Pre-Christmas special

Merry early Christmas to all (and Happy Chanukah as well). Take the much-vaunted time off to reflect on your successes and failures in 2014 as well as what actions you will take in 2015. Rest, relax and then return to work fully recharged and ready for another round.

While most of you are already half out the door and in full-on holiday mode, lest you forget that after the Christmas-New Year’s period, the shopping-spree attitude subsides in favor of a “back to work” mentality, and alas, we are left with the traditionally low-volume months of January, February and the weeks in March prior to spring break. There are obvious exceptions to this — notably for those operators situated somewhere in or around the tropics — but for most of us in the Northern Hemisphere, this period isn’t a sure thing when it comes to putting ledgers in the black.

However, there are a few dependable marketing tactics you can employ to drum up business during these parched months. Three to get you thinking include:

1. Authentic winter experiences

To build a marketing campaign along these lines, you must look to what makes your area unique and what exceptional qualities it has during this frigid season. Are there any local winter festivals you can advertise in conjunction with a rooms package? Are there any winter activities or sports your region is recognized for? Anything you can do to give your promotions a local slant in tune with the season will go a long way toward more sales.

2. Outdoor adventures

Building on the last point, just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors. In fact, as a hotel, it’s your duty to encourage the opposite. Think skiing, skating, night skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, dog sledding and many others. Yes, our first objective as hoteliers is to deliver a good night’s sleep, but a close second is to deliver an excellent guest experience. And even if you are situated in an urban locale, there are undoubtedly numerous activities in your region already capitalizing on the cold cement environment.

An example I recall fondly is the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, British Columbia, Canada. On the westernmost side of the North American landmass, the area is subject to extreme weather during the glum winter months. Turning lemons into lemonade, upon arrival each guest at the Wick is outfitted with a raincoat and boots so he or she can comfortably amble outside and watch some the world’s most powerful storms batter the rugged cliffs with colossal waves. What’s stopping you from renting out similar gear to your guests so they can more easily partake in winter activities in your area?

3. Indoor warmth

The wintry outdoors are fun to explore for a few hours, but there’s a maximum to that enjoyment. Eventually we want to cozy up near the fire with a hot cocoa or cup of tea. By expressing the concept of warmth in your promotional materials, you’ll appeal to those seeking such heat but lacking the monetary or temporal means to abscond to the tropics or the Southern Hemisphere. Sell vivid imagery of fireplaces, families snug under blankets or other warm settings. Talk about the exceptional nature of your saunas or steam rooms. Include spa treatments aimed at winter rejuvenation (one’s skin can get quite dry during these cold months). And when it comes to food, the key word is “comfort” — namely soups, stews, hot drinks and anything else that warms the stomach as well as the soul.