Here’s why this time is so special. In late December, around the world, the day-to-day lives of 75% of people are put on hold. They are on vacation and taking a break from their typical routine. They catch up with what they’ve wanted to do all year, or relax and spend time with friends and family.
As this “time-out” comes to an end for travelers, whether they’re away at an exotic location or taking part in a staycation, anxiety begins to kick in. As vacations come to an end, reality settles in that “real life” is about to resume. The pit in their stomach subconsciously grows as the days of the vacation tick off, and they must soon return to what their life was like before the vacation.
For every problem, there is a solution. The only solution to ease the post-holiday blues… is to book the next one! This is the opportunity presented by the Annual Sale. People are ready to secure their next vacation and begin looking forward to an upcoming trip.
While most leisure trip booking outside of the normal holiday period is typically based on needs such as weddings, anniversaries, or visiting family and friends, the Annual Sale is more centered around feelings. There are a few famous dates where bookers are expected to buy gifts for their loved ones, such as Black Friday, Cyber Monday, or Valentine’s Day. The Annual Sale follows the same idea, but this time it’s a present for oneself, and this concept is exactly where hotel marketers should focus their campaigns.
Hotels must take advantage of the chance to be associated with the annual New Year’s tradition of offering new resolutions when visitors are most introspective. Travelers are given a license to treat themselves to a wellness getaway and invest in the success of keeping their commitments by linking the Annual Sale with the New Year’s Resolution. Despite the fact that only 8% of individuals regularly keep resolutions, the desire to do so still exists (particularly early in January). Hotels can entice future visitors’ yearning to become better versions of themselves if they move swiftly.
It’s worth acknowledging that pushing a new sale near the conclusion of a trip presents an extra hurdle because, often, a significant amount of money has been spent on travel, housing, food, and other entertainment. Therefore, people are reluctant to make the investment in their next holiday. This scenario is why hotels should make booking at this specific time even more appealing, and extra simple, by offering incentives such as discounts, accommodating cancelation policies, and other measures that don’t appear as an intimidating additional expense to the potential traveler.
What makes for a successful Annual Sale?
This particular phenomenon takes place during the first weeks of January, right after the Christmas holidays. For a campaign to be successful during this period, it is recommended to schedule it during the first ten days of the year, from January 1st to January 10th. To emphasize the short duration of the Annual Sale, hotels should establish a sense of urgency by including different elements to their websites, such as a countdown clock, a message indicating the number of people looking at the promotion, or the number of rooms left at a particular price, on a specific date. These messages can be displayed through Notes and Layers throughout the website to catch the attention of visitors.
Add a personal touch
For a large majority of travelers, holidays equal relaxation, without stress or obligations. Therefore, hotels should promote just that to their potential bookers, highlighting the different amenities of their property, such as a spa, meditation space, swimming pool, or sport complex. For any offer to reach the right target audience, personalization is key. Whether it is based on geographic location, user behavior, or on the amount of travelers anticipated, creating customized packages is always a great way to boost direct bookings, as visitors will likely identify with at least one of the products or services offered.
With New Years comes new resolutions, and a balanced healthy diet often tops the list. Another idea to catch the eye of more visitors, hotels should consider offering dining options in line with this popular goal.
Emphasize extra incentives
The Annual Sale could very well end up being an impulse purchase for the spontaneous traveler. In these cases, the less trouble for the booker, the better. Hotels should remove any advance purchase penalties for cancellations related to Annual Sale promotions, while also underlining all of their unique features. Website visitors are about to exit your direct channel? A good way to retain them is to offer an extra discount, reminding them that cancellations are hassle-free, and reiterating the various perks of your property.
These are the times when hotels have the opportunity to present themselves as the remedy to travelers’ post-holiday blues. The Annual Sale is an opportunity still unknown to most hoteliers, and one that shouldn’t be missed. These three points can help hotels make the most of this period and start 2023 off on the right foot, and ensure that making their New Year’s resolution of boosting direct bookings one that will last.
Michael J. Goldrich
Chief Experience Officer