74 – Prepping Your Hotel For The Busy Season

by | May 6, 2021

In this episode of the Suite Spot, we dig into the archives to unveil a never-before-heard episode on how hotels can prep for the busy summer season. Host Ryan Embree is joined by Director of Marketing, Anne Sandoval, to share tips and tricks on how to get the most out of this exciting time of year.

Ryan and Anne start off by talking about why it’s critical for hotels to maintain their online presence – especially as recovery and travel ramp up for the summer. They share social media strategies to capture guest interest, like promoting local events and attractions. Anne talks about the relationship between guests and review opportunities. They finish the episode by stressing the importance of organization and consistency during such a crucial period for hotels.

If you are interested in learning more about optimizing your hotel’s digital marketing for the busy season, you can reach us by calling or texting us at 407-984-7455 or email us at info@travelmediagroup.com.

Episode Transcript
Our podcast is produced as an audio resource. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human editing and may contain errors. Before republishing quotes, we ask that you reference the audio.

Hello everyone, this is Ryan Embree, host of the Suite Spot, what you’re about to listen to today was actually an episode that we had prepped over a year ago. Like many things, this episode was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but we felt with the hotel industry really starting to recover and starting to see some strong numbers heading into the spring and summer seasons, a lot of these tips and best practices that we shared in this episode really can be applied to right now. So with that being said, we hope you enjoy and learn some really great tips on how to prep your hotel for the busy season.

Ryan Embree:
Welcome to Suite Spot, where hoteliers check-in and we check out what’s trending in hotel marketing. I’m your host, Ryan Embree. Hello, hello everyone and welcome to another episode of the Suite Spot. This is your host, as always, Ryan Embree working on a great episode for you today. I think hoteliers, around the country, are getting really excited. We’re coming out of the winter into the spring and summer season soon. So today’s episode is actually a follow up from a topic that we covered all the way back in October 2019, where we were really prepping our hotels for the slow season, things that we could do with our social media, our reputation – to just get geared up and ready for kind of a slower time for hotels around the country. Today we’re going to talk about the other side of that, an extension of that episode. We’re going to look at how hoteliers can really prep their properties for the busiest time of the year. So with me today, to share some insights, is a very frequent guest of the Suite Spot and that is our Director of Marketing, Anne Sandoval. So Anne, welcome again to the Suite Spot.

Anne Sandoval:
Hey Ryan, thanks for having me back.

Ryan Embree:
As I mentioned, I’m excited. Hoteliers are excited, we’re starting to get geared up, travelers are starting to plan their vacations, road trips. We’re excited. How can we start prepping our hotels for this busy, busy season? So I wanted to first start with the question of why. We know time is of the essence in a hotelier’s world, so why should hoteliers even spend the time or prep their digital presence for this season, if they know they’re already going to be busy?

Anne Sandoval:
That’s a great question and I think a lot of hoteliers are probably asking it, but we know that no matter what time of year it is, travelers are using a variety of channels to help make their booking decisions, but during and leading up to those busy summer months, we’ve got an influx of travelers looking at Google listings, online review websites, OTA search results, and on social media. And it’s really crucial that you get your share of those travelers. But to do that, you need to have updated hotel information, positive guest experiences showcased, and really just do anything you can do to stand out from the competition. When everything else is equal, let’s say your location, your average lifetime review score, the price range, and your amenities are really similar to your closest competition, the only way to gain more share is through compelling content and that really comes through positive guest’s reviews and enticing social media posts.

Ryan Embree:
I think a lot of hoteliers forget that fact and we work and partner with hotels that are hungry for more. They know, and they’ve been in the hotel industry for years, sometimes even decades, and they know that this spring and summer season is their bread and butter. This is when most travelers are walking through their door, but they also are aware that their competition is also doing things to try to get their market share. So we know all of a sudden this pie starts to get bigger and bigger as far as occupancy coming into your local area, but we like to partner with hotels that are really hungrier for more occupancy and that higher ADR.

Anne Sandoval:
That’s so true because not only that, but if you keep getting a higher and higher share of that market, then you’re going to see opportunities to raise that ADR and just bank more revenue.

