a swimming pool on a rocky island

A room nearer the elevator, a right justified room, a view of this street not that street, or one with a slightly larger television.

Virtually all of the above will soon become selling points in the strategic hotel vision of moving from boring room categories like standard, deluxe, or suite to newly unlocked opportunities to charge different prices for what would’ve previously been considered the same room type, by charging for exactly what you want instead.

There’s a lot to unpack and it’s not necessarily all bad. It may even offer marginally better pricing on entry level rooms, and for now it’s all in the name of personalization.

Whatever happens, thanks to new “attribute based” technology, there’s no escaping that the sales process for hotel rooms will change more in the next two years than in the last 25. Here’s everything you need to know about this clever new adaptation.

a bed inside a room with fish tank
Conrad Maldives. Courtesy of Hilton Hotels.

Hilton Is Leading The Way

At the Skift ‘Future Of Lodging Forum’ in London, Hilton championed their cutting edge new “attribute based” sales technology built in the cloud which aims to make it easier for guests to get exactly what they want out of a hotel stay, particularly when booking direct.

It all started quite simply: guaranteed connecting rooms at the time of booking. It sounds basic, but this was previously a disjointed process which required manual contact with the hotel desk to request and hope.

Hilton developed its own sales system which is able to integrate with each hotel on a more detailed “mapping” level that can automatically block specific connecting rooms, rather than just saying something to the hotel system like book two standard rooms, with the subsequent, manual request to connect in the reservation notes.

No one likes that stress. The system solved that.

It’s been a remarkable triumph with more than 1 million of these connecting rooms booked thus far according to Hilton, but it’s nowhere near the complete vision of what “attribute based” sales can bring. The vision is mega sales personalization and with that usually comes opportunity — both for guest satisfaction and revenue.

As we all know, all deluxe rooms aren’t created equal.

a swimming pool on a rocky island

A hotel may have 50 deluxe rooms and currently charge the same price for each, but in reality most are different.

Some will be corner deluxe rooms, some will have specific views like river, skyline or courtyard. Others will have the room justified in different directions and many will be spread across varying floors and varying distances from the elevators.

These things are already “productized” to an extent, but not as far as they could be. For now, it’s being referred to as personalization, but it’s an entry point.

Hilton is arguably the first seizing on the opportunity to find new margins by defining these differences and individual guest preferences but they certainly won’t be the last.

Hilton teased that this new sales and hotel integration system is an opportunity to better personalize the sales flow. Hotels will be able to map and uniquely identify the things which make specific rooms different and that will create opportunities to charge different prices accordingly.

Pricing won’t just be standard, deluxe, junior suite or suite anymore. It will be further fragmented by what matters to the guest, rather than an internal label like deluxe. It might be a room close to the elevator with a South facing view and a larger screen.

Zooming out, you can think of the technology as allowing rooms to be sold like a build your own burrito bowl rather than just choosing a burrito bowl off a set menu of four options. Each customization adds exponential opportunity to charge a different price.

Specific rooms are currently selectable in many Hilton properties already, but this wider choice and variety in selling specific features even within the same standardized room category has lagged ever so slightly.

Once you see the possibilities here, it’s hard to unsee them.

The ability to charge even just $5 more for a specific feature of a specific room within a previously “one sized” room type across millions of nights booked, brings in millions in new revenue potential.

Being able to commoditize even the smallest unique room features and turn them into small pricing differences can really add up at scale. Typically, that’s meant customers paying more, but from a loyalty perspective, it’s a great opportunity to reward valued members more too.

One thing is for certain, the days of standard, deluxe, junior suite and big suite are on thin ice. They’ll always exist internally in some fashion, but customization will erode these classic labels as people cherry pick the features they value most, and the hotel itself is the only label that really matters.

Who cares if you’re in a deluxe room or a superior room, if it’s exactly what you want?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. The problem for status members is that upgrades no longer take you from standard to deluxe, but from standard to standard on a higher floor, or standard with an extra 2 square feet of space just inside the door, or standard with new curtains, which were the only significant differences offered by three different room categories at an IHG property I recently visited. I’m having similar experiences at all the major brands more frequently than ever. Very fine distinctions sold as different categories allowing “upgrades” making no appreciable difference.

    1. It depends on the hotel brand so i dont believe you can gerneralize. . As IHG Diamond I never get a discernible room upgrade so I dont expect one anymore and rarely stay at IHG. . Marriott on the other hand , at least in europe, does usually provide suite upgrade which is very discernible and my favorite brand choice. . Hilton Diamond in Europe is in the middle- much better thasn IHG but a step below Marriott.

  2. Great article and new revenue as well as guest expectation opportunities. For hotels that are not with Hilton, we at ROOMDEX, http://www.roomdex.io offer this functionality, and have seen around 40% of guests that buy an upsell, buy also a smaller in room category upgrade, such as high floor or away from elavator.

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