As hotels increasingly look to appeal to Millennials, who are 50 per cent more likely to travel for work than their older peers, micro-stays have the potential to meet the short-stay needs of modern business travellers.
Hotel groups such as Yotel already offer hourly bookings as standard, but could the wider market start to capitalise on this trend?
Hourly booking sites
ByHours, which has just launched in the UK, works with hotels to allows guests to book rooms in three, six and 12 hour periods, as well as selecting their own check in and out times.
ByHours CEO and founder Christian Rodriguez told BigHospitality micro-stays were a ‘win-win’ for both the hotel and customer.
Though occupancy in the capital is set to reach 84 per cent in 2015, Rodriguez believes hourly bookings could boost the figure even higher.
“During the day there is often a six to eight hour period where rooms are empty, and that can be monetised. Business travellers tend to check out before 10am in the morning, and check in for the next guest is not until later in the afternoon,” he said.
“It’s also an opportunity for the guests to test the best hotels in each city, as we focus mainly on the three, four and five star hotel category.”
Targeting hotels near airports, train stations and The City, the site currently works with 60 hotels in the UK including H10 Waterloo, The Kingsway Hall Hotel, Ramada Hotel & Suites, and the Academy Hotel.
Currently, the market is primarily aimed at business travellers. Rodriguez said: “We are trying to offer something different because we know ourselves how often business travellers are left waiting in the arrivals lounge or in Starbucks with a computer before a meeting.”
The site is forging partnerships in London and major cities including Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Dublin and Glasgow.
Yotel, created by YO! Founder Simon Woodroffee MBE, have been offering an hourly booking service for their ‘cabin’ style rooms since launching at Gatwick in 2007. The success of the service has seen the company’s Heathrow site reach occupancy of 250 per cent.
“What we’re offering is essentially an arrivals lounge. Customers have told us they want a chance to catch up on email, take a shower, and maybe get an hour’s sleep before their next meeting, so the rooms provide them with that opportunity,” Jo Berrington, marketing director at Yotel told BigHospitality.
“Hourly bookings do lend themselves to airports just because it’s satisfying a need. People have very specific requirements when in transit, so when normal hotels say you can’t check in until three o’clock it doesn’t help them out.”
Berrington added that for ‘normal’ hotels to capitalise on the need, it may require an adapted booking system.
She said: “The reason most hotels don’t do it is because in order to be able to sell a customer hourly check in and check out times whenever they want you’ve got to be able to have a property management booking system that allows that to happen.
“Yotel have a bespoke booking system while most hotels use other options, such as Opera, that don’t allow you as an operator to make hourly bookings.”
So can hourly booking systems work beyond airports as a general hotel trend?
Rodriguez is optimistic, he told BigHospitality: “With the current occupancy rates it’s logical that more hotels will start offering this service as a means to increase revenue.
“We want ByHours to be a global alternative; in 10 years we want the customer to have the opportunity to book a hotel by the night or by the hours anywhere in the world.”