Ryan Embree:
And if you give them a positive experience that’s going to overflow into those winter months and maybe some slower times, and really have the opportunity to capture some return guests there. So, let’s transition into social media because that is one of the ways that hoteliers are kind of searching for that market share is by utilizing and leveraging social media for the busy season. What are some ways that hoteliers can prep their social media in order to capture the most travelers?

Anne Sandoval:
Well, definitely the first thing to do is just review the details of your social media profiles. You know, you may think I’ve got my hotel optimized on social media, I know that information is right, but you’d be surprised how easily this stuff can get outdated. So it’s important to seasonally check the details on your profiles. So business information, like hours of operation, location and contact phone numbers are really important obviously because that’s how travelers are going to be able to contact you. But to increase efficiency at your front desk, when you have those really busy times during the summer, you should make your social media pages as much of a resource as possible to cut down on phone calls. So one way to do this is through Facebook messenger. You can actually set up automated replies with answers to common questions. Like, “When is check-in? When is checkout? What are the breakfast hours? When is the pool open? Are pets allowed?” Anything you can think of that you know, your front desk just gets hammered with these types of questions the busier you get. If you can answer those questions on social media, even if it only saves you two minutes per question, that time is going to add up to let you better serve your guests at the property.

Ryan Embree:
Definitely. I love that tip. Hotelier’s time is one of the most precious things. Your front desk staff is going to have a lot more check-ins than they did in those winter months, so they might not be able to pick up that phone call. But guess what is one thing that hasn’t changed and that’s your guest expectations on when those questions need to be answered. They’re not going to give you any more time because they know you’re busy in the summer than they would in the winter. So I think that’s a great piece of insight and advice for our hoteliers out there. Make sure that your social media is good to go and use that Facebook messenger so that you can start saving time, because your hotel is about to get really busy and to add something onto that, you mentioned questions like when is the pool open? I think hoteliers really need to focus on, depending on your market, on amenities, like the pool, maybe outdoor activities. This is when, in the winter it’s a little bit cold outside guests, are trying to just kind of stay in and stay warm. This is the time where people want to be outside. They want to enjoy your amenity, they want to enjoy your pool. So make sure you’re advertising that on social media. Maybe even sharing some local parks or other outdoor activities. But another way that travelers come to your property is for events. What are the different ways a hotelier can leverage these local events or or attractions during the busy season specifically?

Anne Sandoval:
That’s a great question. I mean, we might be tempted to think that travelers are really just interested in coming to your property and spending their vacation, you know, in the room or onsite, but we know that’s just not the case, unless you’re operating an all inclusive resort travelers want to experience more than just your property. So in many cases the events and attractions near your hotel are the things that are actually driving travelers to your destination. So by posting helpful content about the events and attractions in your area and even tagging those brands and events and locations interacting with those social media profiles, you can reach travelers coming to your area who haven’t yet chosen a place to stay, but let’s say your hotel is actually sold out because of the event or just due to the busy season in general, it’s really important to still be posting and interacting online because the events and attractions that draw travelers to your area have a loyal community of followers online. Think about something like San Diego Comic-Con, those fans are ravenous for finding their community and being able to get a full experience about what is going on in that area at that time. So by engaging with those visitors, even if they aren’t your current guests, you could encourage future bookings with your property and these posts can also help elevate the experience for your current guests by posting about the things that matter to them you’re building connections with them and ultimately that connection you’re building can result in future stays or positive reviews. It might be surprising, but that’s how engaging with local events and attractions can directly impact your future revenue.

Ryan Embree:
I love that word connection. We talk about this all the time, if you don’t create a connection with your guests when they come into your property for an event, you’re just a hotel room to them. If you want to really create a loyal and have a memorable experience for that guest, post pictures of them on your social media, welcome them to your property so that the next time they’re coming into your market, whether it be for an event or just for personal or business, they have a connection with you. They have an experience with you and they know what type of value that you’re going to be able to offer them. I think hoteliers get just way too complacent thinking people are going to come to my hotel for this event, whether or not I engage or post with them, but we’re not really doing it for that event. We’re doing it for awareness, for other times of the year, and to fill those times where it’s not as busy.

