Its been proven that 2013 is a great year for hoteliers but occupancy hasnt changed in some areas, and hotel owners, managers, and sales people are looking for ways to boost their occupancy and increase rate. If you are in one of these areas you need to focus on one thing before the other, and that is occupancy. If you are hurting on over all revenue and your not selling over 50% of your inventory every day, you need to focus on occupancy before trying to drive rate.
If there is not a demand in your area then why drive rate when you have over 50% of your rooms empty? Driving rate before demand is the mistake some hotel managers and owners make when things are getting slim. Your in the business to sell rooms and until you get a comfortable base of business, I wouldnt try pushing rate when your starving for occupancy.
23 Steps To Increase Hotel Sales
If you follow the 23 steps we lay out here in this post you will start seeing a rise in occupancy with in a couple of months. Remember there is not miracle way to boost your hotel occupancy over night, and we strongly do not suggest you drop your rates to the bottom of the scale either. Just follow these steps and see how they work for you. They have worked for me numerous times at various properties.
1. Read the local paper for leads- This is a good way to get leads in your own backyard. Maybe a larger employer in your area is hiring, or one of the room generators in your area the contact person got a promotion. Reach out to them and congratulate them.
2. Order A Travel Agent Production Report Yearly for your area and then reach out to those travel agents and make sure they have your property loaded.
3. Develop Packages for your property - Team up with some area local businesess and create a couple of packages that you can put on your website and advertise through your local CVB.
4. Develop a Facebook page- Why this form of marketing takes time to take hold, no hotel or small business should be with out a Facebook page. Over 1 Billion people that are online use Facebook.
5. Develop a Twitter Page- Just like the Facebook Page Twitter is a popular way to get your business noticed and then keep up with current guests and to get leads.
8. Talk with your guest in your breakfast area and find out what brings them to the area. You might be able to get more business from what you find out from your guests that are already staying with you.
9. Contact Local Parks and Recreation departments for future events such as sporting, family reunions etc.
10. Drive your competitions parking lots twice a week. Tuesday and Thursdays are best days to do this. Write down the company names and then contact them the following day to see if you can earn their business.
11. When was the last time you updated your website information?
12. Do you have a hospital or nursing home rate? Set one up and contact your area nursing homes and hospitals.
13. Established Distressed rates with the Airlines
14.Sign your hotel up for Hotelplanners.com
15. Make sure your listed on booking.com
16. Are you checking rates on Kayak.com and making sure your competitive with the area hotels/
17. Dig out your old sales files that havent been traced in a long time, and start re tracing them.
18. Trip Advisor - What are your guests saying about your hotel, and what are guests saying about your competition.
19. Are you inspecting your rooms to make sure the quality standard is there?
20. Advertise to local churches and church groups.
21. Become the official overflow hotel for your competitors
22. Welcome new businesses that are coming to your community. Talk to realtors, leasing companies, the chambers and local banks for leads
23. Check with your local permit office for leads on future construction projects.
Follow these 23 items, and with in 90 days if they are executed properly you will start seeing an increase in your occupancy. You can see results faster then 90 days but you need to work really hard at these steps. If you would like more information on how to increase your hotels occupancy email us at newsimplemarketing and give us your name and email address and will add you to our list.
Take Advantage of All Market Segements
When talking to hoteliers that have been in this business for over 20 years, you hear about the market segements that seem to be standard all over the world. Corporate, Lesiure, Group N Travel, Goverment and Milliatary and SMERF. However to me a couple of these segements can be broken down a little bit more to better see the full picture of what they offer.
When writing about a subject like this most hotel owners are going to read this and be totally disgusted to find out what is needed in some areas to boost their occupancy. Other owners will be like, oh duh, why didnt I think of that. Hotel sales people will be like, I have tried to do this at my property but the GM and owner both are against it. Your proably asking yourself this. What are you talking about? Well I am talking about Weekly Rates!
Weekly Rates At Your Hotel and How To Profit From Them
Now before you leave this blog and start dumping rates in the toilet to bring in your occupancy, you want to make sure your going to profit from this type of market. You also want to be careful and not to get the clientel that is going to bring your hotels reputation down. Here are the first things you want to look at.
1. What Segement is Your Hotel In? Budget, Economy, Economy Midscale, Midscale, Upper Midscale, and Upper Scale Full Service.
2. How Many Rooms Does Your Property Have?- This is very important because if you only have 40 Rooms and you are already running 55% occupancy you might not profit from this kind of business.
3. What Is Your Cost Per Room Sold, and Cost Per Room Empty? - This will help you figure out your rate.
Once you have this down you can then decide if this kind of business is profitable for you or not. If you dont think its profitable for you and you have a 100 room hotel with only 30% Occupancy, then I am going to tell you that you are wrong. This kind of business will be profitable for you, and could possibly keep you out of foreclosure.
