Monday, January 6, 2014

Get Creative

Smart hoteliers pay attention to what’s happening outside of their own markets and comp sets to identify emerging travel trends and opportunities. Our last article focused on trends for 2014 and now let's look at packages. 

Packages don't have to offer a discount to be attractive. Consider some of the trends on the rise and incorporate them into your packaging. For example, making a creative hands-on package  to include a cooking or art class. Offer a unique opportunity with a behind-the-scenes tour of a factory or business. You could also work with an event to offer a VIP experience. None of these have to provide a discount, just an experience travelers want to try.

In Jacksonville, a market that is driven largely by its submarkets, hotels were unaccustomed to utilizing packages because they assumed they were too far from the airport for their offerings to be effective. By experimenting with the package path, one hotel ultimately grew its business by 20 percent and became one of Jacksonville’s top producers. While packages are not the lion’s share of this hotel’s business, you can be sure they’re not interested in giving up those incremental room nights either.

It’s imperative for hotels to use market-specific demand data in addition to trends when creating packages. For example, if 15 percent of shoppers in a given market are looking for four-night packages, 15 percent of any area hotel’s bookings should be for four nights. If a hotel’s booking metrics don’t reflect market averages, the hotel can adjust their package offerings to capture that lucrative guest. Offering discounts on a fourth night might convert three night shoppers into a four-night guest and capture the four-night shoppers along the way.

Major vacation markets are naturals for package offerings, but with a little creativity and some solid trend data from experienced market managers, hotels in markets big and small will find that when it comes to packages, there’s something for everyone. Please contact the Kankakee County CVB sales department for package ideas and to post your packages online.

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