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Love is in the Air, All Month Long

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Writing about this ever-romantic holiday on the day of instead of months before changes what I am going to say, but only slightly.

Mainly, even though you are in the throes of executing this year’s Valentine’s Day marketing efforts, it is never too soon to start the thinking wheels for next year’s big day. Later this month, upon analyzing your successes and failures of whatever romantic promotions or specials you ran, give some thought to these very broad principles to perfect your endeavors come January 2014 or even November 2013 depending on how far in advance you get the ball rolling.

Love is in the air, and when you’re feeling this good, why limit it to just one day? Most of you have already hopped on this bandwagon, but for those heretofore naysayers, I stress that any romance package or likewise themed action should last for the entire month of February, not just for the day of the 14th or the encapsulating week. Here’s why:

Contextually, Valentine’s Day has a very significant advantage over other holidays. It is very lucratively distanced from other commercial entities which might hope to steal the stoplight.

Take the Commonwealth’s Boxing Day for instance. Occurring annually on December 26th, here in Ontario it is a statutory holiday and a mammoth day for retail sales. But alas, one day was never enough to sate the pockets of vendors with surplus inventory, especially given its proximity to Christmas. To appease the plebs still suffering from turkey comas, Boxing Day magically morphed into Boxing Week! Marketers everywhere smirked and high-fived one another; now their promotions and advertisements could be leveraged for a seven day stretch, not just one measly 24-hour rush.

The shift from ‘day’ to ‘week’ was a strategic ploy so companies would have more time to differentiate their promotions from those for Christmas. Recently, I’ve even seen some vendors execute a ‘Boxing Month’ stay approach. Along these same lines, Cyber Monday emerged from the fires of Black Friday so that certain online retailers could distinguish themselves from all the white noise and hustle before the American Thanksgiving.

So, what holidays surround Valentine’s Day as potential ‘competitors’ for a consumer’s attention? Here in North America, this would include Groundhog Day (which is celebrated for all of five minutes everywhere outside of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania), the Super Bowl (happening two weekends before) and President’s Day (doesn’t exactly have the ‘let’s splurge on a getaway’ zing to it). In order words, nada.

Elsewhere in world, first to mind are Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, both concurrent with Valentine’s Day. Unless your hotel is in a predominantly Catholic region with a proven track record of ignoring Valentine’s Day, then your marketing and advertising efforts for the most romantic holiday in February will undoubtedly have a substantial reach and vast influence if targeted correctly.

It’s settled then that you will consider Valentine’s Day as a month-long venture, yes? Great! Next up is the concept of romance and how you can use the holiday’s pretense as an opportunity to add some excitement throughout your property.

This is less about the grand gestures and more about the nuances and romantic spins that you imbue to your regular operations. These gifts for your guests shouldn’t be expensive; it’s the thought that counts. For instance, add a half dozen roses to rooms of newly arrived couples. Dip some strawberries in dark chocolate and offer them as an amuse-bouche for all patrons to your restaurant. That one works great for dinner and for brunch! Even a Valentine’s Day card and handwritten thank you note can go a long way towards winning your guests’ hearts.

And if you’re worried about your Valentine’s Day promotions or activities getting stale over the course of the month, consider changing the theme slightly week-over-week. Maybe February 1st through 7th can be the ‘spices of love’ (cinnamon, vanilla, lavender, spearmint, etc.); February 8th through 15th can be romantic fruit (cherries, passion fruit, pomegranate and, of course, heart-shaped strawberries); then for the remaining two you’d be wise to shoehorn chocolate somewhere in there. I’m aware that I’m thinking with my stomach, but it’s a good touch off point for other ideas in the same vein.

Make it a creative exercise with whatever team is involved and that excitement will reverberate through to the final presentation. Work with your marketing department to develop different packages for each seven day period. As well, F&B can have a lot of fun with this as they brainstorm and craft unique mains, desserts and cocktails for each week’s theme.

These are just a few ideas that you can use to invigorate your team for this year, next year and beyond. With any luck, the magic of Valentine’s Day can transport your hotel from red to black for this oft-lonesome month of February.

(Published by Larry Mogelonsky in eHotelier on February 14, 2013)

Larry MogelonskyLove is in the Air, All Month Long