Hotels truly shine during the holiday season. Guests are visiting family and friends, looking for a fun vacation, or finding ways to entertain their kids before Santa comes to town. Holiday cheer is in higher demand than ever before, which is exactly why we’ve curated this list of holiday hotel ideas to help you not only give guests a memorable experience, but actually market your hotel as a destination once winter rolls around. While most of the following ideas are more geared toward Christmas, they can also be applied to Hanukkah or any other holiday you wish to celebrate.
Explore 11 of our favorite holiday hotel ideas:
1. Decorate like never before.
Outdo your decor from Christmases past by going bigger and better. Add a tree to the lobby and courtyard if you haven’t had one before. Put up larger-than-life presents with red wrapping paper and gold bows. Bring in ice sculptures for a more luxurious take if your property is higher end. Turn communal spaces into Santa’s workshop with tables, benches, faux tools, and banners.
On December 24th, do a surprise transformation overnight by making it snow inside your lobby. Add fake snow to your tree, counters, and banisters. Hang giant snowflakes from the ceiling and add garlands to every last inch of the lobby. Waking up to a winter wonderland will make the holidays that much more special for guests and their families.
Of all the holiday hotel ideas on this list, this one is arguably the most important, so don't hesitate to think outside the box! If you want your hotel to be viewed as a destination during the holidays, you can't go less than 100% when it comes to decorating.
2. Host a photo scavenger hunt.
Try hosting a holiday-themed photo scavenger hunt, where your guests and their children can search for a variety of clues around your hotel at their own pace. The best part? They can safely distance themselves from others or start and stop whenever they please.
Ask participants to find secret objects hidden in your holiday decor such as a nutcracker, a blue snowflake, and Rudolph’s nose. Instruct them to take pictures of the item and share it on Instagram using your scavenger hunt hashtag. Give out prizes such as custom ornaments for anyone who completes the scavenger hunt or schedule a different prize on each of the 12 days of Christmas then encourage guests to collect them all.
3. Send letters to Santa.
Give kids a way to communicate with Santa even if he’s not currently sitting in your beautifully-decorated lobby. Add a decorated mailbox with a clear sign that gives instructions on how to write to Santa Claus. Provide paper, pencils, and crayons to those who need it. Take advantage of the Greetings from the North Pole program by USPS by dropping off your letters there so kids can get real replies mailed to them.
Ideally, each letter will include a greeting and at least one accomplishment that qualifies them for the Nice List. Tell parents to make the letters out to “Santa Claus, North Pole” and include a return address for wherever they’ll be (either at the hotel or at home) between December 14th and 25th. USPS says to then send all the letters together in one manila envelope with the proper postage to:
NORTH POLE POSTMARK
4141 POSTMARK DR
ANCHORAGE AK 99530-9998
Send them in no later than December 7th. If guests arrive after that date, consider asking your hotel staff to answer the letter themselves.
Finally, keep a spreadsheet with information from everyone who sent letters. Include the names of the parents, the first name of the child, their room number, and their contact information. Follow up with them to make sure they received their letter back from Santa if it was sent to their homes and not the hotel, then offer the parents a new package or upsell service, if applicable.
4. Bring cookie decorating kits to guests’ rooms.
Who doesn’t love baked goods and colorful icing? Christmas cookies are a time-honored tradition dating back to the early 17th century. And since most hotel guests don’t have access to an oven, providing some tasty treats and an activity all in one will delight both adults and kids. Use popular shapes such as wreaths, candy canes, Santa’s face, stars, and snowmen. Add in miniature tubes of icing in white, red, green, and blue. Also, go above and beyond with sparkly sprinkles. And don’t forget to give parents an ingredients list ahead of time just in case.
5. Introduce your staff as Santa’s helpers.
Get acquainted with past, present, and future guests using the power of hotel video marketing. Share clips of your team dressed as elves, adding finishing touches on upcoming hotel events, and hanging decorations. Have guests introduce themselves with their name, what they do, and what they love about Christmas if they celebrate it. Share details about your other holiday activities at the hotel and give kids tips on how to help Santa. Use the video to advertise on your website, blog, social media, and onsite.
