Will weekday hotel deals and discounted rates attract travelers to San Diego during the pandemic?

Discounted rates, free parking and free nights are among the incentives that San Diego hotels are now offering as part of a tourism marketing campaign to increase overnight stays during the much less busy week periods that suffer as a result. of the pandemic.

With summer now in the rearview mirror and meeting and convention travel dead for the foreseeable future, tourism leaders are doing all they can to revive late business in the accommodation industry. Nicknamed “Yay Weekyays!” The latest campaign is designed to fill hotel rooms between Sunday and Wednesday.

While room rates aren’t heavily discounted, they’re usually lower than on weekends, and hotels are adding extras like a free second or third night or meal credit in hopes of persuading parents exhausted and stressed workers from Southern California and Arizona to come to San Diego for a mini getaway.

“I can tell you hotels are about 52% occupied for the week because the weekends are strong,” said Julie Coker, CEO of the San Diego Tourism Authority. “But it’s more like 20, 30 percent during the week, which isn’t even half of what we should be. Normally we would be close to 80 percent occupancy.

The most recent forecast, released this week by the Tourism Authority, is grim, showing that 2020 ends the year with an overall hotel occupancy rate of 49.3%, compared to an average of 76.7% for the year. last. Hotel stays will still be down in 2021, but not as much as this year. The tourist office forecasts an average occupancy rate of 62.1% for next year.

For the last quarter of this year, the report estimates that revenue per available room – a measure widely used to measure hotel performance – will be down 50% from the previous year.

Given San Diego’s appeal as a vacation destination and its year-round mild climate, Coker says she believes the weekday promotion can be effective in increasing visits.

“With people working remotely and many kids still doing their homework at home, we say you can do it here Sunday through Wednesday, and the appeal is that our beaches are less crowded and the lines are long. shorter in our attractions. “

The Tourism Authority is launching its digital “weekyays” campaign via platforms such as Spotify, Pandora, Facebook and Pinterest, as well as online travel agencies such as Expedia and Priceline. The idea is that when people search for hotels, San Diego ads such as “Yay for the Weekyay” and “Escape to a San Diego hotel Sunday – Wednesday” will appear.

The $ 135,000 initiative, which runs through Jan. 3, is part of the Tourism Authority’s ongoing $ 6 million marketing campaign known as “Happiness Reminds You”. The first phase of this, which ran through the summer months through Labor Day, was to organize stays and encourage San Diego residents to go out and stay at local hotels, said. Coker.

The different weekday promotions vary from hotel to hotel, but for the most part visitors shouldn’t expect big discounts, although weekday rates, when occupancy is much lower, will be. more attractive than the weekend. For example, at the Hard Rock Hotel in downtown San Diego, a weekday night in early November is about 15% less than it would cost for a Friday and Saturday night.

On weekends the Hard Rock was half full, but by the week occupancy had fallen to double digits, said Mark Van Cooney, vice president of operations at Evolution Hospitality, which operates the Hard. Rock.

“We have learned from the past, with September 11 and the recession, that it has taken a long time for consumers to revert to what is a regular pricing structure,” said Van Cooney. “We’re not trying to be greedy, but because of the pandemic our staff has been drastically reduced, so we’re trying to balance that staff with the volume of business we have. Also, we are not going to be able to compete with a larger 1,000 room hotel that can more easily downsize its rooms. “

The Rancho Bernardo Inn, a 265-acre resort well-positioned for a more outdoor-oriented visit during the pandemic. also struggled with slow activity on weekdays, given that 60% of his normal activities before the pandemic were meetings and conventions.

In the hope of boosting weekday stays, the resort is offering a “weekday travel envy” package that includes a second night free when a night is booked between Monday and Wednesday.

“We have been promoting to our guests the option of being outside, we have a golf course, three swimming pools, chef’s gardens, so we are using this to our advantage to make people feel at home. comfortable not only to dine outside, but simply to grab a cup of coffee in the morning and sit back on one of our lawns and feel safe, ”said Livingston.

“We had tried to put flyers on the cars, and we sent emails to people in our personal database, offering promotions across all channels. Nothing came off the table. “

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