The OnRes Blog

Smart Strategies to Fill Your Hotel Rooms in the Low Season

By: Steve Behrisch , President & CEO

The occupancy rate of hotels is one of the most important performance indicators. A high occupancy rate is desirable for hoteliers as it directly translates to increased revenue and profitability. 

However, during the low season, hotels often struggle with low occupancy rates, which can lead to decreased revenue and financial crisis.

In this article, we will discuss strategies to increase low-season hotel occupancy.

Table of Contents

Let’s get in.

How to Fill Your Hotel Rooms in the Low Season?

1. Target the right audience

The first step towards increasing low-season occupancy is to identify and target the right audience. Hotels need to conduct market research to understand the demographics and psychographics of potential guests. 

This information can then be used to tailor marketing efforts towards the right audience. For example, if a hotel is located near an amusement park, it can target families with children by offering special packages and promotions during the low season.

2. Offer special packages and promotions

Special packages and promotions can be an effective way to encourage your guests to visit you. There are many creative ways to make your hotel stand out and provide additional value to your guests.

increase hotel occupancy in low season

You can offer discounts on room rates, complimentary meals or drinks, spa treatments, and other amenities to entice guests to book their stay. 

These promotions can be advertised through various channels, including social media, email marketing, online travel agencies, or partnering with local agents.

Another effective approach is to create seasonal promotions that coincide with local events or activities. For example, if your hotel is located near a ski resort, you could offer a special ski package that includes discounted lift tickets, equipment rentals, and accommodations.

3. Optimize your online presence

With the hype of digitalization, it has become more than essential for hotels to have a strong online presence. This includes having an optimized website, active social media accounts, and positive reviews on online travel agencies. 

Hoteliers should ensure that their website is user-friendly, mobile-responsive, and has high-quality images and descriptions of the hotel’s amenities and services. 

Besides, your social media accounts should be updated regularly with engaging content that showcases the hotel’s unique features to attract more guests.

4. Leverage online travel agencies

Online travel agencies (OTAs) can be a powerful tool for hotels to increase their visibility and attract guests during the low season. 

Hotels can partner with OTAs to offer exclusive packages and promotions, which can help to increase bookings. 

Additionally, hotels should ensure that their OTA listings are optimized with accurate and up-to-date information, high-quality images, and good guest reviews.

5. Collaborate with local agents 

Collaborating with local businesses can help guests book during the low season. Hotels can partner with nearby attractions, restaurants, spas, and other businesses to offer joint promotions and packages. 

Additionally, hotels can provide free tickets or discounts to nearby attractions such as museums, theme parks, and other popular destinations.

Make sure you advertise these through the right channels to increase your visibility and attract more guests during the low season.

6. Participate in industry events

Attending industry events can be an effective way for you to network with other hoteliers, learn about industry trends, and promote their property to potential guests. 

By attending events such as trade shows and conferences, hotels can build relationships with travel agents, tour operators, and other industry professionals who can help to drive bookings during the low season.

In addition to networking opportunities, industry events also provide valuable education and training opportunities for hotel staff. 

7. Focus on guest experience

Guest experience is one of the key factors for your business to grow and stand apart. Offering exceptional guest experience can help increase repeat business and positive word-of-mouth. 

During the low season, hotels should focus on providing personalized service, attention to detail, and unique experiences to guests. 

This can include offering customized welcome drinks, recommendations for local attractions and restaurants, and other thoughtful touches that show guests that they are valued.

8. Offer flexible cancellation policies

Flexible cancellation policies can help to increase guest confidence and encourage bookings even during the low season. 

Offer free cancellations up to a certain date or an option to reschedule without penalty. This can help to alleviate guest concerns about potential changes in travel plans and increase bookings.

9. Implement revenue management strategies

Revenue management can help hotels make profits during the low season. This includes adjusting room rates based on demand, forecasting occupancy levels, and offering dynamic pricing based on market conditions. 

There are various revenue management software available in the market that enables hotels to automate these processes and make data-driven decisions to optimize revenue.

