Luxury hotel chain Peninsula Hotels has started to offer travellers the chance to check-in as early as 0600 and check-out as late as 2200 for no extra charge. The offer is available to those booking direct with the hotel company and through travel agents, though not through larger Online Travel Agents (OTAs).
Speaking exclusively with Business Traveller, Gareth Roberts , Director of Brand and Operations Support for The Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, Limited, (the owner and operator of The Peninsula Hotels group), said that the Covid-19 pandemic had given the hotel company a renewed opportunity to focus on what travellers really valued.
This included being able to vary check-in and check-out times, as well as having a guarantee around connecting rooms, when requested. On the flexible times initiative, Roberts said that people were not limited to ’24 hours’ with the booking.
“We started this at The Peninsula Beverly Hills quite a while ago. And guests would ask, “Can I take this at both ends of my stay?” And the answer is, you absolutely can, provided we have notice.”
Roberts said that the initiative would remain even once the hotel become busier.
“You can still do this even when you are very full, because not everyone is going to avail themselves of the offer. As an example, The Peninsula Beverly Hills was running at quite high occupancies through the year and yet we could still offer it at times like the Academy Awards and the Grammys. Sometimes the guest might not have got their favourite room, but there’s always a solution.”
“In that hotel we have a big Australian client base, because Los Angeles is the entry point for flights into North America, and Qantas had several flights each day landing from all over Australia and landing in most cases before 0900.
“It also had a technical base there, and so the aircraft would get some maintenance and then fly back out after ten pm. So those guests would arrive early in the morning and they would check out late at night and they could stay with us and not pay for the extra nights.
“You could say we missed out on those extra nights that they might have paid for, but I prefer to see how we got the lion’s share of the Australia business because of it. You have to look at the bigger picture of how you are connecting with guests and many of them those wouldn’t consider staying anywhere else and they would just say to their travel advisor, “Book me at the Peninsula Beverly Hills.”
Roberts said that the new offer is available through “travel agent partners”, but would not be available through OTAs.
“The challenge with the OTAs such as Expedia is we don’t have the direct contact with the guest so we are not able to contact them directly to find out what time they are arriving and what time they are departing.”
The move is one of several introduced, including guaranteed connecting rooms when requested at the time of booking. Peninsula’s website now allows guests to select and confirm a connecting room or suite, and there is also a promotional offer (The Right Connection), which includes 20 per cent off the room rate when booking two connecting rooms (25 per cent when booking a connecting room and suite); daily breakfast for each guest staying in a connecting room or suite and a US$100 credit at hotel restaurants or spa during the stay.
As with other hotel groups, Peninsula has brought in new cancellation policies for bookings including, for general bookings: 1500, local time, one day prior to arrival; and for early-bird booking offers at preferential rate, the ability to change these reservations without penalty for up to 12 months from the original booking date.
There are also waived cancellation fees for group and banqueting bookings made through until June 30, 2021 (regardless of the event date), when rescheduling the event up to 12 months from the original event date.
In general news, some of the hotels have remained open, including The Peninsula Hong Kong and the properties in mainland China, while others are reopening including New York (next month),
The Peninsula London is on track for opening next year, possibly as early as the summer.
And the Istanbul property will also open in 2022.