Hotel Marketing Tips: Increasing Occupancy in the Winter and Off Season

winter marketing for hotel tip photo - smores over fire

Schools out!!! Yay!  But crickets… your winter destination hotel is not sold out?  Why?

If I didn’t choose your resort, you didn’t convince me my kids would have enough fun there. What if it rains, I wonder? What if it’s too cold outside? To sell out winter breaks, you must have a full agenda of family activities.

Are you promoting what you already have in-house?

I recently stayed at a resort during President’s week; they have an impressive recreation center which as a parent, I thought, that would be amazing for my kids… but the hotel had hardly any photos of the rec center. Another parent asked in the hot tub, do they have anything age appropriate for a 5-year-old? Yes, they did, but it wasn’t well-promoted. Ensure your website visually sells everything you can do at your resort!

What the resort did well:

  • Signs in the lobby with all the activities listed for the week
  • Handouts for the guests with all the activities

What they missed:

  • This amazing agenda of fun was not promoted on social media or their website.

Maximize what you already have… Promote Winter Break with a Weekend Activity Fun Agenda and publish this on your website; add photos to your website:

  • Turn Games into Game Night: Board games and Giant Jenga, Corn Hole, or Ring Tosses. Make it more exciting by creating a game hour or game night and make your hotel a friend-making destination.
  • Make your Indoor Swimming Pool a Destination: It’s time to hire an interior decorator to make that boring space into a destination; if you are busy, open a bar in your indoor pool area…
  • Pool Olympics: Run a pool game hour with races and diving for toys.
  • Saunas and Steam Rooms: The popularity of saunas and steam rooms is skyrocketing. The health benefits of saunas are undeniable, share the story and promote these amenities with their health benefits.
  • BonFires, S’mores and Music Of course you promote this and probably sell this… but could you create a bonfire night, where it’s free for all guests to come and enjoy bonfires and free s’mores as a special occasion with a guitarist? Families are looking for friend-making opportunities on vacation for the kids and the parents…
  • Ghost Storytime: Ghost stories, historically based stories? Is there a story you can tell about your region or hotel? Or keep it simple grab a book from your gift shop and read away!
  • Family Movie Nights: Have a meeting room that’s not in use? Turn it into a movie night destination with free popcorn!
  • Twinkle Time or Star Search Star Gazing Party – Learn about the Start: Choose a night with a new moon, bring out the telescopes, check the stargazing apps, and instantly you are a knowledgeable guide. Look up a few stories about those constellations, and you have a Learn about the Stars evening. Plan it for 2 hours after the sunsets and note that it is weather dependent.
  • Guided Hikes: Google “hiking guide near me” and make a deal with that person to come for a killer rate to take your guests out on winter hike or walk for a small fee or free (you pay the guide).
  • Yoga: Search for “yoga instructors near me” and make a deal with that person to come for a killer rate to take do classes daily during President’s Week for a small fee or free (you pay them).
  • Scavenger Hunts: Buy something cheap with your hotel name on it, magnets, balls, keychains, Stickers (super popular right now), or something cheaper like wrapped candy and create a scavenger hunt, it it’s nice, it can be outdoors – getting kids outdoors is key to a memorable experience, if weather is nasty you can bring it indoors.

Snow and Ice dependent ideas for booking out your hotel during the kid’s winter break

  • Snowshoeing: Snowshoeing is something most people can do with little training, buy snowshoes and have them as an amenity
  • Sledding: Do you have a hill? Create a safe snow tubing and sledding hill. You can buy tubes for $10 on Amazon and offer them to guests (ensure you are insured). Or promote the nearby popular sledding destinations
  • Ice skating: It doesn’t have to be cold for long to create an ice skating rink – if you have the space – add a few domed garden tents with electric heaters and some bean bags, and you have a destination!

Lastly, get involved with your chamber, CVB and County tourism department to bring a major attraction and event to the region to draw more visitors overall.  It’s not enough to say you have snow sports like snowmobiling, skiing etc, shopping and great dining… every other town offers this as well.