Moving into 2023, the hotel industry faces several factors impacting business and leisure travel. On one side, the past few years of COVID restrictions mean that people have a large amount of pent-up travel demand. They have places they want to see and things they have been unable to do over the past few years. The latest travel data indicates that October 2022 saw travel rates up 3% over pre-pandemic 2019 levels as the number of people making these trips has already begun climbing back up.
Similarly, businesses that regularly try to schedule group events have been hindered by the restrictions and feel eager to get their business routine back. Nearly 8 in 10 professionals plan to attend a business event within the next six months, indicating event potential remains strong.
On the other side of the equation is the murmur of a 2023 recession. Should the recession materialize, it could hurt people’s budgets and make it harder for them to travel. In turn, it would reduce booking rates, particularly for leisure travelers.
For hotels interested in setting themselves up for success, prepping for a potential downturn, and planning now to maximize reservations and focusing on group bookings can help them set up for a robust year moving into 2023. Group bookings for events can provide hotels with steady income — even if single leisure bookings slow amidst a recession.
Here are 14 strategies you can put to work to increase your bookings in 2023.
Step 1. Advertise sales and team kickoff events early in the year
Sales kickoffs and team meetings early in the year can be an excellent way for businesses to set the tone for their companies moving forward. Marketing messaging that promotes the importance of these kickoff meetings for getting everyone on the same page can help you fill up early group blocks at the start of the year. Remind potential clients about the importance of getting Q1 started on the right foot.
Step 2. Encourage management to bring remote workers together for quarterly team meetings
The pandemic has also significantly increased remote work, leading to businesses with employees spread across the country. Regular meetings that bring people together face-to-face can bridge gaps and build the business culture.
With people working remotely, bringing people together for in-person opportunities has only increased in importance. Encourage companies to host quarterly meetings that allow people to exchange information in person and build their collaboration. The benefit will be to take connections back with them to their remote home offices.
Step 3. Promote customer advisory board packages and board of directors packages
Most companies have a board of directors, and an advisory board, and a customer advisory board. Advisory board and board of directors packages allow you to target decision-makers for a given business. Bringing in business leaders can be an excellent way to encourage them to book events for the rest of their company. Bundle conference rooms, AV, and premium food and drink for these offers.
Step 4. Push bookings and blocks around in-person events already scheduled in your area
An excellent way to bring in additional reservations is to push promotions surrounding the events, festivals, trade shows, and gatherings in your area. Look for direct tie-ups with organizers as a preferred lodging source and market the convenience of staying at your hotel for the duration. Cast your hotel as an excellent way to enjoy the already-scheduled events.
Milestone Event manager is an effective way to bring attention to area events and visibility to your offering around that event in the search results.
Step 5. Tap into scarcity motivation by communicating and promoting the suddenly high event booking rate
Companies are eager to return to field and in-person events and most hotel event spaces are booking out fast. Therefore, you can motivate people to jump on booking opportunities by advertising the scarcity that your hotel is experiencing in response to the rush of people booking events and blocks. Encourage people to reserve their days far in advance, helping you fill your calendar and establish steady booking rates throughout the year.
Step 6. Entice with early booking discounts
Encourage people to take the leap. Allow them to sign up for their preferred times by offering early booking discounts. If they register their block of rooms or reserve their meeting space far enough ahead, you will offer them a discount. The savings can encourage those on the fence to officially register.
7. Offer multi-event discounts
Establish your hotel as an accommodating location and an appealing place for businesses. Position your space for the ideal location to host various team meetings and corporate events. Bring companies back to your hotel with the offer of multi-event discounts. If they host more than one event, savings increase. Repeated events strengthen the relationship between the business, the attendees, and your hotel.
8. Offer advanced hybrid virtual event services for people who cannot travel
Throughout the pandemic, many events went virtual. While this certainly had some downsides, it also appealed to those who no longer had to travel. Virtual events empowered those who might have not been able to participate otherwise.
Allow people to tap into that appeal. Despite the return to in-person hosting, you can provide the right accommodations for hybrid events. This flexibility helps companies hosting events at your location promote the opportunity to those who might otherwise turn down the event. In turn, you can position your brand as customer-centric.
Step 9. Advertise bleisure (business leisure) options for people to tack on days or bring family members to business events
When companies foot part of the travel bill, many professionals may find it appealing to extend their stays; they might take a day or two before or after the event to explore their location and turn their business trip into a quick edge vacation. Some might even want to leverage the opportunity to bring family members to the destination and spend time together in the location once the business element has wrapped up.
Promote your hotel as an excellent place for this type of trip. For example, advertise in-hotel amenities, such as a spa or a kid-friendly pool. You’re offering to entertain family members while the professional tends to business. Showcase your luxurious meeting places alongside easy access to area tourist destinations. You serve as Help professionals keep family members happy as they daydream about what they can do while visiting your hotel.
Step 10. Offer early booking for winter company events in 2023 and emphasize the pressure of pent-up demand after three years of COVID
Remind people itching to travel that they are not alone in their desire to get out. Even company winter events at the end of 2023 should be promoted and considered for early booking. Market the amenities offered to 2022’s winter crowd and what you can provide in the coming year. Remind them that they will have to compete with companies wishing to rebook their favorite location alongside those ready to get out after years of COVID restrictions. Offering early bookings can encourage businesses to make their reservations now.
Step 11. Offer corporate accounts discounts for employees to hold weddings and parties at the property
Further build your relationships with local corporations by making it personal. Extend corporate account discounts to employees who want to use the event amenities for private events at a different time. These discounts cast your brand as accommodating with an excellent customer service model.
Step 12. Redouble efforts with trade associations and event organizers to win their attention and booking
Trade associations can also provide excellent opportunities for events. Nurture relationships with various associations who might want to use your accommodations. Tell them what you can offer to attract their attention and bookings for the different events they host throughout the year.
Step 13. Connect with non-profits to win their fundraising event bookings
Like trade associations, nonprofits regularly host events and fundraisers to support their organization and the work they do. Connect with the leaders at these businesses and help them envision what your hotel can offer when they host the events in your meeting space.
Step 14. Promote customer connection and appreciation events and bookings
Just as you want to build relationships with your various corporate accounts, businesses wish to nurture relationships with their clients. Client appreciation events can be an excellent way to demonstrate their enthusiasm. Market the potential client connection and appreciation events businesses can host at your hotel. These events can range from meals to full-day events, providing companies with excellent opportunities to build these valuable connections and strengthen relationships.
Moving into 2023
The coming year holds tremendous potential for hotels as they encounter guests eager to travel after years of restrictions. However, the potential recession also threatens to cut corporate budgets. Focusing on group bookings and making plans for promotions now can help hotels fill out their calendar and position 2023 for success.
Work with professionals who specialize in hotels. They can help you manage these promotions and keep your site updated to accommodate these different target audiences. The team at Milestone can help you create the site experience that will draw in your customers and find the best promotions for your brand. Get started planning for 2023 now.