How to Use Stay Controls in Hotel Revenue Management
By Alexandra Fjällman
Last updated March 14, 2023
4 min read
Using stay controls may seem counterproductive at first - after all, why wouldn’t you allow travellers to reserve exactly the days they want?
Yet, depending on your hotel, your target market and current demand patterns, restrictions can be a valuable part of your revenue management tool kit.
They can drive bookings on off-peak days, increase occupancy and revenue and lighten your staff’s daily workload. Combine all these points and you’ll likely see a lift in your profitability.
Keep reading to find out more about using stay restrictions to see these results at your hotel.
How stay restrictions for hotels work
You can manage the kinds of reservations you accept for particular dates and/or rate codes through stay restrictions.
For example, you may only use some rates during a certain time of year. Or you could influence how long people stay during peak or slow times. Use a combination of both strategies for your various rate codes and seasons to get the best outcomes.
You can set controls in your PMS, RMS or both, depending on your systems. However, it’s best to choose one platform to manage these constraints, so you can keep them organised and avoid confusion.
The significance of restriction management
Stay controls can help you drive business and make the most out of your inventory. For example, they help you completely sell out during periods of strong demand, such as trade shows or other multi-day events. Additionally, they allow you to choose precisely when you offer special deals so you don’t lose out on revenue during busy times. When done properly, restriction management can even increase your average length of stay and generate bookings during the low season and on shoulder days.
Let’s now examine some of the most effective types of stay restrictions.
Key forms of stay controls
You can manage arrivals and stay lengths in several different ways. Your property type, traveller preferences, and demand trends determine which techniques work best and how you should implement them. For all hotels, it’s usually best to keep things straightforward. That allows you to better track, evaluate and manage your controls.
That being said, let’s take a look at the three most common types of stay restrictions and how they can benefit your hotel.
Minimum length of stay (MinLOS)
Travellers who want to check in on one of these dates must stay for a minimum number of nights. This works well during peak demand periods for multiple reasons.
A minimum length of stay ensures rooms don’t go unsold during high-demand times. When a traveller only reserves for the first half of a key fair, it’ll probably be hard to sell the room at your top rate for the second half of the event. A MinLOS control lets you avoid this problem and maximise your room sales.
Low-demand shoulder days also benefit from MinLOS restrictions. A special offer can make it attractive to add a night or two and encourage guests to stay longer than they initially intended.
Your turnover decreases if your average length of stay increases. When guests stay longer, your team experiences a lighter workload. Stayover rooms demand less time from housekeeping and fewer arrivals and departures mean your reception doesn’t get as busy. This can reduce labour costs and boost your property’s profitability.
Guests who stay longer tend to spend more and become more loyal to your brand. For every extra night a guest stays, you have another opportunity to delight them with good service. You’re also likely to generate more ancillary revenue since long-stay guests often spend money on extras like F&B, the spa or laundry.
To always reach maximum revenue during high-demand periods, you’ll likely have to put restrictions on your discounted rate codes. Do this by setting a minimum price control, or a hurdle rate for specific dates. That way bookings will not be able to come in below this set amount on the days you selected. This protects your top-performing dates and helps you maximise profitability by managing when you and to whom you sell your rooms at which rate.
Maximum length of stay (MaxLOS)
Here, you don’t allow bookings that go over a certain stay length. This is a good protection against scam bookings from questionable sources. But while that’s important, be careful with this control since you don’t want to accidentally lose legitimate long-stay business.
This control can also help you get more long-term bookings during your off-season. For example, you may create an offer for remote workers that’s only valid for a fixed number of days during your slower months.
Closed to arrival (CTA)
As the name suggests, travellers can’t arrive on this day. However, they can stay through it. This control works well for deals and discount rate codes you only want to offer on specific days, e.g. for arrivals from Monday through Wednesday. It lets you decide exactly when you’ll sell certain packages and avoid any spillover of lower prices into peak demand periods.
CTA is also a popular way for resorts to manage when travellers check in and out. Think of holiday clubs that only allow arrivals and departures on weekends. This creates a predictable workflow and gives them maximum control over their inventory.
How to get the best results from using stay controls
Implement these five simple steps to get the most out-of-stay restrictions at your property:
Know your market’s demand patterns: examine historical performance and future-facing demand information, so you know when your high and off seasons are. That’ll give you an initial idea of when you may want to set controls.
Pick out the shoulder dates: look at peak periods to see where you might be able to generate more business before or after. Next, think about which restrictions could work for the type of guests you’re targeting.
Focus on your off-peak periods: once you’ve identified your slower times, look at future-facing demand insights to get ideas for restrictions that may help you drive business during these phases.
Examine your controls: make test bookings to check if your restrictions are working correctly. This gives you a chance to make tweaks and avoid unintentionally blocking or accepting bookings.
Track and analyse your results: check your performance data and try different types of controls. That way you’ll find the ideal set-up for your hotel and get the best results in the long run.
The new way to manage stay controls
In the past - and for many hotels even today - restrictions involve a lot of manual work. That includes market and demand research as well as setting and managing controls. As a result, not all restrictions always reflect the latest market shifts and don’t bring optimal results.
This is finally changing. Leading RMS providers are rolling out solutions that offer recommendations for both rates and stay controls. This can help you in several ways. First, it saves time on research and data analysis. Second, it ensures that you always know which restriction is ideal for your property’s current situation.
The RMS does that by automating steps revenue managers previously had to do manually. It analyses demand data, booking pace, market shifts and other data points - and all that in real time.
This new development allows you to ensure your restrictions are always optimised, so you can take revenue and occupancy maximisation to a whole new level.