Free Parking as a Missed Marketing Opportunity
November 21, 2018 11:31am
By Larry Mogelonsky, MBA, P. Eng. (www.hotelmogel.com)
Even in this day and age of ridesharing, public transit, car service apps and a myriad of other options to take you from one place to another, driving is still very much the norm. Just as one’s home is one’s castle, the automobile also acts as an extension of one’s private domicile. It’s a personal space that elicits calm and even joy.
As such, when hotels charge extra for allowing guests to park their cars overnight at their respective properties, it strikes a deep emotional chord. Putting this fee in context, what guests severely dislike is ‘drip pricing’ where the nightly rate they sign up for is only the start and the final bill comes with a slew of previously unknown line items like resort fees, additional housekeeping fees and so on.
While it’s a given that the maintenance of the parking facilities is nowhere near cheap, especially in a densely urbanized location, and that the cost must be forwarded onto the consumer, there are far better ways to wield your parking spaces than just to charge extra for them.
Firstly, you can use free parking as a feature incentive for a suite upsell or bundled package. For example, listing this off in the bullet points for your one-night spa getaway or two-night gourmet dining offers can help to round out these kinds of packages so that prospective customers feel as though they are getting a lot of bang for their bucks. Similarly, including free parking as a part of any suite or premium accommodation purchase, and advertising it properly, will help to drive room upgrades across all sales channels.
Alternatively, like giving complimentary access to high-speed WiFi, free parking can act as one of several perks for your loyalty program. But don’t forget to offer a hotel credit, perhaps good towards F&B, for those who do not have a car. This will prevent major headaches at reservations and front desk.
Moving beyond overnight parking considerations, this feature can be leveraged to directly build ancillary revenue streams in restaurants, spa and retail. The two most often form of this is on a timed basis for services rendered, where visitors are given, say, three hours free if they get their tickets validated at whatever facility where services were rendered.
Thinking broader again than just the ability to store one’s vehicle for any duration of time, there is a powerful psychological motivation behind the word ‘free’. Unlike offering a percentage discount where one needs to do a quick mental calculation to derive the meaning of the benefits, when something is totally gratis, albeit with strings attached, it instantly garnishes positive sentiments from the recipient.
This is Sales 101 and any opportunity you have to deploy the word ‘free’ would be to your advantage. Parking is but one instance that will surely help to attract road trippers and any other customer psychographics most likely to arrive at your locale via automobile.
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Editor’s note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.
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hotel guest amenities
One of the world’s most published writers in hospitality, Larry Mogelonsky is the principal of Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited, a Toronto-based consulting practice. His experience encompasses hotel properties around the world, both branded and independent, and ranging from luxury and boutique to select-service. Larry is also on several boards for companies focused on hotel technology. His work includes five books “Are You an Ostrich or a Llama?” (2012), “Llamas Rule” (2013), “Hotel Llama” (2015), “The Llama is Inn” (2017) and “The Hotel Mogel” (2018). You can reach Larry at email@example.com to discuss hotel business challenges or to book speaking engagements.
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