Expedia lets hotels offer freebies as an alternative to rate cutting
It’s simplistic but true: The only way hotels have been able to quickly stand out from their rivals in online marketplaces like Expedia is by adjusting their rates up and down.
Sure, other things matter, like brand and consumer ratings. But in terms of speed, in terms of being able to lure more guests in real-time, the main lever that hotels have is to change their rates.
But this year Expedia has been rolling out a tool that lets hoteliers selectively add spiffs, such as free parking or free wifi, as an additional lever to convert customers.
Expedia has more than 5,000 active value-add promotions on its site at the moment, a spokesperson told Tnooz. The service has been made available to hoteliers in the US and in select Latin American markets, with plans for an end-of year roll-out globally. There is no additional commission for taking advantage of the service.
The so-called Value Add Promotions are a cluster of more than 25 categories of free perks that hotels can choose to add, such as room upgrades, spa vouchers, food and beverage vouchers, or waterpark access. (But, as usual, there are no free lunches.)
The promotions can be targeted. A hotel manager can choose to limit a freebie by length of stay or by room-type. And when a hotel offers a value-add such as spa-voucher, it only gets redeemed when the guest shows up at the property. So the hotel is only spending on customers who have converted, or, in other words, who have booked a stay.
Expedia’s market managers are pushing the idea to hotels that potential guests don’t just comparison-shop on rates but they also comparison-shop on amenities.
The company’s internal research has found that free wifi and free parking are the perks most likely to cause a traveler to choose one hotel over another comparably priced one.
The promotions appear prominent on the listing in the main search page (see above image), which can improve visibility to users.
Expedia’s new value promotion service arrives in a context of its bigger push into helping hoteliers market their properties on its site, beginning a year-ago with a B2B app and most recently in August becoming the first online travel intermediary to display a hotel chain’s discounted loyalty rates next to its standard rates.
Sean O’Neill had roles as a reporter and editor-in-chief at Tnooz between July 2012 and January 2017.