Selling rooms online – why it’s best to keep your rates simple

Mark Cade, technical director at Avon Data, on why less is more when it comes to online rates.

When it comes to setting your room rates, simplicity is key. It is important to offer a range of prices and products to appeal to a variety of customers but don’t overdo it!

No-one wants to be faced with so many options and prices that they would need to spend three hours searching different criteria to find the right deal.

Looking for a hotel room should be a quick and easy process. Customers want to press the ‘Book’ button feeling they have found the best deal in the fastest, most efficient way possible.

Many hotels make the mistake of offering potential customers so many product choices that they get confused, lost and frustrated and eventually give up and look elsewhere.

More than half – 55% - of web page views get less than 15 seconds of attention, according to Chartbeat, as people increasingly expect instant gratification. 

So, hotels should not expect people to be maths wizards in order to figure out the best value deal.

Research has shown that, generally, hotels should limit the number of rate plans to three per room category.

It used to be common for hotel websites to present their many rate plans in a large grid but this risks overwhelming the viewer and often doesn’t look attractive on a web page.

A better option is to list the room categories, ideally with appealing images accompanying each one, then have the two or three rate offers listed next to each room category. This makes the information more digestible and presents it in an attractive way.

By overcomplicating your pricing system you will not only give your customers a headache but will make it harder to manage and record internally.

And, depending upon your hotel management software, this could also mean your precious time is taken up in updating the system.

Our Hotel Executive PMS system allows hotels to set up as many price packages as they wish but it is recommended that three be presented to the customer at any one time.

A good booking system should allow customers to upgrade their choices during the booking process without forcing them to return to the initial screen.

This allows you to offer more options as customers progress through the booking system, without overloading them with everything at once.