4 promo code ideas to drive off-season revenue (examples included!)

By Justin Pantaleo

Marketing StrategiesMarketing Strategies

Happy middle aged 50s couple booking an experience online using a promo code

Ahhh, the off-season. Seen by some operators as a much-needed moment to breathe and by others as dreaded sales months with slow revenue. Either way, bookings start to taper off as travellers eagerly wait for time away from their busy schedules and more favourable weather. 

For experience operators who find themselves in the second camp, there’s no doubt the quieter months can present some challenges. Though undoubtingly tough, what if we could turn the off-season into an opportunity instead of only seeing it as a looming threat?

There are many different ways Checkfront can help you stay profitable during the off-season, but one of the easiest ways is by using promo codes. If you’re unfamiliar with promo codes, they are a pricing strategy tactic that incentivizes customers to take an action – like sign up for a newsletter – or to act immediately and take advantage of the deal you’re offering.

An added bonus? For customers who may be a little more price-sensitive, weaving promo codes into your discount strategy can improve sales – especially during a season when you may see less.

So let’s start exploring how we can find an upside for the off-season by diving deeper into promo codes: discovering why they entice customers, how to set them up, and giving you four ideas you can put in action today to start driving more revenue.

Why customers love promo codes

Ready for a not-so-controversial statement? People like saving money. The answer as to why lies in something called psychological pricing.

For customers, finding a way to reduce their final bill always feels like a win. Here’s why: when shopping, customers will consciously or subconsciously assign value to products. That value is tied to a price point – what they feel they’re willing to pay or what they feel the product’s worth is. So, when they see something they want, coupled with being able to get it for less than what it’s usually sold for, it drives them closer to buying it.

Using promo codes to influence your customers’ buying behaviour by turning a nice-to-have into a must-have is an element of psychological pricing. Promo codes often feel like an expected gift to customers. With this delightful surprise, you’ve put the power in the customer’s hands and given them some additional motivation to commit to their purchase. 

Couple booking an experience online with Checkfront using a promo code on their digital tablet with a credit card in hand.

What are the benefits of using promo codes and discounts?

You may ask yourself, “is there much of a difference between promo codes and discounts?” After all, they do the same thing by giving customers a discount, right? It seems straightforward, but there is a bit behind how they differ.

Benefits of Discounts

We can look at discounts in two ways. On the one hand, discounts are good for reaching new customers, keeping cash coming in during the off-season, and standing out amongst competitors. On the other hand, if used aimlessly or too often, it can shift how customers perceive your brand and the value of your experiences.

There are many popular ways to use discounts. For example, you can offer a group pricing discount. If five or more people book your activity, they receive a 20% discount. Another commonly used discount is early bird specials. Set this up to encourage bookings outside of peak hours. For instance, book a canoe rental before 10:00 am and get 10% off. These are both examples of how you can set dynamic pricing with Checkfront to drive customers to complete their purchase. 

Benefits of Promo codes

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t like gifts? That is what it feels like when using a promo code. As explained above, promo codes give power back to the consumer. It contributes to the positive feeling customers associate with your business and brand. It’s popularly known that acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing one. So do your business a favour, reward your current customers with promo codes, and they will likely become loyal ones.

A little can go a long way when using promo codes. Like discounts, promo codes can fill off-season capacities and increase revenue if planned well. They can be the deciding factor as to whether someone chooses your business over a competitor.

How to use promo codes?

Without a booking system, the work of managing promo codes can often outweigh the benefit of using them. Manually keeping track of what codes are in use and which have expired can be a hassle. With Checkfront’s promo code feature, it’s easy to create and manage your online promo codes. Let’s get explore how easy it is to set up.

Give your promotion a name

In Checkfront, navigate to Manage > Discounts and then select + New Discount. Then, specify the name for the discount, and be sure to use something descriptive—that way, it’s easier to find.

Quick tip: In Checkfront, the customer also sees this name on their invoice. 

Provide the promo code

Enter a unique code using a combination of letters and numbers with no spaces—for example, “HELLO10.” Your customer will use this code when booking to receive the discount.

