pie graph with a slice separated slightly reflecting the importance of looking beyond room rates and how attribute based selling ushers in a new era

What is a hotel, anyway? Is it merely a collection of assets, guestrooms, and event spaces? Or is a hotel composed of the many goods, services, experiences, personalities, views, and personal touches that draw travelers to unique places? Since hospitality is undeniably a combination of all these things, why are hoteliers satisfied with boiling the concept down to a room rate and additional food & beverage?

NB: This is an article from Stayntouch

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Enter Attribute Based Selling, a booking strategy designed to allow consumers to build highly personalized stay experiences out of the individual building blocks comprising a hotel stay. ABS has its roots in the airline industry, where travelers can specify everything from their seat location to the amenities they receive and even where they may spend time before or between flights. Despite this comparison, hoteliers often struggle to see how ABS can be implemented in the hospitality industry.

Here is a look at Attribute Based Selling as a technology from both the guest and operator’s point of view, as well as the challenges and benefits of implementing such a strategy.

Through the Guest’s Eyes

While researching the ideal summer getaway, a traveler determines they want to visit a seaside property for the weekend. After selecting a guestroom with a queen bed, the traveler encounters a screen with several additional attributes available with separate up-charges. They decide to check in early and check out late, and they specify they would like additional amenities available on arrival, such as sunscreen, so they can travel light. Each of these attributes is connected to clearly identifiable up-charges, and guests are fully aware of what their stay will consist of and the cost before they finalize their booking.

After arriving in the room, the traveler is greeted with an ocean view, a package of sunscreen and bath towels are waiting for them on the guestroom bed with a personalized note from management. They are free to check out late at their leisure. It’s exactly as they pictured during booking, and the hotel provided a fully curated experience without copious back-and-forth communication, not so much as an online quiz.

The Operator’s Perspective

Imagine upon receiving a new booking, that your Property Management System automatically attaches the chosen guest attributes to the guest’s profile. Next, the system compares current inventory levels against expected demand, automatically adjusting the pricing of all available attributes for future bookings. Attributes in high demand, such as rooms with ocean views or reservations at on-property restaurants, can be automatically filtered out from future booking selections as they become unavailable.

As a result, guests can avoid situations where they book a stay with attributes that have been spoken for or are currently unavailable. Similarly, hotel staff are directly informed by the hotel PMS as to every requirement for incoming guests, with the system seamlessly accounting for adjusted check-in and check-out times without the need to track room availability manually.

Most importantly, this gives operators time to lend personal touches to the guest experience, such as placing handwritten notes in the guestroom or preparing additional upselling options to travelers during the arrival experience based on past preferences and current attribute booking decisions.

Challenges, Barriers, and Benefits

In practice, ABS helps improve the guest experience while growing revenue through improved upsell opportunities, but implementing such a system requires access to a powerful, integrated PMS. Hoteliers must be capable of tracking, managing, and applying new attributes across their booking and inventory management systems. Additionally, it needs to be efficient enough that operators can rely on automation to update all of this information. Simply put, the closer ABS is to the hotel PMS, the more effective it will be at exceeding guest expectations and hotel revenue forecasts in kind.

Once in place, however, ABS has a proven track record of success. While the airline industry is often criticized for its confusing pricing structures, the ability to add individual attributes to your airline itinerary has been a boon for the industry and is a major source of customer satisfaction. Meanwhile, a report conducted with the NYU School of Professional Studies (NYU SPS) Jonathan M. Tisch Center of Hospitality found 78 percent of respondents said ABS would provide features tailored to my preferences, and 68 percent of respondents said ABS would provide greater transparency regarding hotel stay information.

While hoteliers are managing daily operations, ABS is almost entirely invisible. However, guests will reap the benefits of Attribute Based Selling without significantly increasing hotel operating overhead, all while improving hospitality revenue and providing invaluable data insights to improve guest-facing services down the line. The next era of hospitality personalization has arrived, and it is being delivered in a way that adds, not subtracts, from the core hospitality experience.

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