February: The month of hotel love

Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Perhaps it’s too obvious to write about this holiday on the day of instead of weeks or months before, but I’m doing it anyway because there is still time to put into action what I’m about to say.

Why must this holiday be celebrated on just one day? Why can’t we use the idea of Valentine’s Day — love and romanticism — and make it a month-long affair? After all, for most of us here in the Northern Hemisphere, February is a rather drab time. What better way to offset this than by giving customers a bit more excitement in the final two weeks of this shortened month? Most of you have already hopped on this bandwagon, but for those heretofore naysayers, I stress that any romance package or likewise themed action should last for the entirety of February.

Here’s another major, if peripheral, reason this is a good idea. Contextually, Valentine’s Day has a very significant advantage over other holidays. It is very lucratively distanced from other commercial entities that might otherwise hope to steal the stoplight.

Let’s start with the Commonwealth’s Boxing Day. Occurring annually on December 26, here in Ontario it is a statutory holiday and a juggernaut for retail sales. But alas, one day is never enough to fill the pockets of vendors with surplus inventory, especially given its proximity to Christmas. To appease those still suffering from Christmas turkey comas, Boxing Day magically morphed into Boxing Week! Marketers everywhere grinned; now their promotions and advertisements could be leveraged for a seven-day stretch, not just one measly 24-hour rush.

The shift from “day” to “week” was a strategic ploy so companies would have more time to differentiate their promotions from those for Christmas. Recently, I’ve even seen some vendors execute a “Boxing Month” approach. Along these same lines, Cyber Monday emerged from the fires of Black Friday so certain online retailers could distinguish themselves from all the white noise and hustle after the American Thanksgiving.

So, what holidays surround Valentine’s Day as potential “competitors” for a consumer’s attention? Here in North America, this would include Groundhog Day (which is celebrated for all of five minutes everywhere outside of Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania), the Super Bowl (sports-specific and happening earlier in the month) and President’s Day (which doesn’t exactly have the “let’s splurge on a getaway” zing to it). In order words, nada.

Elsewhere in the world, first to mind are Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, both running parallel with Valentine’s Day. Unless your hotel is in a predominantly Catholic region with a proven track record of ignoring Valentine’s Day, then your marketing and advertising efforts for the most romantic holiday in February will undoubtedly have a substantial reach and vast influence if targeted correctly.

Knowing this — that Valentine’s Day has no real consumerist competition — the main obstacle to a Valentine’s Month approach is promotion stagnancy. To mitigate this, consider changing the theme slightly week-over-week. Maybe February 1-7 can be the “spices of love” (cinnamon, vanilla, lavender, spearmint, etc.), February 8-15 can be romantic fruit (cherries, passion fruit, pomegranate and, of course, heart-shaped strawberries) then for the remaining two you’d be wise to shoehorn chocolate somewhere in there. I’m thinking with my stomach, but it’s a good touch-off point for other ideas in the same vein.

These are just a few ideas that you can use to invigorate your team for this year, next year and beyond. With any luck, the magic of Valentine’s Day can transport your hotel from red to black for this oft-lonesome month of February.