Anne Sandoval:
I couldn’t agree with you more. Really what hoteliers should take away from this is that social media is a long game. There was a time when a single post could show you immediate booking impact. And that strategy is definitely still possible if you have the budget for targeted advertising. But the true influence of social media on your revenue performance, on the success of your hotel, is gonna play out over time, through consistent presence and posting on social media over time, you’re going to build influence for bookings for years and years to come.

Ryan Embree:
Agreed. So hoteliers there, again, do not get complacent, do not be satisfied with your occupancy during these occupancy drivers. And that comes with consistency. And another place hoteliers need to be consistent is their online reputation. We talk about online reputation being something that hoteliers have to work at constantly. So talk to us about online reputation during the busy season.

Anne Sandoval:
You know, this is just such a critical time for your online reputation because you’ve got these high occupancy rates and along with those you’ve got increased opportunity for online reviews, but it could easily be a double edged sword. For properties with smooth operations, a great guest experience, this is your time to shine and get as many of those five star reviews pouring in as possible. But on the other hand, if this increase in occupancy causes strain on your staff, your operations and results in poor guest experience, then you might actually get an influx of negative reviews. But there’s no reason to be afraid about this. This is just an opportunity for you to make some moves with your reputation. So with reviews being posted about your hotel faster, than at any other time of the year, and with travelers looking to book in your destination 24/7 you can gain market share and it’s directly related to the most recent reviews posted on your review websites. So if the most recent reviews posted about you, tell a positive story about your hotel, then travelers are going to be more confident in their booking decisions. But a recent negative review could cause travelers to book with the competitor. That’s actually why the new 1st Impression Score™ from TMG helps hoteliers track their reputation performance in real time. To understand how every single review influences the way travelers perceive them online, it’s not just about city rank or just about your lifetime review score anymore.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely not. Travelers are taking a look at these scores every single day. They’re at different stages of the booking process, so you need to be consistent and that consistency might be easy during the slower seasons, but when you are 100% full and you have more and more travelers coming in, it’s exciting from a business perspective, but can be very, very scary, and if not handled the right way can really impact your reputation. And one more thing to note, we talk about prepping for your busy season, but it’s very cyclical when we talk about the impact that your busy season can have on your slow season. So if you have longterm goals to be at a certain place in city rank, this is where I can get a lot of these five-star reviews and start making moves on TripAdvisor city rank a lot quicker than I would be able to in the slower season, where I don’t have the opportunity for as much feedback from guests. So that is absolutely critical, as you mentioned. Now, one of the pitfalls we see during the busy season is that lack of consistency because it gets so busy at the hotel, what other pitfalls do you see happening to hotels during this time of year?

Anne Sandoval:
Yeah, I think during the busy season it could be really easy for hoteliers to just fall behind when it comes to managing their online presence. When you’re understaffed or stressed and just so busy, it might be hard to keep up with posting consistently on social media or meeting the brand standards for review responses. And it feels so much easier to just let these things slide because after all, it’s not like you’re going to let your daily operations slide instead. At some point a hotelier might feel like they have to make a really hard decision about what their priorities are, but that’s why it’s really smart to get a partnership in place or a plan in place ahead of time to make sure that all of your guests communication is covered while you’re super busy during these summer months. So by starting in March or April, you can get a program implemented and ensure that the quality of your brand voice is consistent in your review responses and your social media posts, and then you can even set up auto approvals and only really need to get involved and consult when the need arises.

Ryan Embree:
You know, one of the things when we do these hotel consultations for properties, we take a look at a property’s social media. One of the things that is a huge red flag is when the last post that we see is a major holiday. And the reason that is is because most of the time we see that major holiday being posted and then all of a sudden there’s a huge drop-off. So a hotel that was posting consistently, now all of a sudden they have that major holiday and then it slips one week, turns into two, two weeks, turns into a month. And before you know it, you’ve gone six months without posting anything. So be wary of that, just getting complacent and putting that 4th of July post out there and checking a box or that spring break post on your social media and checking a box because that consistency can fall very, very quickly and your travelers, they don’t just look at social media during the holidays, they are constantly looking at it. So keep that in mind because that is one of the major, major pitfalls that we see. Now, another place that we see major fall off from hoteliers during the busy season – and again, this just comes to priorities and time, and what the necessities and daily duties are to do during the busy season – but it’s review response. So why is review response so critical during this busy season?

