Feb 17, 2019

The period during the winter holidays can be tricky for the hospitality industry. Since it’s generally a slower period of time in terms of occupancies, properties might be inclined to reduce staffing levels or employees request time off. And the surrounding area businesses and attractions might be closed or operating on a limited schedule.

Yet, you might have several people staying at your property—including families—who still need to eat and have something to do. It’s important to make these guests feel at home and welcomed even though your resources might be limited. To them, this time of year is no different from any other period and they expect the same level of service, if not higher.

The first thing to do is ensure that your team members who are working and maybe away from their own families during the holidays are appreciated. Prepare a special dinner for them and consider doing a special gift exchange or other fun activity to create comradery. Go over the staff schedule and plan for the holidays so they know what to expect in terms of increased workloads and longer shifts. By showing support and keeping your team informed, they will be better equipped to provide excellent customer service to your guests.

Then you need to take inventory of what onsite services your property will offer. If it’s not financially feasible to keep all restaurants and shops open, consider operating one or reducing the hours in order to avoid inconveniencing your guests. There’s nothing more frustrating than needing a meal at dinnertime and or aspirin for a headache and not being able to find an open restaurant or store. Let your guests know what is and is not open at your property and that your team can assist them with finding alternatives.

Ah, the alternatives. What is open in your city? What’s not? Find all of this out beforehand and compile it for your team so they are prepared when asked. This list should include grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants, coffee shops, attractions, museums, malls and bars. Basically any activity a typical traveler might want to access during a more “typical” travel period like the spring or summer months. For guests looking for houses of worship, keep a similar list of special services by denomination.

Limited staffing and resources might be beyond your control, but there are several things you can do that will truly make your guests feel at home. In addition to festively decorating the exterior and interior of your property, here are some suggestions to help keep your guests merry:

• hot cocoa and cookies
• special events
• small gift bags delivered to each room
• complimentary gift-wrap stations
• holiday music
• wine tastings
• bedtime stories
• holiday movie viewings
• cookie decorating contest


There’s also the option of offering special discounts valid only over the holiday period. Consider bundling these discounts with other perks from businesses that are also open (see above for more on tracking businesses that are operating during the holidays) and creating complete holiday packages. You might also want to offer gift certificates for your property’s accommodations, spa, restaurant or gift shop. Use your website, emails and social media channels to promote these deals. And while we’re on the subject of digital communication channels, consider using a special holiday theme on your platforms and posting lots of photos and videos showing how your property is getting in the holiday spirit.

The holidays may be a slower time of year for the industry, but there are still opportunities for business growth. Going above and beyond for your guests will encourage them to come back for additional visits, even another holiday trip.