Rafi Mohammed

Start Profiting From Your Off Season

Posted on August 16th, 2007 (0 Comments)

On a recent vacation to the Cayman Islands, I watched in frustration as everyday, staffers of the local water sports concession would load a dozen jet skis into the ocean, lounge in the sun all day, then 9 hours later painstakingly take each jet ski out of the water for nightly storage. Business was slow…on a good day, they may have had a total of 6 hours of rentals. The remaining 90%+ of the time, the jet skis and employees lay idle, reggae music playing softly in the background…profits swirling down the drain.

The problem, of course, was price. While $75 for 30 minutes on a jet ski seemed pricey to me, I was willing to rent one if the price was right (say…$100 for 2 jet skis for 45 minutes each). Poking around for discounts, I was rebuffed with the explanation that “we have a strong brand and during the in-season, we are completely booked.” I refrained from pointing out the obvious…this is not the in-season my amigo.

What's interesting is that the story was the same thoughout the island. Business at my favorite sushi joint had slowed to a hot summer day crawl. Surveying the half empty dining room, the sushi chef/owner nonchalantly opined “it’s the off-season.”

That said, businesses that are known for offering different in/off-season prices were flourishing. I’ve been visiting the Caymans for 14 years (…always during the discounted off-season) and the island is usually deserted during the summer. But this year was different; planes were jammed and my favorite hotel was sold out. And what generated this increase in demand? Price…of course! With discounts ranging between 30% - 50%, airlines and hotels were profitably filling capacity that otherwise would go unused.

All businesses in tourist areas have an off-season. In addition to there being fewer potential customers, let’s face it, most off-season customers are thrifty. As a good friend of mine pointed out, “I bet in-season tourists don’t bring their own breakfast oatmeal and make cold cut sandwich lunches in their hotel room like you do Rafi.” Call me crazy, but paying $20 for breakfast and $30 for lunch at a beachside restaurant daily would be extremely stressful to me. My point is there’s an opportunity for all tourist businesses (not just airlines and hotels) to profitably fill up their excess capacity through better pricing. For example, why shouldn’t that jet ski company have discounted happy hours (9 AM or 5 PM), lower off-season prices, higher prices on days when well-heeled cruise ships are in port, family packages (kids are half price), bundled prices with the hotel…well, you get the point. With a few easy (and logical) changes, that jet ski concession could be buzzing and uncovering its hidden profits. The same goes for the sushi restaurant, deep sea fishing charters, jeep tours, turtle farm, etc. It seems crazy that prices in the off-season are the same as those in the in-season, don’t you think?

The truth is regardless of product or service, every business in the world has an off-season. When is your off-season? My bet is that with a few small changes, much like that jet ski operator could implement, you can start uncovering your hidden profits…and afford to head to your favorite beach destination…during the in-season!

Add Comment
Send to Friend
Email Signup
RSS Feed