Leverage Opportunity Nights to Grow Occupancy

By David Allred

Leverage Opportunity Nights to Grow Occupancy

One of the keys to growing the overall occupancy rate in any community is to have a clear understanding of the nights of the week and the months of the year that have the lowest occupancy—we call these opportunity nights. In this week's Insight, we discuss how to identify and make the most of these opportunity nights for your destination. Read time: under 3 minutes

“It’s hard to fill more hotel rooms when they are all pretty much full.” We often say this to DMO clients and their boards of directors and almost everyone universally agrees with this sentiment. However, what we often find is that many DMOs are not readily able to state what their “opportunity nights” are—the nights that are available to fill.

Studying the day of the week trends will typically reveal if a destination is (currently) more of a leisure destination vs. a heavier business traveler or meeting and convention destination. Studying occupancy trends by month will typically reveal peak and shoulder seasons. Taking stock of opportunity nights—where your destination has the most potential to grow overall occupancy—is one of the most important components of truly understanding how your destination management and marketing efforts could be focused to create the most overall annual occupancy lift possible.

As a general rule, if a destination has peak occupancy on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday nights, your overall occupancy is currently being driven by business travelers. If your occupancy peaks on Friday or Saturday nights, your overall occupancy is currently being driven by leisure travelers. So if you have occupancy opportunity nights (lower occupancy) on Friday and Saturday, concentrating your efforts on traditional leisure travelers would likely be the focus of your organization. If you currently have occupancy opportunities nights (lower occupancy) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, concentrating your efforts on meetings and certain segments of group travel would likely need to be the focus of your organization.

Below are some Stamp resources that can help as you plan your strategies to grow occupancy during your opportunity nights: 

Occupancy Opportunity: Weeknights

The SMERF Market-Give Me an S! 

How Attractions Drive Group Travel

Marketing Meeting Attendee Personas to Meeting Planners 

Beyond the Ballroom: How to Leverage Non-Traditional Meeting Venues

Promoting Mid Size Markets to Meeting Planners 

Occupancy Opportunity: Weekends

Boosting Weekend Occupancy 

Leverage Drive-Through Traffic 

Bleisure is Booming

Studying occupancy trends by month is a lot more difficult to generalize. Factors including the geographic location of your destination, seasonal weather patterns, proximity to interstates, sports seasons, and even wildlife migration patterns can impact the seasonal occupancy trends of a destination. However, if peak occupancy months do exist for your destination, concentrating management and marketing efforts on the months at the beginning and the end of the peak season may allow you to “extend” your season. And, depending on the location of your destination, concentrating some efforts on low occupancy months with still favorable weather can also pay big dividends. What you absolutely need to resist the urge to do is concentrate any significant destination management or marketing efforts to drive visitation during (already) peak months. Because when your accommodations are (essentially) operating at peak occupancy, it is nearly impossible to drive more occupancy at these times. So spending time and effort to drive interest in your destination during peak occupancy is essentially wasting money.

Think of snow ski destinations that traditionally had the vast majority of occupancy in the winter that have developed summer activities (food and wine programming, white water activities, biking adventures, etc.). Think of coastal destinations that have added spring and fall music festivals and concert series. Think of traditionally summer getaways that have developed Christmas tree festivals.

Whether it's weeknights, weekends, shoulder months, or your lowest occupancy months, get creative! But before you do, know when you have the most opportunity to impact occupancy in your destination by understanding your opportunity nights.