The rise and rise of last minute booking has become a double edged sword for revenue managers. On one hand they have opened up an opportunity to sell otherwise perishable inventories even if at a discounted rate to make some money; on the other hand guest, more smarter than ever with wide range lodging option, is now in charge, and forcing hotels to lower prices.
With increasing ubiquity of mobile devices, there is a certain change in consumer behavior. Guests today are more confident than ever to research and find lodging option at the very last minute. According to a recent study by PhoCusWright, about 30% bookings come from Hotel Mobile booking platform; 70% of them are from same day bookings.
A look at last minute travel booking
It all started in 2010 with the launch of HotelTonight. Since then there have been multiple entrants and OTA majors like Booking.com, Orbitz, Priceline, HRS and Expedia are making investments in this segment. For example, Expedia has been aggressively building its presence on mobile to meet its customers changing needs and 70% of its travel booking comes from last-minute bookings.
So what really is last minute? In the hospitality industry, bookings windows of up to seven days in advance are known as last-minute booking. Within this there are three categories- seven days or less, three days or less and same-day. Same-day booking are done on the day guests wants to stay. Mobile applications like HotelTonight allow travelers to book a room for the same day.
How big is last minute travel?
While researching on how the growth of last minute booking segment, I has come across some eye-catching stats which I would share with you. PhoCusWright reports that overall mobile search and booking volume is growing rapidly with gross travel bookings via mobile (phones and tablets) accounting for 27% in the US, up from just 5% in 2012. In UK, 1 in every 3 Britons book on the same day. The trend is more or less same in Asia Pacific as well, with 70% of mobile booking coming for same day stays.
Don’t ignore last bookers
As a major share of all hotel bookings are shifting from desktop to mobile and it is done at the end moment you can’t deny its importance in your business. Sojern research data shows Tuesday is considered for the most productive day for last minute bookings and Friday for same-day bookings. Last-minute travel accounts for 25% of trips lasting a week or less. When travelers prefer to go for short vacation i.e. for two to three days the likelihood of their last minute booking increase significantly this means if you are not prepared to serve these last-minute travelers then you are losing a large share from your unsold rooms. Keeping in mind everything about last-minute travelers, you should ask yourself a few questions to understand your potential guests and take right strategy to avoid revenue disaster.
1. Ask yourself what does last-minute travel mean for your product or location? Know what are the latest trends in the hospitality industry by analysing big data generated from own PMS such as guest information, length of stay or you may avail it from third party. This will help you acquire key information to understand travel journey of your potential guests and take right action by offering them suitable offers.
2. Are your revenue managers are taking right decision and promotional tactics which is compatible to fulfil increasing demand for last-minute travelers? Review closely your current revenue & marketing strategies and analyse how can you attract and win more last-minute travelers.
3. Make a plan how can you reach to this group of travellers. To understand you need to analyse your revenue management tactics and find out gaps in occupancy. List your unsold room in last minute booking sites such as HotelTonight, Jettsetter, PriceLine, Travelocity which is more affordable to you.
Image Source: PhoCusWright, HubSpot