One of the most frequent mistakes we see hotels make is offering early check-ins and late check-outs as part of their wider upsell emails. Hotels using platforms like Nor 1 or Oaky or generic pre-stay emails to offer guests a host of upsells, room upgrades, breakfasts etc and offer early check-ins and late check-outs as part of this communication.
After selling 10s of thousands of early check-ins and late check-outs, we have learnt that managing your early check-ins in this way severely constrains the revenue you can generate, for three main reasons:
Timing of the offer
Most upsell emails are sent at the point of booking or a week before the guest arrives. This makes sense, research shows that guests get most excited about their trips during these windows and are most likely to purchase room upgrades or breakfasts at this time. This is called “aspirational upselling” and helps make the stay a little more special for the guest.
However, early check-ins and late check-outs are more than an aspirational upsell. They directly solve a guest pain point and this means the targeting needs to be very different.
Through years of testing, we have learnt that the most effective time to send early check-in offers is 24 hours before arrival. At this point the guest is stressed, they’re packing, they’re getting ready to travel and the pain point of not being able to get access to their room on arrival is front of mind.
As such, 24 hours before arrival is the optimum time to offer early check-ins and relieve the guest of this stress.
Basing the offers on live inventory
In order to offer a valuable service to your guests, you must be able to guarantee the early check in. A guest is willing to pay for certainty, not speculation.
Put yourself in your guest’s shoes, imagine you are just about to board a long haul flight, they’ve got a young kid and they know they’re not going to be able to sleep all flight and the flight lands at 6am. They want to know for certain that when they arrive at the hotel their room will be ready.
If you simply offer an early check-in “on an availability basis” that offers them nothing. They are still stressed, they still don’t know if their room will be ready or not. Therefore your early check-in offers must be based on availability. You should only make the offer if there are empty rooms from the night before so that you know you will be able to check the guest in early.
If you send mass mail shots through Nor 1 or another upseller, you are just creating more frustration for your guests as they will turn up expecting their room to be ready and it’s not.
You also create operational strain for your hotel. If you offer your guests early check-ins and late check-outs and when they arrive their room isn’t available that guest is going to frustrated and will take that frustration out on your front desk team.
Early check-ins and late check-outs must only be offered if you can guarantee them.
Most upselling emails will quote a fixed price for early check-ins and late check-outs. $30 to check-in early, take it or leave it. However, in order to truly maximise revenue in this area, the early check-in must be priced on an hourly basis.
This is down to the simple fact that the longer the guest needs their room for, the more they are prepared to pay for it.
Imagine you have one guest arriving at 6 am and one guest arriving at 11 am. Charging them the same amount for that early check-in leaves money on the table. The pricing should be based on an hourly basis so that the earlier the guest arrives, the more they pay.
This also results in higher conversions, as guests that only need to check-in an hour or two early, are offered the room for a lower price.
When a hotel makes the above changes, we typically see revenue from selling early check-ins and late check-outs increases by 300%. Not to mention that your guests will be very glad for the added flexibility. Most hotels should aim to make between $3k and $5k USD a month from selling early check-ins and late check-outs.
Now that you know how to optimise your early check-ins and late check-outs, would you like to learn more? If so, we’ve put together a comprehensive ebook on everything we know about early check-ins, when to offer them to your guests, how much to charge and the language to use. You can find that here.
Why should you listen to us? Last year we sold over 10,000 early check-ins and late check-outs. No one knows more about this area of hotel management, than us.