When visitors embark on a last minute vacation, they choose the hotels that are prepared to handle their spur-of-the-moment needs.
Last minute vacationers are often slightly more spontaneous and slightly less prepared than the average traveler. They turn to hotel staff and management to assist them with the logistics of their stay. With an average of 4.8 million people staying in hotel rooms across the United States every night, finding space and time to assist visitors with extra needs may seem daunting but it doesn’t need to be! An efficient hotel will meet all the needs of any visitor, whether their stay is planned, or sudden. Knowing how to handle last minute vacation bookings, will keep your vacancies low.
In an industry where the number one priority is ALWAYS satisfied guests, equipping your hotel with the tools to take on last minute vacation reservations is extremely important to the success of your establishment.
When booking a last minute vacation, there are certain qualities guests seek and expect in a hotel. Friendly and accommodating staff, flexible check-in/check-out times, and reasonable pricing options play a large role in your prospective customer’s decision-making process.
With apps like NightNight and Hotel Tonight making it easier for guests to book last minute stays right from their smartphones, booking a room ahead of time is no longer necessary. Now is the time to ensure your hotel is set up to attract guests who decide to travel on the fly, whether it’s due to unforeseen circumstances or simply the desire to take a last minute vacation.
So, you know you run a top notch hotel but you’re not sure how to evaluate your readiness to take on unplanned business? Here are the three most important qualities patrons look for when seeking a hotel room on short notice.
What Your Last Minute Vacation Guests Want From Your Hotel
1. Accommodating Customer Service
First and foremost, accommodating customer care is number one for any traveler looking for an immediate hotel room. Executing a last minute vacation is often exciting but also stressful. It’s important your staff understand the stress factor, acknowledge the emotional aspect, and do everything in their power to find a suitable room. In last minute situations, guests want assurance you will provide them with the rooms they need at the time they need them.
It’s important to remember, every guest’s situation is unique and not every single last minute request for a reservation is a result of poor planning or procrastination. Urgent business trips, a death in the family, an emergency visit, or yes, a spontaneous getaway can all prompt guests to walk in your door with little-to-no planning. Your hotel should consistently provide the friendliest customer service possible, regardless of the circumstances. Taking time to help guests in their time of need will help your hotel stand out from the rest.
James Waters, Global Director of Customer Service at Booking.com said it best: “As we operate in an industry that is incredibly personal, emotional, and complex, maintaining the right balance between genuine human interaction and efficient automation is something we’re always trying to fine-tune and optimize throughout every stage of the consumer journey.” Waters stresses the fact that following a script when answering phone calls or refusing to take on those more difficult reservation requests will only hurt your business.
Last minute vacation visitors may also need additional assistance and guidance. Your concierge should be prepared with suggestions for local attractions, reservations, and more. Items like phone chargers and toothbrushes can be forgotten in the hurry to pack. Providing little touches shows guests you care. Last minute vacation guests will feel valued and you’ll attract more customers to your hotel. No matter what the reason for taking a last minute vacation, it’s your responsibility to help guests feel at ease and taken care of the minute they turn to you for assistance.
2. Flexible Rules
Flexibility plays a large role when guests are considering lodging options on short notice. Often, along with a last minute vacation comes other unexpected plans or appointments. A hotel willing to assist with logistics and make adjustments will attract more guests taking unplanned trips.
Although implementing rules and policies at your hotel is important, in situations where a guest is traveling at the last minute, it is important hoteliers recognize the benefits of flexibility. Hotels who want to increase bookings by attracting last minute vacationers should worry less about “doing things by the book” and more on helping guests feel satisfied. The flexibility to change the standard check-in/check-out times or extend room service hours based on a guests’ arrival time are both great options to please all travelers embarking on a last minute vacation. Odds are, these guests haven’t planned out every detail so it’s your job to anticipate their unexpected needs before they arrive.
In a recent post from Hotel Business, Adrianne Korczynski, VP and Creative Director, Hospitality, FRCH Design Worldwide, said “Hospitality still takes itself too seriously. Hoteliers need to embrace travelers looking for unique experiences and take more risks. There’s an opportunity to reinvent hospitality and fight traditional hospitality norms.”
To continue thriving in the ever-changing hotel industry, adapt your business and don’t be afraid to break the rules once in a while. Consider reinventing yourself to better meet the needs of every single guest (planned and unplanned) and business will remain BOOMING.
3. Reasonable Pricing Options
Someone planning a last minute vacation doesn’t have time to haggle over room rates. Often, they’ve booked the flight on the cheap, and they’re looking for a hotel that will stay within their budget. While some hotel owners may be tempted to raise the rates on last minute rooms, it can often be off-putting to guests. When choosing lodging at the last minute, price is still an important factor.
Same day reservation fees should be avoided at all costs and room rates in place should seem fair and competitive with the local competition. No matter when the reservation inquiry occurs, staff should try to find the most reasonable room rate for guests so they’re inclined to book and pay right away. High prices will cause your guests to take their business elsewhere.
Remember, those unexpected travelers desperately looking for a room typically carry lower expectations than usual. Their only goal in the moment is to find an available place and reserve ASAP. Extra amenities and perks are not always a priority, so last minute customers are more likely to choose the cheaper hotel next door rather than barter over price. Don’t push your customers away. Make every attempt to accommodate guests with a fair, competitive price whether they book months in advance or the day of. Your last minute vacation guests may be so impressed, they’ll turn into return customers!
Operating a successful hotel means attracting as much traffic to your establishment as possible. Landing last minute vacation guests is a great way to bring in business. With accommodating customer service, flexible rules, and reasonable pricing options, travelers who decide to take a last minute vacation will be drawn to your establishment.
Take the time to reevaluate the current policies in place at your hotel and see if there are any areas for improvement to increase your last minute vacation reservations today!