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How to Boost Your Hotel’s Summer Break Bookings with College Students

By collegemktgrp | June 2, 2021 | Brands/Advertisers

Summer break is the longest travel holiday of the year. By June, many college students will be jet-setting to experience new landscapes, cultures, and cuisines — whether traveling to another state or another part of the world.

Americans had to put their travel plans on hold during 2020. A recent survey found that most Americans (almost 60%) plan to travel in 2021.

For those who plan to travel this year, the average budget is $2,470. That’s a number the hotel business can’t afford to ignore in 2021.

Summer break is a time to capitalize on summer travel for college students and their friends and family. Not to mention your opportunity to get the hotel bar, poolside, and dance floor bumping every night of your summer student bookings.

Some students may even find a great hotel deal close to home to go on a “stay-cation” with friends or get to know their home city a little better.

Is your hotel ready to ride the wave of adventurous college student travel?

College students tend to book their plans last minute. That’s why it’s important for your hotel to know how to get in front of students (and their parents) at the right time.

To win their business you’ll want to be sure to promote your hotel when college students are ready to plan their trip. You’ll also need a holistic marketing strategy to make your hotel attractive for students traveling in your area.

With the right approach, you could be boosting your student summer break bookings year over year.

Here’s how to ace your student marketing campaign and bring those summer travelers to your hotel or resort this year.

Your Hotel’s Summer Break Marketing Calendar

Early spring

  • Recruit influencers and craft targeted, keyword-driven content
  • Recruit student ambassadors to promote your hotel

Q2 Promotion

  • Vivid visual marketing
  • Influencer marketing campaign
  • Spotlight student-friendly experiences & amenities
  • Inbound content campaign

May 1

  • Begin Summer themed marketing
  • Release Student Summer promotion packages

Through Sept 1

  • Prepare to catch last-minute research and bookings
  • Offer incentives for super-last-minute bookings

Select and Recruit Your College Student Influencers

College students tend to trust each other and their social celebs more than direct brand advertisements. If you want your hotel’s campaign to stick in the minds of traveling students, reach out to social influencers well before summer break rolls around.

Choose one or more college-popular social media personalities to stay at your hotel in exchange for posting gorgeous photos of your property with fun local recommendations.

You can also partner with student ambassadors and offer a discount on early trips to your hotel’s locations in return for a few dozen posts and photoshoots to get fellow students’ attention.

These peer recommendations are often more influential than straight advertisements. Get in touch with your influencers before spring break, so they can contribute those photos to your summer break campaigns.

Craft Diverse Content

Inbound marketing is a powerful tactic to attract college students looking to travel for summer break.

College students often do a lot of research (and daydreaming) before booking their summer break plans.

That means your best bet to get the attention of students is with exciting and educational content about planning their summer break trip.

Create blogs, videos, and photo “stories” on Instagram and Facebook about the features that are most likely to resonate with students. This could include:

  • Recommend the best coffee shops and restaurants
  • Create a fun list of low-cost local escapades
  • Feature packing tips for students with limited luggage
  • Give great advice on how to share a suite with friends
  • Spotlight the best local summer activities

Use these content pieces to subtly spotlight other things like your workout room, partnered entertainment brands and restaurants, and your own brand’s deep knowledge of what a college student really wants to do with their vacation.

Build Your Student Summer Deals

As summer approaches, now’s the time to prepare your targeted ads. But before you put money into paid campaigns, you need to figure out the best deals to entice college students and their parents.

Consider the kind of deals that are perfect for college students:

  • Cut the price of multi-bed suites and spotlight adjoining room deals.
  • Create “adventure” and “party” and “relaxation” packages for student groups featuring guided travel and discounted local services like boating, historical tours, party-bussing, or spa treatments.
  • Market your hotel as its own hotspot with night-in guest deals on room service upstairs, and cold drinks downstairs.

Highlight the Amenities that College Students Love to See

For the college students who do plan their trips well in advance, they’ll be looking for attractive amenities long before you release your summer break promotions.

For these students, find multiple ways to highlight the types of amenities that students will like to see. Video is king, so don’t limit yourself to photos and reviews.

Most college students want to see multiple beds (they’ll likely be traveling with friends), big televisions, and fridge-microwave kitchenettes to spend the night in between restaurant hopping.

Those looking to splurge want to see room service and spa treatments. Those looking for adventure want to see complimentary breakfast and tour van services. And those planning to have fun want to see your dance floor, pool, and bar (only for those of legal age to drink!).

Release a Pre-Trip Promotional Campaign with Targeted Ads

Right now, college students are eagerly looking for summer vacation and travel deals in their destination cities of choice. Dynamic and targeted ads will put your banners and social media content in front of the college students most likely to book.

Using the following filters, show your ads to users who are:

  • College students
  • Planning a trip
  • Hotel hunting in your city
  • Asking questions about summer travel
  • Who have visited your site, but not yet booked

These ads are just another reason you want to be sure to have top-notch photography and video content to serve up to shopping students.

Stir Up Fans to Share Photos on Social Media

Guest photos of your property pack a powerful punch, especially when they’re shared by other students who have stayed with you previously.

As the season gets underway, craft a targeted email campaign to reach out to early vacationers and students who stayed with you last summer, and encourage them to share their photos with you.

Sharing these user-generated photos in an email newsletter and across your social channels can inspire those who have waited until the last minute to think about booking their summer stays.

To gather more user-generated photo and video content across Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok, you can:

  • Hold a photo contest
  • Inspire your followers to “caption” certain photos
  • Create a “be your own influencer” challenge to encourage your followers to start sharing your property’s photos in exchange for a discount.

These tactics will help create buzz around your hotel and build brand trust with new and repeat college students.

Be Ready for the Last-Minute Rush

Last but not least, have a strategy for capturing last-minute summer break bookings. College students are not always the most organized or prepared, but many are looking forward to safely traveling again this summer.

Keep your targeted promotions (and especially your group deals) available until the beginning of September to catch every last-minute student looking to book a final adventure.

Provide live chat and late-night services to help students booking and arriving at the last minute. If word gets around that you’ve got great customer service for students who are last-minute and late, others will book with you to avoid the hassle they’ve had with your competitor hotels.

Ready for the Summer Break Rush?

Although summer is nearly here, there’s still plenty your hotel can do now to connect with college students looking to travel this summer break.

Many cities have only just lifted their mask orders. College students are likely behind in figuring out their travel plans for the summer.

Ready to rock your summer vacation bookings and increase your college student guests this year? CMG has the execution power to make this your strongest summer break yet.

Contact us to learn more >


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