Make Hay While the Sun Shines in Maine

Are you doing all you can to reap the benefits of tourism this season?

Let’s face it, there is a short window of time to make tourism revenue in Maine. You have to be at the top of your game now because winter comes quickly. The lodging industry in Maine is close to saturation with different options and you need to stand out. Maine travelers now can choose from Tentrr, Airbnb, hotels, Bed and Breakfasts, hostels, and motels. The winter time is definitely the time to plan your summer revenue strategy, but, if you didn’t, don’t worry there is still time.  Here are some of my strategies to make the most of this season.

Make a great working experience for your staff When I originally wrote this post, this item was last, but in my review, I thought it should be first. Creating a fun and productive workspace is the most important things you can do during the high. There is still an employee shortage and many workers have 2 or 3 jobs. Your employees know that if they are not being treated right, they can walk and have 10 jobs waiting for them. Little things like providing lunch and clear communication can go a long way.  Also, watch to see what your employee’s strengths are and put them in appropriate jobs. Some might be better doing outside work while others will impress you in the kitchen.

Optimize your listing and add packages on the VisitMaine website. I advise that you construct the parameters for your packages in the down season so you are mindful of all the details. But, once again, if you have not done that, do it now. There is still time. Developing packages in the busy season could be overwhelming, but not impossible. It is surprising to me how many lodgings do not take advantage of the Maine Tourism, VisitMaine website options. A listing on Maine tourism is free and there are a plethora of options to promote your business. I also found that my website generated a lot of traffic by the links created in the package section. In addition, VisitMaine does press releases with items listed on their sites, so be creative.

Play the OTA (Online Travel Agent) Deal game. If you are not listed on the OTA’s, get listed now. Of course, saying that is easier than it is. Being listed on OTA’s is a tedious process, but in the end, pays off. Yes, ideally you want people to book direct, but let’s be realistic, the season is short, you want everyone to see your listing and not miss any opportunity to sell your rooms. If your strategy is just direct bookings, you are missing an opportunity for growth in revenue. There are costs associated with being on the OTA’s but if you manage your presence correctly, the OTA’s can work for you. OTA’s are already doing pay per click for your properties name, you might as well, utilize their marketing dollars to drive the bookings to you.

Play the Direct Booking Game. In addition to the Online Travel Agents, you need direct bookings. It is important in the busy season to promote your presence hard and validate your brand. Now is the time to press upon your current guests your brand and identity. You want your guests to become loyal friends on all social media and book direct. While the guests are here this season, make sure you are collecting email addresses. Make sure you have permission to add them to your newsletter. You should have some branded merchandise that they can take with them when they go, a pen or a notepad.

Fluctuate your pricing. Remember, a day a room is unsold, income is lost. Monitor your calendar daily. Price shopping is a sophisticated process that consultants do to monitor the online prices of a set of competitors. You can do your own price shopping by going to Expedia and putting in dates and destinations. Although this will give you a very small view, you can get a lot of information about pricing. In the down season, you might want to find a consultant that can advise on price shopping all year and create a pricing structure accordingly. There are several different programs that can automatically fluctuate your pricing, but you should be wary of those. There are local factors that computers sometimes do not pick up on. Know your bottom line for a room rental. If the day comes and there is no one renting that room, make it very attractive online. Last minute deals are not ideal but great to fill in the holes in your calendar. You will find in this process, that not only should you lower prices sometimes, it will be important to raise prices for peak travel days.

Get the reviews. You need to get 5-star reviews. Sometimes your service and experience are not enough for a great review. I have found if you want something, ask for it. Some guests will naturally write a glowing review but sometimes you have to ask for it. The way you ask for a review is important. I have found that if you communicate with the guest what you are looking for, they will comply. If you want 5-star reviews, ask for 5-star reviews. In your check out letter (not the trip advisor widget – use your own letter), say reviews are important to your small business and that the property strives to provide a 5-star experience. Mentioning 5 stars is very important. Plant the seed to a great review. Also, add a personal email address and phone number with an extension of the manager so guests can contact you directly if they had an issue.

Adding these items to your to-do list will, in the end – the end being approximately mid-October – pay off. Once you catch your breath in November, start planning for 2019 summer season, you will be grateful you did.






Kristen Bifulco

About Kristen Bifulco

Kristen is the owner of SuiteRev. SuiteRev is a consulting agency for Bed and Breakfasts, Airbnb's, Inns and Small Hotels. Kristen is motivated to help small lodgings uncover revenue and become sustainable.