It’s a fast moving world. Digital technology has sped up commerce in all kinds of ways. In terms of accommodation provision, potential customers expect to see live rates and availability. But they also seem to be booking a lot closer to arrival date. The main reason for this may simply be the fact that technology allows them to do so (with so many venues offering WIFI, it’s pretty easy to search and book on your laptop or mobile device.) But worries about personal finances also seem to be a driving force. As travel website eyefortravel.com recently noted: “By all accounts, the booking window is going to stay small and continue to contract. Economic uncertainty means that more travellers are waiting longer to make their final decisions.” This is backed up by hotelier and hospitality news channel Hotelier TV: “In the past, travellers typically booked stays in advance because it was common for prices to go up as your travel date got closer. In the current economic climate, travellers don’t always have the luxury to be able to plan so far in advance because their financial situation could change at any time.”
In this scenario it’s more important than ever that you should be able to offer online booking and have access to a booking system – like freetobook, for instance – that allows you to easily manage your rates and room inventory, so that you can capitalise on any free rooms that you have.
For example, in an ideal world, you’d want all your rooms occupied on both Friday and Saturday night every weekend, to minimise hassle. As a result, you’d set a 2-night minimum stay on them. But if one of them hasn’t had a 2-night booking by Friday afternoon, you could change the minimum stay to 1 night at the last minute and hence still sell the room for at least the Friday or Saturday night.
Even more helpfully, you can also create special offers for just one day in advance, to actively encourage last minute bookings. If you sign up to freetobook, you’ll find this functionality on the “Specials” tab, under “Discounts”. You can create the offer just as you normally would, specifying the name, description, type of discount (percentage or money off) and date range. But you can also set the offer so it only applies to customers searching for same or next day availability:
Last minute offers like this can remain active throughout the year, popping up any time someone is thinking of staying at your property at short notice. In this way, our friends at freetobook can help you make the shrinking booking window work to your advantage.