Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Understanding and Managing The Last Minute Traveler

A major trend shaping the travel and hospitality industries right now is the last minute traveler. People are booking their travel later than ever before and looking for deals in the process. Hotels would like to avoid the downward pressure on hotel room rates that devalues inventory, yet they also need to book as much of that inventory as possible. There are two major forces at work simultaneously driving this trend in the booking of hotel reservations. One that is entirely out of the control of hotel management and another that is clearly in the hands of hotel marketers and decision makers.

The world economy has been obviously struggling since 2008, with a clearly defined full recovery yet to be seen. The natural laws of supply and demand are in play and will affect hotel reservations just like all other segments of the economy. Consumers are aware of how the economic downturn has created inventory availability issues for the hospitality industry and they have learned how they can best capitalize on that availability.

The trouble with the economy in recent years has combined with technological developments during the same time frame to drive the creation of the last minute traveler. Behind the trend has been the rising tide of mobile technology and the emergence of dedicated mobile apps designed to steer users toward the best last minute deals in hotel room availability. This has led to a decrease in availability, but comes at the expense of average daily rate for the heavily discounted accommodations. Yet this is where hoteliers have some degree of control in determining what their pricing structure is going to be, even on last minute availability.

Over time the economy will turn around and the supply of available hospitality inventory will decrease. When this happens, the pricing of hotel accommodations will become more favorable for hoteliers naturally as the law of supply and demand reverses the current trend. However, there are ways in which hotels can speed up the process and garner more generous revenues from their daily rates while earning the potential brand loyalty of the last minute traveler.

We will explore this topic further in a future post.


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Monday, January 13, 2014

Building Hotel Brand Loyalty For The Pet Traveler

Americans are in love with their pets in numbers greater than ever before. According to the National Pet Owners Survey of 2012, 62 percent of all households in the U.S. have at least one pet. This adds up to nearly 73 million homes where people share their home with animals. Furthermore, pet owners increasingly are bringing their beloved pets along with them on their vacation. A recent study conducted by AAA and Best Western International states that 51 percent of those pet owning households travel with their animals.

Hotel Benefits of Being Pet Friendly

These figures all indicate the substantial market available to hotels that are pet friendly. However, adopting pet friendly policies is not appropriate for all hotels. But for those hotels that may be contemplating making this change, there are some additional advantages beyond the potential revenue increases.

Naturally, the large numbers of pet travelers are searching for accommodations that will not only accept their pet, but make them feel welcome as well. When these travelers find a hotel or chain that will allow their pet to stay with them, they tend to become loyal customers and book the same hotel the next time. Also, because they can travel at their leisure and not worry about their beloved pets at home, pet travelers will potentially book a longer hotel stay. If the hotel stay has been pleasant for both the pets and their owners, they will then tell all their friends and family members with pets about the experience by word of mouth and on social media.

Being a pet friendly hotel can bring unexpected promotion and what amounts to free advertising from area Chambers of Commerce and pet specialist websites that list hotels that allow pets. These websites are important because they will bring specifically targeted guests seeking pet friendly accommodations. Also, organizers of local events will often refer visiting attendees to hotels in their area that offer pet friendly lodging.

For hotels that are looking for a boost in reservations and feel they are good fit for making the change, welcoming guests with their pets can be a positive force for building brand loyalty. However, for hotels looking to implement this policy change, there are many factors to be considered and preparations to be made.

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