From the Other Side: A look at How Guests View Rate Distribution & Online Experiences with Hotels

By Drew Rosser VP of Business Development, Whiteboard Labs | January 29, 2012

This certainly isn't the time to be confusing to your online shoppers. You must be clear about your rate structure and show added value when it's being offered. Show your hotel in its best light with good images, creative, clear rate and room type description copy.

With so many options out there these days for people to search for and book hotel rooms there's no wonder why so many would be travelers get confused when doing their online research. There are nearly as many sites out there to book a hotel as there are rooms at the hotel. Between the hotel's own site, online travel agencies, destination specific sites, an online shopper can easily get confused. So why make matters worse with a confusing convoluted rate structure, poor room type images and bad descriptive copy?

I think one of the main things hotels lose sight of when putting together a revenue management strategy is their source of the revenue, the actual hotel guest. Keep in mind despite the seasoned leisure and business traveler most people have no idea what a Rack Rate is or what the difference is between a Standard Rate, Best Available Rate, Promo Rate, Corporate Rate and so on. Use language that is understandable by the general public, be truthful and use good images to show off your rooms.

Think of it like this; you go to the grocery store to buy a gallon of milk. In the milk aisle you have a number of suppliers to choose from. Think of these as various hotels. Then within each supplier you have different types of milk: 1%, 2%, whole, organic and in some cases chocolate. These are your rooms. Each gallon is priced based on the type of milk. However, just imagine if you found your desired supplier, type of milk and you noticed that there were two identical gallons of milk, same expiration date and same type of milk, 2% organic but the cost for each one was different. Why?

Hotel guests get into the very same shopping scenario when looking for rooms. Same room, same arrival and check out dates but a list of rates. All different prices and no real clear cut explanation as to why. Even worse you'll see a number of different rates all at the same rate value.

Nomenclature as defined on Wikipedia; "can refer to a system of names or terms, or the rules used for forming the names, as used by an individual or community... " Hotels are a community amongst themselves but stop using hotel speak when you create your rates that will be displayed to the general public. Say what it is, Best Available Rate, really it should be, Corporate Rate Includes Breakfast, slightly higher than your BAR but it includes breakfast each morning. Be clear about the added value. Make sense to a shopper. Restricted Rates, AAA, AARP, very clear about these rates. Make sure in your rate description you state that "ID is required at check in." If these rates are exactly the same value as say your Best Available Rate then remove them from your booking engine.

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.