The Art of Packaging – Part 1: Accommodation

Just to make clear, I’m not writing a blog post about taping boxes or wrapping parcels – I am instead hoping to give some hints about packaging your tourism product with others and how this can benefit your business.

In the past few days I’ve been creating accommodation packages for St Clair Beach Resort, in a move to freshen up our website and give more options to our guests, hence the prompt for writing this blog post.

Some of the key benefits of packaging are:

  • The ability to leverage off the publicity or promotion of an existing product or event – this can be through web links, search engine results and often brochures too.
  • You are offering a broader range of marketable products around your core business – accommodation. Remember that not many people will travel for the experience of staying with a particular accommodation!
  • You are supporting other businesses plus ensuring that your guests depart with a great experience of your city and of course, your accommodation.
  • Getting media attention for a hotel can often be hard, many hotels use packages as a great way to attraction good PR. (The Langham , Auckland is very good at this!)
  • Increased length of stay and spend, not only good for your hotel but also the local economy too!

So, you understand the benefits behind packaging, but who should you package with? Three popular ways to package are;

Events

Whether it be Warbirds Over Wanaka, ID Fashion here in Dunedin, the V8 Supercars in Hamilton or Wellington on a Plate, we have some great local, national and international events right across New Zealand. There are a few different ways that packaging around events can work…

  • Approach the organiser directly and investigate whether they would be interested in partnering with you, ultimately it’s all further exposure for the event.
  • If you think the event is going to be a sell out, you could always buy the tickets and sell them within an accommodation package. Just be careful of the risk however, if it doesn’t sell out you might have a lot of space to spread out at that concert or event!
  • You can create a package around the event, with transport or themed extra’s in the room for those people who have already got their tickets.

It’s also worth noting that the event doesn’t have to be on your doorstep, one of the packages I was involved with at Gleneagles, was a trip to the Edinburgh Tattoo. For those of you that aren’t too familiar with Scottish geography, Edinburgh is an hour from Gleneagles – the key is to make the journey part of the package experience too!

Activities and Attractions

Creating packages with local attractions or tour operators is always popular – working together in this way quite often helps your local attractions sell their higher end products whilst giving you the added benefit of a longer stay.

Rather than reinventing the wheel, have a look at what is going on around your local area and see what packages operators are offering. Don’t create yourself more work than you have to. We have been offering a self-created package, called Discover Dunedin at St Clair Beach Resort for more than one year. Although very popular, this package is not the easiest to book with 6 different operators, welcome letter and the issue of variable rates from some of the attractions too.
We will shortly release a wider range of accommodation packages utilising existing packages created by local tour companies along with additional extras like breakfast and arrival gifts in the room. As well as the traditional tourist attractions, packaging with golf courses, dining outlets and spa’s is also very popular too!

Don’t just think that creating these packages should be for large hotels – check out the website of Eichardts Private Hotel in Queenstown – they’ve created two distinct packages around local attractions.

Internal Packages

If you have a restaurant, golf course, casino or spa on site, make the most of it and create accommodation packages around these features too. It again, will help to guarantee the in-house spend before arrival.

One business that packages internally very well is SkyCity Auckland, who create packages around many of their internal products.

A couple of points of advice when you are putting your packages together:

  • Don’t think that you always have to discount every element of the package to make it attractive. Many consumers like to book packages because of the ease of doing so, the safety of knowing someone else is looking after the arrangements or even because of its exclusivity. Don’t lose money where you don’t have too…try adding value rather than reducing revenue!
  • Airlines, travel agents and wholesalers are always on the look out for the potential to package. Rather than doing all the leg work yourself you can always suggest the idea of packaging you product for an event or particular attraction to your contacts at your RTO or preferred wholesaler.

So you’ve got the perfect package, but how do you promote it?

Your own website is always a good start when promoting your packages but make sure your load them into your on-line booking inventory, anything that makes your package easier to book with encourage your potential guests.
Once loaded on to your on-line booking inventory make sure you distribute it through your channel manager so that people can book it using third party website like WOTIF or Expedia. (If you are doing this remember to make sure you take into account the commission rate.)  
You can also create the package on NewZealand.com and link it to your relevant article, this way people can book directly on your site, directed through the TNZ site – a great new feature that is working very well for us.  It may also be worthwhile checking with your RTO whether they promote packages on their website or through your local I-Site.

I hope this blog post useful and as always please feel free to leave your own experiences or any comments. Make sure you rate the blog so I know whether you found it helpful. If you did – retweet it, to share it with others!

4 Comments

  1. Daniel Bridges February 17, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Great post James. We’ve found that the best packages speak to the uniqueness of the property and help explain what that business is about. I’ll give that Discover Dunedin package a plug for sure.
    The other thing that operators should be aware of is the power of Trade Me auctions to profile unique packages. We’ve had examples of packages that have had over 10,000 page views and sold for more than their retail value. For no upfront cost that is cheap advertising in anyone’s book.

  2. Kate February 17, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Hi James, great post and thanks for the mention.

    Packages represent better value for our guests and we regularly devise seasonal and event based packages which make it easier for everyone. Including external activities with other operators helps to showcase the city you’re in and that way everyone benefits.

  3. Alister August 25, 2011 at 4:50 am #

    Great Post! Interesting one. Thanks for sharing your ideas.
    Kindly visit this one.
    http://www.facebook.com/BestWesternKingsManorHotel?sk=app_170464336338914

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