Is Attribute-Based Booking the Future of Room Blocks?

Author: David McMillin       

Future of Room Blocks

A new report from Amadeus and InterContinental Hotels Group suggests that traditional and generic definitions of room types are on their way out. (Courtesy IHG)

When attendees navigate to the “Hotels” section of a conference website, they likely find some simple occupancy options with rates dictated by the number of people in the room. The promise of the lowest rates possible has historically been the biggest selling point, but a new report on the future of travel from Amadeus and InterContinental Hotels Group reveals that travelers are looking for more than the guarantee of a king bed or two doubles.

“Traditional room types will no longer be the core product offered by hotels,” the report states. “Instead, guests will choose from room configurations that match their needs.”

IHG calls the approach “attribute-based booking,” and PCMA’s Room Block of the Future research offers a hint of this trend. One of the biggest frustrations among respondents in PCMA’s survey of convention attendees about their booking habits was the inability to select a room location and a particular room type when making reservations in the block. If they’re frustrated about it now, though, the events industry should prepare for even bigger demands. “Travelers are being a lot more choosy,” Ankur Bhatia, CTO of Hostmaker, said in the report. “Thanks to technology, they can get what they want.”

Do they need a desk to polish off that big presentation? Or would they prefer the extra space with a complimentary yoga mat for morning exercise? Should a smart speaker be in the room to conveniently pair with their Spotify account? Or does voice recognition software creep them out? Do they prefer down- or polyester-filled pillows? Should the minibar be stocked with gluten-free snacks?

The list of questions seems endless, and the ability to have them answered reflects the era of personalization. Guests don’t want to sleep in rooms that remind them of why everything at home is better. They want to spend their time in environments that feel like they were prepared just for them. This will naturally create extra work for hotels and event organizers. After all, it’s a lot easier to fill 300 single and double occupancy rooms than it is to fill 300 individual requests for where those rooms are located and how to set them up. However, including those additional options can also create additional revenue opportunities.

“By differentiating our prices,” Craig Eister, IHG’s senior vice president of global revenue management, said, “we will allow customers to buy only the things that are important to them.”

That sounds a lot like the process of buying a flight. No one wants a basic economy ticket. If travelers can afford it, they will pay more for earlier boarding, better seats, free cocktails, and other perks. It’s created more money for airlines, and if a similar unbundling/attribute-based booking approach can catch on in hotels, those room blocks can be even more valuable for a property’s bottom line. Event organizers would need to rethink their leverage, too. Instead of simply filling a certain number of rooms, contracts could include incentives for additional fee earnings.

How will a shift to attribute-based booking impact your approach to thinking about your room block? Go to Catalyst to share your thoughts. To learn more about the next generation of travel, download “Drivers of Change in Hospitality” from IHG.