Weekend Accommodation-The Challenge: What Are the Guests Looking For?
Lockyer, Tim, Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Management
Many corporate hotel and other accommodation providers whose business guests represent a large proportion of their clientele have difficulty with occupancy rates during the weekends. It is common to see this type of establishment offering special deals to increase occupancy during the weekend periods, usually involving some form of discount This research surveyed 375 respondents from throughout New Zealand regarding the factors that are important in the selection of accommodation for a weekend "get-away". Results revealed that promotions based on price in the form of various discounts were less important than the cleanliness, location and staff of the establishment.
An important characteristic of the hospitality rooms division is a high fixed cost and a small variable cost resulting in a high contribution margin (Powers, 1997). The maximisation of room sales, therefore, is important to the profitability of a hotel or motel. This has resulted in much research and development in the area of yield management, selling the right capacity to the right customer at the right price (Smith, Leimkubler, & Darrow, 1992). Yield management involves adjusting room rates to temper demand fluctuations between peak and off-peak seasons, midweek and weekend business. Yield management can improve the financial performance and service provision of hotels by basing decisions on the acceptability of the product and the propensity of the guest to spend. In a period where there is low demand, an extended range of deals may be offered (Jauncy, Mitchell, & Slamet, 1995). Although there are positive attributes to yield management there are also a number of negatives relating to customer perceptions (Huyton, Evans, & Ingold, 1997). In addition, as discussed by Powers (1997), accommodation providers need to recognise that there could be a long-term impact on the hotel's rate structure and image with the guest. Within the accommodation industry there is a large number of accommodation providers that are placed so that they attract numbers of business guests; although there are not as many business guests as there are tourists, they are deemed to be the most frequent users (Weame & Morrison, 1996). As a result of the importance of this group to hotels and motels, a number of recent research projects (Lockyer, 2000; Lockyer, 2002) have been undertaken to identify the most desired characteristics in accommodation as illustrated in Table 1. Other research, such as the 2002 National Business Travel Monitor, identified that the three most important attributes sought by business travellers in lodging accommodation are clean, wen-maintained rooms, friendly and efficient service, and a safe place to stay (Yesawich, 2002).
In many business-focused hotels the number of occupied rooms from Monday to Thursday nights is much higher than for Friday-Sunday (Lomanno, 1998; Lomanno, 1999). Accommodation providers have used a number of incentives to increase occupancy rates, for example, Table 2 illustrates the difference in price charged for the same room (Rich, 1997).
Accommodation providers have adopted a number of ways of encouraging more guests to stay during the Friday-Sunday period (Kaven & Allardyce, 1994), often targeting the leisure/pleasure markets on the weekend (Sogar & Jones, 1993). Wearne and Morrison (1996) classify this leisure/ pleasure market into some typical segments that include people visiting friends or relatives (VFR market); honeymoon couples and lovers; pleasure seekers who want to meet someone, play sport, take part in special events or enjoy the night life; and couples on holiday with a planned itinerary. Weekend rates are often discounted offers designed to attract people to stay on over a weekend or to attract local people to indulge themselves (Wearne & Morrison, 1996).
To avoid customers always expecting a promotion or deal it is important not to plan too many special deals and target them very carefully (Munger & Grewal, 2001). …