Digital marketing is essential for hotels during the shoulder season to maintain visibility, target specific audiences, promote special offers, engage with travelers through content marketing, manage online reputation, and utilize data for optimization. 

By implementing a comprehensive digital marketing strategy, hotels can effectively bridge the gap between peak seasons, attract guests during slower periods, and maximize occupancy and revenue throughout the year.

5 Marketing Techniques to Increase Direct Off-Season Bookings

Depending on where you are, you might be in your area’s shoulder season already. So, let’s move forward by explaining a few techniques we use that encourage guests to make direct bookings no matter the time of year. 

1. Know Your Shoulder Season and Plan Your Marketing Accordingly  

Every destination’s shoulder season differs. For example, our work with Park City Lodging and Tributary Hotel. Typical off-seasons for hospitality businesses are in early spring and again in the early fall. With their tourism marketing, our digital strategies include a mix of peak and off-season efforts that support their booking goals. The results improved year-over-year site traffic while boosting bookings. 

That’s why it’s important to continue marketing your hotel or rental to guests throughout the year with multi-faceted marketing strategies that promote brand awareness. For our clients, we employ a suite of hospitality digital marketing services that include the following: 

2. Make Data-Informed Decisions

Learn where your customers come from by analyzing your GA4 account or data from your sales channels.You already know when guests are visiting based on reservation data. You also know which sales channels convert best. It’s also essential to understand how your website is contributing to your successes as well as if a pivot in marketing strategy could be beneficial. 

In most cases, digital marketing for hospitality aims to increase direct bookings on a brand’s website. Fortunately, consumer interest mirrors that sentiment by showing hotel website traffic increasing by 19% compared to pre-pandemic traffic. 

By leveraging accurate and up-to-date data, hotels gain valuable insights into website performance, user behavior, marketing attribution, and audience segmentation. Like us, you can learn where your customers come from by analyzing your GA4 account or data from your sales channels. 

GA4 provides real-time reporting, allowing hotels to monitor their website traffic, conversions, and other metrics in real-time. This feature is particularly useful during promotional campaigns, peak booking periods, or when monitoring the impact of website updates. Real-time reporting enables hotels to make immediate adjustments or optimizations based on current data.

For example, if website traffic is down, it could be useful to leverage Google Analytics to understand the behavior of website visitors.

If you have questions about how we can support your efforts, we invite you to contact us.

3. Paid Ads Often Lead to More Off-Season Direct Bookings 

Every hotel needs a paid media strategy—full stop. Why? 44% of bookings come from paid advertising over search. 

Marketers without a data background, or experience running paid ads, may need additional help building a paid media strategy. A well-researched paid media strategy is an essential building block for a successful paid ad campaign that drives direct bookings. Machine learning and expert targeting then optimizes those ads to boost visibility and conversions. 

As experienced digital marketers in hospitality, here are a few ways we promote direct hotel bookings during the shoulder season and save on OTA fees: 

  • Create ad campaigns to promote seasonal discounts. 
  • Promote blog posts and rich content via Google Search ads. 
  • Highlight specific amenities and rooms using targeted keywords. 
  • Perform competitor and keyword research to lower RoAS. 

What’s more, we offer custom hospitality paid media strategies individualized to travel brands that go way beyond those bullets. We also provide a downloadable sample strategy for folks looking to learn how we work with clients like Deer Valley Resort and other travel clients. 

44% of hotel bookings come from paid advertising over search.
4. Use Social Media Marketing to Show and Tell

As digital marketers supporting hotels with social media services, we’ve learned how to leverage their profiles to encourage shoulder season bookings. We’ve done this by highlighting the benefits of visiting a destination even when it’s less crowded. 

We recommend keeping a consistent posting cadence over your social channels with organic content even in the shoulder season. Those posts typically get modest engagement and continue to show the value of visiting your hotel no matter the season. 

Still, organic social posts are fantastic at supporting brand awareness because they keep your company top of mind annually. Meaning, when the on-season arrives, you’re already ahead of the curve with marketing efforts that encourage direct bookings that reduce OTA fees. 

However, if you’re particularly interested in boosting direct off-season bookings ASAP, we recommend investing in paid social media services that increase visibility and encourage website visits at a faster rate than organic posts. 

In either case, it’s important to create a scalable social media strategy that includes descriptive copy and visuals tailored to future guests.  

5. Partner with a Paid Ad Agency

We understand the challenges hotels face during any shoulder season. That’s why we specialize in designing, constructing, and executing scalable digital advertising strategies tailored to hospitality brands of all sizes. Our hospitality paid media services include: 

  • Discovery
  • Research
  • Strategy development
  • Execution
  • And so much more 

Contact us to begin crafting a cutting-edge digital strategy individualized to your brand that supports direct bookings every season.