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Let There be Day Rates

Selling daytime rentals could help certain hotels. Here's the scoop.

Thursday, September 03, 2009
David Wilkening
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If it’s a trend, it’s a small one, but some U.S. hotels are beginning to offer day rates – ‘a la European airport properties.

To refresh any of those who have forgotten, day rates are rooms that can be rented for a single day at a time, not multiple days, and cannot be used for overnight stays.

Often, this is known as “Day Let.”

“We just re-branded as a Hilton (formerly a Sheraton) and just decided to start offering them,” says Kay Samoly, director of sales for the Hilton San Francisco Airport hotel. “We’re an airport hotel property and we do a lot of international business, so we thought this would be a great opportunity for guests to stay for a half day or for who just need a place to go for a few hours.”

“Booking hotel rooms for the day is proving to be the new trend as demonstrated by the success of the world’s first Web site specializing in online dayroom bookings,” says a press release from www.between9and5.com.

Since being launched earlier this year, the company has already more than doubled the number of participating hotels. The number of bookings has risen by more than 230 percent.

“Even during an economic crisis, people still want the convenience of booking a day room,” says the company’s founder, Pieter Bik.

He says some people book day rooms for a nap or a shower or to simply have a place to comfortably spend a few hours before catching a connecting flight. Others book a two-, four-, six- or even eight-hour room to spend a half-day or a day exploring a city.

“Some people book day rooms in neighboring hotels to enjoy the ambiance of luxury hotel pools and fitness centers,” he says.
Bik, who has worked in the hotel business for two decades, started his company after noticing more and more traveler interest in day bookings.

Travelers’ inability to know where to go for information on day rooms led to the creation of the company. The company charges no booking fees and offers check-in at two- to five-star luxury hotels between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.

There is no question day rooms are far more prevalent in Europe than in the U.S., but could that change?

“We used to have day rates when I started in the business in the 1960s,” says Joe McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA).

He admits in Europe the practice is more prevalent, in part because cities are so close it makes it more convenient to make connections.
But he thinks more hotels in the U.S. could set aside more day rooms. “It could be profitable because you’re selling the same room twice,” he says. “You might charge $75 for a regular room and $75 for a day room,” he says.

Maid service might be tricky, but McInerney thinks that problem can be overcome by only setting aside a limited number of rooms for day bookers.

“You’d probably want to do it mostly at major airports such as JFK [in New York] where you have a lot of diverted flights and things like that,” he says.

One possibility would be to create joint hotel-airline programs.
“You might get the airline’s personnel to tell people that they’ve got a 12-hour delay but if they want to pay, say, $75, they could go down to the Ramada down the street for a day room,” he says.

The practice may be common in Europe but has not caught on in the U.S., in large part because it requires a shifting of the employee base, says Richard J. Maladecki, president of the Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association.

“I don’t know of any hotels here in Orlando that offer it but there are a few hotels across the U.S. close to the airports where you can find it,” he says.

While it might not be something they advertise, some hotels probably make individual deals with guests who want to stay for a few hours, he believes.

Choices for this type of stay are much more prevalent in Europe at major airports such as Heathrow, where both the Novotel and the Crowne Plaza offer day rates. Both have rooms bookable for up to two adults and two children. “So it’s an ideal option if you have flown in long haul and need to rest before your journey home, or if you have a long wait between flights,” says the Between9to5 Web site.

“A good rest for the day will give you the chance to recharge your batteries and allow you to make the most of your trip - you could even see the sights of London in the evening or continue your journey in the UK feeling refreshed,” the site adds.

Rooms go for as low as 48 pounds for a stay from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Also in England, the Hilton Gatwick is a four-star hotel offering day rooms. The hotel has two restaurants and two bars.

A blogger who stayed at a Sofitel on a day rate wrote:

We booked the Sofitel London Gatwick Hotel as a day room because we were flying back from Florida and we had over seven hours before our flight to Edinburgh. We checked into the hotel after a seven-hour flight from Orlando, Florida, and had a great sleep in our lovely room. This is the first time we have done this and had no jet lag this time. We would definitely do this again at the Sofitel.”

Another international hotel offering a day rate is the Miracle Grand Convention Hotel and Louis Tavern Hotel at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. Rooms can be rented for four, six, eight or even ten hours. The price for a six-hour rental is about $100.
“Long-haul passengers and those traveling across continents with transit at Bangkok are the main customers for the hotel,” says owner Aswin Ingkatun.

The Hulhule Island Hotel in the Maldives also offers day rates. One blogger praised it:

“My room was more than adequate -- twin beds, TV, shower room, fridge, tea- and coffee-making facilities. I didn’t have too much time in the room - I took the opportunity to take the free dhoni shuttle to Male but when I returned, it was great to have a shower, freshen up and have a short sleep before making my way to the airport on the hotel’s free shuttle bus,” he wrote.

At the San Francisco Hilton, rates are $50 less than whatever is the lowest going rate.

Sales director Samoly says she does not anticipate a lot of sales but “we think some people will use it.”
David Wilkening    David Wilkening
Associate Editor
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division

Bio: David Wilkening is a writer specializing in travel and business-real estate writing. His work has appeared in dozens of publications and dot coms. He never met a trip he didn't like. He is a former newspaperman who worked in Chicago, Detroit, Orlando and Washington, DC, where he was a writer and editor covering a wide variety of subjects ranging from politics to feature stories.
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