Despite the coronavirus crisis and the huge reduction in tourism globally, online entrepreneurs and tourism professionals have been forced to innovate, adopting various new opportunities to try to ensure they can simply stay in business, and even prosper, despite the unprecedented economic fallout. Some hotels on Gran Canaria have moved away from 2-night minimums and overnight stays to offer themselves to different types of customer. ByHours is a hotel booking site like most you will have seen before, who deal specifically in hourly room reservations and “microstays”, who say interest in their service has skyrocketed over recent months, according to platform founder Guillermo Gaspart, who spoke to Spanish news agency EFE this week.
Here on Gran Canaria at least two four star hotels, the Hotel Silken Saaj Las Palmas & the Gold by Marina in Playa del Inglés, have joined the platform, with more expected to follow suit, as businesses seek more ways to continue operating under drastically changed conditions and with traditional tourism flows erratic at best, and in many cases completely non-existent at worst. For many businesses the only way that they will survive this crisis is by thinking outside the box and finding new markets into which they can offer their products, facilities and expertise. Things will not be returning to how they were before the pandemic for quite some time.
Gaspart says that hourly reservations on the platform, which currently advertises rooms by the hour at nearly 3,500 associated hotels in 24 countries, grew 62% in September compared to the same month last year, and in October increased more than 70%, having brought in more than 14,000 reservations.
There are a multitude of hotels right now with empty rooms and many have used the platform to offer them at hourly rates rather than simply seek overnight stays, “the more products you have, the more you sell” says Gaspart.
Many companies have started to focus more keenly on local demand, during the pandemic, and showing people who live near them that the hotels in their area are not just for tourists, offering a much wider range of possibilities than may have previously expected. The allure of being able to experience some of the most prestigious accommodation at an affordable rate for the day seems to be paying off. Using the site customers can reserve rooms and suites for 3, 6 or 12 hours, where they can work, nap, spend the night, attend telematic meetings, experience something new or simply disconnect from the world and pamper themselves.
One example is of people who travel some distance from where they live to a nearby city to spend the day shopping with the family, giving them a base while they are there to rest for a while in a room, whether for a little siesta, or to feed the kids, or simply take a load off for a couple of hours before visiting more landmarks, attractions or shops. If you don’t live near the beach, but want to spend the whole day there, why not grab a room for a few hours too? Whether you are between flights or just looking for a little alone time and self-care, to enjoy pristinely laundered sheets and towels and a little touch of luxury, or you want to work quietly in a space with hi speed internet and a range of other facilities, the ByHours model helps hoteliers offer more from their facilities than they usually would be able to.
In cities like Madrid or Barcelona, where restaurants may currently be closed due to restrictions, “you can reserve a room and eat at the hotel restaurant” Gaspart points out, offering clients a sense of safety even while away from home. Significant increases in bookings have been noticed in all the cities where the platform already operates.
Even in the face of the tourism crash and economic hardships caused by the pandemic response, the company expects to exceed €6 million turnover this year, a 20% increase on their performance in 2019.
However, the uncertainty that this second wave of coronavirus is of course causing many in the tourism and hotel sector to be “very worried” and they are waiting to see how the crisis develops, for those who want to stay open, this is just one of a range of models being tried in the hope that enough business can be generated to keep moving forward.
The company recently created ByHours Direct, a booking and reservations platform that helps hotels offer hourly room reservations directly through their own website, selling room packages of 3, 6 and 12 hours from the hotel’s own website as well as facilitating the sale of meeting rooms by the hour. The system was already planned for launch, the arrival of Covid accelerated its growth could see the company double its turnover in the next twelve months, says an optimistic Gaspart.
Founded in 2012 the platform originally offered pay-per-use reservations in the hotel sector, where the user could decide their time of entry and exit. They had planned to expand their operation in 2020 to the United States, but had to postpone due to Covid, though Gaspart hopes that within the next two years they will be present there and in some of the biggest cities in the world. They already enjoy a significant presence across the world in cities like Madrid, Paris, London, Berlin, Rome and Dubai with major brands including Barcelo, Hilton, Sheraton, Best Western, NH, Sercotel and many others. In fact they welcome hoteliers with anything more than 20 rooms who want to increase their yield without significantly changing their business model.
With ByHours you can enjoy quiet time, in a clean comfortable space, at some of the most luxuriant hotels for just a few hours at a time, bathe, sleep, use their spa facilities, take meetings and meet clients at affordable rates that suit your needs and budget.