When regular tourist traffic is at a particularly low point, hotel rooms and airfare typically drop to more affordable rates. It is during these times that a lot of businesses and organizations take advantage of the lower rates and host or attend conferences, trade shows and corporate retreats.
Finding Your Off-Season
The time of year that an off-season occurs depends on what your region has to offer. If your area hosts a well-known activity, such as winter sports in Colorado, than the off-season will likely be during the time when that particular activity is not available. Another clue that it is the off-season in your area is when the weather is not particularly favorable, such as July in Orlando.
Translating Business Opportunities
The off-season presents a fantastic time to get out and meet your hotel neighbors. With your business levels at a slower or more predictable pace, go out and forge new relationships with area conference service managers and concierge employees. Many hotels book large groups during the off-season months and this could provide you with a steady stream of breakfast, lunch, cocktail or dinner traffic.
Here are some steps to take to secure a pathway to your empty tables:
Bring a business card over to the concierge and clearly state your hours of operation and delivery options on the card.
Offer delivery to meeting rooms.
Introduce yourself to the conference services or group sales manager, and again bring your business card.
Gift each new hotel management or concierge contact with an invitation for a free appetizer and cocktail or some other small dish.
Entice each new contact with reasons why your restaurant is so great, and why their guests will thank them for recommending it (fresh taste, healthy ingredients, convenient location or late hours - whatever provides a unique benefit to the guest.)
Ask the concierge or conference services manager about upcoming groups and develop a special for conference attendees. For example, run lunch specials for all guests of a particular group or conference and require proof of a conference pass or nametag to snag the offer. Bring in a brief (no more than a half page) flier to the concierge explaining the special.
Offer catering if the hotel does not have an in-house food and beverage department.
Remember to keep your initial introduction friendly but brief. Most concierge teams will appreciate any extra local information they can provide guests, but may not have a lot of time for chit chat. Conference services or group sales managers may be tough to pin down, so get to know who their assistant is and relay the vital information to them. If in your initial attempt, you are unable to meet with the desired people in person, obtain an email and phone number to try contacting them again in a few days. Be friendly to everyone you encounter while working your way through the neighborhood and have fun meeting the people in your neighborhood.