The position in the “HRS recommends!” results list often decides whether a booking is made or not. The higher up a hotel is, the more clicks it gets. Robert Urseanu uses the Ranking Booster to promote his Manhattan Hotel at Frankfurt’s main station. Because the competition here is particularly fierce.
text: Astrid Schwamberger
The International Motor Show or IAA has barely finished and the Frankfurt Book Fair is already looming. Hundreds of thousands of visitors are once again expected with most of them overnighting in the city. There is a lot of choice. Or you could say, there’s a lot of competition. That’s how Robert Urseanu sees it. His 55-room Hotel Manhattan is about a kilometre away from the exhibition grounds and is listed with HRS with four stars.
General Manager Urseanu tracks the market movement very closely, including in the HRS booking portal. He knows that it all depends on his position in the results list. The “HRS recommends!” sorting is the default, which is influenced by a variety of different factors, including value for money, flexible booking conditions and the conversion rate, i.e. the ratio of page views to bookings. Customer satisfaction, facilities and free additional services, appearance, range on offer and location are also taken into account in the ranking. Three weeks ago, for 12 October, the Manhattan was ranked at 25 out of a total of 135 available hotels.
Users can also sort the results according to other criteria: HRS stars, distance to certain destinations, ratings or price. This often results in quite a different mix. According to the criterion “distance to the main station”, Urseanu’s hotel comes in fifth place on the list. But he admits that “most users don’t change the criteria.” So those further down the list are dealt “a poor hand”. Because users don’t want to scroll.
But that’s no reason to despair. And it’s exactly why Urseanu uses the Ranking Booster every now and again, to improve his position in the results list. He logs into the hotel service portal and uses a slider, measured in single percentage point increments, to decide by how many percentage points he wants to increase the visibility of his hotel. Depending on the market situation, just five percentage points might be enough to go from a good list position to a very good one. Then he logs off and views the result from the perspective of a guest in the booking portal. His offering is then marked with the word “Promo”. “It is very easy to use,” says Urseanu. Just some of the things that it entails “mean a tiny bit more work”.
Determining the right time to use it, for example. To do so, the Manhattan General Manager keeps track of his peers: a handful of competitors, also located around the main station, who have a similarly high recommendation rate of 96 percent and very good reviews. Instinct and experience gained from over ten years in the hospitality industry play an important role: “If I still have two rooms free at 5 pm, I don’t get cold feet right away,” Urseanu clarifies. This confidence comes from his location right across from the main train station. But if he still isn’t happy with his occupancy rate, then “something has to be done”. Then he might set the Ranking Booster for certain days or periods, for example during holidays or even trade fair days. “You can’t get more flexible than that,” comments the General Manager.
The fact that he has to pay additional, performance-based commission to HRS for better placement is something he accepts calmly. “Sometimes, I’m willing to pay more.” This is calculated on the basis of percentage points, as the slider moves up. If Urseanu sets it at five percentage points, for example, the commission goes up accordingly for the room selected.
And success proves him right. Recently, after Urseanu set the Ranking Booster to twenty percent, the Manhattan landed in place four on the results list and cashed in, “getting lots of bookings all at once”. In just a matter of hours on a trade fair day, he was able to ensure a dozen rooms (that were still unreserved at 10 pm) were booked for the following day. The sales generated were much higher than the additional commission.
The bottom line is that Urseanu is impressed with the Ranking Booster. In quiet periods, he can increase occupancy and fill rooms that might otherwise not have been occupied. Thus, the Ranking Booster is “another tool that can help refine yield management” and increase the profitability of the hotel. That’s because “for me as the owner, each empty room is a pain point”.