With the hospitality industry looking to rebuild in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, industry experts have put forward advice for guests on how they can get the best value from hotel bookings – while also helping to contribute to the sector’s recovery.
As lockdown measures have eased, hotels and other hospitality businesses have started to reopen, but with necessary social distancing measures in place, they’re operating on much smaller margins and often with reduced services – which makes running a viable business that much harder to achieve.
In light of this, leading hospitality voices have put together advice for consumers on how to go about getting the most value from hotel bookings, whilst also offering support to the hospitality industry by helping hotels themselves to make up for the shortfall in revenue.
HOSPA, the Hospitality Professionals Association, and Profitroom, a leading SaaS supplier to the hospitality industry, along with Tregenna Castle Resort, a luxury hotel, have compiled some top tips below, which helps guests get the best value from their bookings:
1) Book directly via the website
Comparison websites can help you get the lie of the land in terms of what’s in your price range, but when it comes to actually booking: visit the hotel website. By doing so, guests can benefit from finding the cheapest prices as well as a wealth of additional bonuses, such as parking, early check-in/late check-out, discounts, upgrades, and more.
2) Time it right
There’s a lot to be said for booking early when you know your plans to get the best price, but don’t dismiss later options either. Always contact the hotel directly to make a booking – as they might offer flexibility on rates, something also not offered by OTAs.
3) Look for extras
Plenty of hotels offer bonuses for booking directly with them. These could be as basic as ‘book direct for best rate’ or this could take the form of an extra meal included free of charge (such as afternoon tea for instance), a free bottle of wine in the room, a free spa treatment, and so on.
4) Check if there’s a loyalty scheme
Hotels love returning guests. If you sign up to marketing databases, or specific schemes, you might be able to get extras, preferred rates, room upgrades or priority when it comes to availability. Forming a relationship with hotels helps you to get the most out of bookings.
5) Look at quieter areas for best value
Coastal areas are booming at the moment as are traditional holiday destinations such as the Lake District. But city centres, by contrast, are seeing very few bookings – with international travellers restricted and business travel at a minimum. Now then could be an excellent time to explore a UK city break. Restaurants and bars are open, and you can still enjoy the sights of a city, which are made even more attractive by reduced crowds – offering the prospect of a relaxing break despite being at the heart of a normally bustling city.
Jane Pendlebury, CEO of HOSPA, commented: “The hospitality industry was the first to shutdown with the advent of the coronavirus crisis and difficulties have continued as we’ve reopened. Lots of hotels are running at reduced capacity thanks to a need for social distancing – such as seeing fewer covers in restaurants, reduced capacity in the bar, as well as slower turnarounds for rooms given the necessity for additional cleaning measures. While some areas of the UK have seen a real dearth in bookings for a variety of reasons. Consequently, hotels and other operators are doing all they can to improve their margins and to stay afloat. Consumers themselves can help them with this by making a few straightforward changes to how they book.”
Samantha Williams of Profitroom elaborated: “Hotels have long been in a battle with Online Travel Agents for bookings. Thanks to their prominence in search engine results, many people just opt to book what appears to be the most cost effective option presented to them via an OTA. However, this impacts hotel revenue as they have to pay a commission fee on any booking, which can often be a sizeable chunk of the price. Bypassing these commission fees via a direct booking though often means more flexibility on price. Many consumers aren’t aware that, in most cases, hotels themselves provide the best rate.”
James Parker, Operations Director of Tregenna Castle said: “From a hotel’s perspective, whilst we value all bookings, the fact that those that come via our own website or via a phone call to reception don’t include commission fees can really help to improve our margins. At the moment with the pandemic still presenting many restrictions, this is really making a big difference to us.”