Companies are looking at ways to cut costs and get more value for their money. They are passing these traits on to their employees. The employee that travels to a city that is going to be there for 1 to 4 weeks is going to look at a way to help save their company money, because either A They get to pocket the difference of their pier diem, or B they are rewarded with bonuses if they are able to cut down on expenses when on the road. Now with weekly rates you want to be comfortable with choosing your rate, but you need to know that a good weekly rate, that will get bookings is usually %50 to %75 Off BAR/RACK. Your asking well how will I make money with that. I am going to show you.
Take Cash Only For Payment- This is becoming a trend with Midscale and Economy Midscale properties, so guests are not too shocked when you tell them you have a great weekly rate, but you must take cash for payment up front for the whole 7 days. This way your not paying credit card processing fees.
Limit Housekeeping Services- Your weekly stays will receive trash and towel service daily, with one day out of the week, you will give them full service. This will help you control your labor, laundry and chemical costs. I have seen where some midscale hotels will elimiate breakfast, I STRONGLY RECOMEND THAT YOU DO NOT DO THIS! Allow the guests to take advantage of the other amenities in the hotel as those are the reasons they are staying with you.
NO REFUNDS FOR EARLY CHECK OUTS- Make sure to have a policy for the guest to sign at check in, letting them know that they will not be refunded for checking out early, that checking out early will raise their nightly rate to the full nightly rate of the hotel, and they will be charged accordingly. So if a guest pays you for 7 nights at a nightly rate of $50, and checks out on their 3rd night, they will be charged the $100 per night for their 3 nights which will cause the guest to pay more. When you have a policy like this, if the guest has to leave they will do so with out asking for a refund, knowing they were getting one hell of a deal to begin with.
Occupancy How Many Rooms Do You Sell - Occupancy will depend on your own operating costs, area, time of year, and how big your property is. Here is my basic recomendation based on a 100 Room Holiday Inn, Ramada, and or Clarion to just give you an idea of possible operating costs. 100 Room Property 20% Weekly Stays. Another great way to do this with out too much thinking is take your fixed costs and figure out your daily costs to just keep the doors open. Then sell that much daily revenue in Weekly Stays. This way you can rest easy knowing your basic costs are covered but make sure you do have at least 30% of regular business coming through, other wise you will go into the hotel.
Senior Citizens Also Called The White Hair Segement
For years Seniors were grouped in the Leisure Segement and never really sought out after invidually because of limited funds. That was a mistake, and will be a mistake even now if you do not consider this a seperate segement of its own. Seniors make up the largest segement of the United States Population for the first time in history based on the 2010 Census. They are also very big spenders. Read this article we found on Seniors and their spending power, along with how they make purchasing decisions click here.
If you were to work these two segements your property could see an occupancy boost of 15 to 35%. It just depends on you and your sales skills. Feature and Benefits must always lead, but just remember people are looking for deals in these segements but they are also looking for value. If your value is worth $100 a night, then they will pay $100 a night, if its only worth 50, then why would anybody want to pay for more?
These items that were discussed in this article also will give you a shot in the arm occupancy boost as Weekly Stays are happening all the time, and Seniors can spontaneously travel any time they want when faced with a good deal that has value to them.
Until Next Time!
Local events in your area can be very large room generators and some hotel managers and sales directors don't realize as to how many local events they have in the area that can bring in rooms. To increase your hotel occupancy with local events, you must first find out when the events are, and to find out who is coordinating the event.
Talk with your local CVB. Local CVB's usually have a large list of events and the contact persons name that is hosting the event. Once you build a list of your local events place them on a calendar. Once you get these all placed on the calendar so you know what dates they are being held, then you will want to check your hotels availability for those dates, and then look up past history for those dates. If those dates were not sell out dates, then for what ever event is being placed that day, you can call on them and offer a special rate.
Some Local events want their vendors to help sponsor the event in order to get the business. That is fine, but make sure its going to be feasible for you to do something like that. Every time you pay for marketing or any kind of event advertising you want to track the ROI to make sure your getting your bang for your buck!
Blog About Your Area Local Events
Now once you get done calling directors of events, and paying for your advertising if there was any costs, you want to make sure that you are visible on the internet. People that come from out of town to these events usually do a hotel search for hotels near the event center. So make sure you put your location and how far you are from the event center along with searchable key words. Blogging for events can be time consuming, but from past experience it does help to make sure you get your piece of the pie. In my opinion blogging about events on your hotels website is a must and will bring you room nights. Its never let me down with my properties in the past.
