Demand for hotel rooms is never as consistent as hoteliers might like: large conferences and special events often stress inventory to the max. Guests don't all arrive and depart on the same day during these peak times, which can leave some rooms unfilled. Guests cannot book an entire stay due to demand and the hotel ends up losing the guest altogether.
But what if a guest could be enticed to fill that inventory — without visible discounting on a last-minute stay channel? Or what if a guest wants to be near multiple points of interest during a city stay (such as a conference hotel and then one closer to downtown) and is willing to move hotels for proximity?
A new tool called Split Hotel Stays offers a solution to these hotelier challenges. Released through Sabre's Innovation Hub, the app delivers a new way to search for hotel stays. Rather than simply blocking out any hotels without inventory for the full stay, the app allows different combinations of hotels to be selected during the entire length of stay. The app introduces a different way to shop and view hotels, expanding options and expanding flexibility — especially during peak demand times.
The user enters a set of desired conditions to return a targeted menu of hotels. This includes a specific area of a city (such as "close to Boston Common"), the star rating of the hotel, the room type, and even specific amenities like "hypoallergenic room." The calendar then populates a color-coded selection of available hotels that fit both the conditions and the length-of-stay (LOS).
The calendar view on the left shows the lowest Average Daily Rates over the next 60 days, delivering a quick overview of rates for those with flexible travel dates. Assuming that the split search slider is on, this includes the average cost broken down between split hotel stays.
Why split a stay?
Peng Xie, Operations Research Analyst at Sabre, created the app as an exploration of alternative methods for booking hotels, especially a method that solves a real problem for both travel agents and the supplier. Xie explains:
With so many hotels in a city, it's difficult for travel agents to figure out the best day to check in and check out. In order to find out the rates, they must ask every hotel.
Since most hotel reservation systems are not built for this kind of constant querying, the Split Hotel Search innovation lies within the shopping cache. The heavy lifting occurs in the cache, which periodically pulls hotel inventory and stores it for quick access. The cache then pushes out the booking requests and updates as needed according to the check-in/check-out dates for the search. The process is highly intelligent, creating a simple solution for the traveler, agent and hotelier. And a solution that doesn't overwhelm existing systems, says Xie:
When checking room rates for a 5 night stay in a city with 200 hotels, there are a number of possible stay combinations: 1+4, 2+3, etc, each of which hit the inventory system too many times to satisfy one search request.
The end-user, whether a travel agent or OTA, would clearly benefit from both finding a room during a busy time and potentially finding more affordable rates for their customers. Suppliers also benefit, as they can book rooms that might have been hard to sell due to awkward timing, as Xie explains:
The immediate reaction is, “You are helping travelers find lower prices,” and hotels won’t like that. But from the supplier side, it actually evens out the demand, which often has a spike. For that date, too many people want to stay in your hotel and you cannot accommodate them. And for the other days, you have empty rooms.
Now, instead of trying to satisfy each trip in its entirety, hotels can satisfy a fraction of the trip. This makes room inventory distribution more even. Overall it’s a better situation for both hotels and travelers.
Who might use split stays?
When it comes to travel suppliers, there are several key use cases for split stays. One clear application is within a brand ecosystem, so that a parent brand could encourage guests to stay with an affiliated brand should the guest be searching for a split stay. This fosters loyalty and demonstrates a commitment to guest experience. Some hotels might even consider inter-hotel shuttles to flesh out uneven demand and keep bookings in-brand.
Other potential beneficiaries of the technology are corporate travel management companies and tour operators.
Without a doubt, Split Hotel Stays can help corporate traveler save on their annual travel expense.
If you’re a tour operator, then you can design the best sequence of hotels. During a specific time of year, what is the best day to stay at each preferred hotel? If you’re splitting across geographies A, B, and C, this could tell you to visit B before A or to start with C.
Even within the same city or island, there is an opportunity to save on hotel costs through Split Search.
A video demo is below. For the purpose of the live demo, only Boston and Chicago have been loaded into the cache. There's a lot of data there, so check out the live app on the Innovation Hub!