How city hotels are getting creative ahead of holiday season
Hotels in big city centres are pulling all the stops for a slice of the domestic traveller market
Delivering unique and memorable guest experiences and offers is helping put hotels in Australia’s gateway cities on travellers radars as international border closures force them to adjust their plans, but state travel restrictions lift.
Not to be left behind as their regional counterparts race towards a full recovery from COVID-19 travel bans, city operators are throwing out the rulebook, to drive up occupancy.
Providing all-inclusive resort-type packages, local vouchers and free parking are some measures hotels are introducing as they strive to capitalise on travellers venturing beyond state bordersduring the festiveseason.
“The hotel industry is doing a brilliant job coming out of domestic COVID-19 border restrictions, but holiday season means it is time to step it up,” saysRoss Beardsell, executive vice president, Hotel Asset Management, JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group.“Our conversations and collaborations with hotels is on another level now, and they are also collaborating other industry experts, tourism operators, and even people outside of the industryto implement effective ideas to draw guests as traveller confidence recovers and limitations ease.”
Inspired ideas include the Mercure Hotels’ Darwin Airport Resort’s ‘SS Cossies Family Package’ , which throws kids’ board games, ten-pin bowling, dining vouchers and mocktails into a two-night stay in a family room.
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The Gold Coast’s Paradise Resort’s ‘Family Escape Package’ incorporates ice skating passes, a food and drink voucher and unlimited use of its on-site waterpark.
Other hotels are providing immersive cooking experiences – some even online to promote guest loyalty. Marriott Hotels & Resorts are offering a culinary documentary series to Marriott Bonvoy loyalty program members, taking them on a virtual food journey.
Delivering additional value
Expanding value-add offers from simply including breakfasts within standard room rates, to including car parking as well – particularly over the December-January holiday season – is also becoming a popular strategy, says Vibhor Kalra, an asset management specialist in JLL’s Hotels & Hospitality Group.
“We are having conversations with many of our CBD hotel manager and operator clients about how they can make inclusive parking feasible, especially since it is typically charged as an extra cost to the guest,” says Kalra. “They are seeing this as a great opportunity to boost occupancy as they target guests within a four-hour driving radius, which in the short-term is exactly the right strategy.”
For example, Holiday Inn Sydney Airport is promoting a ‘breakfast and parking is on us offer, and more CBD hotel sare expected to follow suit, especially over weekends and public holiday, Kalra adds.
Digital make over
Digital and marketing strategies are critical investments for hotels, which now have access to a potentially wider pool of guests who are adapting their holiday plans around the current landscape.
Digital efforts should reflect the expectations of this new cohort of traveller, as well as amplify the local experience, Kalra says.
“This is the time for hotels to get personal by marketing the experiences unique to their venue, - while also leveraging the hotel brand, - to a highly targeted data base, be it the corporate of leisure traveller,” Kalra says. “Marketing efforts and dollars should go towards updating websites so they also promote local experiences, excursions, and even parking offers to give visitors a true sense of the experience they’ll be getting.”
Hotels can also improve their outlook by working with local tourism communities even more than they already may be. Joining up with local tourism operators on redemption offers, and being able to leverage these operators’ marketing databases is also a way to tap into new customers.
State and Territory government voucher schemes which encourage people to spend in restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs in city locations, should also be taken advantage of.
“All city hotels, including select-service, mid-scale and luxury, have a huge opportunity to capture travellers who are looking to immerse their senses, or to discover - or re-discover– Australia’s vibrant metropolises,” Beardsell says. “Thinking creatively could make all the difference to their experience, their loyalty, and to a hotel’s recovery.”
This article first appeared in HM Magazine
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