Selling private or “exclusive use” accommodation is not a new concept, but it’s increasingly becoming a significant opportunity in tourism.
Selling your accommodation property as a fully private experience is no longer just the domain of the luxury or VIP market. Businesses that have never considered or marketed this as an option before are now seeing enquiries coming through.
Across all sectors, the growth in demand is being driven from a broad range of travellers who are seeking a more private and meaningful experience principally because of the COVID pandemic and being more cautious about sharing spaces.
What are the benefits?
People are wanting to get away from the crowds, have their own space to experience small accommodation venues privately and safely. They want tranquility, privacy and a unique experience and are willing to pay more to do so. For the traveller, they not only get a better experience, but also a perceived safer one.
For your business it means you achieve 100% capacity with less effort and cost in one booking - financially and mentally beneficial at the same time! With fewer clients to host, you and your team are likely to be more attentive, delivering an exceptional experience, leading to happy customers and rave reviews!
Offering exclusive use definitely gives guests a sense of security around health concerns.
Donna Brooke - President Bed & Breakfast Association NZ
How should you price an exclusive use option?
Here are a few different ways you can set your pricing for exclusive use:
This is based on the maximum full price less a set discount, typically 10%. For example, add up the per night total for all of your rooms minus 10% and you have your “Private / Exclusive Use” pricing.Consider when deciding on this option whether you would also quote these rates for commissionable rates from agents or whether it’s a “direct only” price.
Maximum Full Price
Based on the combined normal full rate of each of your rooms being booked. So if you accommodation has 3 rooms, then add together the full nightly rate of each room. This makes sense for periods when you would normally be fully booked at full price anyway and if you prefer to keep your pricing consistent with what you provide to agents without having to discount.
This takes a more fluid approach and offers POA or “quote on request” based on the customer requirements. This could be a good strategy if you believe when your customers book privately, they may expect or request more than what’s typically included, or the opposite situation of wanting less inclusions or duration to make it more affordable. The downside of this is you can’t offer instant online bookings so it may reduce the number of enquiries you get, but it certainly could be offered in addition to a set price exclusive use option.
Factors to consider when deciding on pricing
There’s no right or wrong approach for pricing an exclusive use product, the answer will lie in several different factors that apply specifically to your business and customer base.
Consider some of the following factors when deciding on your pricing strategy:
By offering it privately will you be saving on operational time and costs or will it be the same as for shared bookings?
For accommodation you are likely to be saving on time and effort with less admin, breakfast supplies (if normally included), cleaning and laundry costs.
Do you want private use seen as a high end experience or more accessible?
Think about who your market is and what will appeal to them. For some, discounting is not what they expect, for others they want the safety of exclusivity but also want to be recognised that they are spending more so some sort of reduction in full price will get the booking over the line.
Does it make sense to differ the pricing approach based on seasonal demand?
Many accommodation operators experience vastly different demand across the year so be wise on when you offer your private / exclusive use option.
Where and how to promote it
When considering what distribution channels to sell your exclusive use product, you need to consider your pricing strategy.
Typically, agents (and some OTA’s) require consistent pricing for both them and direct business. Be aware of your contracts and relationships. If you price your private product using the Reduced pricing model, trial it as a “direct only” product to test the market initially.
Agents and OTA’s can certainly help to grow these types of bookings so if you are keen to maximise your opportunities then look at how it will work best to include them.
Let’s look at the different channels:
First and foremost, make exclusive options prominent on your website. Be sure to have information that highlights the benefits of booking privately on your home page linking to more details. Crucially for todays’ travellers, it must be instantly bookable online. In ResBook you can set it up as a separate room type using the Linked Rooms function. You can decide the usual things like minimum stays and seasonal pricing.
Send a single message email to your booking agents, wholesalers and ITO’s letting them know you cater for private bookings with a rate plan. They are always keen to upsell for higher value bookings so make sure you are happy with the nett rate you set with them. As they interact with clients and plan itineraries they may have special requests, so make sure you are clear about the inclusions and conditions that apply to the rates provided.
Online Travel Agents
Consider whether you want to offer it via OTA’s for broader distribution and you are happy with instant confirmation. Make sure the availability is accurate via channel management from your booking system and consider blocking out dates when you don’t want exclusive use bookings.
An opportunity to try
Now is certainly the time to experiment with offering private experiences and it’s entirely up to you as to what extent you promote it and how you price it, but one thing is clear - there is demand out there so make the most of the opportunity.
"We've been extremely pleased with the new website, ResBook and channel manager! Bookings exceeding our expectations!"
Charlie, GM, Raglan Palm Beach Motel
"ResBook has allowed us to substantially increase the direct bookings on our website and offer upselling and packages for our lodge. I highly recommended ResBook and Tomahawk to others"
Richard Rooney, GM, Wharekauhau Lodge
The booking calendar has all the information we need. It is very responsive and easy to use. Really appreciate that problems are fixed quickly by ResBook staff.
Caroll, Tekapo holiday Homes
"As B&B operators, ResBook offers an easy to use navigation system, enabling us to track all bookings from enquiries to final payment & thank-you emails. Using ResBook has increased our reservations and given us peace of mind operating our B&B."
Fay & Lindsay Turner, Finlay Banks Boutique Bed & Breakfast