What if a guest walks up to your hotel reception and asks you if they can check in for couple of hours? It may raise suspicions in your mind, but it should not necessarily be misconstrued as being for a romantic assignation. There are many business travellers and jet lagers seeking accommodation on an hourly basis.
The micro-stay concept
Many hotels have started selling rooms by the hour to travellers who seek accommodation for a short while, rather than overnight. The concept is known as a micro-stay. Based loosely on the concept of capsule hotels, micro-stay is also referred to as day-stay, short-stay or capsule stay in many countries.
The micro-stay concept became famous in Europe during the economic downturn when fewer people were traveling. It is now catching up on other continents – American hotels such as Hilton Garden Inn Chelsea (New York) and the Sofitel (Miami) are following suit.
Micro-stays work best for guests with a long transit layover or for business travellers who have meetings at scattered times of the day. Many hotels located near airports and train stations in Europe offer micro-stays for guests who are willing to pay to spend their downtime in a hotel rather in a transit lounge. Some of these hotels have dedicated rooms and housekeeping to cater to micro-stay guests.
Hotel sites like dayuse-hotel.com, between9and5.com & byhours.com list hotels that offer rooms for certain hours to cater to this segment. These rooms are mostly offered at discounted rates from the usual daily fare. The rooms act as a second office (for travellers seeking rest between meetings) or second bed (for jet lagged travellers seeking rest between flights).
Sell one room, twice a day
Travel and tourism research manager, Michelle Grant of Euromonitor, says “Hotels needed ways to boost their revenue, hence they started renting guest rooms for less than 24 hours.”
Lisa Clarke, chief executive of Rally, a Seattle marketing firm, takes overnight flights to the East Coast to meet with clients and conduct interviews. She often rents a hotel room in Newark or Atlanta for a few hours when she arrives. “I schedule my first meeting for the late morning, so I have time to take a nap, shower and prep for the day ahead.”
Daniel Welk, VP Operations, India, Hilton Worldwide says, “Customers are given the option to rent out the room for a few hours while transiting and can use the gym facilities as well.”
The Lalit chain of hotels has a ‘day-use’ check-box facility on their website to attract such guests.
Online travel agency Cleartrip offers a section on their website which is called “Quickeys” for business travellers and according to the research, “nearly 40% of room bookings are last minute check-ins for an approximate duration of six hours.”
It is definitely a powerful marketing strategy for hotels as they can attract many visitors to their hotel, offer discounts and increase their room sales. Hotels usually offer a minimum of 4 hours and maximum of 8 hours. They can charge guests some percentage extra for any additional hour spent. If guests exceed eight hours, then the room is considered booked for a full-day.
What are hotelier’s offering?
Bill Carroll, teacher at Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration, is of the opinion that “Hotels own a physical asset 365 days a year and they need to maximize revenue for every square centimeter 24 hours a day.”
President of Austin-Lehman Adventures, Dan Austin, offers rooms to travellers who have overnight international flights to rest before they depart. For hotels, it is a hard-to-resist offer as it gives them a chance to increase their revenues.
Many properties are applying the idea to their meeting rooms and business centres. Thompson Hotel in New York started offering shorter meeting room rentals based on client requests. They mostly cater to the film & fashion industry. Seattle Hotel 1000 offers beverages, snacks, high-speed Wi-Fi and a place to work for $15 and up to $35 a day.
Some Marriott International hotels have built “Workspace on Demand” areas by converting some of its lesser used hotel space into meeting rooms that can be rented by the hour. Westin Hotels is moving ahead by offering powerful sound systems, printers, whiteboards & Xbox game systems in meeting rooms. They have named it “Tangent”
Just like big brands, small and mid-sized hotels can also cater to this growing segment of guests, as there are times when the hotel rooms stay vacant for days. If you offer short-stays to guests, you are sure to increase room inventories, make extra profit and keep your rooms occupied. Guests will also benefit from this offering as no one likes to pay extra. Everyone prefers to pay for what they use!
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