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Hotel Strategies to Target Drive Market Post Pandemic

Stephanie Smith
drive towards vacation

As we come out of this pandemic there is still a wait and see game as to which segments will start traveling first, and when.

It is a commonly held theory that the transient drive market will be the first segment to start to venture out.

There are hoards of kids (and adults!) that need to get out of the house.

Here are some ideas of how to do that when the time is right in your market.  When you can, support your local community and help small businesses in your area.

Creative Family Packages

Given the housebound nature of the past weeks, people will be looking for experiences. Many museums and amusement parks remained closed, so time to get creative.

  • Scavenger Hunts – Incorporate learning with city landmarks and a prize at the end
  • Pets – When we said bring the family, we mean the WHOLE family.
  • Pool – If you have kids, really all you need is a pool right now to get all smiles. Get creative and get some extra pool toys or games to supplement.
  • Fireworks – If your city is still doing fireworks for the upcoming holidays, can you see fireworks from any of your hotel rooms?

Romantic Couples Packages

There are just as many adults that need to get out of the house and need some extra stimulation.

  • Hands-Free Chef’s Tasting Menu – Drop and knock room service for each course, with a video sent to the guest of your chef describing the dish and wine pairing.
  • Running Map – Maybe not romantic but some but maybe for others…Develop a running map of various courses throughout the city.  Create a special hashtag and special points throughout the city.
  • Restaurant Partnership – If you don’t have a restaurant on-site, help those struggling local restaurants.  Find a local spot that will work with you and cross-promote.

Mom / Dad Packages

Homeschooling is hard.  So is being in the same house with your significant other day in and out with little interaction from other people.

  • In-Room Nail Salon – If your local salons are still closed, consider grabbing a few mobile foot spas to place in the room.  Most parents will just enjoy the quietness.
  • Alcohol – While unlikely anyone needs any more alcohol, but try a partnership with local wineries/breweries/distilleries to see if any have space-friendly tours. Even better if you have a shuttle and can incorporate that into a package.
  • See Restaurant Partnership above.

If you need more package inspiration, here is a breakdown of how to think about hotel packages.

Promote New Experiential Packages

Once you have developed packages that work for your hotel, it is time to promote them.  It is not enough to just build them, but you need to get them in front of your potential audience.

  • Convention Visitors Bureau – They should be able to load on their website, social media, and promote in upcoming newsletters.
  • Social media – Of course post on your page to followers who are already familiar with your brand.  But, also consider using paid ads and targeting cities within a 2-hour drive of your hotel. If you are running an ad for the first time, here is a how-to on running Facebook ads.
  • Newsletter – If you have access to a database, this is a given.
  • State websites – Every state has a tourism website that should be able to promote packages in a way similar to your CVB.
  • TripAdvisor – If you have TripAdvisor Business Advantage, load and rotate packages on your listing.
  • Future Travel Websites – There are a few websites out there that will allow you to bring in some cash flow now for future reservations, here is a breakdown of how to sign up and what these sites have to offer.

Remember, as we come out of this, people are looking for unique experiences. Visa gift card packages are not going to cut it.  Get creative as you are going to have work much harder for each reservation than you ever have before.

Shout out to Susan Barry of Hive Marketing for the collaboration of ideas.


Stephanie Sparks Smith can weave through the intricacies of the large hotel brands’ digital marketing systems and strategies. As Founder and Digital Matriarch at Cogwheel Marketing, Stephanie and her team help management companies identify the gap between brand and hotel level marketing to drive incremental revenue to their individual Marriott, Hilton and IHG hotels. She was a member of the Marriott Digital Franchise Advisory Council plus IHG Owner’s Association for 3 years each. Previously she was VP of eCommerce and Technology for a management company that grew to over 100 hotels by focusing on new builds. She has an MBA from University of Texas at Dallas and is a partner at Cayuga Hospitality Consultants.