Set the discount amount

You can specify whether the discount is a percentage or a fixed amount. For example, 10% off or $10 off. 

Set length of time for promo

Depending on the promotion you decide to run, you can set the promo code never to expire or choose a particular date range and specify which day of the week someone can use it.

Choose which products

With Checkfront, you can choose which products customers can use the promo code on. For example, create and apply a promo code that only applies to your boat tours but not your kayak rentals.

Keep track of promo codes

Don’t worry about random sticky notes or excel spreadsheets – your promo codes will appear in a list with columns displaying the start and end dates, the discount value, and whether they are currently active. 

A short video demonstrating how to set up a promo code in Checkfront's booking software to give customers 10% off a boat tour when they sign up for your newsletter
Easily set up a promo code to encourage customers to sign up for your newsletter

4 promo code examples that can boost sales in your off-season:

We’ve shared why promo codes can generate more off-season bookings while giving your customers something to smile about. Here are some ideas you can use to run promotions and encourage more bookings in your off-season.

1. Get more newsletter sign-ups 

One of the easiest and most effective ways to distribute promo codes is in exchange for emails. You can share it on your website in a pop-up or on your social media feeds. 

Attract customers to sign up for your newsletter with a 10% off discount code for their first booking. Create an uncomplicated code like “HELLO10” and set the date range to “Always Valid,” so the promo code is redeemable whenever someone signs up. You may choose to offer 25% off and run the promotion only at the beginning of your off-season. Play around with it and see what works best to increase off-season revenue. 

You’ll benefit from getting more bookings and expanding your email list of potential customers to communicate with. This offer also works if you want your guests or customers to do something else, like leave a review.

2. Create buzz by pre-launching new products

Your off-season is the perfect time to stretch your creative muscles and dream up new ideas for activities, tours, rental bundles and more. Maybe you want to create something entirely new or refresh what you offered last season. When you’re ready to announce your new products, why not reward existing customers and share a pre-launch discount code with them to be the first to try your new experiences?

Set a discount code that runs for a set time, like one month before launch. Apply that promo code only to the newly made product(s) using the checkboxes. When that’s all said and done, email existing customers the announcement with the promo code.

3. Set up a discount day of the week 

It might not be the time of year when travellers are flooding in yet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of locals around. Incentivize them to book by offering a consistent discounted rate. Set up your version of a weekly discount rate to encourage repeat customers to book with you. 

Start by naming your discount code; perhaps you want to give it some local flair and reference it to your surrounding area. Turn the “Always Valid” toggle off and set the discount for a chosen date range, then select which day of the week you’d like the discount to be valid. If you have overlapping promo codes, you can filter them by whether or not they are active to stay on top of your current promotions. 

4. Show some love to your loyal customers 

Reward loyal customers who booked previously with an exclusive promo code redeemable during the off-season. Send a personalized email with the incentive to those you have chosen and include personal touches like their name. A strong relationship can become even more significant, and loyalty becomes advocacy.

Select the date range to fit your off-season. Apply this promo code to your more high-ticket product. It could be a multi-day tour or a pricer activity. Remember who you’ve targeted and the likelihood that they will book these experiences.

Bonus: Set up gift certificate discounts 

If your off-season forces you to close some of the experiences you offer, digital gift cards provide an additional revenue stream during that time. Now with Checkfront, operators can offer gift certificates at discounted rates. For example, sell a $100 Pre-Season Gift Certificate for $85. 

Remember, the off-season is when people search for deals, so discounting your gift certificates is the perfect tactic. Entice this audience with all the different gift certificate ideas you can think up.

Final Thoughts

Promo codes are awesome tools that help boost sales and profits while building relationships with your consumers. With Checkfront, you can put all the examples above into practice. See how simple it is to integrate promo codes into your business and then manage them with ease.

Be creative, try different ideas, and play around with the numbers. Finding the balance will satisfy your customer’s love of saving money while making some extra revenue yourself.

Try using promo codes today!

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