Last Minute Booking Discounts

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05/30/2008

Does anyone do this at B&Bs?  Have you seen this much?  If so, do you think this is done more at larger or smaller properties?

Had a call tonight for some rooms in October and was asked "Do you have discounts for booking rooms that are still vacant at the last minute?"  Tell me, why would I say "yes" to this caller when the date they're looking at is about a month away?  It is actually almost more difficult to have added last minute guests for me since I do everything pretty much myself.  Why would I want to charge less for more aggravation?  I get the idea that some money is better than none, really I do.  Heads in beds and all that.

I think I commited myself to have a gasoline special in October though.  haha!

Thoughts??

 

 

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egoodell's picture
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06/01/2008

 We don't discount. We have a two night minimum on the weekends. If I have a suite that is not booked by Thursday then I'll take a one night stay, but no discount.

Since we have the wine tours we usually make out as they are usually booking the one night and a wine tour which brings in the same money as if they booked two nights.

I would rather leave it empty than take a discount as we offer good amenities. And I would not reduce my amenities or they will not experience our B&B fully.

Then again, DH is working the business 100% and I am still working outside the business so we are not completely dependant on the business yet. I may sing a different tune later!

Riki

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Arcady Vineyard Wine Tours
www.arcadyvineyard.com
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swirt's picture
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05/17/2008

Perhaps its the old teacher in me, that I don't like to reward bad behavior, so I probably would have replied that "no we have a 'ya snooze, ya lose' penalty of $3 for people who wait for the last minute. 

I haven't seen a lot of people offering last minute discounts on their own sites, but what I see is people using last minute discounts on other people's sites (similar to how bedandbreakfast.com will list you if you do a special for that week).   I've seen some local directories/visitors centers offering to list last minute specials.  So people create the special to get the listing.

Most often what I see on people's own websites is the willingness to drop a 2 night minimum for a weekend if someone calls Friday morning and there is still an opening.

inncogneeto's picture
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08/31/2008

But many times it is ya snooze ya lose, when they call and we are full! Shoulda booked ahead!

Many of us will drop the two nighter when it gets down to the wire, heads in beds for us...especially if we're new.

After seeing your stats tho', I'm trying to talk DH into 2 night min- 7 days a week in high season, but we're getting around 15-30% a month as one nighters, so don't think it's quite right for us yet.

swirt's picture
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05/17/2008

You are right, I wouldn't have really said "ya snooze ya lose"  That is just what the little sarcastic joker in my head would have chuckled over before my mouth said "no I'm afraid we don't offer a last minute discount." to which the sarcastic joker might have silently added, "but bless your heart for asking." 

inncogneeto's picture
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08/31/2008

We do this, we have a special going on now...

The aggravating part is we have had about half of them call the day before or days before asking if they can get the discount, the answer is NO, you can call back during business hours the day of and if it's still there...

We figure, since we are small, if we already have guests that night, it's not a big deal, and we do get the extra $$.

We will only run the special until the middle of this month, I think that's the thing, picking the timing of your specials is crucial, we look at the flow from the previous year, to determine when to run them, for how long and which one is effective for us in each season.

Doing this in high season, when yes, you could charge regular price, we get a lot of calls balking at the regular price of even our cheapest room (which is a steal), but we know we get a lot of the business from the other inns who don't offer specials. (None of the other inns in our area offer specials, but we do and we stay busy during times when they have literally NOBODY and are scratching their heads). 

It does fill up the mid-week, which is nice.

You just have to do what works for you.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

I have seen some "Book by Noon Friday" last minute discount specials. I think bbonline might have a Last Minute Specials category - I know there is one Directory that has it.

gillumhouse's picture
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05/22/2008

The big question here is how much of this is a BUSINESS to you. I do not get walk-ins - usually - so if I have something going, I may not do up the rooms immediately, but if I get a last minute call, I might do a discount to get a head in that bed - IF it was worded properly.

However, to be asked that question for a date a month off, I am afraid my answer would have been, you mean IF I still have a room available on that date? Last minute means last minute. I do keep a can of peaches in the cabinet as a just in case supply.

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08/21/2008

yes i do have last minute discounts - IF the room is still available that morning.  first call gets it.  i have had people ask if there is any way they can hold a last minute room, say, a week away.  uhhh ... nope.  that's why it's called a last minute discount. 

one man kept calling, is a room still available on such and such a weekend, is a NICE ROOM still available and telling me he wanted to IMPRESS his fiance but he was trying to 'save a buck'.  i was so not impressed with our conversations.  he ended up missing out staying here because the rooms got taken by other people.

someone asking now, hoping to come in october, if we offer such a thing, i have no problem telling them 'yes, we do.  if your schedule is flexible, you might get a great deal by snagging a last minute room.' 

about the last minute thing ... i retain control.  if i decide no walk-ins, no last minute today, then 'sorry, none are available.'  it's my choice ... always.

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05/30/2008

OK...good approach.

But back to my original question, do you think a lot of B&Bs are offering last minute discounts now?  Does it depend on the size of the property?

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05/22/2008

NO one here in our area is offering last minute discounts that I am aware of and as far as I know..never have.

