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Flexible Checkout: the Latest Direct Booking Amenity

Flexible Checkout: the Latest Direct Booking Amenity

Hotels continue to test the waters of flexible checkout practices that allow guests to extend their stay beyond the mid-day standard. Two years ago, Starwood Hotels made 24-hour checkout a perk for rewards members with at least 75 stays in the system. And recently, the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas rolled out a 24-hour checkout for guests that book their stay directly on the hotel’s website, instead of through a third party. Logistically these 24-hour checkout services are difficult on a hotel’s staff since they allow guests to spend a full 24 hours in their room instead of respecting fixed check-in and check-out times. “In low occupancy periods the service is not a problem for hotel operations,” says Bjorn Hanson, divisional dean of the hospitality school at New York University. “On high occupancy days with leisure or international guests remaining late to gain an extra day or to wait for an evening flight at the same time arriving guests show up early from morning flights or to gain an extra day and they’re all looking for a room. Then it’s a problem.” The way 24-hour checkout runs at the Palms, guests note their anticipated check-in time on the website ...

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Take Back Direct Booking

Take Back Direct Booking

Hotels give up a chunk of their revenue to third party intermediaries to drive bookings. These online travel agencies and search engines retain up to 30 percent of the price of the room. Hotels could recapture that revenue by beefing up their own websites to accommodate more complex bookings, and offer goodies for customers who book directly. Oliver Wyman partners Scot Hornick and Jonathan Keane, in their report The Next Great Battle Over Hotel Distribution, came up with seven strategies hotels can use to take back direct bookings: 1. Improve the management of multi‑attribute inventory. The complexity of inventory management increases dramatically as customers are allowed to choose more specific room attributes. As hotels begin to offer customers more choices, hoteliers need powerful, but easy-to-use, inventory management systems. 2. Develop branded rate products. A mainstay of airlines for several years, branded fare products differentiate between more- and less-price-sensitive customers. For example, Air Canada offers Tango, Tango Plus, and Latitude fares. Each of these economy fares offers a different combination of refund status or changeability, mileage accrual, seat selection, and priority handling benefits. Hotels need the analogous ability to offer multiple room-rate products that are easy to understand and differentiate. 3. ...

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