07 Sep Outbooking – the results are in!
For ages, I have been attempting to find solid research regarding customer satisfaction relating to being out booked (or ‘Walked’) from a hotel, and recently I was contacted by the ‘Software Advice’ website (a company that researches hotel booking systems) with the results of a recent survey they conducted with out booked guests. Finally, some solid figures!
Their survey was conducted across 1939 US consumers and related to how they react to being out booked from a hotel. The research proved insightful and something that all hoteliers should take note of.
As noted in the research, there is an industry default action – book the guest in to a comparable room at another nearby hotel; this has become the staple of every hotel and is often difficult and expensive, not just in monetary costs but also in loyalty; it also highlights just what many front desk staff have been saying for years – the practice causes people to become disillusioned with the industry and causes dis-loyalty with brands and hotels.
In the research, it was found that a staggering 78% of people asked, would be much less likely to return to a hotel after being out booked. This is no doubt not just based on an emotional reaction to the situation, but also down to the bare psychological principles established with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory. This states that one basic human need in shelter and another is security. By telling a guest they no longer have a room at your hotel, you are in fact removing both of these established factors and causing a primal reaction of defines as they are often no doubt left feeling rejected by the hotel and often asking ‘why me?’ – if you then add in any other factors such as race, sex or disability, then this could be construed as discrimination against that guest. only 14% of guests said that being out booked would either not impact, or only minimally impact, on their decision to stay at the hotel again.
With the boom in online reviews and social media, it is a shocking statistic that only 24% of people would be unlikely to leave a negative review of the hotel. The translation of this to other markets outside of the US is debatable as many non-US residents may choose simply to ‘let it go’. But just one negative review based on being out booked could be enough to cause a chunk of lost business, particularly for hotels that receive reviews on an irregular basis, as that review may remain ‘top of the review list’ for quite some time.
Oddly enough, out of this research, it was found that it was mainly male guests who were likely to be dissatisfied and leave a negative review as out of those who were likely to leave a negative review, 57% were male. Age however played little impact on the results, with a fair spread across age groups.
In relation to the offered industry standard of a comparable room, this left only 27% of people completely satisfied with 30% stating they would appreciate a better offer and 34% stating it would be the bare minimum they expect. 9% stated it would not even come close to resolving the matter. There is however some ambiguity over the answers provided in this section as it could be seen that the 30% who would appreciate more, would in fact accept that the offer is all given, and the additional 34% who said it is the bare minimum expected, would accept that this was all available. Therefore, it could be viewed that in fact, only 9% of people are completely unhappy with being offered a comparable room. It should be noted however that only this who stated they would be completely satisfied are actually left in a ‘happy’ state after the event; the remaining 73% of people need something more to keep them happy.
Probably the most interesting piece of this research is the breakdown of how much it would take to make people happy. This analyses 2 groups – what it would take to get someone to return to the hotel, and what it would take to stop a negative review being left. Across the board, it seems that a free return stay would placate 50% of guests, but $100 compensation and free dining credit or loyalty program points were great ‘sweeteners’ for the remaining 50% of guests.
The research is interesting, but could ultimately be across a broader range of guests and could take in to account other factors, such as whether the outcomes are different if the guest is upgraded at the hotel they are moved to. It also does not take in to account other complimentary items such as transportation to and from the alternate hotel, complimentary upgrades on future stays and a multitude of other things offered. Whilst it could be broadened, it is however a good starting point and interesting reading for anyone dealing with out booking as finally we have an insight in to how people believe they should be treated when they are out booked.
So how will you handle your next out booked guest?
**Original research and study can be viewed at http://www.softwareadvice.com/hotel-management/industryview/strategies-for-walked-guests-2014/
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