Anne Sandoval:
Well, let’s face it, the busier your hotel gets, the greater chance there will be that a guest is disappointed. Whether the pool is too crowded, or their favorite coffee creamer was low, or there was extra noise in the hallways. There’s something that’s bound to happen that leads to either a neutral or a negative review. But we’ve already talked about the fact that travelers are looking in this busy season to choose a hotel in your area 24/7, so you can’t afford for those negative guest experiences to be left online without an appropriate response from you. So forget about brand standards, you need to actually respond to these ASAP during the busy season to help mitigate that negative experience. A professional partner could be the difference between 95% occupancy and sold out during the busy season. We actually just shared a case study for one of our hotels in Buffalo, New York, the Best Western on the Avenue and our professional review response team averaged just eight hours per response. That’s from the time the review was posted to getting a professional review response in place approved by the property and published to the site. That is completely unheard of in the industry, but it’s exactly the type of diligence that you need to be able to manage your reputation during these busy summer months.

Ryan Embree:
You’re so right and it could be again, the differentiator between a crowded, crowded hotel space and competitors. That could be the distinguishing factor for that traveler that is searching for that night is – are you responding to reviews? We have a bunch of statistics out there on our Travel Media Group blog that speak to the importance of review response and the impact that it has on a traveler’s booking decision. Honestly, one of the biggest tips that I can give hoteliers out there is to stay organized. And organization, especially during these busy busy times, are going to help you stay consistent, make sure you’re on top of your social media content, your reputation as well as your review response. What are some tips and tricks that you can share Anne, to make sure that you’re staying organized and consistent during this extremely busy and hectic time?

Anne Sandoval:
Yeah, I definitely think organization is key, but to get there it’s just essential that you have a plan. And when it comes to social media, I recommend scheduling your content ahead of time. Because if your plan is just to post during the day or the week, as you think about it, you’re just going to end up getting busy and skipping posts. And when you skip them, you’re missing out on opportunities to make connections with guests and expand your reach to other potential travelers. So whether you schedule these posts out a week at a time or a month at a time, it’s going to help make sure your social media profiles are active and that the content there doesn’t go stale. And then if you do end up having time for social media during the day, you can use that time to respond to comments, to shares, to other notifications, to really engage, and actually take your social media to the next level. So this strategy is going to work the best. If you’re able to have a content calendar, which will just help you plan out which topics are most important to me, when do I need to share them, and how can I get those scheduled out ahead of time and make sure that I’m not missing opportunities to connect with guests.

Ryan Embree:
Our hoteliers, GMs, Directors of Sales, Marketing Managers out there absolutely love our content calendar on our social media solution. It shows them from day one of the month all the way to the end of the month when content is going out there, what content is being posted. They can make any sort of adjustments to that content, but it gives them the peace of mind of knowing going into a month of saying, okay, these are my major holidays, these are my major events, these are the amenities that I want to leverage. And all of that changes each month by month. So you again, have the peace of mind knowing that there is content being shared out there that is going to ultimately help you get more bookings and grow occupancy at the property. In the hotel industry, we are always looking for data and information. We are a 365 24/7 industry and we’re always looking for that next month of how we can grow, that next season of how we can raise that ADR, raise that RevPar. When things start to slow down, what type of information should hoteliers be looking at to help them prepare for next year’s busy season?

Anne Sandoval:
I think that’s such a great question because we are definitely always looking at how we can improve. So I have a couple ideas, first is: pay attention to the occupancy trends at your hotel and compare them to your market and identify when that rise of occupancy starts so that next year you can make sure that your marketing strategies are in place ahead of time to help you get more of that share. And then I think it’s so smart to use tools like sentiment analysis to basically give yourself, the other people operating at your hotel a progress report to know exactly how guests feel about your property. If you use guest feedback to identify areas of improvement, then you can provide a blueprint for the off season. It’s going to allow you to plan renovations, to do some advanced staff training sessions, and really just address these issues. And by doing that, you’re going to position yourself to improve your reputation with an influx of positive reviews during next year’s busy season. So it’s all about just continuous improvement, continuing to elevate your city rank, elevate your online review scores, and just help you ultimately grow your business.

