October 09, 2020
By Laura Fredericks

Halloween can be an exciting time for hotels. Travelers are taking advantage of fall weather, those with kids are embracing the chance to dress up, and the holiday season is just around the corner. But in a year when many travelers are staying home and in-person events have gone through major changes, Halloween may feel like a bigger challenge than normal. That's where these Halloween hotel ideas come in. Keep reading to learn how to celebrate Halloween at your hotel while keeping your staff and guests safe. 

Discover 10 of our favorite Halloween hotel ideas:

1. Have a virtual costume contest.

While many families and locations have decided against in-person trick-or-treating, that doesn’t mean Halloween costumes are out of the question. You may find that guests and followers are more likely to engage online than ever before. Consider holding a virtual Halloween costume contest, where your social media followers, staff, and guests post pictures of themselves in costume. You can include great prizes, shoutouts on your social media channels, and a gallery of all the submissions on your website. This type of user-generated content is great for creating engagement with your brand. Don’t forget to ask contest entrants to include a relevant hashtag so that the competition is easy to follow and share.

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Prizes for online events like these can really make the difference between a mediocre Facebook post and an all-out extravaganza. What do your followers really want from the experience? Would a weekend getaway at your property wow them? What about a Zoom call with a local celebrity? Or an over-the-top Halloween gift basket with candy, games, costume accessories, and the latest tech gadget? Your prize is a chance to show that you understand your audience and really cause a stir, so that everyone wants to share and participate.

2. Celebrate with a socially-distanced Halloween parade.

Some in-person events for Halloween can still work if you plan them with guidelines in place. If your lobby space is big enough, you may be able to hold a socially-distanced Halloween parade, either for young guests or for pets. This gives guests a chance to celebrate without taking the risk of mingling in a party environment or going trick-or-treating. If the weather allows for it, hold this parade outside. Remember to capture all of the fun with photos and video to share the excitement on your hotel website and social media.

Pet parades are a particularly good idea for properties to show off their pet-friendly policies and introduce neighborhood pooches. For instance, the High Line Hotel in New York has hosted a well-known dog parade for the past few Halloweens, and draws in a crowd from the surrounding community as well as guests and staff. This is a great chance to create a deeper bond in the community you serve and make connections with local businesses (and their furry friends!).

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3. Provide self-serve treats for guests to take to their rooms.

Handing out candy may not be an option, but you can still take part in the sweet fun of trick-or-treating with individual treat bags that are offered on a table in the lobby. Guests can take these treats back to their rooms to enjoy knowing that your property and staff care about the holiday as well as their safety.

Some hotels are going beyond candy to offer specialty Halloween treats and gift bags to guests who book a Halloween package. These could include baked goods from your restaurant, local treats, or even sponsored items from brands that you partner with for the holiday season. By creating a package, you can add value to the guest experience as well as potentially upselling guests on goods and services that your property offers.

4. Go all-out on decor.

Just because events are limited doesn't mean your Halloween decor needs to be. This is the year to show your Halloween spirit with more decorations than ever! You have lots of options for decorating, from fun and whimsical to the truly scary. Take the types of guests who frequent your hotel into consideration for this. Do you have lots of young guests? Do you cater to a luxury crowd? Is your hotel in a spooky location? Do you have a haunted history to draw from? Your audience will determine the decor that makes the most sense for your property. If you do decide to go with scary decorations, consider limiting them to certain floors or rooms so that guests have the option to stay away.

Your location and property features provide lots of opportunities for Halloween decorations as well as fun themed activities. Consider whether you can feature a corn or hay-bale maze, a haunted tractor/carriage/truck/bus ride (depending on the setting), a haunted hallway, or even a haunted restaurant experience. Hotels offer lots of different locations that make great spooky spaces. Get creative with your own space and see what you come up with!

5. Create a spooky staff video.

Staff videos are a fun way to engage guests online, whether they are currently at the hotel or not. For Halloween, you can create a staff video sharing spooky stories about the hotel, showing off their costumes, or taking guests virtually to local attractions. This video can appear on your website and social media, as well as somewhere on your property. This will help give guests a face-to-face connection with your employees without actually having to be face to face.

