We’ve all been there: trying to book your flights according to what time it lands so there’s not too much of a gap between your arrival and your hotel’s check in time. But alas! You spot a great deal on a flight with a reasonable arrival time but the return flight home isn’t until way later in the afternoon. Your standard hotel check-out time is 10am… drats! Do you pass up on the great price of the flight or do you sacrifice your sanity on that last day of your trip, checking out at 10am and being that nomad tourist lugging their suitcase around with them for the next 8 hours or worse, camping out at the airport?!
If you’re like us, you would pay a little extra for a late check out or an early check in. For those of you out there who have had the privilege of being able to check in early or check out late, it is often regarded as one of the highly appreciated features of that hotel that would make you stay with them again. Travellers today want choices and options. The value of not wasting time waiting around is priceless to travelers but somehow, most hotels haven’t tapped into this yet as a highly lucrative revenue source.
Flexible check out = logistics problems for hotels
If the question is: “Why haven’t hotels looked into offering late check out as an add-on” yet. The answer lies within the way their operations have been structured for decades. It really comes down to logistical issues. There is a lack of technology to and ongoing pricing questions, communication, syncing of housekeeping and PMS systems, and room allocation. In the hotel’s eyes, offering early check in or a late check out can seem like more trouble than it’s worth.
A huge issue today is that most hotel tech solutions don’t account for inventory.
For example, if a customer purchases a late check out, in the instance that the inventory is not verified (meaning the room isn’t actually available at that time), then the fulfillment will become unsuccessful leading to a poor customer experience, either for the person purchasing the late check out, or for the person that is supposed to receive their room at the appropriate time. Sometimes it’s an issue of arduous labor. Some hotels leave each request for a front desk staff member to review individually and manually.
Another issue lies behind the pricing of this ancillary upsell. When they set a static price, hoteliers run into the issue of low conversion if the price is too high or missed revenue opportunity if the price is too low.
Software is the solution
This is where your tech stack will really shine. One system won’t do it all, but the ability for your systems to be able to integrate well with others will make the difference. By using modern, cloud-based software solutions that integrate, your multi-system can automate, communicate and sync up your different departments, allowing you to coordinate and manage your teams effectively. Your systems should be working for you, not against you. There are also business intelligence tools available that also help you forecast demand. Since room reservation pricing is based on demand, the most logical solution to pricing flexible check ins should be based on the demand as well.
Take the example of Fontainebleau Miami. They combined the use of mobile guest data with their reservation data from their PMS and were able to upsell guests through pre-visit and check out offers. By enabling their guests to arrive early or have a late check out for an additional fee, about 30$ of their guests selected the self service option. This resulted in 141% ROI from late check out offers in the first month. This wouldn’t be possible without the necessary technology that powered this initiative. Guest reviews also soared positively based on the flexible check in and out experience.
The shift in consumer behaviour is that people want more flexibility and options in their travel choices. An integrated tech stack provides hotels with the flexibility travellers crave. It also streamlines their teams operations and, when done correctly, creates a lucrative ancillary revenue stream.
If you’re wanting to innovate, the answer lies within your technology.