Use Social Media To Talk About Local Events
Don't forget that this day and age people are social more then ever before especially due to the popular social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and Pinterest. Make sure you share your blog on these channels and post perodically about those events so they will be planted out on the internet and help you when people are doing social searches or even searching on search engines. This will plant seeds out there on the web stating that your hotel is part of the event and will come up when people search for these local events.
These steps will help you increase your hotels occupancy with these events even if you never got rooms from them before.
Its every hotels General Manager and Sales Directors dream to have their website on the 1st Page of Google with their areas hotel search term, however it can't be done overnight and nobody I mean nobody can guareentee you 1st Page search results with Google.
Marketing companies out there that do online marketing for other business's other then hotels are reaching out to the hotel industry in hopes in gaining more business. However they cannot garueentee you 1st Page on Google, and when they do succeed at this, your website will be at risk of being permantely removed from Googles Search forever. Alot of these companies that are out there making such promises are using black tecniques which are not allowed by Google. Google is punishing these sites by removing them from their search index. Which means nobody is going to find your site. Alot of these companies also do not know about the new Google algoryhtym for hotels since Google is wanting to make money off of Hotel sales by becoming its own travel search engine.
Google Uses Lattiude and Longitude For Hotel Searches
For the last 5 years Google has been wanting to localize searches to make their searches easier on people looking for something in a local area. They picked Hotels to start this out, and if your hotel is not close to the downtown city center, your chances of being on 1st page are slim to none. When you do a search for local hotels such as Davenport Iowa Hotels, your going to get a list of local hotel pages in Google, and then a small handful of websites for those propeties on the 1st page. Those hotels are closer to your city center and it goes from there.
Having good key words in your website description and meta tags are always going to be key, but overloading and anchoring text to get you to move up those searches is not recomended. However there is a way to get your website to move up in the searches if your not on the 1st page and thats by focusing your online marketing to your local events that drive room nights to your local area.
Focusing your online marketing to your areas events and tieing it in with your hotel is the best way to get seen on Google as most people will search for hotels near the big event because they want to be close to the event, or some people do not want to be close to the event. This will force Google after time to move your site up for your areas location. However if you are in a small town on the outside of your market, ranking on 1st page wont happen.
Remember trying to fool Google will cost you, and using a company that promises 1st Page ranking on Google is just throwing your money down the drain.
Put Heads In Beds With Out A Sales Director
This is the final part of a 2 part blog series on how hotel General Managers can increase occupancy with out a Sales Director. To read the first part click here. Increasing occupancy in a hotel with out a Sales team, can be hard, but not impossible. If you are detailed focus and willing to put in the time it will pay off in the long run.
Its very important that all steps in this blog series is followed as we show you how to reach out to a few various market segements to help you grab some extra rooms here and there. This way you can still focus on your operation and word of mouth on how great your property is will spread like wild fire. So lets get started.
Read The Daily Paper
I don't know about you, but I love to read the daily paper, and to think that now its going to be part of your job. Does that not make it more enjoyable? Your daily or weekly paper can have a lot of leads in it, and you just don't know it. This is where hoteliers need to think out side of the box when it comes to putting heads in those beds. Your local paper has a large amount of local information in them about businesses, social functions, funerals, large hiring events etc. Ok so are you starting to see the full picture on this?
Search your local paper for special events, social engagements, and other opportunities where these events could bring you a few extra sleeping rooms a month. You should be able to find at least one good lead in every paper. If you do not, then your not looking at it closely enough, or your focusing too much either way.
Area Wedding Vendors
Every area has families who have kids that are getting married, and I have yet to see one wedding that did not at least generate 3 to 6 sleeping rooms, and of course the average ones that usually pick up 15 to 20. You want to reach out to bridal shops, jewelry stores, reception halls etc. Let them know that you would more then ready to help their groups with great over night accommodations. Send them a flyer that they can keep in their folder, and if they have a client presentation that is handed out to their customers, if you can be included in it.
This is a great way to grab a market that usually generates room nights on the weekends. Remember if your not 100% full then you have room to sell more rooms.
Make a Top 20 Call List Every Month
Every month as a General Manager you should proactively try to sell your property and also make sure your servicing your current accounts properly as well. Every month pick 10 of your accounts to call on just to check in, and see how service is going for them. This is a good way to stay in fresh in their mind, because you know your competition is calling on them. If you didnt know that, I am telling you that its happening. Do not ever think that its not. Make sure they know that they can reach you if they ever have any concerns from people they have stay at your hotel.
Once you have your list of 10 current customers, you want to make a list of 10 accounts that you do not have, and call on them to see if their needs have changed, how you can service them better then your competition or even maybe save them a few extra dollars on their lodging bill (Don't get in the habit of discounting but we got to be honest. It still happens.) This way your hotel is now fresh in their mind. However make sure your talking to the decision maker. The receptionist might sometimes be the one that books rooms, but most cases that is not the situation.