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January 1, 2020

When a new year rolls around, people make big goals and sweeping proclamations: “I’m going to lose 20 pounds.” “I’ll pay off my credit card by the end of the year.” “I’m done with smoking as of Jan. 1.” The problem is, there usually isn’t a plan behind those grand resolutions. And a month or two from now, many (if not most) of those people will be right back where they started.

Companies can fall into the same trap. “Our revenue is going to increase by 20% this year.” “We’ll have a 90% occupancy rate.” “Let’s get 10,000 fans on Facebook by the end of 2019.” All of those are great goals—if you have a plan AND they align with your overall objectives. But too often, it seems that these goals are made simply because people or companies feel like they’re supposed to come up with something for the year ahead.

Here, we’re going to focus on a goal that works for those who don’t already have goals in mind for 2019—and that also will pay dividends for those who do. It’s broad enough to apply to anyone, yet impactful enough to make a real difference for your business.

Compete better in 2020. That’s it. And here are three ways your property can do it.

Focus on the experience.

Yes, you’ve heard us say this before. And you’ll hear us say it again and again, because in today’s travel climate, people choose (or don’t choose) you based on the experience they expect to have with your property. That means you have to put them in the middle of that experience, with high-quality photos, videos and content, before they even arrive—or before they even book.

Take your guestrooms, for example. You could simply list a bunch of facts and features, such as the king-size bed, spacious bathroom, flat-screen TV, maybe even a fireplace. Then add a few professionally done photos showing it all. What do you have? Well, if you don’t have people in your photos, and if you haven’t told a story with your photos and descriptions, you don’t have as much as you think.

Instead, try positioning the room as a retreat for your guests, rather than just a place to sleep. That spacious bathroom? It’s a place for pampering, thanks to its large soaking tub and spa-quality products. The massive bed? It envelops guests in luxury as they unwind after a day full of activity—and gives them the rest necessary for another adventurous day ahead. Your photos should support this story, too, by showing people actually having these experiences.

The same goes for your services and amenities, particularly food, beverage, spa and wellness, which are key differentiators for resorts. Give guests the feeling of being there, wherever “there” is. Maybe it’s enjoying world-class dining or hand-crafted cocktails. Stress melting away at the hands of a skilled masseuse. A thrilling zip line adventure or a stimulating artistic activity. By giving them that feeling of being there, you’ll help make them want to be there.

And remember, it’s not all about your property—local attractions can draw audiences your way as well, especially when you highlight other great things for guests to do. It shows that you value their overall experience, that it’s not just about business for you. Guests are probably searching for other activities during their travel research, anyway. So go ahead, talk about that hot new restaurant in town or that fantastic shopping district, even at the risk of taking your guests away for most of a day. They’ll love you for it.

Think more strategically

Are you getting the most out of opportunities for promotions and partnerships? A lot of resorts aren’t, simply because they don’t put enough thought into it. As a consequence, they might have a significant drop in business during certain seasons, or lose out on the referral and word-of-mouth business that can come from working with trusted local partners.

Let’s look at seasonality. Often, a property will offer special last-minute rates to fill rooms during down times. But what happens when a guest who paid $500 for their room months ago starts chatting at the bar with someone who booked the night before for $200? The one who paid less is probably quite excited about the great deal he got—while the one who paid more won’t be happy to hear about it.

The solution? Instead of having wildly disparate rates, which can lead to poor experiences, consider special events or other offerings that can provide added incentive to visit during down periods. Have your chef create a unique tasting menu or exclusive wine-pairing dinner. Create a spa package for couples or girls’ getaways. You can attract guests without slashing your rates. Get creative.

Local partnerships might help in that instance, too. Say winter is the slow season for you; is there a local festival during that time of year? You might partner with the organizers to give your guests free admission or some other benefit.

Those partners can be important for year-round business as well, especially if you offer recommendations or special deals on popular activities, such as whale-watching, guided hikes, brewery tours, etc.

Finally, it might seem obvious, but don’t forget your local tourism board!

Above all, tell your story

Everything you do on the marketing front should contribute to your property’s story—what differentiates you. And don’t think only about services, amenities and activities; those things are important, obviously, but go beyond them. Maybe your property has a rich history as a pioneering resort in the area. Maybe the resort grounds have unique features you won’t find anywhere else. Maybe you’re all-inclusive, adults-only, designed for romantic getaways. What defines you? If you don’t have a good answer to that, well, it’s time to find one.