The travel industry is facing a revolution; the concept of room recycling. Welcome to the hotel room revolution.
Not too long ago, all hotel rooms booked incurred cancellation fees, and even costs for bookings that needed to be amended. Nobody likes having to pay for something they don’t use, especially when it is due to a situation which is out of their control. Your flight is cancelled, and suddenly you don’t make it to your hotel. Your whole booking is forfeited because you are considered to be a no-show. Now you have nowhere to stay, and all the inconvenience has actually cost you money, because the hotel still charges you a penalty ‘for lost earnings’. In a world where circumstances change in an instant, and life throws all sorts of spanners in the works, we needed a change.
As a consumer, you now have an increasing number of options when booking your hotel stays. You can take advantage of Advanced Purchase Saver Rates, but you know that the fine print says these rooms are usually non-refundable. However, many hotels and websites such as Roomer, now offer free changes to bookings, and even free cancellation. Some of them even up to 6pm on the expected date of arrival.
So why the change in attitude from the hotels?
The hotels have recognised the benefit of room recycling. Penalising someone for not showing up creates bad feeling, it is harmful to customer relationships and therefore it negatively affects the brand value of the hotel. The customer is much more likely to rebook, and even recommend, a hotel which shows understanding and flexibility when their customers’ plans change.
The hotels have also noticed that lost income from rooms is not the only way they lose out. A customer that doesn’t arrive also doesn’t generate income for the hotel bar, the spa, or restaurant, therefore, recycling the room and trying to get another guest to book the room minimises the chance of lost earnings across other departments within the hotel. For you, the consumer, that means that last-minute hotel rooms are often advertised at rock bottom prices. After all, the hotel would rather get some money for the room, than no money.
Business as usual
Hotels are also increasingly taking part in business to business customers. They offer corporate rates, not only to businesses, but occasionally even to the employees of that business who are on leisure travel. Although they then earn less per room, (they often discount rooms between 20-80%) they basically guarantee occupancy, which then also brings in the revenue from their restaurants etc. A higher number of guests also means a bigger opportunity for building a great reputation through word-of-mouth. So, if you are an employee for a company who often uses hotels, it may be worth asking the hotel chains whether they would be able to offer you a discounted rate.
Another way of making use of the emerging ‘sharing economy’, is to take advantage of the new peer-to-peer marketplace. Half a dozen new websites have popped up in the last couple of years, such as AirBnB. It allows people to rent directly from each other, providing the convenience of a hotel with the comfort of a home, at the price of a hostel. Best of all, with the advancement of technology, it is so easy to coordinate everything over the internet.
We are moving forward, towards a society which embraces and implements a sharable economy.
Have you been a part of this hotel room revolution? Share your experiences and thoughts with us in the comments below.