Booking.com is the world’s leading accommodation booking site, and they are continuing to grow into new markets and expanding their share in the markets they are currently. That being said, they care about hostels, but they also really care about hotels. Many of the tools they build were to give those hotels who use their tools an edge over those who do not. This helps the hotels become more competitive, thus getting more bookings, and getting Booking.com more bookings so it can be more competitive against Expedia and other online channels.
These tools aren’t limited to hotels only. Hostels should stop being scared of dynamic rates and make good use of them. You see the days of offering every guest the same rate is over. Revenue managements was adopted into the travel space when Airlines realized they would never fill the plane by offering each customer the same price, and dynamic fares has worked wonders for them. Hotels caught on, and started doing this too at a great success. Customers of both don’t even bother to ask their peers where and how much they paid. Dynamic pricing is a given. This can really help fill occupancy and obtain revenue in times when it is most needed. The thing is, even if you are not doing this, and it goes against some kind of code of yours, your competition will. It is inevitable. The mega hostel chains all do this, and being effective not only fills your hostels and makes you more revenue, it also makes you more attractive to investors if you plan to grow down the line (they hate outdated models).
Airlines realized they would never fill the plane by offering each customer the same price, and dynamic fares has worked wonders for them.
Ok, now back to the rates. I could get into all kinds of details here, but there is plenty of information out there. The first thing you have to do is set up promotional rates through the Booking.com’s extranet. Can’t find them? Ask your account manager. Tell them you want to run multiple rates (yes Booking.com has different extranet capabilities for different customers, but all you have to do is ask your account manager for a changed). On a positive side, if you are integrated into a channel manager or PMS system, you are already on a more sophisticated version of their extranet.
There are two ways to set up rates. Let’s visit the easiest way, the Promotions Wizard. Here they practically walk you through setting up your rates. They even have some basic configurations to make the process easier. You first name your rate. I suggest making it easy on yourself by naming the rate with what it does, such as “LM 30%” for “last minute 30% off”. You will thank yourself later. Here is what booking.com has about setting up rates… More on setting up rates.
You add the discount, the restrictions (MaxStay and MinStay and set availability here as well. But they leave some things out which you can later edit in your rates and availability section. SDo not set the availability through this tool though. Only wait until after everything is all set up, just to avoid any chances of an overbooking. To elaborate on these rates, head on to the Room/Rate Category settings to add even features to make it more effective. Here you can adjust your booking window, make it non-refundable, and even limit who exactly this rate is offered too.
Now this page can get confusing, and if you run multiple rates, it can look like a huge list of tables. That’s because they are displaying the rates in a 2 dimensional format. That is basically the only way they can show you nested child rates, like mentioned in our article on Rate Mixing. They just list the child rates after the parent, one by one. Now you see how this page can get exceptionally large, but don’t worry. That means you are executing a solid rate strategy.
You do more than just set up rates; you can set up multiple generations of rates to best execute your strategy.
Now you’re ready to go, what is next? Well if you have a multiple rate enabled channel manager or PMS, it is best for you to add these rates into it as well. This will give you the controls from there. It will be a pain to set up, but it will eventually make your life easier, and even provide you tracking on which rates are the most effective.
If you use a simple channel manager or PMS that has direct integration with Booking.com, you can set all your rates to run from the standard rate being pushed into Booking’s extranet. Here the standard rate will be the only rate that is only a Parent. All other rates will be children or grandchildren because some rates can be children of a rate that is a child rate from the standard rate. Get it? You do more than just set up rates; you can set up multiple generations of rates to best execute your strategy. The most popular and super simple channel manager that you can do this with is myallocator. I would get in and show you how to do this, but they already have here.
For those of you use no PMS or channel manager, I highly suggest you set your rates to be a child rate of the standard rate. That way you only need to update one rate, instead of many.
So now you can run these rates, but what if you want to stop them temporarily? Well, if you use a complex channel manager or PMS, you can do so from there. Else, you can do so in Booking.com’s extranet. You can easily control all the rates by changing the price or availability on the standard rate, but there are times when you want to keep the standard, but disable a promotion rate because, well, you don’t need it. The best way to do this is through the Open/Close Room wizard. This is a bulk updater where you can open and close rates as well as rooms. You can even close the specific rates on specific rooms. This tool is outstanding.
Please use caution with the updater if you are integrated with a channel manager or PMS. The complex ones will override the updates with the update, and the simple ones will override the standard. Just do a test and make sure everything goes smoothly so you don’t have issues down the line. It is always a safe bet to contact your PMS or Channel Manager and get more details before you jump into a multiple tier rate strategy, including your own length or stay pricing.
Have you tried this? Not tried this? Why or why not? What was your experience? Feel free to add it to the comments below.