Revenge Travel. The One-Night Stand
With the reopening of at least domestic travel across Thailand, there are sure signs of pent-up demand or the more aptly titled ‘revenge travel.’ The latter is a popular phase for those FOMO (fear of missing out) travelers who have missed their holidays and trips and now want to splash out. The great escape is on folks.
For hotels across the country we are now being inundated with a mad candy-crush like obsessive storm of direct email, social media and even phone calls for pre-paid hotel stays.
I do get it. Hotels are now being forced to open, and the Thai government social security subsidy is set to disappear so properties are wondering what to do with all those staff.
Despite all the nonsense about the misguided term ‘the new norm’, hotels in Thailand have seen crisis before – be it political events, natural disasters like the tsunami, SARS, Bird Flu and of course the Global Financial Crisis.
After all that, the hotel disaster playbook it seems is set to repeat itself in a Groundhog Day scenario of slashing rates, selling cheap discounted prepaid vouchers and damn the consequences. For many hotels their sales and marketing distribution system is not even effective enough to manage to sell the cheap deals themselves so they use external deal sites or outside marketing groups to ensure they have no direct rate consequences in the long run, despite the fact that the hotel name is used by these deal sites anyway so what really is at stake.
I’ve stayed over 150 times at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel in Bangkok and am even a Marriott Elite member. Over the past three months the only time the hotel has appeared on my radar was getting a cheap voucher deal at half of our corporate rate of the hotel from a third- party marketing organization.
What’s most disturbing about the hotel practices is they don’t seem to learn from past downturns. They fail to engage, or address their existing customers and at the end of the day would prefer to fill up the hotel with low-priced, one night-stands. What is clear is the deal site customers are only buying a commodity, have no intention to return and it adds up to a blow and go strategy that frankly baffles me.
In no uncertain terms, the worst of times for Thai hotels is the coming months, when domestic business is all there is and everyone is chasing the same discount train. Now, unlike any other is the time to re-engage your existing guests who have stayed in properties, invite them back and build on relationships versus just a focus on cheap thrills.
Destinations like Phuket have to do the same thing, as many hotels have a long history of repeat guests that need to be engaged and motivated to return. One thing about one-night stands is tomorrow is another day and someone out there will only drop the price more than you can. This is a ultimately an absolute dead end but the question remains, when will hotels learn their lessons about rate strategies? It appears, no time soon.