How to Compete with Properties Listed on Lodging Apps

April 28, 2021
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6 minute read
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The hospitality industry, particularly hotels, experienced quite a shake-up when so-called “online lodging marketplaces” started to become mainstream in the late 2000s and early 2010s. Suddenly, more people are choosing to book rooms from online rental platforms instead of checking in at hotels due to the considerably cheaper rates.

Considering how fond Filipinos are of bargains, it can be difficult for hotels to compete with these accommodation apps—even if most hotels provide more value for money when you look at factors beyond the price. Still, it’s not a losing battle. The key is not to go head to head, but rather highlight why booking a hotel room is actually the better choice. Here are some helpful tips to get started:

Offer More Convenient Payment Options

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Filipinos have come to appreciate the benefits of cashless payment solutions. For hotels, which are establishments expected to offer convenience to their guests, it’s definitely a no-brainer to have these solutions available.

Luckily, Maya Business offers easy-to-implement solutions to help transform the way your customers pay. If you don’t have an online payment gateway integrated into your website yet, Maya Checkout is a plugin that lets you accept multiple forms of payment. These include credit cards and e-wallets

There’s also the Maya ONE device, which is a portable point-of-sale. This can be helpful for in house establishments such as gift shops or restaurants. Finally, there’s Maya QR where guests can simply #ScanToPay using their smartphones. This is a completely contactless payment method, which is not only faster but also safer compared to cash.

Highlight Convenience of Checking in at Any Time

The accommodations in lodging apps are owned by private individuals. This means that they have day jobs and/or a busy home life. As a result, they may not always be able to attend to guests at their preferred time.

This is not the case with hotels. No matter what time a customer walks into the lobby, there will always be someone to accommodate them. What’s more, if there are last-minute changes to the booking or any other requests, it’s easier to deal with a hotel than a private accommodations owner. This is extremely convenient, especially for guests who are arriving after a long, tiring journey.

More Amenities, Promos, and Loyalty Programs

While hotels can’t directly compete price-for-price with online accommodation rentals, they can definitely compete when it comes to amenities, check-in bonuses, and loyalty programs. Make sure to highlight facilities like swimming pools, gyms, spas, and in-house restaurants and bars. If you have a play area, then you also have extra appeal to families with young children. Offer discounts, complimentary drinks, and other bonuses when guests book a room.

Loyalty programs and rewards can also be enticing to guests, especially those who travel a lot. Create attractive promotions, such as restaurant discounts, room upgrades, or even a free stay for an extra night. You can also conduct a survey among your loyal customers so you know exactly what they want and offer those. Of course, make sure it’s easy to redeem these rewards; a complicated process will just turn off people from joining in the first place.

Highlight the Extra Services

Most private properties for rent don’t have a concierge; a lot of the time, the owner fulfills the role of receptionist, manager, and other key staff positions. Hotels, meanwhile, have concierges, front desk attendants, and bellhops just to name a few. There’s also housekeeping, room service, and secure parking with valet.

What’s more, should something go wrong—say, the shower drain gets blocked—guests can call the management and the problem can be fixed ASAP. With private accommodations, there’s no assurance that it can be handled quickly and efficiently (and without extra cost).

In short, a guest can experience ultimate comfort and convenience at a hotel because there’s an entire staff ready to handle their every need.

Guarantee Consistent Quality

There have been quite a few issues with owners of private accommodations for rent uploading heavily doctored photos of their property. Some properties may also be located in less-than-ideal neighborhoods. As a result, guests end up having disappointing experiences; they may even spend more money than expected if they choose to look for other, more satisfactory accommodations.

This scenario isn’t a big concern with hotels, since you can guarantee consistent quality. Again, you have dedicated staff to do the housekeeping. In addition, because hotels are held to a higher standard by regulatory bodies, it’s in your best interests to keep everything in good condition. Your advertisements are “what you see is what you get.” Your guests can check in with confidence, knowing that the photo they saw online is what they will experience—sometimes, even better!

