5 Ways to Increase Shoulder Season (Direct) Bookings
By Gina Paladini on
Shoulder Season. Definition: Noun. The time of year right before and after high season when the weather is still favourable and tourism operators worldwide want more bookings. (Also: shoulder period)
With some forward planning and tactics before your shoulder season starts, there are tried and true strategies to stretch out the peak season and boost bookings.
1. Create a New Inclusive Package
Offering the ability to have an “easy to book in one click”, all-inclusive package motivates bookings. Create a multiple day stay with tickets to a local event, or negotiate a favourable rate with a local activity and/or restaurant.
Besides adding the package to your website and booking engine, add it to your business listing on TripAdvisor and be sure to promote on all online marketing channels (e.g. your Facebook page, local/regional tourism website) and co-market with whomever you have included in the package.
We are all busy so providing a simple way to book a great time away works.
2. Boost on Social Media
Social Media promotions are considered "inspirational" marketing. So why not consider inspiring more shoulder season bookings?
Create a reason for the traveller to come during shoulder season e.g. “Enhance your enjoyment by visiting when the masses have left” or promote your newly created package or a special. Creating and promoting on Facebook is easy:
- Choose a fabulous image.
- Add clear, compelling and concise text about the reason - 1-2 sentences.
- Invite them to tag a friend or answer a question for an added bonus on arrival to inspire engagement. For example, give away a bottle of wine, a branded hat, a 5% discount or a mini goodie bag of sweets if they comment on the post and book with you.
- Choose to boost to only your current fans or create a targeted demographic.
- Boost for $10.
Follow up the boosted post with gorgeous images of your business during the shoulder season, with 1-sentence tips and ideas about activities.
3. Update your Brochure or Rack Cards
When was the last time you updated your business’s brochure? It may sound like a strange recommendation coming from a digital marketing partner but many people still like to hold and look through a physical brochure. Keeping front of mind with agents, Visitor Information Centres and directly with customers is a worthwhile strategy to increase bookings.
An attractive and emotive new brochure gives you a great reason to make contact with your sales channels.
4. Send Newsletters
We have said this before and we will keep saying it - send your past and potential guests a well-designed newsletter that is short, fun and packed with ‘gold nuggets.’ Gold nuggets can be a special just for newsletter recipients or a ‘be the first to know news item’.
Studies have shown time and time again that email marketing remains a highly effective way of increasing bookings. Easy to use newsletter systems like MailChimp are free (up to 2,000 contacts) and you can ask your web developer to add a sign up form on your website.
5. Shoulder Season Special
Everyone loves a special deal. Review your pricing for shoulder season then determine if you can offer a ‘Stay/Pay’ deal (stay 4 nights, pay for 3) or a per night discount to encourage bookings away from the high season and into the shoulder season.
Value adds are always motivating too but make it something truly magnetic to the traveller, like free breakfast for two, bikes for use during your stay, or a picnic basket filled with delicious local ingredients for your guests to enjoy. Again, be creative and fun when determining what would entice someone to stay outside of the normal travel months.
The key to stretching your high season into shoulder season is to plan ahead. Encouraging travellers to think about booking a stay either side of the habitual high season takes a bit of ‘out of the box’ creativity but the results of your marketing efforts can reap big rewards.
It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark - don’t wait for shoulder season to arrive to launch your marketing.
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