Valentine’s Day is one of those commercial holidays you don’t find on any government-issued calendar. And yet… Do I even need to state its inherent value for hotels around this time of year?
A â€˜blip’ on the winter cash flow radar, Valentine’s Day 2012 is right around the corner.Â Every precocious marketer has no doubt initiated a plan months ago to guarantee room and restaurant sellouts. But, do you have the necessary measurements in place so you can learn and enhance the 2013 experience?Â This article serves to identify some important steps to take to maximize next year’s fiscal return.
1. Learn. Learn. Learn. What activities did you undertake for 2012? What was successful? What can you quantify? What did your competitive set promote and how did their performance for the week compare? Examine F&B results: what were the top sellers? What was the typical bottle price range for wine sales? What anecdotal information can you glean from serving staff, concierge, front desk and any other managers who interacted with guests?
2. Database. Capture and create a list of your Valentine’s Day customers from 2012 (and 2011 if you can access this). Strategically consider this list for a special exclusive offer in 2013. The same applies for restaurant-only guests. Add to this database every bride and groom that has celebrated wedding day with you. The key is to pinpoint specific groups within this collection of data and then market according to what they already might want in a Valentine’s Day promotion.
3. Plan Based Upon the Day of the Week. Is a property more successful if Valentine’s Day falls on the Saturday night? From my experience, it doesn’t matter! The customer will choose to celebrate on the day that is most convenient to their schedule. What is important to your property is to ensure that you do not put up roadblocks that prevent your customers from celebrating on the day they want. In other words, plan your Valentine’s Day for the weekend, week or even the entire month. The most successful Valentine’s Day I’ve experienced was when the day fell on a Wednesday, as two weekends along with midday jaunts were all supported on an equal basis.
4. Be Real. Establish realistic goals and build the Valentine’s Day program around your property’s unique advantages. Review 2011 and 2012 then set an appropriate growth target for occupancy and rate. To maximize success, look at what your property has to offer based upon location, amenities, and F&B. Build packages that include lavish spa treatments along with food and beverage. If it can be arranged, a babysitting option is also worthwhile.
5. Themed Months. While it may sound corny, this is one time where romance and romantic themes prevail. Just make sure that whatever you are promoting, it is consistent with your branding and target audience.
6. Promotional Period. Define a temporal spending program based upon specific revenue targets. This is a straightforward financial exercise arising from your fiscal goals, margins and returns. Define the expenditures and give your agency ample time to prepare a marketing campaign. Building blocks for the media program should include: public relations, local print media, Google Adwords, website promotions, in-room flyers, restaurant check stuffers. Consider a tie-in with a local radio station to add reach and exposure.
7. Loyalty Bonus. Whatever the promotional offer, provide a little extra for return guests. Send an electronic note to past guests 2-3 weeks in advance of the promotional announcement. Offer to giftwrap a card of announcement. Create value-added extras, rather than focus on price reduction. Then, when your loyal members come on site, surprise them again with chocolates, wine, flowers or a delicious appetizer for two.
8. Don’t Forget Your Staff. Create an environment of romance that transcends the front-end displays. Roses in the accounting office; chocolates in the staff lunch room.Â Be equal in your presentation to everyone, from housekeeping to your sales staff and managers. Â Any gratitude you give your team will spill over into the exuberance with which they interact with the guests.
Remember, Valentine’s Day comes every year, so keep track of everything this coming year, so you’ll be more than ready to do even better 12 months from now.
(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, published on eHotelier on February 14, 2012)