It takes guts to travel to unknown places, more so when you don’t even know the identity of the hotel you’re booking. But that’s the premise behind a new online hotel booking platform.
Staydilly helps travellers find discounted rates for idle rooms at three- to five-star hotels. The catch? You only know the actual name of the property once the booking is confirmed.
The mystery concept, according to Staydilly chief executive officer Song Eu Jin during the company’s recent launch party in Kuala Lumpur, stems from what’s termed as an “opaque booking model”.
“This enables savvy travellers who are looking for extremely good value for premium hotels to book their rooms with Staydilly, while those who are brand-loyal and looking to only stay at a particular hotel will book directly with the hotel,” he says.
In other words, partner hotels are able to continue selling rooms at their usual prices to brand-loyal customers.
What the homegrown company essentially addresses is the issue of idle rooms that would otherwise be left vacant.
Hotels counter this problem by offering tremendous discounts on unsold rooms just prior to the stay date, in an effort to fill these idle rooms. However, Song warns that the practice is detrimental to the property’s branding efforts.
“If a hotel brands itself as a luxury hotel and usually sells a room for RM800 per night, discounting the room to RM300 will dilute its premium branding,” he says.
Here is where Staydilly comes into the equation.
“As the hoteliers are experienced and can usually estimate the occupancy for the hotel at a future date, and knowing they can expect to have some rooms idle, these hotels work with Staydilly to sell these idle rooms for the hotels much earlier,” he explains.
Of course, this partnership also spells good news for travellers.
“The traveller no longer needs to gamble and wait in the hope that the hotel will be empty so that they can obtain discounted prices,” Song offers. “Gamble because if the hotels are experiencing high occupancy, the prices may actually increase or even become unavailable because they are sold out.”
He adds that travellers can expect to snap up a bargain with up to 50% less compared to the already discounted rates offered by competitor sites.
“As almost every other site indicates that they offer the lowest prices, there is some fatigue amongst travellers in believing that we offer even cheaper rates for the same rooms, but because our business model differs from these online hotel-booking sites, the prices on Staydilly.com are really the lowest,” he explains, adding that the platform can offer rooms from one year in advance and up to two days prior to intended stay.
Since the company only partners with premium hotels, he enthuses that the savings value can be quite significant. The trade-off, Song says, is that the name of the partner hotel won’t be disclosed prior to booking confirmation.
Launched in October last year, Staydilly has partnered with over 150 properties which includes well-known regional brands. The hotels are listed in popular tourist locations and key cities in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.
The company is looking at expanding hotel options to include the rest of South-East Asia and Australia by the first half of next year.
“Travellers can rest assured that we only work exclusively with authentic hotels in the premium segment, and curate our partners based on positive hotel reviews of past guests,” says Song, adding that he has a dedicated team that constantly monitors online reviews and ratings.
Staydilly’s mystery hotel concept doesn’t mean that guests will be completely oblivious to some basic background about the properties. The selection of the desired hotel can be made based on actual hotel photos, general description and location of the accommodation.
“Due to the wonders of Photoshop, budget hotels today can be made to appear like luxury hotels. However, we appreciate the importance of providing the travellers with a quality product, hence we only select premium hotels in the three- to five-star range with a review rating in the top 25%,” Song offers.
Looking at the bigger picture though, he says, Staydilly’s concept will help the future of the hospitality industry.
“The last minute discounting of prices is unhealthy for the hospitality industry as it causes compression in hotel rates. By helping premium hotels fill their otherwise idle rooms earlier, they are able to better manage their revenues and increase profitability,” he explains.
Higher occupancy, according to Song, means that premium hotels will no longer need to discount their prices at the last minute.
“This not only helps hotels preserve their brand positioning, but also removes pricing pressure for budget hotels further down the value chain,” he says, adding that this will encourage a healthier and more conducive hospitality industry.
At the end of the day, the new booking platform is meant to add to one’s travel experience.
“For travellers, they really want a good, memorable experience. Given the choice, they would want to stay at the best hotels their budgets can afford,” he concludes.