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Strategies for effective hotel promotions

Marketing is an essential part of strategy for most businesses. It tells potential customers what a company stands for, and what its offering is in the marketplace. In the highly differentiated hospitality industry, how one hotel carves out its own distinct space, compared to the competition, can have a huge impact on reputation and the bottom line.
In this article we’re going to look at one specialised area of marketing - the creation of promotions. These are specific actions which are designed to attract a particular demographic to a specific offer, within a defined time. The purpose is to draw attention to the hotel, create new business opportunities, and to increase bookings at times when business might otherwise be slack. Coming up with hotel promotions can be a highly creative activity, but following some logical steps will go a long way to boosting your hotel’s business with increased sales.

Why hotels should offer promotions

If your hotel is fully occupied year in, year out, at optimal rack rate, then rest easy and read no further. If however you recognise that there are times when bookings could be better, and profitability could be higher, then it’s time to consider how to promote special events and offers. This is over and above your normal marketing practices, and we’ll assume that you are using social media effectively, with frequent updates and refreshes. We’ll also take it as read that you have a smart, modern website with great images and pithy descriptions which major on the best features of your hotel. If you’re already consciously doing these things, then it may also be reasonable to expect that you know the importance of being in a constant dialogue with guests. And of course you will be leveraging modern technologies to achieve all this, with automated systems that provide super-efficient services such as bookings, acknowledgements and payment gateways, while at the same time providing guests with a really personalised service. All good? Now let’s go the extra distance, and see what can be achieved with effective hotel promotions.

Save that date!

Every year presents many opportunities to engage with guests by virtue of special dates, such as over the Christmas season, Valentine’s day, big sporting events and concerts, or never-to-be-repeated occasions like a coronation, or the inauguration of a president. Of course you can sit back and wait for guests to beat a path to your door (and perhaps they will!) but isn’t it better if you shape the narrative with a special promotion? Check your calendar for local and national events, and then create a promotion specifically around that, whether it’s a World Cup, a Grand Prix, or a Spring tulip festival. There is always something coming up which gives the opportunity of contacting guests and ‘making them an offer they can’t refuse’. One of the beauties of contemporary Property Management Systems is that they store and can easily access vast amounts of information about previous guests, so it’s very easy to reach out to a demographic where you already know their interests. And for those potential guests you’re not yet familiar with, then social media can be the route to start engaging with them. 

The point is that there are dates in every season which create opportunities for special promotions, and it’s so easy, because you’ll be tapping into existing interests, and a wide range of other businesses and media leverage. For example, if a music megastar is giving a concert anywhere near your location, then for sure there will be saturation coverage and you won’t need to tell guests about the event itself, only about the advantages of booking their stay at your hotel. So theme the promotion around the concert, offer a ‘Fan Discount’, use appropriate images, and let people know how easy it is to get to the concert from your hotel. In short, be on top of what’s upcoming, whether it’s Spring Break, a Literary Festival, or the romance of Valentine’s Day, and energetically promote offers for those special dates.

Package your promotion

Of course a promotion isn’t just about giving a discount - it can and should include appropriate additions such as spa and wellness amenities, local tours, or complimentary breakfasts. Think of what you can do to give added value which will delight guests, and further the goal of having them post favourably about your hotel on social media. Think about the ways in which you can create promotions around:

  • Location - A major concert or sporting event might not arrive on your doorstep frequently, but you can promote your location for its access to natural beauty, or an exciting city break, or tie-ins with historical events and people. There is always a peg to hang a promotion on. If you’re near a beach, think about offering a sailboarding promotion, or if you’re in wine country, then vineyard and tasting tours can appeal to the right demographic.
  • Partners - When you tap into local suppliers and organisations, you access a knowledge base and promotional network which already exists so the ‘heavy lifting’ is shared. It’s always smart business practice to use the skills and products of other businesses in your area that can benefit from the win-win of a joint promotion.
  • Celebrations - You can wait for celebrations to come to you and hope you’ll be discovered in a crowded field, or you can actively promote your hotel as the best place for a beautiful wedding, or a special anniversary. Family celebrations can ensure a fully-booked hotel, and promoting your offering will lead to interest and success. So attend wedding fairs, and offer promotions in the appropriate publications and websites!
  • In-house activities - Partnering with local businesses such as wineries can be very effective, but keeping activities within your hotel can also be a great promotional offer. Think yoga, think creative writing or drawing, think of any fascinating activity where you can recruit an expert to lead classes, and you then manage (and profit from) the overall event.
  • Seasonal themes - Most hoteliers are conscious of the opportunities around seasonal events such as Christmas and Easter, and these can be promoted very positively, but think beyond these. What seasonal events and activities take place nearby that can be used to entice guests to stay in your hotel? Historical and cultural activities can offer a great draw, with a promotion specifically tailored around them.
  • Family and pets - If it’s appropriate, then encourage families and pets to your hotel, showing the relaxed atmosphere that can be enjoyed, and majoring on wellness and fun facilities. This may mean investment in safe play areas, and stocking up on board games for rainy days, but family stays can certainly yield rewards. A satisfied family is also very likely to return again once they have had one successful stay.
  • Vouchers - Think about promotions where all you have to do is offer a voucher - for example ‘second child stays free’. No special events have to be organised or overseen, it’s just a straight discount that can attract the potential guest’s attention, and then help them feel good about saving money.
  • Gift cards - A great present to give, especially to younger, more cash-strapped guests can be a gift card. It demonstrates thoughtfulness on the part of the giver, and because the guests are receiving a ‘free’ stay they are more likely to spend on other services, such as spa facilities or special dining. All you have to do is set up the scheme, but ensure that it is time limited or valid only for particular periods.

Strategies for hotel promotion ideas

Hotel promotion ideas don’t have to be complex, but strategies for adopting them must be well thought-through. In particular:

  • Think well ahead. Don’t just begin planning a Valentine's day promotion at the start of February!
  • Be aware of what’s happening ‘out there’ whether it’s a sporting event coming your way, or some promotional initiative from a rival hotel. That means keeping on top of social media and local news channels.
  • Creativity counts, so put in the time to find the angle that will make your hotel’s promotion stand out. For instance, if you’re promoting a Christmas stay, figure out the style and approach that will attract the demographic you want to reach.
  • Always look for tie-ins and remember that you don’t have to do everything yourself. Find the individuals and organisations that can help with your promotion, whether a tourist office, a chorale society, or historical group. 
  • Play to your strengths - so whatever your hotel does best, maximise on it. If you’re countryside-based, then use that, and if you're in a bustling city centre, then leverage that. Exploit your reputation and brand values to underscore your promotion.
  • Make your promotion stand out as being valuable and time sensitive. Guests need to understand that this offer will not be available for very long, and that they need to commit soon.      

Do what works best

You don’t have to wait for a global megastar to play a nearby concert to get going with hotel promotions. Start small and manageable, and think about what works best for your hotel, and for your guests. What’s for sure is that whatever your promotion, it should be clear and easy to understand through social media. A consistent message should also be easily accessible on your clear and attractive website, and all your guest-facing staff should be aware of and up to date about what the promotion is and how it works

All of this must be backed by systems that function smoothly to make it super easy for guests to investigate the promotion, and then make their booking. Fortunately, as suppliers of the hospitality industry’s leading Property Management System, plus a range of Smart Solutions, we’re very familiar with the challenges, and successes of hotels of all sizes. The combination of an imaginative promotion, backed by seamless back-office technology, and welcoming front-desk staff is an unbeatable way to extend business opportunities and grow your market share.

We are SabeeApp and we’d like to tell you about our modern, cloud-based Property Management System, which enables smoothly functioning hotel management, including the operation of hotel promotions. With eleven years of experience around the world, working specifically in the hospitality industry, we have seen a lot of successful hotel promotions, and we know how to help your hotel gain the crucial competitive edge. Please do get in touch!

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