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Profitable holiday flash sale websites are an inventive promotion tool for accommodation providers

Business feature at the Ivy House Hotel, Oulton Broad with Adrian Parton and his cousin Keith Parton.

Business feature at the Ivy House Hotel, Oulton Broad with Adrian Parton and his cousin Keith Parton.

Hoteliers and proprietors are being urged to capitalise on flash sale websites which have upped occupancy by up to a third for hotels in the region and generated out of season spending in the wider tourism industry.

Business feature at the Ivy House Hotel, Oulton Broad with Adrian Parton and his cousin Keith Parton.Business feature at the Ivy House Hotel, Oulton Broad with Adrian Parton and his cousin Keith Parton.

Hoteliers and proprietors are being urged to capitalise on flash sale websites which have upped occupancy by up to a third for hotels in the region and generated out of season spending in the wider tourism industry.

Millions of holidaymakers use sites including Secret Escapes, Travel Zoo and Groupon, which offer marked down, and often last-minute, deals.

While they are a money-saver for thrifty travellers, for local businesses they are fast becoming an innovative way of plugging quiet periods, attracting new customers and securing return visitors.

For Adrian Parton, listing a break on Travel Zoo saw occupancy at his Ivy House Country Hotel, at Oulton Broad, jump by almost 30% on the standard level, with patrons travelling from as far as America.

Norfolk Mead Hotel new owners Anna Duttson and husband James Holliday.
PHOTO: ANTONY KELLYNorfolk Mead Hotel new owners Anna Duttson and husband James Holliday. PHOTO: ANTONY KELLY

Pete Waters, executive director at Visit East Anglia, said the knock-on tourist spending bolstered work to see the region’s tourism economy thrive year-round. He said: “This region has a fantastic visitor offering whatever time of the year so we’d encourage any activity that helps fill bed space during the quieter times. Only by helping build the year-round visitor economy can we convert seasonal jobs to full-time employment, and that will help drive up skills and wages.”

He said staying visitors would explore the “enormous range of attractions and eateries”, bringing a “wider benefit” to the economy.

Mr Parton turned to the web while exploring how to sell more rooms during the traditionally slower spring months. He said: “We had been trying to think of ways to increase occupancy in the hotel during the quieter times, but it has turned into much more.

“The first deal, for a three-course meal, was massively successful. About 1,000 people came in for the dinner and for the second one, an overnight stay, we sold something like 600 rooms in about two weeks.”

In total, he said, the overnight deal - which became one of the website’s most popular - saw occupancy rise by about 20% to 30%, while the varied visitors introduced a new demographic to the business.

Hoteliers elsewhere have also seen a similar boost to trade. Anna Dutton and James Holliday have used various flash sale sites to sell breaks at the Norfolk Mead Hotel, in Coltishall, and say that a successful deal can generate hundreds of stays and increased occupancy. Mr Holliday said: “It’s a really good way of getting people on your database and filling quiet times - the websites have a huge audience because, with the economy how it is, everyone wants a deal. The most important thing is that it encourages people to come back and book directly with us.”

• Do you have a tourism story? Email lauren.cope@archant.co.uk

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