But you’ll need more than four walls and a reasonably priced bed to keep your guests coming back. The advice you’ll find time and again is to create value-added packages, so we thought we’d explore how to make those packages more compelling. Hint: Chocolate never hurts, especially when paired with an unlimited supply of prosecco.
However, you’re not the only hotel to ever hear this advice (sorry). There are many, many packages to choose from, and after a while they start to look the same to a potential guest. It doesn’t really matter if they pick the wine and massage or the massage and wine.
You need to be creative to stand out from the competition. Here are some re-imagined package ideas to get started.
Make Use of Your Locale
You’re the only hotel in your particular location. What are the people, places, and things nearby that make you unique?
Collaborate with the restaurant next door to create a fine dining experience where guests can walk back to your inn via private lantern-lit path or pair with a local bakery for a morning croissant delivery. Hotels and food go together like, well, chocolate and prosecco.
However, eateries are not your only option. What other businesses and services are unique to your community? Is there a music venue or comedy club that’s gaining popularity? A savvy guest will ask hotel staff what to see in the city. They look for the inside scoop—the coveted personalized experience—so discuss this with your staff and approach up-and-coming businesses for mutually beneficial partnerships.
Our WebRezPro client Savoy Hotel offers discounts for customers of a local backcountry guide. Guests can have their special winter wonderland experience…and come home to Savoy Hotel’s cedar sauna afterwards. Savoy Hotel has won a TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for 2022, so something must be working.
Most importantly, it’s about telling a story. Be sure guests know why that winter wonderland trip is special—make them envision the snow glistening in the fir trees as they swoosh down the hill on their skis.
The wellness package has been in vogue for decades. Friends, couples, and solo travelers enjoy weekend spa getaways or week-long yoga retreats. No one gets tired of a panorama outdoor jacuzzi.
Whether you’re a larger hotel with amenities on site or a boutique inn that collaborates with a local spa, it’s important to highlight the relaxation your rooms provide through views, beautiful décor, and wellness extras like local organic toiletries. These add-ons increase value while showcasing your brand.
You may also want to expand your idea of wellness. Increasingly, health and wellness is associated with what has traditionally been called adventure. Consider biking, kayaking, or walking tours. Wellness and an active lifestyle go hand in hand. By combining those concepts, you can set your hotel’s packages apart.
Another Travelers’ Choice Award-winning client of ours, The Tulemar Resort Hotel offers a night paddling tour. It’s darker and more difficult…so guests will come flocking! What they’ll really love is the reflection of the sunset rippling on the water.
Expand your idea of adventure packages as well. There’s still a market for getaways that include activities like zip-lining, white water rafting, and air balloon rides, but the number of experiences that can be advertised as “adventures” has grown.
Urban adventurers often look for culinary escapades. Collaborate with restaurants, markets, food festivals, wineries, breweries, and distilleries to package and promote the culinary expertise of your area.
There’s also a trend towards traveling to gain new skills. These travelers want to try wood-working, photography, cheese-making, gardening, and sustainable farming. Have them use their hands for something other than scrolling through Instagram!
Post-pandemic, with airports functioning like one of Dante’s nine circles (a doomed limbo where passengers whirl from canceled flight to canceled flight), staycations are here to stay. Ontario even established a tax credit for those keeping their vacations in-province.
Many of the same packages that work for out-of-towners will work for locals. Guests will still want those candle-lit dinners (for couples) and hot cocoa (for kids) whether they live nearby or not.
In fact, amenities are what really makes your hotel shine for locals. They can see the sights whenever they want. What they can’t do every day is have a fresh pedicure and tuck into a gummy-bear filled snack basket as part of your movie night package. If you pamper guests enough, it will feel like vacation even without going anywhere.
More people than ever work from anywhere and everywhere. They combine business with leisure for “bleisure” or “workcation” travel, either by extending company trips into leisure trips or simply checking into a hotel for a comfortable place to work.
Workcationers need high-speed Wi-Fi, spacious desks, and, of course, lots of coffee to get through Monday morning. But those are only the basics. To woo these guests, give them access to your more luxurious hotel perks. That nine-to-five business woman may want to relax with a strawberry lemonade by the pool after finishing those spreadsheets. Fancier work-related extras are a plus too, like networking cocktail hours and co-working spaces. Just because your guest isn’t in the office doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like company.
