It is becoming more popular for travellers to book a hotel room with 48 hours notice or less. Even more so thanks to the proliferation of mobile apps that mean they can do so quickly and in just a few steps.
Hotel News Now backs this vision, even though it claims that the jury, revenue managers, are still out on this subject. It actually points out that mass opinion is that caution is still needed, as last minute bookings mean lower prices.
It does state however that the increase in last minute purchases has helped OTAs such as Booking to launch special platforms within the market for this segment. With Booking Now, the intermediary is strengthening its strategy to attract a type of traveller who makes up more than half of the company’s total bookings.
Therefore, more and more hotels and chains are starting to open up this type of sales channel. One of these chains is PeachTree Hotels. The head of Revenue Management, James Bethany, claims that last minute bookings are an undeniable trend. “Nearly all travellers have smartphones, and they use these to make bookings. Our strategy is to sporadically open last minute booking channels to sell empty rooms,” he explains.
Vice-president of Vantage Group’s distribution area, Viki Schell, tells of the potential these bookings have. “ If managed correctly, they present a great opportunity to the establishment, as rates tend to be non refundable and no changes are allowed”. Schell also reminds us that the company’s last minute bookings have increased 1.6% between 2013 and 2014. Donald Urbanh, vice-president of Revenue Management at the New Castle Hotels and Resorts, on the other hand states: “We don’t favour this kind of booking because they alter the room’s average price. Over the last year these bookings have gone down between two and three points.” He argues: “We aim to always maintain price parity on all channels, but last minute offers imply lowering the prices”.
It is clear that last minute bookings don’t overly impact a revenue manager’s ability to forecast demand. According to Schell it is nothing new. “We have always had a relatively high proportion of bookings for the same day, so it has not yet had a significant impact on our ability to forecast demand”. Bethany agrees highlighting that constant market analysis is the key. “Maybe last minute bookings have slightly altered our forecasts, but they key is to keep a constant watch on the rates and changes within the sector”, he concludes.
Lower the price for a last minute booking or keep rate parity and have empty rooms? The debate is open. Innwise, as experts in this subject, we make use of the best strategies to optimize your hotel’s benefits.