Staff videos are certainly not the only way to engage digitally with potential guests. There have been some wildly creative and successful Halloween digital marketing campaigns in recent years. These campaigns combine brand messaging with striking visuals, humor, and creative copy to get followers excited about the holiday and the brand simultaneously. The important thing to keep in mind for these digital campaigns is that they should speak with your brand voice and convey the values of your hotel. Is your brand all about sustainability? Show us your latest reusable and upcycled Halloween decor! Are you all about connecting with the latest trends? Partner with a local influencer to produce Halloween makeup videos, give a haunted tour of your property, or share details about your over-the-top, late-night costume party. However you celebrate, make sure it shows off your brand and hotel in the best way possible.

6. Curate a list of local events.

Even if your property isn’t hosting any Halloween events, you can still be a great source of information about Halloween and autumn activities in your local area. Curate a list of local socially-distanced, outdoor, and virtual events your guests may enjoy. Maybe a local farm is hosting apple picking, or a restaurant is hosting an outdoor pumpkin carving contest. Your area could also be known for haunted hayrides, corn mazes, or costume contests. Consider breaking this list up by attendee age group, and post it throughout your property as well as online. 

Even better, you can partner with local organizations to co-host events that tie in with your brand and property. Do you have great outdoor event space? Would one of your ballrooms work for a socially distanced get-together? Keep in mind that these collaborations are a great way to boost business and increase engagement with the community.

7. Teach a spooky skill.

Demonstrations and small group classes can be a safe way to offer fun Halloween and autumn activities for your guests and the community. For example, your property’s food and beverage team could host a pumpkin carving class, while other staff can teach attendees how to create Halloween crafts, make a fall centerpiece, or play a Halloween-themed game. In order to safely hold these activities, your demonstrator should be at the front of the room and all participants should be spaced out and using their own materials. If you have the technology to make it work, you can also host these classes virtually and deliver the necessary materials to guest rooms.

As you consider what crafts or projects to teach, remember that guests want to share their experience visually with others. Try to choose crafts that have a fun visual impact and look impressive, even if they’re fairly simple to put together. Painted pumpkins in less typical colors - like pink or pastel - are popular this year and easy to create. Guests will love sharing their creations on Instagram and other image-heavy social media platforms, and will love telling others about the unique experience they had at your hotel

8. Show a Halloween movie outside.

If you’re in a location with moderate to warm October weather, an outdoor movie screening is a great chance to get guests excited about the holiday. It often works well to show movies for younger audiences early in the evening before it gets dark, and then host spookier options once the sun goes down. You can also use this opportunity to further promote your brand and property messaging. Do you have branded towels or chairs that guests can sit on during the screening? Can you provide fun snacks in keeping with your hotel atmosphere? No matter what the details look like, your guests will appreciate the chance to gather safely and celebrate Halloween in whatever ways they can.

9. Set up a photo booth.

Photo booths have become a staple for in-person events, especially those with attendees that are heavy social media users. If your hotel caters to Millennials or a younger crowd, consider setting up a photo booth in the lobby during this holiday season. You can include custom backgrounds and filters for Halloween, autumn, and beyond. Or take it up a notch and offer sanitized props, branded merchandise, and costume accessories for guests to enjoy! Encourage your guests to share their photos with your property’s social media channels using a relevant hashtag for added engagement. This is a great way to let guests show off their costumes and share their experiences during the holiday in a safe way.

10. Think beyond Halloween.

Although Halloween is an important time for many hotels, it’s also just the beginning. This holiday is really the launching point for the rest of the holiday season, and can be a great chance for you to highlight all of the fun things you have planned for the next few months. Reach beyond the day itself to include autumn activities that will transition well into Thanksgiving, like fall food tours, autumn crafts, and Thanksgiving cooking classes. Highlight the events you have coming up for the holidays, and start to get guests excited by offering sneak peeks of holiday menus, decorations, or event plans. Although this holiday season will likely look quite different than previous years, your guests will know that they can still count on you for a great experience that keeps them safe.

Put these Halloween hotel ideas to good use!

With these Halloween hotel ideas, your hotel can celebrate the holiday and host fun and safe activities for your guests. It may look a bit different than previous years, but will still be a spooky time for all! 

Up next, explore a variety of hotel amenity ideas that will wow your guests and keep them coming back.

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Laura Fredericks

Laura brings a decade of insight to improving marketing, as she has worked in technology since 2010. She has experience starting and scaling a business, driving customer marketing, and speaking at live events, including WeDC Fest 2018. She founded Describli and Paradigm Labs, and currently works with companies to improve their customer relationship management and content strategy. LinkedIn | Website
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