A summer of promotion in review

As a member of the press, I’m privy to a near-continuous stream of news releases informing me of exciting activities taking place at various properties across the globe. This summer has been a particularly strong one for promotional offers and programs. What’s refreshing is the creativity shown by many of these hoteliers, demonstrating once again that our fair and friendly industry still has some spunk.

Below are some that appealed to me. I pass them on to you now with the hope that they will inspire you to investigate what you can drum up for your own property. 

Photo courtesy Four Points Hotels
Photo courtesy Four Points Hotels

Four Points by Marriott celebrated ‘Beer We Go’ in 225 locations, kicked off on International Beer Day. The wine drinker that I am, I didn’t even know such a day existed. The program is designed to showcase local craft beers, support neighborhood vendors and encourage participation in the tasting of and appreciation for ales. With an international scope, an additional touchstone was the playful scorecard to increase the program’s initial uptake and heighten its interactivity.

On a much smaller scale, the Dylan Hotel Amsterdam is teaming with KLM Airlines to sponsor a contest that provides return airfare and accommodations as a prize. While I do not normally espouse contests as a means of generating long-term business success, there is no question that the promotion is intriguing due to the prize incentive.

A well-developed promotion by Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa in Galena, Illinois, deserves mention next. The program is focused on the specific period between the end of summer camp and the beginning of school with different multi-day, family-oriented activities that ‘almost’ made me wish my kids were younger (note the emphasis on almost). Each of the four-day, three-night packages are aptly named with the ‘Family Day’ moniker and have ample inclusions of complimentary pizza and soda.

The Dukes of London capped the summer period with a four-night-for-the-price-of-three promotion that includes a room credit, airport transfer and Champagne upon arrival. I mention this one because it’s simple, and any property could execute something similar and localized without much effort. Why let your average night’s stay be average when you have re-jig it to make it even just a tad more interesting for incoming guests?

The JW Marriott Minneapolis Mall of America chose to focus on America’s favorite urban pastime – shopping. The hotel’s package comprises a US$100 Nordstrom and a US$50 restaurant voucher per room per night. With a US$359 rate, that’s a 40%-plus value! I am quite confident that the participating Nordstrom sold more to guests than the value of the certificates offered to more than compensate for the wholesale reduction at which it sold the coupons. Similarly, the dining charges would more than likely exceed the promotion rate, especially if alcohol is involved. Kudos to the JW for adding value rather than discounting the rate.

The bottom line here is that leisure stays are highly influenced by promotions. When building your own promotional program, use the following guidelines:

  1. Make them relevant to your target audience, your property and the time of year
  2. Ensure that they offer real consumer value
  3. Find a unique angle so they can’t be easily replicated by your comp set
  4. Remember to work with your operations team because they must be able to execute
  5. Don’t forget the third phase of any promotion – evaluation – as it provides the feedback necessary for incremental improvements year-over-year
  6. Be creative and have fun!