Travel Packaging Makes Dollars and Sense
for Lodging Properties
For the Michigan Hotel & Lodging Association
Understanding the marketplace dynamics, forces and decision making process of today’s customers will reap rewards for your property. Most lodging properties go to great lengths to ensure that their customers, once on site, are taken cared of and their needs are met.
However, just for a moment, let us back up the customer buying process a bit and look at being customer focused prior to booking a room reservation at your property or having guests arrive on site. If you looked at the customer decision making process, you would discover a host of things you could do to increase your business and customer conversion ratio. For today’s consumers, one of the most important things you can do is to package your property.
Time starved consumers want simple, seamless and convenience when interacting with people and organizations that provide products and services. This is true from consumer goods to vacation packages. Service providers that wrap things up, make it easy and anticipate customers’ needs are reaping huge rewards. This is especially true for travel.
Lodging establishments need to realize that with leisure travelers you are not in the rooms business but rather the vacation business. There are multiple opportunities gained from this perspective using packaging. It provides your guests with a ready-made vacation or getaway experience. Staying at a lodging property is usually only part of the equation. I would image very few of your guests sequester themselves in their rooms for the duration of their stay, with the exception of perhaps the occasional honeymoon couple. At minimum even honeymooners surface for meals!
For hoteliers, there are several benefits to packaging. The first of these include taking you out of the pricing game. When you wrap up lodging, meals and attractions for one price, you are protecting your rates and in many cases using multiple on-site services at your property. Customers no longer are able to compare your hotel with your competitors based solely on price. Second, packages with included features give guests a reason to stay longer. By providing visitors with a ready-made package, you are providing an experience rather than just accommodations. Finally, by packaging your property using your destination’s context of features, attractions and experiences you will be able to bounce visitors back to you on a more frequent basis.
One of the keys to successful packaging is finding great partners to provide products, services and experiences that will compliment your offerings. Look at the different offerings you provide to guests and think about how these might be packaged. I know of one property that wrapped up a package with their lodging, meals and on site recreation facilities. Then, they partnered with a local day spa to provide services for a package to guests on site. All the on-site services the property offered were being utilized along with one outside partner.
In other cases you may work with several different partners for various packages. Discover what your leisure guests like to do when they are visiting the area. Ask yourself how these elements might be combined in an innovative way together with your property into a package.
For best results with packaging, use a theme around which you can build a package. Themes that are tied to the brand elements or attractions in your destination will provide a host of possibilities that may be wrapped up. To uncover potential themes, look at what is currently motivating travelers to visit your area or region. Then, look at how these themes or possible new themes may be varied or changed on a seasonal basis.
One such example is the town of Jonesboro, Georgia the designated home of Gone With the Wind. In Jonesboro there are a host of attractions tied to the book and the movie. Lodging properties together with the attractions create compelling packages for visitors. In addition, seasonal variations on packages might include a Gone With the Wind Romance Package, a Gone with the Wind Civil War package, a Gone With the Wind Girlfriends Getaway and a Gone With the Wind Family package etc. By varying the themes, the packages can be refreshed seasonally.
Travel trends also indicate that today’s travel customers are looking for shorter more frequent getaways. With this in mind, you have a host of opportunities available to creatively wrap and rewrap your property. This will provide customers with a reason to come back and stay with you on a more frequent basis. For best results the packages must be changed and freshened up on a regular basis.
Provide your customers past, present and future with ample reasons to select your property in advance and enjoy your warmth and hospitality before they arrive on site. As proactive lodging properties it is imperative to anticipate customers’ needs during the buying process and wrap up your property with packages. As Nike says, “Just Do It.” It really will make lots of dollars and sense to both you and your customers!
Joe Veneto, aka The Opportunity Guy is an expert in Consumer Travel Packaging. He collaborates with travel suppliers and destination marketing organizations to create compelling vacation products and travel packages. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.opportunityguy.com.
Joe Veneto, "The Opportunity Guy," is principal of Opportunities Unlimited, a management consulting and training company. He collaborates with organizations in Tourism, Hospitality and Service-related industries to achieve results by creating new business opportunities. His areas of specialty include sales development, innovative product development, destination marketing and customer service. Joe is a 20-year veteran of the tourism industry and has worked for national tour operators and major industry wholesalers.
Opportunities Unlimited provides management consulting services, custom designed seminars and results-oriented training workshops. Clients include government tourism agencies, marketing organizations, hotel groups, historic attractions & museums, restaurants, tour operators and others. Joe's unique industry experience enables him to create practical, results oriented programs tailored to his clients business needs.
In addition to his consulting, Joe is a nationally recognized speaker on the Tourism & Hospitality Industries. He presents programs annually for National Associations, Regional Tourism Groups, Industry-wide Conferences and Convention & Visitors Bureaus. He has also authored several articles that have appeared in various travel trade publications.
Opportunities Unlimited© 2006
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