Property owners use several different strategies when it comes to room and/or bed allocations. Some properties prefer to manually assign rooms, while others let technology auto-assign them. But, what many properties don’t do is allow guests to choose their own rooms. Airlines have long allowed passengers to choose their own seats, letting them strategically choose window, middle, or aisle or front, back, or middle on the plane.
Most hotels or hostels have never allowed guests to choose their own rooms, largely due to technological restraints. But, if properties have the ability to allow self-assigned rooms, what implications would it have on the guest experience? Here we’ll explore what might happen if your property allowed guests to choose their own rooms.
First and foremost, why would it even be beneficial to you and the guest to allow them to choose their room or bed? Allowing a guest to choose their room lets them take ownership over their stay. If a guest has a specific preference, they can find the room or bed that makes them happiest. Most people don’t like to be surprised when they travel, and allowing them to choose their own eliminates one more variable.
Allowing a guest to choose their own room gives you the instant opportunity to build goodwill. People like to feel as if they’re in charge, and this is a small but impactful way to do it. Depending on how your property assigns room, it can also save you time. For example, if a guest chooses their room before they arrive, your frontdesk staff doesn’t have to at check-in.
For some property types, like campgrounds, guests are accustomed to choosing their specific campsite because they require a certain amenities or hookups. Because it’s uncommon for hostels or hotels to allow guests to choose their specific room, a guest will see it as a novelty, something new and exciting for them to explore.
Giving guests more choices when it comes to bookings allows you to present more upsell opportunities. For example, if a guest wants a queen room far away from the elevator, but there are none available they could upgrade to a king room that is available in the corner. Allowing guests to choose their rooms requires that you create more inventory types.
This allows guests to choose ones that most align with their wants and needs. It also presents other upsell opportunities in an effective way. More inventory types will allow you to charge different prices for different amenities. In the same way an airline will sell different seats on an airplane for different prices, you can implement the same type of strategy at your hotel.
When we talk about reputation management, our number one piece of advice is to manage your guests’ expectations. This means you should be truthful and upfront about what your property offers and who it’s good for. Some properties cater to the masses and some cater to specific demographics (i.e. a party hostel).
Allowing guests to choose their own room lets them know exactly what they’re getting beforehand. Anything you can do to minimize unwelcome surprises should be done. Allowing people to choose their rooms can be one of them.
Using the airplane example, if a traveler books their flight and expects to get an aisle seat and ends up in the middle, they’re probably going to be upset. It might not be the end of the world, but it will leave a bad taste in their mouth. But, if that same guest had chosen a middle seat and/or knew it was the only seat available, it would have been a different story. The guest, who may still not enjoy that middle seat, is much more likely to have managed their expectations and prepared for that experience.
While every property is not as ubiquitous as an airplane, you can apply the same thinking. Your rooms likely have defining features such as noise, floor level, placement within the property, etc. that guests will have opinions about. Allowing them to choose their room will help you give them the best experience possible.
In a world where customer service is key, allowing guests to choose their room is one more way to build a stronger connection. For some property types, it’s absolutely essential for guests to choose their own accommodation (i.e. a campground), and for others it might be a more of a novelty item. Either way, if your property management system can support it, you should test its implications for your property.
In the next few weeks, Cloudbeds will give mybookings customers the ability to let guests choose their own rooms, beds, or other accommodations. For example, hostels can now sell top and bottom bunks, hotels can sell rooms located on different floors, campgrounds can sell different campsites, etc. It opens up a whole new world of possibility.