A few years ago we booked a room for a one night stay at 5 star hotel. We arrived way before check in- 12 noon- and only after a much agitated conversation, the front office manager let us in. On the next day we were hustled by the front office staff to check out by 10. Our relaxing stay ended abruptly with their call. We needed to hurry to allow the housekeeping to do their job.
The pandemic has changed this pattern. This one and many more to the benefit of the customer. Let’s have a look at how hoteliers market their product in the era where demand is short and relies heavily on domestic market.
Check out whenever you want (almost)
It is irritating to be rushed. Rush to the breakfast buffet to avoid queues, rush to take the sun bed nearest to the shoreline, be on time at the reception desk to check out and that only after less than 24 hours from check in. As rooms remain empty, stretching a day at the hotel for a couple of hours has become commonplace. For some guests, the check in determines the checkout time- same hour different day. For others, the fearsome 10 am has now moved to 15.00 hrs. In essence, the guest gets better value for money.
Perks, perks, perks –could this get any cheaper?
Forget exorbitant high room rates and bringing your own food and beverage to the room to avoid spending at the hotel bar. Room rates are low, on average daily rates are 35% lower than in June last year according to STR report . Many hotels pull through with a single digit occupancy rate -no wonder why they are compelled to reduce expectations in terms of revenue per available room and charge not only lower than usual room rate but also bundle it with other services. Advertising campaigns woo guests with discounts and hoteliers outrun one another in offering the steepest. Now, the list of do’s and don’ts is endless but that is the downside of such a heavily discounted rate.
Daycation – a spin on a pool package
It must have been at the beginning of this year that I came across my first daycation offer ever, in an iconic hotel of the city. How is it different from the usual pool package? Guests have access to a hotel room for several hours. The pool stay combined with a nap in an air-conditioned room, watching TV or taking a shower before check out takes on a more sophisticated and comfortable feel at yet another affordable rate.
Work from anywhere
When 5 years ago, my friend, a single mother of three, asked her boss to work from home two days a week, he nearly got offended by the request. In the wake of the pandemic, this situation would be more than welcome – work from home is still a must for many people. It is almost sure that offices as we knew them are likely to become the thing of the past ,with new locations taking over as alternatives – hotel rooms and lobbies, cafeterias, and restaurants. The trend of renting those spaces will be reinforced as more people turn to freelancing, hence working from anywhere will gradually become widespread. It is quite affordable too -for a daily price close to what a cup of coffee would cost in a chain café, entrepreneurs can spend hours in such a place with flexible operating timings and perks to make them get rid of the feeling of isolation when working solo.
The pandemic has forced hotels to reinvent their advertising strategy. Bidding on price discount is no longer powerful enough to attract demand that has been wiped out for months to come. The crisis has also demonstrated that hotels have a lot more to offer than just a room, clean bed sheets and convenient location. Hoteliers make more out of their assets – they exploit their different features to cater to the needs of different segments of clientele to bring the business back on the growth path.