A hotel booking engine hopes to shake up the way room rates are managed by offering guests the chance to rent by the hour through a dynamic pricing system.
Flexibookings was piloted last June and went live in March.
The tool sits on a hotel’s website and gives guests the chance to book rooms by the hour. Prices change throughout the day based on availability and demand.
Founder Victoria Crampton said: “We now see in the hotel sector that there is a demand for driving business direct, and away from OTAs.”
“Essentially we are charging hotels to implement a tool on their own website, but it’s a tool to drive them more bookings.”
“We are targeting hotels to use this as a tool rather than a channel. No hotel is at 100% occupancy, realistically – it’s not going to happen. But if it did, our system would know.
“We want to help them fill as many as they can – at all times in the day.”
She said 80% of hotel rooms are vacant between the hours of 9am and 5pm, and that Flexibookings is designed, by a four-strong team, “from a hotelier’s point of view”.
It costs a 5% commission, but no set up fee is involved. Around 50 hotels have signed up so far.
Flexibookings allows customers to book rooms in two ways: day use or flexible bookings. The former is the same as you’d expect with a typical hotel but the flexible option is its differential. It offers customers the chance to take a room by the hour.
And its dynamic technology also works out peak times, so to get a room at a for a busy three hours would set you back more than it would to take a room in the same hotel for three hours when it’s quiet.
“Our algorithm is so advanced that it can change prices based on demand, giving hotels a competitive price when they’ve got lots of vacancies and automatically charging more based on demand.”
It does this by managing the hotel inventory hourly rather than daily, like you would manage meetings in an office. And it integrates hotels’ property management systems (PMSs).
“Its only the same as concept as hotels changing prices based on demand and availability. The difference is doing it by the hour, not the day.”
Crampton, whose background is in digital marketing for hotels, has been working with developer Nikhil Shah, who father owns a hotel in London – and was one of her clients.
And they are claiming some striking results. One hotel in Sheffield has upped its monthly direct revenue from £7,093 to £29,036 in a three-month period using Flexibookings.
Its average conversion rate on hotels’ websites is 5.2%.
Crampton spoke at last summer’s Hotel Marketing Conference about the concept and said the idea was well-received ahead of the pilot’s launch.
And she said Flexibookings “looks like Booking.com” and that this is beneficial to hotels as “that is exactly what guests want to use”, adding: “At the moment, loyalty is with OTAs. Guests feel comfortable using their sites and that’s why hotels are losing the battle to make more direct bookings.”