From May Day to Labor Day

We’re now five months into 2015. That means summer — and summer travel — is right around the corner. Although the official start of this sizzling season doesn’t kick off until the end of the month, with the way global warming is going, the beginning of May is rapidly edging out that much-vaunted gap between too chilly and unbearably hot. Hence, as today is May Day, that gives you four months of great weather until the summer vending machines close around Labor Day.

(Note that this is coming from a North American perspective. If you live in the Southern Hemisphere, bookmark this article or make a few mental notes for when your summer creeps in around late October. And if you live in the tropics where seasonal fluctuations are as palpable as the taste of rum in your next strawberry daiquiri, take what you can from this article and think kind thoughts for every hotelier suffering under the whims of the Earth’s orbit.)

Time to lacquer the deck chairs and lather on some sunscreen — and by that I mean you had better get underway with the strategy and execution of your summer packages and promotions. If you haven’t started this task, don’t panic; the horns have blown but the ship hasn’t sailed … yet.

When planning for summer travel and designing offers for incoming guests, undoubtedly you can look at year-over-year performance and then make polishing adjustments to the previous round’s iterations. If it isn’t broke, why fix it, right? This is, generally speaking, a solid strategy as it requires less effort to execute and you already know roughly how successful you are going to be.

But regurgitating past performances and expecting comparable or better revenues is a foolhardy attitude in today’s travel world. More so than ever before, emphasis is being placed on unique experiences, both from the consumer as well as at the corporate end. The trend is moving away from the safety in repetition and into the novel. The Internet has opened people’s eyes to a world filled with exceptional opportunities, so much so that no one really wants to do the same thing twice because there are so many other experiences just around the corner.

If you haven’t thought of this already, your task for the next week is to reflect upon your property and discern what it does best or what is does that is different from all other hotels or resorts in the area. In other words: what’s your elevator pitch? Convince someone that they simply MUST come to your property in one sentence or less.

Once you have this in your head, apply it to your summer-getaway or business-travel packages. That is, what is your one great or exceptional feature (outside of monetary discounts) that will entice even the most fanciful consumers?

A related buzzword I’m reminded of here is “hotelfie,” which is a clever portmanteau of “hotel” and “selfie.” Once you’ve gotten over any initial Millennial chagrin, it’s important to ruminate on the importance of this word. Being part of the trending lexicon indicates it is indeed popular for guests to take pictures of themselves at hotels. From there you can ask yourself: what makes your property picture-worthy? What unique features will compel a guest to put himself or herself in a photo with your property as the backdrop?

And aside from your pitch, you have to make sure you are in the right elevator to begin with! That is, you should know your core markets, your prime demographics and your most enthused psychographics before you start talking.

Personally, I’m excited to see this upcoming season and what bears fruit. The summer of 2015 is a great time for experimentation, both for new promotions and what crowds you attempt to please. Change is the new norm, and so you must institute at least one novel program to solidify your core or stretch your market appeal lest you are hopelessly underprepared for the consumer behaviors of 2016 and beyond.