Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just put your rooms up for sale online and wait for bookings to trickle in.
Sure, that’ll generate business for your hotel if you’re pricing appropriately. But you could achieve so much more if you go beyond focusing only on getting heads in beds.
We’ve collected twelve creative sales ideas for hotels below to get you started. They’ll help you create a buzz around your property, sell more rooms and services, and boost your ancillary revenue.
When Is the Best Time to Drive Extra Sales at Your Hotel?
This is one of those questions with the worst answer of all: it depends. That’s because there’s no one best time or way to drive sales for all types of hotels. What works will depend on your property, its target audience, your market and your business goals.
The good news is that chances to boost bookings and generate extra revenue exist throughout the guest journey. For example, you can get travelers excited with customization options during the pre-arrival phase. Continue to keep things interesting with personalized add-on options throughout the in-house period. If you play your cards right, you can even use the post-stay period to generate extra sales or bookings.
12 Creative Sales Ideas To Boost Your Hotel’s Bottom Line
Whether you want to increase your occupancy, your top line or your average spend per guest, you’ll find some pointers in this list of creative sales ideas for hotels.
1. Create Promotional Campaigns for Holidays & Local Events
Promotions for special days like Christmas, New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day drive lots of business. But since these offers are everywhere, it’s important to make yours stand out.
One way to do that is with great value for money. You could also propose a unique experience that sets you apart from the competition. That may be a cookie-baking class with your pastry chef for Christmas or a chocolate workshop for Valentine’s Day.
Consider building offers around big local events as well. Will Taylor Swift or Beyoncé host a concert in your city? Base a package on that if the attendees are your target audience.
Or will there be a big sporting event in town? That could include spectator sports or events where people come to participate, such as a road race. For example, the Lenox Hotel in Boston has exclusive offers for the Boston Marathon every year.
2. Put Together Attractive Deals for the Low Season
Since everyone drops their rates during the low season, value-packed deals are needed to set you apart. Combine a selection of add-ons like F&B, parking, recreation activities or spa services to create enticing bundles. The promise of an unforgettable experience gets travelers more excited than the idea of a simple discount. This gives you the chance to capture more demand and generate extra revenue at the same time. In turn, this makes up for the lower rates you charge during slower periods.
3. Run a Flash Sale
Flash sales are another option to drive bookings during the off season. You can run them either for a specific time or for a limited number of room nights. This cap is important since flash sales usually come with a deep discount or great add-ons to make them attractive. Limiting their availability is also a good way to create a fear of missing out and encourage bookings.
If you want to avoid paying commissions on the already low flash sale rates, promote them only on your website, social media and newsletter. But if you want to ensure a broader reach, offer them via OTAs and online discount portals as well.
4. Nurture Past & Potential Guests With Engaging Email Newsletters
Reach out regularly to let them know about your latest deals and stay at the front of their minds. Remember to keep it interesting though. Don’t just bombard your subscribers with offers. Share valuable free content with them as well. That could include a destination guide, restaurant recommendations or tips for outings.
Make the people on your list feel extra special by sharing exclusive bonuses with them. For example, next time they book direct, you could throw in an extra discount or inclusions like a free drink, late check-out or free parking.
5. Drive Business for Your Group With Multi-Stay Packages
Apart from email marketing and loyalty programs, packages of multiple stays can also help you increase repeat business. This works especially well if your hotel is part of a group or association, and you can bundle stays at different properties. Make these offers even more attractive by including transfers between the hotels as well as extras like excursions, F&B or spa treatments.
6. Use Upsell Technology To Skyrocket Upselling Revenue
Upselling and cross-selling are the best ways to increase ancillary income at your hotel. One way to go about it is to have your team offer paid upgrades and add-on services via email or in person during check-in or throughout their stay. While that works, it’s impossible to reach every traveler this way.
Lastly, you can use these communication solutions to inform guests about events at your hotel (e.g., live music on Friday night or the launch of a new set menu). While this isn’t a hard sell, it encourages travelers to explore activities at your hotel which could lead to extra revenue.
Even if you leverage upselling technology, you can still offer paid upgrades and add-ons during check-in or throughout the stay. For this to work, to train your front desk team in the art of upselling. That will ensure that guests don’t feel pressured or taken advantage of all while increasing your team’s success rate.
