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.