Emphasize Safety and Security

COVID-19 has made some people a little paranoid when it comes to cleanliness; it’s better to be safe than sorry, after all. If a guest books an accommodation from lodging apps, there’s no guarantee that the owner has done a good job cleaning and disinfecting. This is not to say that all private accommodations owners don’t have the capacity to provide quality cleaning; however, there really is no way for guests to be completely sure.

It’s a different story with hotels. Again, there are authorities that enforce high standards. If these aren’t followed, then there will surely be consequences. Moreover and as previously mentioned, the dedicated cleaning staff can provide a higher level of cleanliness that follow health and hygiene protocols.

Another edge that hotels have over lodging apps is security. Not only do hotels have evacuation plans for emergencies such as fires or earthquakes, but they also have a security team that can provide assistance in case guests need help. This is not to mention surveillance systems and other security features such as in-room safes, double-lock doors, and the like. You can also include in your promotional materials if you have an in-house clinic and/or health services personnel.

Promote Meeting Spaces

One of the biggest advantages of hotels tend to have over smaller, private accommodations are their meeting spaces and ballrooms. If a guest wants to conduct a business conference, a birthday party, or any kind of gathering, a hotel can easily accommodate them. You can even offer room discounts. For example, if a guest is attending a convention, they can show their ID or guest pass to receive 10% off on their room rates.

Obviously, this isn’t possible during the COVID-19 climate. However, once the situation resolves, you can start advertising these services again.

No Surprise Cancellations

With lodging apps, hosts can cancel a guest’s reservations. They will be penalized, of course, but there’s no question that it happens. This can definitely be a hassle for guests, who can end up getting stranded because of last-minute cancellations. They can get payment refunds, but the rest (e.g., looking for other accommodations and re-booking them) will be all up to them.

Guests won’t have any concerns like this when they book with hotels. What’s even better is that they can change their reservations at any time. Moreover, if there aren’t a lot of guests at the time, management can choose to offer room upgrades—for free!

Provide Accessibility

It’s an unfortunate reality that a lot of businesses in the Philippines aren’t as accessible to the differently abled. Some establishments are already making concerted efforts (such as with wheelchair ramps and wider elevators), but there is still a long way to go.

All of this is to say that, most of the time, hotels are better equipped to accommodate persons with disabilities and differently abled persons. Accommodations on lodging apps, on the other hand, may not be designed with accessibility in mind.

Focus on the Pampering Aspect

One of the biggest reasons people book a hotel room is to take a break and escape the daily bustle of life. They don't want to cook, clean, or work—they just want to relax and enjoy every moment. If a person is on a business trip, then staying at a hotel means they can focus on meetings and other work-related matters as the hotel staff takes care of meals, cleaning, and other details. They can even book shuttle service to and from their destinations.

When they stay at privately owned accommodations, guests won't have the same level of pampering because they'll be expected to do everything themselves. There's nothing bad about this, of course. Still it’s an extra level of special if there’s someone who can do everything for you while you relax, right? Emphasize this facet of staying in a hotel to help win over guests.

Location, Location, Location

A lot of private properties are just that: private. They’re often located outside of main districts, which means that they can be peaceful but also a bit far from public transportation, tourist destinations, and commercial establishments. This can be a little inconvenient, particularly in cases of emergencies.

Meanwhile, hotels are usually located near city centers. Many are just a walking distance away from malls, bars and restaurants, and other entertainment facilities. These strategic locations are also convenient for public transportation, just in case your guests don’t have their own cars or would prefer not to drive a lot while vacationing.

Modernization and innovation can present a lot of challenges to rather “traditional” businesses like hotels. However, there’s also a lot of ways to ride these waves. You don’t have to get washed away if you can go with the flow. Moreover, you can actually take advantage of these developments to work in your favor.

You should also keep in mind that a hotel is all about providing quality services to make guests feel welcome, comfortable, and well cared for. While lodging apps can offer lower rates, your hotel can offer so much more. Keep these tips in mind to maintain that edge over the competition.