Seasonality. You know it when you see it — but you may not know that there are two sides to the story. Understand this and you'll locate the sweet spot that results in happy participants on all sides. (For a crash course, register for our 3-part webinar series here.)
For many hoteliers, “seasonality” is just a euphemism for the dreaded times when business slows, often following an extremely busy period. For meeting planners, though, it's the opposite. They may they find themselves in a panicked tailspin as they try to get hotel salespeople to consider their bids for meetings held during high times.
With a little imagination and marketing savvy, hotels can achieve a steady stream of meetings business that does away with some of the hard and fast boundaries of “low” and “high” seasons. The key is balance.
Low Cost Doesn't Mean Low Impact
Everyone knows that offering lower rates is the way to entice people to come to your hotel during the off-season. Discounts can be enough for, say, young couples on a budget — but for meeting planners such sweeteners do not equal a honeymoon. If they organize what seems like a barebones or unappealing meeting held during an unpopular time, they'll simply find themselves scrabbling for attendees and facing unhappy clients.
The trick? Up the ante with a wide range of experiences that go beyond the core strength of your property. If a winter resort jam packs its summer or shoulder schedule with free lectures, movies, game nights, and concerts, no one will miss the snow pack. Meanwhile, the planner will emerge as a creative manager who's saved the company money without boring the ski pants off attendees.
Similarly, hotels and resorts near high impact national parks can take advantage of less crowded times by offering opportunities for groups to enjoy better access to wildlife and quality photo ops. Done correctly, Old Faithful will be the only thing letting off steam during your meeting.
Partner Up with DMO’s
If it's low season for your hotel, then chances are the same goes for other tourism- and meetings-related businesses in your area. Use the down time to expose visitors to restaurants and attractions that might be willing to offer discounts to large groups. You can approach your local destination marketing organization (DMO) to propose a new city-wide tourism event such as a music festival, beer week, ice sculpting contest, or art walk. Crowds draw crowds and before you know it, your frigid February or muggy May will be as in demand as your Christmas or July breaks.
Remember balance, though. Keep prices slightly lower than high occupancy weeks so they remain appealing.