For destinations with strong weekday occupancy from transient and business travelers, concerted efforts to grow weekend business can help boost overall occupancy. And the 2020 calendar is presenting some natural opportunities to help you kick off a weekend getaway initiative:
- Valentine’s Day is on a Friday
- Independence Day is on a Saturday
- Halloween is on a Saturday
- Christmas is on a Friday
- New Year’s Eve is on a Friday
To make the most of these opportunities, encourage lodging providers in your area to curate package deals that entice visitors to extend their stay or to book a weekend trip. Since most lodging providers shy away from discounting their room rates dramatically to protect their ADR, an example promotion could be staying Friday and Saturday nights and getting a $100 dining voucher for a popular local restaurant. These vouchers would be treated like a check that can only get redeemed by the restaurant when your guest actually dines there. This means that the hotel does not have to purchase anything in advance but has to reimburse the local partner restaurant/s back for any vouchers that get redeemed.
As an example, with a 50% redemption rate, this means the hotel will only pay $50 for each Friday/Saturday night stay incentive that actually gets redeemed. Work with your lodging providers to determine what type of package deal is most suitable for your destination, and market it to the following traveler segments: leisure travelers who live within a 100-mile radius of your location, bleisure travelers and locals (yes, locals!). Here’s why.
Targeting Travelers Within Driving Distance
With some of 2020’s biggest holidays falling on weekends, get with your team and begin brainstorming how you can attract weekend getaway travelers who live within a 100-mile radius of your destination. Leverage these opportunities to create getaway packages to celebrate these occasions and lay the groundwork for your city to become an established weekend getaway destination.
Think about featuring local events like a food truck festival for Independence Day, city-wide Halloween celebrations and trick-or-treat events, annual holiday markets that feature local artists, artisans, chefs, and breweries, New Year’s Eve celebrations, etc. Don’t have events like these to promote? Curate them! Partner with event planners and local business owners to encourage the development of celebrations that will draw visitors and encourage them to book weekend getaways in your city.
Targeting Bleisure Travelers
According to a recent Nielsen study, nearly 50 percent of business travelers plan to travel with their families in an effort to help maintain a healthy work-life balance. So, when a business traveler extends their stay into the weekend as a leisure traveler, they become known as a bleisure traveler. When planning your marketing to encourage these trips, be sure to keep in mind that typical bleisure travelers are:
- 70% more likely to plan an adventure vacation
- 65% more likely to plan a spa vacation
- 42% more likely to plan a beach or lakeside vacation
- 29% more likely to plan a visit to a nearby theme park
To entice these weekday business travelers to extend their stay into the weekend as leisure travelers in your city, experiment with a social media campaign that delivers targeted ads to Millennial and Gen X travelers in the cities that make the most sense for your destination. Make your ads visually appealing, and promote activities and attractions in your area that align most closely with the types of trips bleisure travelers are statistically inclined to take. Remember to include family-friendly options for those who are traveling with spouses and/or children. If your budget allows for it (and primary research results warrant it), you might also consider placing digital outdoor, TV ads or some very targeted digital PPC in your feeder markets to encourage business travelers to extend their stay.
Don’t Forget the Locals
In the midst of this marketing bonanza, don’t forget to show your locals some love. For busy families, a full-blown vacation isn’t always in the cards. Consider partnering with lodging providers and local businesses to curate kids programs in conjunction with hotel stays that encourage parents to take some time for themselves.
Another angle could be to promote a Girls Staycation package that bundles hotel stays with spa days, dining experiences, beer flights, or wine tastings at a discounted rate. The key is to brainstorm ways to convert locals to tourists in their own city. Convince them to take a break from everyday life to experience what makes their home town unique. When done successfully, these guests are likely to recommend their experiences and encourage friends and family from out of town to plan a visit.
Partnering with local stakeholders and getting them to appreciate the value of heads in beds is imperative to launching successful weekend getaway initiatives. Tourism is economic development, and giving travelers reasons to extend their stay or book a weekend getaway in your town is vital to local economic growth. For more ideas on generating room nights, read this article on how to leverage events to generate overnight stays.