(Bloomberg)—Hotel companies are going to new lengths to get guests through the doors in a bid to salvage a historically bad year for the industry.
More than 2,000 hotels in the Marriott International Inc. system will begin allowing guests to check in at 6 a.m. and stay as late as 6 p.m. the next day, a promotion aimed at remote workers looking for a change of scenery from their homes.
Other Marriott hotels are trying out similar initiatives, including one that offers discounted rates to guests who want a room for the day but not the night. Another program pitches resorts as places where parents can work while hotel staff supervise activities for their kids.
“People are tired of being at home,” said Peggy Fang Roe, global officer for customer experience at Marriott, the world’s largest hotel company. “They want the ability to be in different spaces, and they also want to stay safe. Working out of a guest room is the best of both worlds.”
At the tail end of the most dismal year in the history of the modern hotel industry, there’s little downside to trying. Across the country, revenue per available room, a measure of occupancy and pricing, was down 47% in September from the year before, according to lodging-data provider STR. Results were even worse in the largest U.S. markets, giving owners and operators reason to get creative.
Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. and Hyatt Hotels Corp. also have tried marketing rooms as makeshift offices. As far back as March, when the Covid-19 pandemic ground U.S. travel to a halt, hotels have looked for new sources of business, offering cheap lodgings to medical personnel and first responders, or turning rooms into temporary college dorms.
Marriott says surveys have shown that office workers see hotel rooms as a way to ease the stresses and distractions of working from home, and that some of its corporate clients are studying the possibility of offering rooms to employees.
Quantifying demand for these kinds of efforts is difficult, but lodging industry consultant Bjorn Hanson said his research shows that hotels in big markets are finding some takers, at least for day rates. Beyond room rentals themselves, the initiatives may help hotel companies deepen customer relationships with corporate accounts, he said.
“It lets them say, ‘Look how good we’ve been as a partner during a difficult time,’” Hanson said.