The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is forcing hospitality businesses worldwide to rethink their pricing strategies in order to cater for emerging traveller trends and behaviours. From offers that target domestic travellers to flexible cancellation policies, we’ve introduced various pricing solutions to help you attract demand and increase occupancy.
We spoke with Robert Tayler, Owner of Taylered Solutions, a property management company located in Brisbane, Australia, and his Account Manager, Janita Hartwig, about how they’re navigating the crisis.
Monitoring market opportunities
“I have constant communication with the Booking.com account managers on a weekly basis,” says Tayler. “They give us information about what is going on in the market, where it’s headed and potential business opportunities. It’s good to know where guests are booking so that we can get our rates sharp, make sure the property is well represented and effectively capitalise on market opportunities.”
With cancellations higher than usual and a ‘new normal’ to navigate, showing empathy during calls has been key during the pandemic, says Hartwig. “For some of Rob’s smaller properties, it was a real concern that they were going to lose everything, so it was important to show how I could help but also be realistic with what I couldn’t do. I couldn’t change the circumstances, for example, but I could suggest solutions that could hopefully help generate additional bookings.”
Various resources, reports and insights can also be found in the extranet - the administrative dashboard for your property - that can help you grow your business. “I can also see a lot of information in the extranet,” Tayler confirms. “I am in there regularly, trying to get a sense of the property’s performance, based on sales and booking reports.”
Based on these insights, partners can choose from a variety of pricing solutions tailored to their needs. “There are a number of solutions we’ve applied,” says Tayler. “In particular, offers such as Domestic Country Rates and tagging products such as Mobile Rates. He also points out the benefits of the Genius programme for his clients’ properties: “It’s advantageous for the smaller properties to use this programme as it exposes them to qualified bookers who are usually more informed and less likely to cancel.” Currently, Tayler uses both Domestic Country Rates and Genius Australia country rates, a Genius subproduct, to help his smaller properties get their occupancy rates up.
The importance of rate plans
With uncertainty surrounding the travel landscape at the moment, adjusting rate plans to allow for customer flexibility is critical. Of travellers who booked in April 2020, 73% said free cancellation was the main reason they chose the property they did.
“The whole market has turned in favour of the guest, and properties have had to relax their cancellation policies,” says Tayler. “We started with a 3-day cancellation, and now we are down to 24 hours depending on the property’s ability to service the rooms and offer guest reception. The majority of them have adopted the Flexible 1 - day cancellation policy - they wouldn’t have been able to compete in the market otherwise.”
In addition, properties with flexible policies can benefit from additional visibility on the platform. In fact, our data shows that partners who implemented the Flexible 1 - day policy increased their visibility by up to 23%. “Rob’s done a lot of policy reductions with all of his properties to be able to get their business back up and running,” says Hartwig. “This is giving his properties better visibility, particularly the ones that he could get to implement the Flexible 1 - day policy because of the boost in the algorithm on the front end.”
“We’ve seen first-hand that once you relax your policies, you do get more bookings, that has been the driver for growth so far,” Tayler adds. “We get more bookings, which, although we are expecting more cancellations, is the most important thing in these times.”
- Booking.com has developed a multitude of pricing solutions - from targeted offers to flexible rates - to help partners attract demand and increase occupancy
- Robert Tayler, Owner of Taylered Hospitality Services, a property management company located in Brisbane, Australia, worked with his account manager to identify market opportunities during COVID-19
- Along with applying solutions including Domestic Country Rates and Mobile Rates, Robert leverages the Genius programme to help his smaller properties increase their occupancy
- In addition, he says making his clients’ cancellation policies more flexible has been the main driver for growth in their bookings