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Unlocking the potential of single-night stays

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Why demand for one-night stays could be good for business

While the one-night guest might not be your primary market, if you ignore them you could be losing out on significant revenue. A Google study published in 2017 revealed that travel-related searches for "tonight" and "today" had grown over 150% on mobile in the previous two years, and 60% of travellers would consider an impulse purchase based on a good hotel or flight deal.

In fact, many accommodation providers - from B&Bs to villa owners - are seeing a rise in the demand, driven by an increase in ‘bleisure’ (part business, part leisure), last-minute and one-night weekender travel. If you can focus on these markets to fill the gaps in your booking diary, it could lead to a significant boost to your RevPAR.

The one-night weekender

Weekend getaways have been popular for decades, but the huge increase in low-cost airlines means that travellers can often find affordable flights that leave early Saturday morning and return Sunday evening, essentially getting a full weekend break for the cost of just one night’s stay.

Many low-cost airlines fly to Italy, making this a popular destination for former weekend-breakers. “With the increased number of airlines reaching all destinations, it becomes easier for travellers to capitalise a two-day experience with a one-night stay,” says Ezio Indiani, President of EHMA (European Hotel Managers Association) and GM of Principe di Savoia Hotel in Milan.

Having a permanent ‘last-minute offers’ page that includes your location name will help capitalise on the SEO potential. Photo: credit to John Schnobrich


Northern Ireland is another hotspot for low-cost airlines, and the luxury Hastings Hotels group, which has seven properties in Belfast and the countryside, has found a similar trend.

"Bookings across all of our Hastings Hotels properties reveal that the average length of stay is now 1.35 to 1.5 nights,” says Catherine O'Hara, Revenue Manager for Hastings Hotels. “This has been the case for the past two years and we can confidently say that one-night bookings are our most popular.

"As our hotels are high end, we think that pricing is a factor which contributes to the one-night booking, particularity for families. And we have a lot of guests who visit our central hotels for a city break and travel in on Saturday morning, leaving on Sunday afternoon."

If multiple airlines or international rail services fly to your destination, you might want to consider creating packages to capitalise on this, offering early check-in and late check-out, or even linking to local airline schedules. This can be particularly useful for business-focused hotels, where rooms are typically empty on a Saturday night.

The bleisure boom

Combining business and leisure travel isn’t new, but it’s certainly on the increase. In the past, people would travel for business meetings, then immediately return home, but more are now adding a day or two on for leisure, and many aren’t staying on in their business hotel, meaning boutique and self-catering accommodations can really tap into the potential here.

Great Hotels of the World (GHOTW) recently surveyed 1,443 international business travellers and found that 75% recently extended their business trips for leisure purposes, and a majority of those – 60% - booked the leisure part of their trip independently with the accommodation rather than using their company’s travel agent, and 56% had friends and family join them.

Given the limited leisure time available to these types of travellers, creating cultural experiences that can be undertaken in one day can help draw them to your hotel, according to Pedro Colaco, CEO of GHOTW. “We see a strong interest from guests in authentic experiences, that complement and enrich business, conference or incentive travel,” he says.

Self-catering accommodations can really tap into this, too, given that so many guests have friends and family join them. Find local companies who can help create one-night packages to target this market, and put the package information on your website. Luxury travel operator Touch of Spice has done this with its ‘Uniquely New Zealand’ packages. “We have definitely seen an increase in the demand for short stays at villas, lodges and hotels. Travellers to want to consume as many sites, views, experiences as possible in their time,” says Amy Neilson, Senior Marketing and Product Manager.

Know your numbers

Before deciding what to charge these overnight guests, write down all the expenses associated with hosting them. Most will be no different to longer-stay guests, but a higher frequency of one-night stays inevitably means extra room cleaning, linen changes, toiletries and possibly even extra staff for check-in and check-out. And don’t forget about the costs of energy and water. Once you have these figures, then you should be able to determine a suitable price that boosts your RevPAR without hitting your bottom line.


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Photo: credit to Christin Hume
  • Business travellers adding on a day of leisure can be a lucrative market for self-catering and boutique hotels
  • For destinations served by many transport and airline options, a new trend is the one-night weekend
  • Create a permanent ‘last-minute’ page to help travellers find you when looking for somewhere to stay in the next 24 hours
  • Filling otherwise empty rooms can boost profits, but don’t forget to tot up the additional costs of overnight stays before creating your one-night rate