Hotel marketing has always been a blend of creativity and data. There’s equal parts of data-driven revenue management, copywriting and consumer psychology. At the start of the pandemic, marketing was put on hold at many organizations as operations adjusted to the new normal.
Now, during a pandemic with hyper-local ebbs and flows, creativity reigns supreme. It’s a great time to experiment with new ways of making money! It comes down to finding creative ideas that can enhance your marketability without resorting to discounts. By providing value-added experiences, rather than rate cuts, you’ll bolster the bottom line without damaging brand perception.
The time is also ripe for partnerships with local companies. Reach out to those impacted by the pandemic, such as party planners, florists and other events-based businesses, to see how you can work together to build a marketable experience.
Here are 10 ideas for creative room types to boost revenue and yield room inventory in new ways! Some of these are easier and less costly to implement than others; it comes down to your brand and which audiences it speaks to most often. And, it goes without saying, adhere to all relevant regulations and focus on keeping your guests safe.
1. Work lounges
Remote work has gone mainstream – and will likely remain a major facet of the future of work. While many workers are investing in home offices, others do not have the luxury of extra space. And some just want a chance to get out of the house for a productive work session.
Consider turning a few rooms into Work Lounges, which are rooms dedicated to work rather than sleep. Ideally, you would remove beds from these rooms so that you can cut cleaning costs and get the rates down. It’s just not that feasible for someone to spend $139 every day to use a Work Lounge; if you can get that cost lower, you’ll dramatically expand your addressable market of local remote workers.
You could even create a dedicated floor for co-working, to assist with managing capacity and foot traffic. This would also assist with cleaning and general operations, allowing you to test out a “work from hotel” offering.
2. Remote classrooms
Not everyone is lucky enough to have enough space at home to build a learning-friendly environment. Encourage families to take a “workcation” by offering spaces that are kid-friendly and geared towards learning. Adjoining rooms could also be great: parents in one room working remotely and kids in an adjoining room learning remotely.
Some hotels are offering unique perks, such as a remote learning assistant who can provide added support to parents juggling work and education. Brainstorm ways that your property can cater to families who are looking for a pressure release valve on home life during the pandemic.
3. Seasonal experiences
The winter holidays are coming up: what about turning a ballroom (or entire floor) into a trick-or-treat experience or even a Winter Wonderland? Or perhaps it’s using an outdoor space for a Santa pop-up or pumpkin path. To unleash the full potential, partner with one of your existing event vendors to deliver a memorable experience that attracts locals.
With ticketed entry, you can still adhere to capacity restrictions and minimize disruptions from your overnight guests. Package tickets with dinner (or an overnight stay) and you have an upsell that can yield even more revenue!
4. Art galleries
We’re all looking for things to do that are safe and socially distant while still being fun. A progressive art gallery could become a draw for locals. Take a few rooms and work with local artists to showcase their work. Then, as a ticketed pop-up event, you can have timed entry and require guests to spend under 10 minutes in each room to avoid lingering and ensure airflow.
You could also make this a virtual-only experience and use it for a marketing/PR campaign. Offer virtual tours led by the artists, who can then share their work more broadly than just an in-person audience. Streaming is a great way to stay top-of-mind with guests who can’t yet return to your property — while also fostering good will from the local community.
5. Multimedia shoots
Photographers, videographers, influencers, and live streamers are always looking for fresh backdrops for their content. You could build a package that includes lighting, such as ring lights, as well as critical support around WiFi and photo/video gear. A roll-down green screen could also double as a Zoom background – and an add-on feature for your Work Lounges.
Your photo/video room could also double as a rentable podcast studio for those looking to avoid offices but still record an episode of their company’s podcast. Couple this with a mentor session from a local creator and you have yourself an interesting package to sell…one that could also be interesting to families looking for “edutainment” options for their kids during remote learning.
6. Gamer hideouts
Even prior to the pandemic, some hotels have been offering dedicated rooms to gamers. These spaces are set up with mood-lighting, big screens and high-end gaming gear, such as consoles and big chairs. And, of course, hardwired Ethernet connections to ensure the fastest speed possible. Sweeten the pot with room service credits that keep gamers in the action for longer.
For non-digital gamers, board games might be the way to go. Fill up certain suites with a selection of board games — or even create a menu that can be accessed by all guests. This definitely makes staying in much more fun!
7. Rave caves
This one is a bit more specialized but could be a perfect fit for a trendier property, located in an urban setting. With in-person concerts cancelled, the fun has migrated online. Each weekend, there are festivals and concerts streamed on platforms like Twitch and YouTube.
Is there a way that your hotel can provide a “party in a box” experience that recreates a little of that dancefloor magic, replete with lights, drinks and space to dance? This could be especially intriguing to small groups of friends who are looking for a way to blow off steam once small events are allowed in your area. Even as smaller events resume, there’s not likely to be any major festivals or even indoor clubs for some time. Take advantage!
8. Pamper rooms
“Me time” takes on a whole new meaning when the entire family is at home. There’s not always space – or time – to pamper yourself. Offer a solution with pamper rooms that recreate a spa-like experience for a little rest and relaxation. You could include a bottle of champagne, a welcome basket with spa essentials like bubble bath or even an in-room massage (if that’s allowed in your area).
You could also consider adding wellness components, such as a yoga session (either 1:1 or virtual), meditation classes or even a complimentary subscription to a mindfulness app that equips guests with longer-term strategies to stay well.
9. Personal gyms
In many places, gyms are re-opening with reservations and capacity limits. For those who are not comfortable with that, what about a room that includes everything you need to workout? The growing popularity of fitness on-demand services such as Peloton means that you can add live instruction fairly easily. You can also offer other gear that’s not as expensive, so that you can avoid spending too much on room renovations or pricey gear. Think fitness bands, TRX for body weight training and medicine balls.
This room type could be co-created with local trainers and fitness instructors looking for a safe and socially-distant location to host clients.
10. Movie nights
Your outdoor spaces are valuable assets — doubly so during a pandemic. Set up a screen by the pool for “drive-in movies” or use the side of a building to create a unique cinematic ambience.
This theme can be pulled into individual rooms as well. New movies are now offered on streaming platforms, so you could align your promotion with a new movie premiere and include the movie and the price of the room. Amp up the movie experience by offering gourmet popcorn and other treats. It’s a night at the movies…from your hotel room!
And don’t forget: PR
Finally, each of these creative room types is a major press opportunity. As you decide which room types to test, reach out to local journalists – especially the TV stations. Many local journalists have been covering the “work from hotel” trend and may be interested in covering your creativity as a way to show how local businesses are bouncing back in novel ways. That free publicity could more than make up for the investment in the new room types!