As we are all aware, summer 2012 delivered huge exposure to the UK and our capital city. Undoubtedly, being a busy time for hoteliers, it inevitably illustrated some valuable lessons that will help to guide them throughout Europe during future events.
We recognise the value in sharing lessons to help hoteliers adjust their strategies to meet the demands of high profile events and therefore wanted to highlight some points to bear in mind.
We found many hoteliers blocked out rooms for group bookings and removed availability from listings, so pricing could be decided. Although this may have seemed wise at the time, so a strategy could be carefully decided on, it meant when consumers went to book, it showed ‘none available’. This caused potential ‘panic’ which drastically impacted on the hotel industry in the run up to last summer.
As a result, it is vital for hotels to put a pricing availability strategy in place, ahead of time which would help ensure rooms are reasonably priced and length of stay restrictions aligned with demand. Participating in timely merchandise or promotional offers is also a key point to consider, by building their base occupancy through engaging with regular customers. Once this foundation has been established, hotels can then raise their rates and continue to increase them as the remainder of rooms get sold. This would help effectively maximise all channels to achieve 100% occupancy – something that wasn’t common during the summer of last year.
Hotels shouldn’t limit exposure during major events; we found that many hotels guaranteed exclusive listings of inventory to event promoters, sometimes as high as 70%. By shutting off all other distribution channels meant they were often left with significant excess capacity because those promoters didn’t fill the bookings. In this case, it might have been smarter to reconsider the value of the relationship, relative to all other distribution channel options so as to benefit both parties.
I personally feel, catering for a younger audience needs to be placed high on the agenda when planning for a national or regional event. As an industry we understand these events don’t just appeal to the older age group, so many will bring their families to join. The industry needs to increase its options available to cater for this extended audience and by widening their reach they will in turn expand their booking possibilities.
It is encouraging to see tourism has been booming since the Opening Ceremony and net room nights have increased by 40% year-on-year between August and December 2012. Although this is slowly decreasing we can still see the effect this key 2012 event has had on generating interest in visiting the capital. These lessons are valuable ones that should be taken on board, so as a country, the UK can be even better prepared, providing an excellent service, whilst creating an even more enjoyable experience.