Gearing Up for a Heated Holiday Getaway Season
By Larry Mogelonsky, Managing Director Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited
While drive market couple and family retreats have dominated the summer of COVID-19, new challenges will present themselves as the weather cools. But we may still realize brisk business for the forthcoming holiday season.
Given all the factors contributing to a slow recovery through Q4, the pent-up demand for corporate retreats, romantic getaways and postponed reunions amongst extended family members may result in a frenetic holiday travel season as customers look to get a trip in before 2021. That is, the period between Thanksgiving through New Year's Day may be the proverbial line in the sand where guests decide to travel no matter what.
While formulating an initial plan for the holiday season typically begins in earnest in the latter half of September, with so many hotels looking to recover some semblance of revenues lost in Q1 through Q3, expect a voraciously competitive market come November. This implies that the time to start getting a program together is now.
In the face of so much uncertainty with regard to a second wave and the economic conditions leading up to December, what does a good plan look like? Even though it's quite early, you will need to get creative in your offers and packaging to stand out. Much of this goes beyond marketing and sales negotiations, requiring operational adjustments.
Some items to consider right now include:
- Are you equipped to handle family reservations and small groups by assigning adjacent rooms or whole room sections as well as private dining setups? Are you incentivizing these types of bookings through sliding scale room rates? What videoconferencing technology can you supply for those unable to attend?
- For F&B, do you have an established holiday meal program that you can revitalize? Can this be adjusted for in-room dining while keeping costs under control?
- On the marketing front, what have you learned from the summer of staycations in terms of where customers are coming from? How do you see this changing for the upcoming holiday season? Would it be worthwhile to start advertising now with an early booking bonus?
- Has your sales team been actively keeping their rolodex of leads warm by inquiring about fall bookings? While it may be too early for many to decide upon a gathering for late Q4, it wouldn't hurt to develop your offer now and get it out there.
- What services and amenities do you provide for couples and groups who want to have a bit of entertainment in their rooms and away from others? Could you augment your holidays revenues through the creation of bespoke (and sanitized) gift baskets to be used as either a welcome amenity or sold as a deliverable present? Are there any outdoor activities you can offer? How can you put a holiday spin on all this?