By Ashley Ridolfi, Director of Sales & Marketing at DoubleTree Philadelphia West and Board Member of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce
While the Hotel industry saw an uptick in bookings and guests wanting to travel again in 2022, 2023 promises to be the year we see business levels more closely mirror that of 2019. As an industry, we have been eager to “return to 2019 Pre-COVID business levels” and now that we are seeing business return, it hasn’t come without its challenges.
Over the past two years, we’ve had to pivot from normal business practices to keep up with the every changing environment we’ve been living in. Now, as business returns, we have to pivot once again. Today, we are seeing a higher focus on lead response times and short term bookings. Gone are the days where hotel sales managers could take 24-48 hours to respond to an RFP. Now, business is being booked within hours and sometimes minutes. We’re even seeing RFP’s come out with same day response deadlines. Short-term bookings, sometimes even within the same week, are very customary right now, as there is still a bit of anxiety with the idea of meeting in-person.
The biggest challenge hotels are facing right now is staffing levels. Finding qualified, experienced candidates to fill virtually any open position has been next to impossible, forcing us to hire qualified candidates but without prior hotel experience. With this comes ramp-up time for new hires and a significant increase in training time.
Conversely, we’re noticing people who are booking meetings and events may be new to the industry as well. This has led to a lengthier process in negotiating and contracting given the client’s potential lack of expertise in sourcing and detailing such events.
That being said, it’s never a bad time to book travel, meetings or events. Here are my top takeaways on how to get the best deals at Hotels when booking:
- You will almost always get the best overnight guestroom rates on Sundays and Thursdays (considered “shoulder nights” in the industry, when demand is lowest)
- You will likely always get the best deals on meetings or events when booked on Mondays or Fridays (also the slowest demand days for meetings)
- Book your guestrooms further out to get lower rates (as hotels fill up and demand increases, room rates increase the closer you get to your arrival date)
- In the Greater Philadelphia Suburban market, the slower demand months tend to be January, February, November and December. You’re sure to find great deals at hotels during these times!