[Slow Season Checklist] How to Prep Your Property for the Best Year Yet
It’s your slow season. Just because you're not busy with guests and guest-related to-do’s, doesn’t mean you slow down. Yes, there might be a vacation planned and pajamas worn past 7 am, but an astute property owner is busy working ON their business, not IN their business.
Let’s discuss some critical tasks to complete before your shoulder and busy seasons have you more involved in operations than strategic planning. This step-by-step plan is ideal for any business owner. For our ThinkReservations customers, we’ve made sure to include action items for you to take within your account.
1. Update Your Calendar
I know it sounds old-fashioned but sit down with a 12-month calendar and mark the popular annual events in your area, Federal holidays, and any special events you know will affect your occupancy. By doing so, you are making sure you don’t miss an opportunity to manually yield your rates. Plan out your vacation time. Mark any renovations planned for your property. All this information is key as you move through the other critical tasks.
- Add Calendar Notes for anything listed above.
- Create any blackouts for closures of rooms/units or the entire property.
2. Review your Book Direct Rates
Take this time to evaluate your strategic goals for the upcoming year. Are you more focused on occupancy or maybe RevPAR? Start adjusting your rates for the upcoming year accordingly. Look at the calendar you created and make sure to manually yield your rates for the high-demand periods. Consider your minimum night restrictions during this high-demand period as well.
If you have not yet dived into the world of yield management rules, you may want to consider adding a few simple rules and test the results out. We have lots of great resources on Yield Management to help you understand some strategies to use. If you have, make sure to tweak your existing rules to match any new strategies.
- Review your Booking Pace report to determine if last year’s pricing strategies paid off.
- Extend your rates and restrictions out for the next year.
- Add a few simple automatic rate adjustment rules to your Rate Types, if you haven’t done so already.
- Tweak existing Yield Management rules across all your Rate Types.
- Confirm all extra guest fees and pet fees, if applicable.
3. Review your OTA Strategy
Now that you have your Book Direct strategy and pricing solidified, it’s time to figure out how OTAs will enhance your goals for a successful year. There are multiple ways to use the OTAs to further your business goals, the OTAs to further your business goals, with each OTA being a little different (for example: HotelTonight vs. AirBnB). Do you want to connect to any new OTAs? Do you want to stop connecting to any OTAs? Just make sure your use of the OTAs doesn’t harm your Book Direct efforts.
- Review our How To articles on adding or deleting OTA connections.
- Update your rates and availability for your Rate Types.
- Watch webinars that discuss different OTA strategies.
4. Review your Items, Packages, and Specials
Knowing your business goals and important calendar events, review if each upsell item, package, and special helps you reach those goals. This is a great time to stop offering items and packages that make you groan when purchased. Confirm with your vendor partners if there are any pricing or logistical changes to your established items and packages. Take the time to build new business relationships to create new items, packages, and specials to promote throughout the year.
- Go through all your items and packages and update pricing and pictures. Deactivate (don’t delete) any you no longer want to sell. Add your new ones.
- Add your special rates for the year, with or without Coupon Codes.
- Go to your website and walk through the online booking process as if you were a customer. Test what you have set up to make sure everything is working properly.
5. Audit Your Website
Just like you deep-clean your property during the slow season, you need to deep-clean your website, too. There are a ton of free tools online, such as W3C Link Checker, to help you make sure your main communications tool to the world is ship-shape. Or you may hire a professional lodging website company to help with this endeavor. This is the time to add your new items, packages, and specials to your site, along with evaluating if new photography is needed. If you find you do need new photography, start a list of what you need and make sure to include photos you can use for social media posts throughout the year.
6. Audit Your Booking Engine
By this point, you have already gone into your ThinkReservations account and updated your items, packages, and specials and tested them for accuracy. Go through your Booking Engine one more time with an eye towards the general booking process, paying attention to descriptions, room photos, and alt text.
- Evaluate your booking engine search page message on the Booking Engine and change it if need be. Check the photo is accurate as well.
- Review room photos and descriptions for accuracy. Make sure alt text is added to all photos.
7. Review Your Policies
Did a policy not work for you this year? Did you start self-check-in? Or maybe changes in staffing have led to operational changes? Go ahead and review your policies, make those changes to smooth out operations and then update all the ways you communicate this to your guests, including your website and third-party sites.
- Under Business Settings, make any changes in your Terms & Conditions and Cancellation Policy fields.
8. Review Your Communications
Lastly, you want to make sure you are communicating clearly and correctly with your guests. That means reviewing all your customer touch-points to make sure the information is accurate and the tone is per your business policy (don’t forget about your voicemail messages too!)
- Review your email templates for accuracy, tone, and content.
- Review the email automation rules.
- Though you should be doing this after every email campaign you run outside of ThinkReservations, make sure to clean up your customers’ email preferences within their profile.
It's time to take action
To help you through this process, we've created a Slow Season Checklist you can use to ensure your business is ready for its best year yet.
Though the process of working ON your business will be an investment, you will reap the benefits of more time, more focus, and more revenue in your high season. And I think we can all sit back in our pajamas with our favorite beverage in hand and say “Cheers!” to that!
We look forward to helping you discover new ways to grow your business!