Which style of promotion should I run?

Most new Guestily clients ask us which style of promotion they should run.

The answer depends on a few key factors:

1. What do you want to achieve?

It may sound odd, but not all property owners are wanting to increase occupancy year-on-year. Chasing higher and higher occupancy rates is common for hotel chains, but not always the right strategy for boutique accommodation. Having fewer bookings at a higher rate is desirable to many owners who are seeking:

  • To improve the quality of the guest they attract;
  • Reduce effort by maintaining earnings with a smaller number of nights sold;
  • Reduce wear and tear;
  • Reduce staff pressure (some properties are staffed full time and take guests 7 days a week);
  • Maximise owner’s personal use of the property but maintain income from rental.

On the other hand, many owners are seeking to maximise the return from their property. Many properties are in competitive locations and need to work harder to maintain occupancy. Highly seasonal properties require more proactive strategies to secure bookings in low and shoulder seasons.

Having a clear idea of the nature of your property, the market it is located in and what you want to achieve from your property will inform the choice, timing and frequency of the promotions you run.

2. What is your property’s current lifecycle stage?

At Guestily we have developed a 'lifecycle' for properties that tends to correspond to different promotional needs.


New properties need to build a guest base, recover initial investment costs, build a brand in their area. Promotions around attracting first-time guests and securing their booking will be a priority. 8+ out of 10 bookings will be first-time guests.

Promotions: Chose promotions that incentivise new bookings (eg: special offers, value adds) and extend average nights stayed (eg: Stay X, Pay Y).


To graduate from the ‘New’ stage, properties need to start focussing on generating repeat and referral bookings. Encouraging early guests to return and refer their friends should be the priority whilst maintaining a steady flow of new guests to build the guest base. 4-5+ out of 10 bookings will be repeat or referral guests.

Promotions: Combine new booking promotions with repeat and referral promotions. Introduce package and value-add offers. Reduce special offers and discounting.


Established properties need to re-invest in their experience to maintain quality. Lifting rates to allow for refreshment and adding facilities/amenities whilst maintaining margins is important. At the same time, established properties should aim to have 7+ out of every 10 bookings as repeat or referral.

Promotions: Focus on repeat and referral promotions, packages and value add. Avoid special offers and discounting.


Recently refurbished properties will need to market to new guests but also clearly reposition their experience in the minds of their past guests. Inevitably in the pre-refurbishment stage (or in the leadup to when property changes hands) the guest experience declines (hence the need for the refurbishment). Promotions at this lifecycle should emphasise the qualities and nature of the refreshment and entice guests to return for the new, enhanced experience.

Promotions: Focus the thrust of the promotion on the new or refurbished facilities. Limited special offers and discounting can be considered, but consider value-add offers instead.


In special circumstances, promotions can assist in recovering from disaster (eg: recent bushfire), local unrest (eg: civil issues) or property-specific issues.

Promotions: Reach out to past guests for their support (value-add offer can assist to incentivise). Limited special offers and discounting.

Preparing for Sale

Owners preparing their property for sale can use promotions to lift certain metrics (occupancy, ancillary sales, etc.) or even promote the property for sale to past guests.

Promotions: Assess repeat and referral metrics and run promotions to improve if required. Avoid discounting (prospective buyers will notice it).

For details of the promotional strategies mentioned above, get the free Guestily Guide:

Further Reading: If you are wondering how often to run your chosen promotions, click here to read this article.

Do you need advice?

This article offers general advice to get you started. If you need to discuss your special needs, please ask us – we give great advice and are happy to be your ‘sounding board’ to help you decide the right promotional strategy for your property.