More travelers than ever are bringing their pets along with them. Our client The Island Inn at 123 West—another Travelers’ Choice winner—offers a “Puppy Pass” with the basics: a bed, a bowl, and some treats. It also helps to have an enclosed green space where these pooches can do their business.
If you really want to go above and beyond, you can offer extras like doggy daycare, pet massages (Fido gets arthritis too!), and even a pet wardrobe with booties for that chihuahua who needs to keep its little feet out of the snow. If this doesn’t sound in your wheelhouse—maybe your staff aren’t used to slobber—consider partnering with another organization. There could be a dog-walking business or a pet store nearby that would love to team up.
Help guests celebrate in style with room decorations, holiday-themed food, and hotel-branded gifts. There’s no shortage of special days to use; birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day are all fair game. You could even try a Halloween package with a classic horror movie (for the adults) and trick or treating for the kids. No one is ever too old to dress up!
Thanksgiving is a fun option too for all those guests who want a fun, fancy dinner but don’t want to spend the rest of their natural lives cleaning dishes.
You can also look at any events or festivals in your town and design your package around them, which emphasizes your unique selling proposition. Located in Ashland? Dust off your scripts and try some Shakespeare themed suites. I recommend using the comedies for this one. Not sure people would want to sleep in the Capulet crypt…
Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, honeymoons…Many of those special occasions are with that special someone. Offer romantic staples like our client The Wine Country Inn, which provides sparkling wine, rose petals, and (local!) chocolate.
However, you can get more elaborate as your budget allows with horse-drawn carriage rides and even underwater weddings for those couples who want to tie the knot in their scuba tanks.
And remember to tell the story. Is your location in any way romantic? Does it have the city lights of When Harry Met Sally? Or the wild moors of Jane Eyre (ideally without the resident attic wife)? Mention it in your marketing!
Kids just don’t appreciate a good bottle of wine like their parents do. You’re more likely to win them over with family art or cooking classes, story time, and hot chocolate. (Chocolate still works whatever the age!)
To really impress, you can always put in a colorful playground complete with climbing wall and a carousel. If this doesn’t work, say you don’t have the budget or space, you could partner with a local amusement park to offer free/discounted tickets.
There are also plenty of kid-friendly science museums out there you could look at as well. Those kids can learn about nature by scrambling up into a giant eagle’s nest.
When in doubt, kids enjoy tactile things—fingerpainting, legos, play-doh…anything they can make a mess with. A pool is always a plus.
Allow guests to personalize their packages by choosing their own extras when they book online. They can judge for themselves what they’d like best.
WebRezPro enables you to set up reservation options that can be attached to specific packages and that guests can select from when making a booking. For example, imagine you’re creating an adventure package that lets guests choose if they want a morning or afternoon trail ride. Or a romance package that lets guests pick red roses or white lilies.
You could even let guests choose extras that aren’t included in their package and watch your ancillary revenue grow!
Offering a package only to a specific subset of guests, e.g. guests in your loyalty program, can make that package more attractive. This can be especially effective for new or experimental options because you can easily track results that will help you build future packages. It enables you to dip your toe into the pool without diving all the way in.
To limit a package or rate to certain guest segments, use your property management system to create a password-protected rate. This means your customers must use a designated access code when booking online or through your front desk in order to book the special rate.
WebRezPro Property Management System includes flexible rate management tools for selling even the most complex and creative packages you can dream up. Giving guests their own 18-ft powerboat? Their own personal butler? Easy peasy.
In addition to password-protected rates, packages can be set up with various other restrictions that give you full control over your inventory. For example, WebRezPro enables you to set up LOS (length of stay) requirements, booking windows, CTA (closed to arrival) and CTD (closed to departure) restrictions as well as packages with rate-specific booking and cancellation policies.
If needed, you can limit how many rooms are sold per night at the package rate, and pricing and availability overrides can be applied instantly at any time. Packages can be made available online only or through your front desk only.
And for spot-on accounting records, revenue from different package components (e.g. food and beverage, and activities) can be automatically tracked to specific revenue accounts.
A hotel is more than the sum of its rooms. Think outside the box to create add-ons and packages to entice guests in the door and create memories that will bring them back year after year. Your package possibilities are endless with a flexible property management system like WebRezPro!
This post was originally published March 2018 and updated July 2022.