other businesses to sponsor a popular local event, activities and events are a great way to attract guests during the low season. Scope your destination for local events and activities such as music gigs, concerts, festivals, parties, fairs, comedy events, and marathons. This will invariably attract guests from all over.
Events will always be a good way to generate revenue during the low season. In these events, hotels also have the chance to up-sell extra services such as rooms, restaurant services, entertainment or relaxation options.
4. Reward your loyal customers
This is when having an integrated CRM (customer relationship management system) will help you tremendously. When you have an integrated CRM, you can identify who your loyal customers are and where they’re coming from with just a few clicks. In addition, you’ll be able to create incredible offers to send to your loyal customers to encourage them to visit you during your off-peak months. And it can all be automated.
Understanding who your customers are and creating a loyalty program is an easy way to drive repeat business and generate new leads. You can reward repeat business with free rooms, buy-one-get-one rooms, referral programs, or room upgrades or enhancements.
5. Use appropriate imagery and messaging on your hotel website
According to research by Fuel, photos and video are the number 1 factors that drive guests to book. Hoteliers who visually convey their hotel’s unique look and feel, personality, and brand via the hotel website, are more likely to appeal to the emotions of their guests. And because guest decision-making is strongly driven by emotion, these hotels also get more direct bookings.
If your hotel is based in the Northern Hemisphere, the photos and videos on your hotel website should reflect the winter getaway experience. If you’re in the South, and targeting guests from the North, you can entice guests to escape the winter – both with your images and your messaging.
Do you have a pack of photos specifically to target seasonal demands? If not, you should make this a priority in your hotel website strategy.
Ant vs Grasshopper – Which will your Hotel be this Winter?
As the pandemic so rudely reminded Hoteliers worldwide, when times are good, there is a tendency to just ride the wave of prosperity without much thought for the future. But where does that leave your hotel when the tide turns? For those who are not prepared, it leaves them out in the cold – and in the most extreme business sense, closed and bankrupt.
Do you have a strategy in place to ensure your hotel remains profitable during the low season? Let us know what you are prioritizing in the comments.