10. Invest in property improvements

Another effective way to increase low-season hotel occupancy is to invest in property improvements (if you have the budget). Guests are more likely to book a hotel that looks fresh, modern, and well-maintained. Here are some improvements you can consider:

  1. Update decor: One of the most visible aspects of a hotel is its decor. Outdated or worn decor can turn off potential guests. Consider updating furniture, bedding, curtains, and lighting fixtures. Choose neutral colors and simple designs that will appeal to a wide range of guests.
  1. Improve amenities: Guests expect certain amenities from hotels, such as free Wi-Fi, complimentary breakfast, and fitness centers. Make sure your hotel offers these, and consider adding additional ones, such as a pool or spa.
  1. Enhance the curb appeal: The exterior of the hotel is the first thing guests see, so make sure it looks welcoming. Consider adding landscaping, repainting the exterior, or updating the signage.
  1. Upgrade technology: In today’s evolving era, guests expect hotels to have modern technology. Make sure your hotel has high-speed Wi-Fi, smart TVs, and charging stations.

By investing in property improvements, you can make your hotel look more attractive to guests, leading to increased occupancy during the low season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Low occupancy rates, declining revenue, and competitor promotions during your off-season signal a need to revamp your strategy. Analyze guest feedback and identify areas for improvement to attract new guests.

For impactful campaigns, begin planning low-season marketing 3-4 months in advance. This allows ample time to develop targeted strategies, secure advertising placements, and launch campaigns before the low season hits.

Consider diversifying your offerings to attract new guest segments during the low season. Here are some ideas:

  • Weekend getaways: Cater to couples or small groups seeking a quick escape with special packages and activities.
  • Business retreats: Offer meeting spaces, corporate discounts, and amenities tailored to business travelers.
  • Workcations (remote work stays): Attract remote workers with long-stay packages, comfortable workspaces, and high-speed internet access.
  • Spa & wellness packages: Promote relaxation and rejuvenation with discounted spa treatments and wellness-focused amenities.
  • Local event tie-ins: Partner with local events or festivals to create special packages that attract attendees.
  • Family-friendly promotions: Design promotions with activities, amenities, and pricing that cater to families traveling with children.

Move beyond just discounts to entice guests during the low season. Here are some creative promotions to consider:

  • Free room upgrades: Surprise guests with a more spacious or luxurious room for an enhanced experience.
  • Complimentary experiences: Offer free breakfast, spa treatments, or other perks to add value to their stay.
  • Extended stay perks: Incentivize longer stays with discounts on multi-night bookings, late check-out options, or room credits.
  • Partner deals with local attractions: Bundle tickets to popular attractions or tours with your stay for a seamless experience.
  • Room & activity packages: Combine accommodation with local activities (e.g., wine tasting, hiking tours) for a well-rounded getaway.
  • Loyalty program rewards: Strengthen guest loyalty by offering bonus points or exclusive benefits for booking during the low season.

Utilize revenue management software to optimize pricing strategies. Implement targeted email marketing campaigns to past guests and potential customers. Leverage social media advertising to reach new audiences during the low season.

Create a welcoming atmosphere during the low season to entice guests and boost occupancy rates:

  • Highlight seasonal activities: Promote activities that guests can enjoy during the low season, such as fall foliage viewing in autumn or cozy fireside evenings in winter.
  • Offer cozy room amenities: Provide plush throws, fluffy towels, and hot chocolate for a touch of comfort during cooler months.
  • Promote local attractions: Showcase nearby attractions and events that guests can visit during their stay.
  • Showcase off-season menu specialties: Create special menus featuring seasonal ingredients or dishes that resonate with the low season.
  • Organize in-house events (entertainment, games): Host game nights, movie screenings, or live music to create a fun and engaging atmosphere.
  • Enhance hotel décor (festive touches): Decorate the hotel lobby and common areas with festive touches that reflect the season.

Maintaining a steady revenue stream throughout the year is crucial for hotel financial health. Proactive low-season strategies can mitigate revenue loss, optimize staffing, and position your hotel for a strong rebound during peak periods.

Industry publications, hospitality association websites, and online travel agency resources offer valuable insights. Consider attending relevant conferences or webinars on low-season hotel marketing and revenue management.

Final Words

Low-season hotel occupancy can be challenging, but it requires creativity, adaptability, and a willingness to try new things. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, you can boost your bookings and revenue during the slower months. 

However, it’s important to remember that these efforts should always be geared towards creating an exceptional guest experience. 

By providing outstanding service, amenities, and promotions, you can build a loyal customer base that will continue to support your business year-round. With dedication and persistence, you can turn the low season into a lucrative period for your hotel.

Steve Behrisch, President & CEO

Steve joined the OnRes Team as an account rep in 2008 and was promoted to VP of Operations a short time later. In 2011, Steve agreed to purchase OnRes and became President and CEO, and has been steering the ship since; achieving significant milestones such as rebuilding the reservation software from the bottom up, forging new partnerships, doubling the revenue, and much more…
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