Offer your staff sales scripts as part of the training to help them get started. Then encourage them to customize their approach as they become more comfortable with in-person upselling and cross-selling.
8. Offer Early Check-In & Late Checkout
Apart from paid upgrades, this is one of the easiest extras to sell pre-arrival or during check-in. Why? Because these flexible options add convenience to the guest’s stay without breaking their budget. They’re also great for your hotel since they bring in revenue without requiring much extra effort from your team. Be smart when offering flexible arrivals and departures though. The ideal time is when you don’t have a check-in and checkout for the same room on the same day.
9. Charge for Parking
This works especially well for city hotels with limited or overpriced parking options. But before you start charging, do some research. What’s the going rate for public full-day and overnight parking in your area? Do your competitors charge for this? If so, how much? Do they offer self-parking or a valet service? That’ll give you an idea of how much guests would be willing or expecting to pay.
Then, think about how you could use your paid parking offer to attract guests and add value. For example, you could list a preferential rate that’s only available to direct bookers or your newsletter subscribers. That can drive up direct bookings and ancillary revenue in one go.
10. Leverage Word of Mouth
Past guests can be fantastic marketers for your hotel (e.g., when they tell their friends about it or leave raving reviews). Both are great for business since 76% of travelers are willing to pay more for a property with higher review scores. To boost your grade, ask guests to rate their stay during checkout. This can be achieved easily using mobile checkout tools like those provided by Canary. The platform enables hoteliers to add a customizable guest satisfaction survey to the checkout flow that will prompt anybody who leaves a 5-star review to share their great experience on Google and Tripadvisor.
You can also give guests an incentive to mention you on social media. For example, host a competition for the best Instagram post that tags your property or reward travelers who check in on your Facebook page. Lastly, consider referral programs like Extole to offer benefits like discount codes or gift cards to people who actively send bookings your way.
11. Sell Items From Rooms
77.5% of hotels report towels going missing regularly, while 65.1% say guests like to take bathrobes. And even bigger items like pillows, shower heads and coffee makers get nicked. Since travelers are going to take things anyway, why not offer a chance to pay for them? That generates extra revenue and allows guests to bring the vacation feeling home with them.
Opening an on-site boutique is one way to do this. A brochure in the room and at reception is another option to highlight which products you sell. Maybe you even want to create an online shop with everything from towels to your signature fragrance.
12. Partner With Off-Property Businesses
It’s not always possible to offer every service on-site. For example, you may not have a spa or gym. In that case, work with a local health club to make their facility accessible to your guests.
Do the same with entertainment options. Reach out to local restaurants, theaters or tour guides to build partnerships. Then you can recommend each other to respective clients to generate extra business for everyone.
As you can see, there are many inventive ways to drive sales, be it by offering attractive deals or finding unconventional revenue streams.
You don’t have to apply all the creative sales ideas for hotels in this article. Using just a few of them can already help you gain more business and stand out from the crowd.
And of course, you can use the suggestions above as a base for coming up with your own fun ways to attract guests and drive sales at your hotel.
Social Media Marketing Strategy For Hotels: 11 Best Practices
Social media is an extension of your physical brand. This means your hotel’s social media marketing strategies should reflect your values, aesthetics and personality. Read this post to learn how to get it right.
12 Hotel Ancillary Revenue Ideas You Can Implement Today
Looking for new and innovative ways to increase revenue at your hotel? With the tools and revenue-generating ideas for hotels in this detailed blog post, you’re ready to get strategic with ancillary revenue management.
SEO for Hotels: How to Drive More Traffic to Your Website
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for hotels is a long game, not a quick fix. But don’t get discouraged; just keep following as many of the hotel SEO tips in this guide as possible and your rankings are sure to improve.
Get It Right: Your Guide to Online Review Management for Hotels
Your hotel's digital reputation impacts both your ability to win over guests and how much you can charge. This comprehensive Guide details the smartest strategies and tactics for hotel online review management.
10 Hotel Staff Training Strategies for Success in a Tight Labor Market
Good hotel staff training is essential, especially today. Put these tips into practice and implement easy-to-use technology and you’ll find yourself with a happier, more productive workforce in no time!