There are some key challenges and opportunities of college hotels. If your property is located close to a university campus, you likely already know many of them. The opportunities, of course, include family and friends visiting their students for things like homecoming weekend, activities, and the biggest of them all, graduation. Throughout the decline that the hotel industry saw these past few years, hotels near college campuses remained a bubble barely touched. After all, if students are in school, people will visit them.
The demand for college hotels is diversified. There are businesses who must visit the campus, there is tourism from new students, there are sporting events, and there are entertainment events. Professors and teachers from the world over visit as guest lecturers and need a place to stay. Conferences occur, and the attendees need rooms. It is essential to identify these demands and communicate well with everybody to sell the supply.
There is no centralized travel booking service in universities. And so, you have to communicate with individual departments in the university to provide the service. Demand will come from a growing relationship and working together with these individual departments. In other words, you give them the service, they give you the demand. The approach is always grass-roots. The marketing people should spend time with the local community. This always helps.
The college hotel business should be always price sensitive. People are probably willing to pay more during a football weekend, for example, but at other times, the market is very price sensitive.
But what happens when things die down on campus and students go home for winter break or for the summer? As would be expected, the demand for said hotel rooms plummets. Herein lie the challenges of trying to remarket your college-based hotel to draw in guests for other reasons. Here are some ideas for keeping your business busy during off-peak times:
- In the summer, team up with any nearby beaches, amusement parks, water parks, or other recreation areas to offer stay-and-play deals.
- Ask local businesses such as wineries, restaurants, theaters, and concert venues to see if they will be hosting any events. If so, arrange to be their accommodations partner.
- See if the chamber of commerce and town offices plan to hold any festivals and approach the organizers about being an accommodations sponsor.
- Offer students of the university a discounted rate if they book multiple rooms over break.
Maintaining steady business throughout the calendar year can prove to be a challenge for university hotels while school is not in session. And with summer break just around the corner, now is the time to start planning. All it takes is reaching out to local businesses in the same situation in order to divide and conquer and ultimately drive more guests your way.