Beyond Discounts: Strategies for Increasing Shoulder Season Revenue

Nick Papa
April 24, 2024

For revenue managers, the shoulder seasons represent a golden opportunity to optimize revenue and drive profitability. While discounts can be effective, they're not the only tool in the revenue optimization toolbox. Read on for strategies to maximize shoulder season revenue without relying on discounts.

What and when is shoulder season?

Overall, the shoulder season balances the peak season's advantages, such as good weather and accessibility, and the affordability and tranquility of the off-peak season, making it an attractive option for many travelers. While demand may be lower during this period, pulling the correct revenue levers can significantly help with guest acquisition.

In New York City, South Florida, and Southern California, revenue managers should get ready to optimize shoulder season revenue from September to November 2024, while revenue managers in Colorado and Utah have a marginally shorter shoulder season in September and October 2024.

Diversify revenue streams

Expand beyond room revenue by diversifying your revenue streams during shoulder seasons. Consider offering additional services and experiences such as spa treatments, recreational activities, or culinary experiences. By tapping into ancillary revenue streams, you can boost overall revenue while providing added value to guests who are more likely to spend their savings on lower shoulder season room rates on experiences.

Upsell and cross-sell

Utilize upselling and cross-selling techniques to increase the average spend per guest during shoulder seasons. Even if you're offering marginally lower shoulder-season room rates, offering upgrades, add-on packages, and premium amenities can encourage guests to use their savings to splurge, generating incremental revenue for the property. Leveraging guest data and preferences will help personalize the offers and maximize conversion rates. 

Curacity customers can examine each media outlet's performance. For example, if food-focused or golf-focused publications catalyze the most bookings, you can understand what upsell types will best convert your potential guests.

Implement dynamic pricing

Dynamic pricing strategies that adjust room rates based on demand fluctuations during shoulder seasons will give price-sensitive guests who might not be able to visit during peak periods to book at your property. Leverage revenue management tools and analytics to identify pricing opportunities, optimize revenue, and maximize profitability in periods of less demand.

Focus on direct bookings

Encourage direct bookings through your hotel's website and reservation system to reduce distribution costs and increase revenue per booking. Incentivize guests to book directly by offering exclusive perks such as room upgrades, complimentary amenities, or loyalty rewards. By driving direct bookings, you can retain more revenue, gather more first-party data, and build stronger relationships with guests.

Control costs

Controlling costs will improve profitability during shoulder seasons. Work with marketing in periods of lower demand, like shoulder season, to negotiate favorable terms with brand partners to lower expenses without compromising quality or service. For example, a local, like-minded business might provide your hotel guests with a 10% discount in exchange for promoting their business across the hotel's social media channels and email newsletter. It costs the hotel $0 marketing dollars and allows you to command the total room rate without discounting.

Get ready to drive shoulder season revenue without discounting.

Maximizing revenue during shoulder seasons requires a multifaceted approach beyond traditional discounts. By diversifying revenue streams, implementing dynamic pricing strategies, leveraging upselling and cross-selling opportunities, prioritizing direct bookings, and controlling costs, hoteliers can unlock the full revenue potential of shoulder seasons while ensuring long-term profitability. To position your hotel for success during shoulder season, contact your customer success associate or schedule a demo with us today.