Comment: Why hoteliers should use luxury flash sales sites

By Travolution
By Travolution
April 4, 2012 11:34 AM GMT

After research by TravelClick revealed how hoteliers remain to be convinced about the value of flash sale sites, Tom Valentine, managing director of Secret Escapes, puts the case for the defence

While there is no doubt that there is a big opportunity to sell short breaks and holidays to consumers in the UK through group discount sites, it is no surprise that it is also dividing opinion among hoteliers.

The mass growth of online discount shopping has made it harder for hoteliers to differentiate between the different models.

We at Secret Escapes are keen to distinguish between voucher daily deals sites like Groupon Getaways or Living Social Escapes that sell travel using a coupon model, and luxury travel flash sales sites like us and Jetsetter, that sell actual dates and rooms via a booking engine and allow customers to book their holiday or hotel directly on the site.

We are the largest luxury travel flash sales business in the UK that sells allocations at exclusive rates.

Our customers include leading five-star hotel groups like Radisson Edwardian, the Handpicked Hotels luxury country house hotel collection, tour operators including Abercrombie & Kent and Broadway's Inspired Luxury Escapes brand, as well as independent boutique properties across the UK and abroad.

We believe our hotel clients are increasingly choosing to work with travel specialist flash sales businesses over coupon sites for the following reasons:

- Letting our customers see and book the dates of travel leads to fewer angry buyers calling up to book unavailable dates;

- At the end of a transactional sale with a flash sales site, a hotel manager knows exactly what rooms and dates are booked and how much he will be paid, and can invoice the business immediately. A voucher sale has a more unpredictable outcome as there is no certainty as to when the voucher is going to be cashed in or how popular it will prove to be. Often the fee is held back until the vouchers have been redeemed;

- Flash sales sites tend to have a member database booking luxury travel on a regular basis, allowing hotels to reach a higher quality audience and build a loyal clientele of the right calibre;

- Flash sales businesses tend to follow OTA commission structures, and steer clear of unsustainable high commissions. We offer a risk free ‘no win, no fee’ sales channel that can drive incremental business. We carefully select our deals, offer honest pricing, and easily allow value-added extras like breakfast and dinner to be included in the offers;

- Flash sale sites tend to be Abta bonded.

But don’t just take my word for it - here’s what Alistair Watts, e-commerce manager at Hand-Picked hotels (with which we have developed a successful partnership) had to say:

“We choose when we want to make flash sale offers, at which properties and at what price.

“Through the marketing they provide we have been able to increase occupancy during trough periods to maximize our revenue per room available.

“The distribution model whereby reservations and payment is secured by Secret Escapes is also preferential as we know immediately that a room on a specific date has been booked.

“The brand positioning of Secret Escapes is also more upmarket than many of the discount voucher sale websites out there. We feel they deliver excellent value to the hotel market."

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