How Travel Agents & Tour Operators can Boost Sales during the Off-Season
The effect of seasonality in the tourism industry is a major marketing challenge for business owners and it can be hard to keep your head above the water once the busy holiday season ends. The hospitality industry is a mature and competitive platform where occupancy rates serve as major barometer for performance. External factors such as uncertain economic environment do at times give a blow to the tourism business but off season drop in sales come around year after year in the business cycle.
But these seasonal slumps are a part of the game and should not get you down! Instead of waiting for the season to kick start again, marketers should think long-term to tee their businesses. Here are some tips that will help tourism businesses keep their cash registers ringing even during the off-season.
Stay on Top of your Customers’ Minds
While peak season keeps the website and location (if there is one) abuzz, off season is the best time to be cognizant of your guests. It is wise to remember that repeat customers are a cost-effective way to increase sales and off seasons, if used well can be a great way to get more out of your existing clients.
Stay in touch with your clients through emails and text messages to make sure your brand always remains in the minds of your clients. Social profiles are another great place where you can keep your customers engaged. You can use social media to not just share content that would inspire your followers to use your services during the off-season, but also for gathering testimonials and customer reviews which can help get more customers during the next holiday period.
A personalized approach towards your existing customer base keeps them aware of your latest offerings and deals, as well as news updates relating to the general development of the company through permission-based email and even SMS marketing. It helps gain deeper insights into the behavior of your customers and what motivates them. You can use this data to send targeted off-season deals. Also, request customers to share their suggestions, stories and experiences and what next they want from the visit.
Create Targeted Off-Season Promotions
This never fails; particularly when it comes to special discounts on attractions in a certain destination. Use your knowledge of what your customers like to promote specific destinations, hotels and experiences during the off-season. Offering special deals to loyal customers such as additional room nights, discounts on transfers and attraction tickets or even experiences tailored to their tastes is a great way to offset seasonal lows.
There are clear high and low seasons for some destinations in response to which hotels may promote low-season room tariffs. The prices of ancillaries such as F&B and concierge services can be used to recoup the difference of rates of the hotel rooms. Creating exciting content on social media such as early bird offers and cleverly planned hashtag campaigns can help turn a passive audience into paying customers.
Travel agents should keep a track of the hotel’s performance and profitability during off-peak periods. With regards to initiatives in sync with the pricing and return, travel agents should sketch out a product-service lifecycle. They must adapt to the integrated marketing communications mix strategies to maximize revenue for their partners and themselves.
Get Clever with your Advertising Strategies
The same property can be shown in different ways and hospitality industry thrives on it. Showing suite-level rooms for MICE travelers for an off-season low budget bleisure trip can be a convincing and effective marketing tactic. Running special ads in local tourism guides can tap into budget and family travelers. Similar promotions of the club-level rooms in some high-pitch financial magazines can be an attempt to keep all levels occupied.
Create an Ultra Niche Market
Consider focusing on a niche market during the slower sales months. Specializing in mini-forte market gives a leverage making brands stand out from the crowd. If the hotel is planning for a cake-club offer during off time, it is not necessary to become a purveyor of gluten-free products but can pin the images on social media and blogs to create a buzz initially.
Use Cross Promotional Strategies
So what if there is a fall in demand for holidays – use festivals, sporting events, concerts and movie promotion shows and pop culture tie-ins to fill the sales gap. Creating a fantasy escape for the guests can also be a part of the mix-marketing.
Target Business Travelers
While a majority of leisure travelers are influenced by seasonal trends, business travelers have no such issues. People travel for business all year around, and targeting corporate travelers can help the tourism sector continue to thrive all year around.
Apart from routine business trips, there are hundreds of conferences and trade shows that take place all year around, making the MICE sector extremely profitable. It’s not restricted by seasons and generates millions of dollars in revenue each year, providing plenty of opportunities, for travel agents and tour operators of all sizes.
In fact, targeting delegations can help even smaller operators earn a healthy profit, as these groups, particularly the smaller ones often tend to look for unique and tailor made services in terms of accommodation and tours. And with the rise of ‘Bleisure’, more and more travelers are combining work with leisure activities in their business destination, which again presents a great opportunity for travel agents and tour operators to keep sales going during the so-called off-seasons.
Automate Routine Tasks to Focus More on Sales
Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) 2015 industry snapshot revealed that over a quarter of annual revenue (26.5 per cent) is spent on payroll costs. Reducing labor costs is possible through automation. A Travel ERP can streamline tasks which help create a positive impact on the bottom line. This helps travel agencies, who are typically working on thin margins to do more with less and leaves them more time to direct their resources towards sales and marketing.
Innovative strategies to maximize revenue always hold the key for hoteliers, destination management companies and travel agencies. It is necessary for hotel managers to pay close attention to the occupancy level which eventually provides opportunities in yield management through pricing. To investigate the effectiveness, a marketing framework is necessary in order to maximize the scale of profitability during the off season.
To sum up, despite the temporal imbalance in tourism, primarily expressed in terms of number of visitors creates a certain sale-gap, Travel businesses can actually turn seasonal lows into highs with the quirky travel marketing strategies explained in this post.