Rule book for discounts

Should you offer discounts?file7411252893790

Over the years I have drastically changed my opinion about offering discounts.  When I first started I felt that my rates were already less than everything in the area so I never offered a discount.  For some reason I was almost offended when people asked for a discount.  I mean isn’t my place at least as good as the other hotels around?  I think that’s a normal reaction, but I lost guests over it.

While it is still true that I’m less expensive than other hotels in the area, I learned that I would make more money in total if I tried to convert every phone call into a reservation.  Once they hang up if they haven’t booked something it is unlikely that they will.  This means that when people ask for a discount I give it to them.   Military discount – yes, AAA discount – yes, AARP discount – yes, discount for a long-term stay – yes, discount for multiple rooms – yes.  You get the idea.  The amount is up to you but I feel that the guests feel like they are getting something and they like that feeling.

There are a few important things to keep in mind.  I never offer discounts on my busy weekends, in fact I raise my rates for Valentines and big football weekends.  Also, be consistent because it is hard to remember if you are changing the discount.  For example, if you decide 10% make that the standard answer every time someone asks.  That way if someone calls back after you have offered a discount there is no question about how much you offered.

Another thing to remember, don’t advertise the discounts on your site.  Many people never ask for a discount and why give away what you don’t have to.  Also, if they don’t mention it don’t offer.  I have had guests book ten nights and as I’m taking the reservation I think, wow I should give them a discount, but they don’t ask.  You can always offer a discount when they arrive, but why, your place is worth the full price.

Finally, I have learned that offering a discount when someone is unhappy is a great way to smooth over a bad experience.  I once offered a deal that included wine and chocolates in the room.  I had many guests that were upset about the selection of wine, I only offered one kind.  If I offered to give them breakfast for free they were less upset.  I had a guest once that was upset that I didn’t serve breakfast on weekdays (which my site says and the confirmation says) but they were happy when I gave them a small discount.  

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