Booking Window is crucial in anticipating revenue for any hotel or B&B owner. The number of trips a traveler will make and in how advance will they book the room is highly unpredictable. But revenue managers often try to identify a pattern in the booking window and accordingly try to leverage it for profit maximization.
Let’s see how to do this.
What is Booking Window?
Booking window is the time gap between a customer making the booking and his/ her arrival. It is the same as the lead time. Let’s understand this with an example.
John booked a room in “Hotel XYZ, India” on the 15th of October and arrives on the 15th of December. The booking window for this room will be 2 months.
In simple terms, booking window talks about how much in advance a guest makes a reservation.
This window varies according to season, location, travel demands, property types, upcoming events, holidays, and other characteristics and factors. Hotels and B&B owners often rely on the booking window to plan their room rates and allocation based on historical data. For instance, if a hotel is used to receiving 10-15% of their reservations six months before the arrival, the revenue management team might allocate a certain number of rooms in their Early Bird offer and ensure occupancy.
The pandemic disrupted the normal. With restrictions and ever-developing changes, travelers wary with apprehensions look for more flexibility. That means shortened booking window, more flexible cancellation policies and last-minute bookings. For the revenue manager, this change in travel behavior has disrupted their existing framework. Relearning and readjusting to the new normal has become a challenge.
Let’s dive further into the booking window and why it is crucial for hotel owners.
Importance of Booking Window
Knowing in advance when will the maximum number of rooms in your property be sold gives you a clear indication of what should the price of the room be. With the help of rate shopping and booking window, you can set the maximum price for the room during that period. This will help you leverage revenue maximization by setting the highest price during the booking season. But this comes with a catch.
It is only pragmatic not to show all your cards – similarly hotels need to make room availability based on booking window. No revenue managers make all their rooms available for sale at the very beginning of the booking window. The idea is to phase out, monitor the booking pace and keep a few for real-time demand, i.e., last-minute bookings during the season. Different markets have different booking windows and people can act differently during the booking phase and actual arrival.
Let’s take an example.
Suppose for the holiday season in December; most people start making their reservations in September. The end of September is your peak time when demand is at its best to get maximum bookings for December. Knowing this will help you set the highest room rates for December at that time. This will help you secure maximum revenue in advance for the season.
Increasing room prices before September end or after the cooling period in mid-October will help you lose the guest when your competitor hotel has already reduced their prices. This is how knowing guest behavior and booking window helps you leverage maximum revenue.
Factors that Decide the Booking Window
1. What is the best time to visit your city/ town?
The booking window for this time will be high as most guests will book in advance.
2. Is there any upcoming famous event or show in your area/ city?
The booking window will vary from the date tickets are sold to the event date.
3. Does the weather in your area change unexpectedly?
The booking window will be small as people will make last-minute bookings seeing the weather.
4. What is the ADD (Average Distance to Date) of your guests?
The booking window will be minimum as there might be last-night bookings or bookings on arrival.
How do I Calculate My Booking Window?
With most hotel reservation management system maintaining past booking data, identifying booking patterns and windows have become rather easy. One can easily get this information from your hotel channel manager or the OTAs you sell your rooms. However, OTAs can only provide you with the booking history of their channel only, so the safest side is to download the booking history of your property from the channel manager. It will give you the data of the reservations made from any and every platform.
Now that you know the importance of the booking window, it’s time to get the data of your room bookings and set the best room rates for the peak season. You can use your hotel channel manager and rate shopper to pull in maximum revenue.