By Simon Botto, CEO of DayBreakHotels
Hotel breaks – whether budget or luxury – are inherently exclusive, with the financial and time commitment of a night away leaving most people out of the loop.
Locals are unlikely to visit hotels in their hometowns – no matter how glowing their reputation – because there’s very little justification for an expensive night away when your home is nearby; and the cost of overnight rooms means most groups of friends and families consider hotel stays a rare treat, rather than a regular excursion.
But what if there was a way to make hotels accessible to a larger demographic, thereby increasing footfall, profit and reputation? What could this mean for the hotel industry?
With DayBreakHotels we’ve come up with one solution: making hotel rooms available for ‘microstays’ during the day, so that people can use rooms and facilities at a fraction of their usual cost for just a few hours, without staying the night. Not only does this allow more people to experience hotel luxury, it also means hotels are kept busy at times when rooms would usually be empty anyway.
The benefits of opening hotels up to the public in this way are multiple. Firstly, it makes visiting a hotel just as feasible a daytime activity as going to the zoo, the museum, the shops or the cinema, thereby repurposing the hotel and introducing an entirely new type of customer who’ll visit for entirely different reasons.
These daytime guests are looking for an experience rather than a functional place to stay whilst travelling, so the hotel becomes the activity rather than the base. This means guests are more likely to spend time in their room, order room service, use the spa and gym facilities and dine in the restaurant, making the most of everything on offer and truly valuing it – because this is what they came for. This gives an entirely new purpose to hotels in terms of the role they’re playing in a guest’s day, and provides an opportunity to make a lasting impact which might result in repeat custom, a glowing review or a valuable referral.
Not only this, but these ‘microstay’ customers may well be locals as opposed to tourists, who perhaps can’t justify an overnight hotel stay when it’s so close to home. For these guests, who know the local area well so won’t just be staying for breakfast before dashing out, it’s really on the hotel to give them a day to remember.
These guests are important as their local knowledge will help foster a community feel within a hotel which may be lacking should it typically cater to fleeting tourists and business travellers. This will only improve the overall experience for guests who are visiting from further afield, as nothing relaxes people more than other guests who are clearly having a lovely time. A sense of community is a rare atmosphere for large hotels but should be fostered and embraced by owners and managers. Becoming a valued part of a community will help cement an establishment’s status, popularity and, ultimately, profitability.
The enlarged customer base and increased footfall that comes with greater accessibility would also result in more positive reviews, repeat custom, word of mouth recommendations, and an increased social media presence as guests inevitably share photos of their experiences online. All of the above will help boost the hotel’s reputation even further, as footfall could effectively double with the introduction of things like a day use service, reduced rates and special offers.
This kind of accessibility is truly transformative, opening hotels up to new demographics and giving them a new purpose that’s entirely focused on giving guests the ultimate hotel experience, as opposed to simply a good night’s sleep. When you remove the functional element of the hotel and look only at the quality of service and standalone facilities, hotels are really put under the spotlight – but this pressure could result in the renewed sense of purpose some establishments need to take things to the next level and compete with innovative, flexible and extremely convenient vacation rentals.
Ultimately, hoteliers need to embrace a new type of guest who’ll have different reasons for visiting and slightly different demands, in order to boost accessibility and gain a new lease of life. Experimenting with new services and activities for guests to enjoy, and introducing new ways in which rooms and services can be booked, will mean that more people are able to make use of hotel facilities; and pouring resources into customer satisfaction will boost the long-term reputation of any hotel. In the hotel game reputation and footfall are everything, so it’s time for hoteliers to embrace change, diversify, and give their hotel a renewed sense of purpose.