Lastminute.com at a SPRINT!

Picture this – you head out for a spontaneous road trip along the Garden route, decide during your drive to spend the night or turn your planned three day trip into four days, what do you do? Check out the nearest and best online deals no doubt.

Spending months in lockdown has brought cabin fever to an all-time high and as exotic as working from home has been, at some point we all felt like the walls were caving in on us which screamed out for some sense of normalcy in our lives.

With the promise of an imminent vaccine rollout, South African hotels and lodging are definitely witnessing an increase in corporate and leisure travel bookings  (naturally off a non-existent base); the concept of “Revenge Tourism” as it was predicted late last year appears to more than a misnomer.

We see the domestic leisure and now corporate travel trend lines shifting significantly towards more and more last-minute/sprint bookings. Sprint bookings can be explained in the most literal sense of both words. Sprint, meaning to run or go very fast at a short distance and booking, meaning an act of making a reservation of some sort such as accommodation.

There are over 148 million worldwide travel bookings made annually with 72% of mobile bookings checking in within 48 hours of a Google search. Think about it? When you’re feeling impulsive with a partner or friends and in need of a break, we all tend to whip out our smartphones and search with keywords such as “tonight” or “today”!

As hoteliers it’s important for us to keep up with such sprint bookings and ensure that our offers and booking platforms are desirable to such last-minute searches – we at BON Hotels perform this through the “science” of via Revenue Management (also known as inventory management). If you are not constantly monitoring your pick up, drop off and wash factors on literally an hourly basis, hoteliers will be destined to alienate their markets by not providing “the right rate to the right customer, at the right time – the BON Revenue Management Vision”. This in a nutshell is the BON ethos towards Revenue Management as we don’t want to miss out on providing value proposition to customers based on booking patterns, valley and peak periods.

When looking at a noticeable increase in terms of the demographics of who is making these last minute bookings, Millennials and Gen Z are leading the way but the stats support dramatic pick up from corporate travel as well as the more mainstream travel markets.

When asked to weigh in on this topic, my pal Derek Martin, founder of TrevPAR, shared the following:

“At the moment it is a mixed bag of who is booking what, we are seeing a lot of very high priced offerings being reduced by up to 60% and then on the opposite spectrum the 3-star market actually showing an increase in selling prices. We are seeing more trends towards value and price instead of demographic, people are currently buying great deals at the very last minute. The trends show us that the last minute curve is as a result of uncertainty; consumers do not want to take a risk and then lose it as a result of another lock down or them having to go into isolation for getting COVID. We have also seen a massive decrease in the non-refundable rate market as people want to have the ability to cancel last minute. We are seeing the trend that the consumer is looking for great deals and then booking this last minute, hotels within driving distance or a destination are doing better whereas city hotels are struggling. We have seen a change in the day of the week patterns from week day to weekend and the length of stay increase as more planning is now required when taking a trip. We cannot put this down to a demographic but rather who has the money to travel now and what deals and value can be found.” I truly doubt that there is no one sharper in the South African hotel revenue space than Derek Martin and his TrevPAR team – such valuable insights.

I, for one, can understand why sprint bookings are moving the way they are. I see the need people have for relief or longing for a sense of escapism, long weekends and a more fulfilling lifestyle of staycations with family and most importantly treating travel more impulsively than what we’ve witnessed before. For good reason – I would imagine that pandemics and severe economic depression remind us humans of our mortality and in so doing, to engender a sense of “we only live once – so let’s do it!”

So what are you waiting for? “Sprint” on over to www.bonhotels.com and book your break – do it!

P.S: Not to toot our own horn here, but have a look at the specials we at BON Hotels have on offer – you’ll be impressed.

Author

Guy Stehlik, CEO of BON Hotels
Chief Executive Officer

Having grown up in the corridors and reception areas of Cape Town hotels, Guy Stehlik is no stranger to the hospitality industry.

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