What is hotel room occupancy?

Hotel room occupancy is simply a measure of the amount of rooms that are occupied in your hotel. It can either be measured on a given day or over a period of time, and is usually represented as a percentage: if your hotel has 100 rooms, and 70 are occupied, your occupancy rate is 70%.

Hotel room occupancy will fluctuate throughout the year – peak season will see high occupancy, while low season is generally marked by low occupancy. Every accommodation provider should aim to increase hotel occupancy, particularly during low season, and the best way to do that is to develop strategies that boost hotel bookings.

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Why you should focus on strategies to boost hotel bookings

The most direct and impactful way to succeed as a hotelier is to increase hotel bookings, particularly during the times of year when they’re harder to come by.

If you don’t focus on increasing your hotel occupancy rates, you risk falling behind your competition, because you can guarantee they won’t be sitting on their hands when they’ve got plenty of empty rooms.

Luckily there are many strategies and methods that are proven to increase the occupancy of your small hotel or B&B during quieter times of the week, month or year – and it’s not simply a matter of slashing your rates.

In fact, lower rates don’t create demand; they set the wrong expectations for guests and erode your price integrity.

The most effective ways to increase hotel occupancy will instead focus on enticing more guests to your property by adding value, creating packages, or using clever distribution tactics.

Image explaining hotel room occupancy

Top ways to increase hotel occupancy

Now that we know the whats and the whys, let’s look at exactly how to increase hotel occupancy.

The following eight strategies can be effective ways for an independent hotelier to boost hotel bookings, or they might offer handy inspiration for anyone looking to develop a more bespoke occupancy strategy.

1. Create and promote special packages

Packaging allows you to mask actual room rates with features which add value to staying at your hotel. If your hotel offers additional services like massage treatments, package them together to encourage guests to use services they may not have.

2. Think of your target audience

To attract visitors for a two-night stay you’re looking at a range of about 400 km (four hours drive) from your location. Maybe get together with tourist attractions locally to promote midweek breaks that include bus tours, wine tasting trips or a concert.

3. Develop mailing lists

List your best weekend customers and stay in touch with monthly emails profiling midweek special offers and promotions. Remind them that midweek is the best time to visit local shops and attractions; away from the weekend crowds. Mail them midweek discount vouchers.

4. Use your imagination and create special one-day conferences

This might include poetry readings, art shows and other cultural events during the week. These are especially popular with people in their late 50s and early 60s and these are the people who often have the most disposable income. Maybe hold exhibitions of students’ work in conjunction with local schools and colleges.

5. Promote your space to local companies

There are other businesses who could use it for meetings and social events. Be clever and target companies that have branches or offices elsewhere so visiting delegates may need accommodation.

6. Promote midweek weddings

With more people working freelance or flexible hours, weddings during the week are becoming more popular; especially for second marriages or older couples who value the intimacy of a quieter occasion. Make sure they don’t clash with corporate events or any other activity that could spoil the atmosphere.

7. Reach out to the largest restaurants in town

In peak periods of the year such as pre-Christmas you can offer up a special rate to groups with Christmas parties planned during the week at those restaurants.

8. Offer midweek breaks as prizes

This can be convened via social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’ll be able to boost likes at the same time.

By Dean Elphick

Dean is the Senior Content Marketing Specialist of Little Hotelier, the all-in-one software solution purpose-built to make the lives of small accommodation providers easier. Dean has made writing and creating content his passion for the entirety of his professional life, which includes more than six years at Little Hotelier. Through content, Dean aims to provide education, inspiration, assistance, and, ultimately, value for small accommodation businesses looking to improve the way they run their operations (and live their life).