6. Recommend nearby activities.
By offering an updated list of shops, restaurants, and holiday-related events nearby, you’ll save guests the hassle of digging for the information themselves. Create a map, add updated hours for each establishment, and bullet point the reasons why it’s perfect for celebrating the holidays. Go a step further and offer to make reservations or help purchase tickets for them when needed. Some great holiday events to look out for include movie theaters featuring classic Christmas films, Christmas parades, and Christmas light displays in the park. Don’t forget to include virtual events, too, as well as any event your property is hosting.
7. Host a Christmas-themed workshop.
Engage the entire community with some educational fun. Teach guests and visitors new holiday-themed skills such as how to make a wreath to hang on their hotel room door or how to craft a simple, three-ingredient cocktail with all the flavors of the season.
Encourage guests to bring their own supplies or source them ahead of time for a fee. Make sure that wherever you host the workshop is holiday-themed and gives everyone plenty of space. Use outdoor heaters to warm up open-air spaces and make sure everyone has their own tools so they don’t have to share. You can simultaneously live-stream the tutorial for guests who want to do it in their rooms. Use strategic sponsorships with local businesses or brands to source teachers and supplies. For example, a family-owned bakery might be interested in supplying some cookies and hot chocolate as refreshments for guests.
8. Stream free Christmas movies.
Even if you don’t have a partnership like Hilton does with Netflix, you can still get in on the holiday movie fun by giving guests something that will get them in the holiday spirit. For the month of December, try setting guests up with an entire calendar of free or sponsored content. Reach out to popular Christmas film creators like Hallmark and see if they’re interested in joining forces either by giving your property free licensing or coordinating with talent from the film to live-stream a Q&A after.
Offer movies on demand or have a one-time event that guests can tune into from the comfort of their beds. A simpler version of this idea would be to offer a discount at checkout on movie rentals if they’re Christmas themed.
9. Create an Instagram-worthy backdrop.
Give families an opportunity to DIY their Christmas card photos or simply get a keepsake from their stay by setting up a photo background they’re sure to love. Set your display off to the side where it’s easy for guests to access but far enough away from traffic that guests will have space to wait their turn. Have guests take their own photos or have the front desk staff take turns manning the booth.
Create a faux living room set complete with a mantlepiece, decorated Christmas tree, and some gift packages. Or use wrapping paper with large black and white stripes and some garlands framing the top and sides to form a mock photo booth. You can even make it ideal for selfies by using simple yet flattering glitter fabrics, cascading feathers, or an entire wall of ornament garlands to help spice up their Instagram grid.
10. Transition into the New Year.
Even though Christmas is a magical time for everyone who celebrates it, it’s not the end of the holiday season yet! There’s still plenty of time to wow the rest of your winter guests with previews of what’s to come at the hotel. Consider activities that will be fun before and after Christmas such as sled rentals for the local park and food takeout tours of the best family-owned restaurants nearby. Let guests know that they’ll continue into the rest of the season. Advertise upcoming events, decor, and more as you continue to serve guests everything they need on Christmas day and beyond. Even if you can’t bring peace on Earth, you can bring peace to your hotel with these thoughtful celebrations.
11. Promote your hotel as a holiday-filled destination.
All of the above holiday hotel ideas only mean so much if you don't let potential customers know about it all beforehand. Once winter rolls around, update your hotel website to make it holiday-themed. Share updates on social media about all that your hotel is doing to celebrate. Send marketing emails to planners, guests, and more. Shift your content marketing efforts. The opportunities are endless!
Try out all of these holiday hotel ideas!
Use these holiday hotel ideas to celebrate with guests through entertainment, activities, and moments of magic.
Up next, discover how to use seasonlity to help planners create great meetings. And while it may be too late this year, be sure to check out our favorite Halloween hotel ideas to keep your property on-theme in the fall.