Destination Marketing Strategies: Positioning Your Property for Shoulder Season Bookings

Nick Papa
April 24, 2024

Hoteliers face the ongoing challenge of maximizing occupancy throughout the year. While peak seasons bring a surge in bookings, the shoulder seasons present unique opportunities for savvy hoteliers to extend the season and capture untapped revenue potential by convincing guests why visiting your destination in an off-peak time is just as enjoyable. Read on for destination marketing strategies to position your property for success during shoulder seasons.

What and when is shoulder season?

Shoulder season periods typically fall between peak and off-peak seasons, characterized by moderate weather, fewer crowds, and potentially lower prices. While demand among tourists may fall during shoulder seasons, advantages include reduced competition, an opportunity to develop authentic programming at the hotel, and cost savings for travelers.

Popular markets like New York City, South Florida, and Southern California will all experience shoulder season from September to November 2024, while Colorado and the Rocky Mountains region will experience a slightly shorter shoulder season from September to October 2024.

Develop compelling promotions

How do you convince people to visit your hotel after high season? Entice travelers with a compelling offer or package that brings the most exciting aspects of your destination to life. Whether it's a length-of-stay package that lets travelers enjoy a long weekend, an exclusive dining experience, or a wellness retreat, combine reasons to visit the destination with your property's unique offerings.

  • New York City: Getting a restaurant reservation is challenging year-round, so visiting during the shoulder season couldn't hurt. If your hotel has a popular restaurant, consider a unique package that includes a reservation for two. The guest has one less reservation, and the property gets additional revenue.
  • South Florida: During winter, hotel guests clamor for cabanas or loungers by the pool. Attract travelers to the market during shoulder season with a VIP package that guarantees a spot in the sun. With the additional revenue from the cabana rental package, consider including a complimentary cocktail by the pool.
  • Southern California: The fall shoulder season in Southern California coincides with one of the region's most unexpected activities, whale watching. By developing a package with a local partner, you can convince guests to book by taking care of all the planning for them, giving them a reason to book at your property that only comes once a year.
  • Colorado/Rocky Mountains: Plenty of travelers chase fresh powder during the ski season. In the shoulder season, travelers may look for scenic beauty, fall foliage, and wildlife viewing when favorable temperatures make it enjoyable to be outdoors. Consider offering a photography package where a local photographer meets guests in the lobby and takes them for a walk near the property, guiding them to capture the perfect photos on their smartphones.

Get the word out

One of the most powerful tools in your destination marketing arsenal is getting the word out about your promotions in leading media brands. Curacity enables hotels to get featured in the newsletters of AFAR, Travel+Leisure, and 40 of the world's best media brands. By showcasing your property at the right time through compelling content, you can capture the attention of travelers who may take inspiration from media brand content to plan their next trip during the shoulder season.

Think long lead

While lead times vary from hotel to hotel, consider that the global average lead time for hotels is about a month. While the September shoulder season may seem far off, it'll be here before we know it.

Hotels whose marketing and revenue teams begin planning for shoulder season in May can share their promotion with Curacity by June. Early planning allows plenty of buffer time for newsletters to go out by late July or early August, aiming to drive shoulder-season bookings in September and beyond.

When it comes to need periods, long-lead planning is always best to ensure you maximize the opportunity to optimize untapped revenue potential.

Reach the right segments

With the depreciation of third-party tracking cookies, media brands offer an opportunity to reach audience segments that are more likely to have particular interests. While any hotel would like to be in the major travel publications, like Travel+Leisure, plenty of other media outlets allow you to reach more targeted audience segments.

For example, if you're running a promotion emphasizing F&B, Real Simple, whose audience over indexes on recipe interests, is an excellent option for reaching a food-focused audience. Naturally, if you're a resort with a golf course, you'll want to make the most of favorable shoulder-season temperatures with content in Golfweek.

Get ready to position your property for shoulder season bookings.

Shoulder season presents a prime opportunity to convince guests to visit at an off-peak time for fewer tourists, exciting experiences, and more favorable rates. By implementing destination marketing strategies, you can tap into your potential guests' desire for unique, unrepeatable experiences and unlock the untapped revenue potential of shoulder season bookings. To learn more about how Curacity can help you drive shoulder season bookings, contact your customer success associate or schedule a demo with us today.

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