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08/21/2008

yes, they are offered in my area.

i haven't researched it to see specifics.  the largest 'upscale' place in my area does not offer last minute rates, but has already moved to their quiet season rates - we don't do that until columbus day.

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08/04/2008

I was going to mention that to you Proud Texan, but I didn't want to offend anyone's sensibilites with "hunting stories". I know some people are opposed to it (me, not so much)

My BIL opened a guided hunting/fishing camp in Northern Maine. He gives one week guided tours to bear spots, moose spots, great fishing spots...whatever people want. They pay LOTS of money for that, especially those from around here. My DH and I sent our vet his way and this'll be the second year in a row that he has gone up there and LOVED it. Hunters pay good money to hunt whatever it is that they can't hunt in their own back yard.

I think it's a great idea, but I would be cautious of changing the atmosphere of your B&B into a Camp.

there is a fine line...just be sure you know which side you are on Smiling

Proud Texan's picture
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Perception is everything in marketing.   If the customer perceives they are getting a bargin, it will usually drive them to purchase.  We have this done to us all the time by retailers.  Ever wonder why they don't just charge  $15.00 for an item instead of $14.95?  PERCEPTION.

An innkeeper should have a sufficient enough markup in their rates so that even when they offer a "discount" they are still meeting their bottom line.   You profit nothing by giving away rooms.  Just make it appear to the customer that they are an able negotiator who wore you down to a cheaper rate.  They don't have to know you're the one in control.

We've been told our rates are "cheap" or "very reasonable"  but in fact, they are marked up from what we decided we needed to make on each room.  It works.  Just don't get greedy.

IronGate's picture
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08/09/2008

Proud Texan wrote:

Perception is everything in marketing.   If the customer perceives they are getting a bargin, it will usually drive them to purchase.  We have this done to us all the time by retailers.  Ever wonder why they don't just charge  $15.00 for an item instead of $14.95?  PERCEPTION.

An innkeeper should have a sufficient enough markup in their rates so that even when they offer a "discount" they are still meeting their bottom line.   You profit nothing by giving away rooms.  Just make it appear to the customer that they are an able negotiator who wore you down to a cheaper rate.  They don't have to know you're the one in control.

We've been told our rates are "cheap" or "very reasonable"  but in fact, they are marked up from what we decided we needed to make on each room.  It works.  Just don't get greedy.

We have a saying:  "pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered." 

Of course, the pigs on your place . . . .  Eye-wink

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Proud Texan's picture
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We've noticed that several B&B startup in our area went under because they charged way more than the market would bear.   I think they were trying to actually make money!  LOL.

Believe it or not "my pigs" may actually be a money-making draw.  People pay good money to hunt these things.  If I can square it with my insurance company, I may do just that.

 

JunieBJones (JBJ)'s picture
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05/22/2008

You are very far from the walk in mentality. I am as well.  I am only ever prepared for what I have currently on the books.  I know if we did a walk in trade I would always be prepared for that.

If I had a call for a last minute special for tonight I would take it.  Why wouldn't I? If I have a room, that is what I do, I rent rooms to guests.  Many B&B's promote last minute getaways, book that day any available room and save $20 or whatever.

Don't we want guests in our B&B's?

Just because they book 6 months in advance does not make them superior guests.

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05/30/2008

I thought this was odd though, someone calling so far in advance and wanting to know if we offer last minute discounts?  Come on, people!  I offer some discounts as it is, if you book right now. Your market is everything to drive how you market.

I HAVE had people call for same day bookings and of course I took them!  I have mortgages to pay.  But I need them to call and not just book online at the last minute & show up 30 minutes later.  I might not be here since we don't have staff.  None of the same day callers asked for a "last minute" discount.  But I guess if they did, I would give them my regular online booking discount since I've asked them to call instead of booking online.  haha!  In fact, I have done that Smiling

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05/22/2008

Well if heads in the bed is important and you want to discount..I say go ahead. But for me...I would have rather had an empty room than give it away. Of course I wasn't in it to make a living so that makes a big difference.  If I had no one and was planning on doing other things, I wouldn't have taken anyone.

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05/30/2008

OK...I didn't ask what to do for myself.  I don't do last minute bookings discounts.  My original question was "Do you see much of this out there at other B&Bs?" .  Is this why people are expecting this? 

I think people appreciate a discount...especially now when they're thinking about where to spend their hard earned dollars.  If it's built into our rates, then it's a win-win. 

This is the first call that I've gotten like this.

Morticia's picture
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05/22/2008

Samster wrote:

OK...I didn't ask what to do for myself.  I don't do last minute bookings discounts.  My original question was "Do you see much of this out there at other B&Bs?" .  Is this why people are expecting this? 

It's SOP with hotels to fill the beds. My mom relies on this when she's on the road. But NOT calling weeks in advance to find out if you can get a really good deal if you wait.

We go around and around about this...do you reward the early bookers? Do you reward the last minute bookers? WHAT is last minute to anyone in particular? I used to do a 'Tuesday web special'. You book on Tuesday for the following weekend you get a discount. I picked Tuesday because it was the most popular day of the week for lookie lous on my website. I was trying to reel them in.

Webervations allows you to set up a 'same day' discount. So, the answer to the original question is yes. If it is a feature on the booking software, it is there because it was requested.

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