Ryan Embree:
One thing to note as well Anne is – and we see this a lot right now with the economy where it’s at, is foreseeing and anticipating any new hotels that are coming into the market. What can you expect from them? How can you out-compete them? What can you do to leverage, so that your market share doesn’t dip as much? Try new things throughout this busy season and then at the end of it, take a moment, get with your team, see what worked, what didn’t work, what sort of capital improvements should we be looking at using guest sentiment. If you have somebody responding to reviews, what were they responding to the most? What were the issues that people were facing, but what were also the things that were drawing people back into the property. What did they love most about the property? And from there you can start to tweak and really customize a marketing strategy that is going to work for you and really optimize everything that you talked about: occupancy, reputation, city rank, the best social media strategy out there. And that’s where at Travel Media Group, our CSR team does a great, great job of having that kind of consultation work with you. Again, very exciting time. I hope this isn’t too overwhelming to our hoteliers, but any final thoughts Anne before this busy season starts to kick off?

Anne Sandoval:
This is true for all of us, whether it’s in business or in life. When things get busy, you have to prioritize. And the things that you don’t prioritize may just fall to the wayside. So if you’re operating a hotel and you aren’t making social media priority, you’re missing out on daily opportunities to attract more business to your hotel. If you’re operating a hotel and you’re not responding to guest reviews online, the message that you’re sending to past and future guests is that you don’t really care about their experience. So when things get busy, you can’t really afford to not be active on social media and to not publish your review responses. It’s just an essential part of your hotel’s success path. And if that sounds overwhelming to you, I would highly recommend just having a conversation with one of our consultants here at Travel Media Group, because our solutions were designed specifically with busy hoteliers in mind, to help your hotel perform on social media, on review websites, and keep you involved in the process, but taking the bulk of that busy work off of your plate.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely Anne. Appreciate the insights and your visit today. We love having you on the Suite Spot, so thank you so much.

Anne Sandoval:
Yeah, thanks. I’m happy to come back anytime.

Ryan Embree:
And if you are interested in getting in contact with one of our hospitality solution advisors, you can always reach us at (407) 984-7455. This is Ryan Embree signing off from the Suite Spot, we’ll talk to you next time. To join our loyalty program be sure to subscribe and give us a five star rating on iTunes. Suite Spot is produced by Travel Media Group, our editor is Anne Sandoval with cover art by Bary Gordon. I’m your host, Ryan Embree, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to Suite Spot

 

Listen on Apple Podcasts Button

Listen on Google Podcasts Button

Listen on Soundcloud Button

 

Hotel Marketing Resources

woman on laptop

White Papers

Read in-depth marketing ideas and important industry research.

Man holding phone with headphones on

Webinars

Watch our interactive webinars and sign up for future topics.

76 – Moving Forward with AD1 Global’s Jon McMillian

76 – Moving Forward with AD1 Global’s Jon McMillian

On this special edition of the Suite Spot, we are joined by AD1 Global’s Director of Marketing and e-Commerce, Jon McMillian. Host Ryan Embree interviews Jon and gets his thoughts on the state of the hotel industry today and where we are headed. Jon shares the start...

75 – TMG Hospitality Heroes Part I

75 – TMG Hospitality Heroes Part I

In part 1 of 2 of this special edition of the Suite Spot, we take a moment to recognize stories of resilience and excellence in hospitality throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Host Ryan Embree highlights some incredible hospitality professionals across the country and...

73 – Hotel Industry Q & A on TMG’s Concierge Desk

73 – Hotel Industry Q & A on TMG’s Concierge Desk

In this special edition of the Suite Spot, we announce the launch of a brand new YouTube segment – the TMG Concierge Desk. Host Ryan Embree introduces the new segment and explains how it will serve as a valuable resource for hoteliers. Ryan shares some of the very...

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This

Share this article with your network!