After a year plus of staying close to home and widespread COVID-19 vaccination availability, Americans are feeling optimistic about getting back to a new normal. Their enthusiasm for spending time at restaurants, hotels, and events is ramping up.
Restaurant reservations were up 46 percent in the spring of 2021, according to Yelp. A Tripleseat survey of hotel consumers revealed that 62 percent who plan to travel will do so during the summer of 2021. And, according to a survey conducted by Tripleseat and SevenRooms, 72 percent of consumers said they were planning to hold in-person events during the year.
This new surge is great news for your hospitality business’ bottom line. But you can’t just sit back and assume people are going to walk in the door. Now is the time to boost your efforts to attract these post-pandemic customers.
Try these ideas and promote them as much as possible on your website, in your email marketing, and in your social media posts in order to connect with consumers.
1. Vaxications and revenge travel
These two terms started appearing in industry publications this spring. Vaxications are vacations taken after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine and revenge travel is the vacation you take as COVID-19 revenge, after being cooped up for over a year.
Create deals around the post-lockdown travel trend and encourage people to stay at your hotel for their summer vaxication or revenge travel trip. Your restaurant can get in on this trend as well — build special promotions that target your out-of-town guests to stop by when they’re traveling.
Catering became one of the breakout trends from 2020 and 2021 because having food delivered to a home or venue was a safe way to hold a small social gathering during the pandemic. Hospitality businesses got creative with their catering offers and introduced options for families, celebrations, and experiences.
If you haven’t already, put together catering packages and boxes such as family-sized meals, cocktails to go, cooking kits, tasting kits, charcuterie boxes, picnic boxes, party boxes containing food and party favors, and individual lunch or party boxes for corporate clients.
Customers have been stuck at home for more than a year and they are ready to get out and make memories. Consider adding experiences to your events program to give guests something extra.
Some popular experiences include yoga (including regular yoga, goat yoga, and drunk yoga), mixology classes, cooking classes, silent disco (guests wear headphones that allow them to switch between different DJs), or multi-course meals.
4. Social events
Social occasions are being celebrated in a big way this year. Event professionals tell us that customers are booking their social parties as soon as possible to make up for lost time.
Remind customers and prospects that your venue is the perfect place for their birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, engagement parties, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, baby showers, retirement parties, graduations, proms, and any holiday celebrations from the Fourth of July to Christmas.
5. Corporate events
Employees want to get face-to-face time with their coworkers and clients and your venue can make that happen. Contact your corporate clients, get in touch with your local Chamber of Commerce, and call your city’s convention and visitors bureau to let them know that you are available to become a preferred vendor for events.
Promote your space as a place to host board meetings, conferences, trade shows, conventions, company retreats, and holiday parties. But don’t forget the smaller occasions, like small corporate or sales meetings, room rentals for a temporary workspace, and rooms for living and working remotely. If you have an in-house audio/visual team or a reliable vendor, your venue can also host hybrid events, which are a combination of in-person attendees and online attendees who watch a live broadcast of the event on their laptops.
Creativity will help you boost your business
The last year was rough but the hospitality industry showed its resilience with creative ideas like these. Take the lessons you’ve learned, introduce something new that works, and get the word out to help drive more business.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Seated magazine.