“How can I increase bookings and revenue during low-season?”
It’s one of the most popular tourism marketing questions we receive for a good reason. Just about every travel and tourism business has to face seasonality. And let’s be honest—it’s not easy to make revenue from only a few peak months last the whole year. Especially not if you’re ready to grow your tourism business for maximum income and impact!
We live part-time in southern Costa Rica, where we see the difficulties of low-season for small tourism businesses on a daily basis. In fact, many tourism businesses in our area have completely given up on attracting travelers during the rainy season.
But here’s the thing: It IS possible to have year-round income, even with seasonality and slow times of the year.
If you’re ready for your tourism business to be one of the few that thrives all year long, then you won’t want to miss these five smart tourism marketing strategies to get more off-season bookings:
5 Tourism Marketing Strategies To Boost Off-Season Bookings
1. Invest In An Email Marketing Strategy
Depending on what stage they are in their buyer’s journey, the majority of travelers won’t make a final booking the very first time they stumble upon your tourism website.
We like Google’s take on it when they explain that travelers must go through the dreaming and researching phase before they are ready to think about booking. And according to Expedia, travelers visit an average of 38 sites before making their reservations!
This is why a smart tourism email marketing strategy is crucial. Email marketing allows you to capture travelers’ emails when they land on your website and then continue to build relationships with them so when they are ready to book their trip or vacation, your hotel, tour or destination is the obvious choice.
So what does this have to do with off-season bookings?
First, we always recommend tourism businesses take advantage of high-season by using the influx of website traffic and customers as an opportunity to grow their email list. Tweak your CTAs (Calls to Action) to get more email sign-ups now. Promote an irresistible offer (such as an insider guide to your destination) in order to build your list. Ensure past/current guests and customers are on your email list so you can remarket to them in the future.
Now, use your email list to market special low-season offers! Most tourism businesses resort to discounts, but there are other creative ways to get travelers in the door all year round. We’ll go into more detail below on how to market your low-season offerings—all of which are ideas to incorporate into your email marketing strategy!
2. Uniquely Brand Each Tourism Season
When you’re planning your personal trips and vacations, do you typically want to visit a destination if you know it’s considered off-season? Probably not. But what if instead of off-season, you heard “undiscovered season”? It’s a subtle difference, but as an avid world traveler, I can say that would certainly peak my interest!
That’s exactly what Asheville dubs their winter season. What’s more, they accompany this with fantastic articles on the best reasons to visit Asheville during the winter months. (See tip #4 for more details on this!)
Many tropical destinations use a similar approach, swapping out the term “rainy season” for “green season.” Don’t underestimate the power of simple storytelling when it comes to tourism marketing! Small shifts can make a huge difference.
What creative names can you come up with to better brand low-season in your specific destination?
Brainstorm as many options as possible, and then get some feedback to see what ideas sound most compelling.
3. Create Captivating Low-Season Packages
Now that you have a great name to better brand your off-season, it’s time to build bespoke packages that take advantage of the special offerings only available this time of year.
Think about activities that can only be enjoyed during your off-season.
For example, the Asheville Tourism Board does an excellent job of promoting their unique winter arts festival and outdoor winter activities, with imagery of romantic fireplaces and cozy bed & breakfasts.
Again, here in Costa Rica, we deal with rainy season half the year. While this might be off-putting to some beachgoers, many travelers love that wildlife is more abundant, the jungle is more alive than ever, rivers are raging for white water rafting, and waterfalls are more dramatic.
Consider how you can create a bespoke package that takes advantage of such unique selling points specific to your destination, then bundle them together to create epic packages that make sense for your ideal customer.
You might also consider partnering with other local tourism companies to provide these packages. You can then collaborate in the promotion and tourism marketing to reach a wider audience.
Your tourism business might also try offering these specific packages at set dates during off-season. Rather than trying to attract a few travelers here or there during your entire low-season, focus on maximum ROI by filling up your entire hotel, retreat, etc. during a limited timeframe.
One of our clients does this beautifully with yoga teacher trainings. Specifically, Blue Osa offers one-month yoga teacher training immersions during their low-season months. These trainings are always fully-booked, ensuring maximum ROI during a time of year when other local businesses are struggling to get anyone in the door.
4. Incorporate Low-Season Packages In Your Content Creation Strategy
You’ve got a creative name for your low-season and compelling packages to attract travelers. Now, it’s time to market these packages!
Start by planning out your editorial calendar so that you are creating content about these unique offerings well in advance.
Let travelers see first-hand just how incredible off-season can be at your destination. Videos, photos, and blog posts that tell the story of your packages are crucial.
For more on what the smartest tourism marketers do to get stellar content marketing results, don’t miss this in-depth post. All of the strategies can be applied to your off-season tourism marketing strategy.
We also recommend downloading this free sample editorial calendar we created specifically for travel + tourism businesses ready to master their content marketing.
5. Don’t Forget Your Local Community
When planning out your low-season tourism marketing strategy, don’t forget to include your valuable local community! With fewer crowds and typically lower rates, this is the time many locals indulge in a staycation so they can better get to know their own backyard.
This is also an excellent way to foster community and get locals involved in your business. Many tourism companies offer discounts to their local community but don’t hesitate to think of other fun ideas and events that target those living nearby. And above all, don’t forget to talk to your neighbors to get real feedback on what would entice them to book with your tourism business today!