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Is Hotel Packaging Becoming A Lost Art?

By: Neil Salerno. April 2010

With the multitude of limited service hotels out there, I'm afraid that many hoteliers are losing the art of creating and marketing packages. After-all the typical hotel package consists of a room, meals, and other amenities. Without a restaurant or bar, you might think that packaging opportunities for limited-service hotels are too limited. Actually, this could not be farther from the truth.

The traveling public loves packaging; packages provide creative reasons for travel, convenience, and the perception of added value, which provides the purchase incentive. Part of the great success of online travel agents has been their ability to package air and hotel. One-stop shopping is convenient and people love it.

So, what about packaging for a limited service hotel? If one only focuses within the four walls of your hotel, packaging can, indeed, be difficult. But, for years, I have been urging hoteliers to think destination, first and their hotel, second. People do not travel to stay in a hotel; they decide on a destination, then choose a place to stay. Packaging can combine the reason for travel with a housing solution.

Creative packaging can provide reasons for people to visit your destination and, subsequently, stay in your hotel. This is the primary reason why your hotel's location is the most important attribute in marketing your hotel, but it's important to understand that your hotel's location is not its address. Location consists of where your hotel is, in relationship to, room night generators in your area. 

If you haven't already done so, determine the most popular room night generators in your location. Besides the obvious attractions and tourist destinations, drill down to all the other generators such as city-wide events, conventions, sports events, and even major companies with high in-coming visitor counts. You don't need a negotiated contract with a company to create a good deal for their visitors.

The next step is to create ways to incorporate these room night generators into a package or packages. It may require a little work, but, you can partner with a local spa or, if you don't have a restaurant, see if you can cut a deal with a good quality restaurant in your area. A little imagination can go a long way.

Marketing Packages

Perhaps the biggest obstacle to packaging has always been "how do I market my package to the public?". In the past, we had no choice other than to buy space on print or broadcast media. This, of course, meant that we had a lot of upfront expense with no assurance that we would sell even one package. Most of the time, we had no way to even measure advertising success. 

The Internet changed all that; the upfront investment is very small, packages placed on your website get lots of relevant exposure, and results are completely measurable. Oh, I know what you might be thinking; "packages have never been popular in our market". Even if this is true, there is another reason for advertising destination-oriented packages on your website; creating additional website traffic.

If you are fortunate enough to have a webmaster who understands hotel marketing, placing packages on your site, will give them an opportunity to further develop relevant traffic through optimizing search content on your site. This allows your webmaster to add pertinent search terms focused on your destination as well as your hotel. 

Create a good collaborative relationship with your website's manager to find and utilize creative ways to display packages on your site. The proper use of website real estate can make a great difference.  

Change and Adding Content Improves Website Sales

You've heard it many times before, but I'll say it again; "content is king." Your webmaster should be keeping your site current and clean. If you are using social media like TripAdvisor, FaceBook, and Twitter, links to your comments on these sites should available from your website. As I have said in previous articles, the TripAdvisor Widget, providing third-party endorsements of your hotel, can be a great boost to bookings.

Social media is a wonderful way to promote destination-first packages. Travelers may not know your hotel, but they certainly recognize major attractions and destinations. Packages are an excellent way to link your hotel to these more popular room night generators. People talk about destinations much more than individual hotels.

It may take a little thought and work to develop packages for your online marketing program, but they could improve the popularity of your hotel's website, link your hotel with local room night generators, and you may even sell more rooms.


Neil Salerno, CHME, CHA
Hotel Marketing Coach

Also See: Electronic Marketing The Great Hotel Equalizer And You Can Do It Without Going Broke / Neil Salerno / February 2010
Managing Hotel Revenue and Everything That Drives It; Five Considerations Worth Repeating / Neil Salerno / February 2010

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