What is rate shopping?

What is a hotel rate shopper?

A rate shopper is a software solution used by hotel professionals to monitor room rates on the Internet. It can be used to monitor the room rates of your own hotel as well as the rates of your main competitors.

Room rates are presented in a single centralised dashboard where you can track activity and analyze trends:

A rate shopper snapshot

Hotel pricing data comes from a variety of on-line sources, such as major OTA platforms, metasearch engines, price comparison engines, and even the hotels own branded booking engines. The biggest OTA (at the moment), are Booking.com and Expedia. There’s a range of other platforms who act as Booking.com and Expedia resellers and some lesser known local platforms serving specific regions.

There is also a range of rate shopping tools that help hotels get the most out of the OTAs listed above. The Hotel Price Reporter rate shopper covers both Booking.com and Expedia to help hotels stays on top of their revenue management strategy.

Whether you want to beat your competition or level up your revenue management strategy, a good rate shopper can provide the rate intelligence needed to increase your hotel’s RevPAR and RGI.

A brief history of rate shoppers

Rate shopping first started with airlines. Using a rate management software, airlines would regularly check the prices for routes where they have competing carriers. They would use this information to adjust prices to remain competitive, all the while maximizing their revenue.

This trend was closely followed by the car rental industry. They would watch the prices each of their competitors charge for the same service. They would also track the local market demand and adjust their car rental fees accordingly.

Large hotel chains are also known to have used proprietary rate management software in the past to track rate parity across different sales channels.

A motel displaying room vacancy sign

Since the beginning of 2010s, rate shopping has become much more affordable to small and independent hotels.

For example, a hotel business that is concerned about what room rates is the competition offering would use it to closely monitor rates on all sales channels. A hotel that wants to understand how it’s performing in the local market would analyze occupancy levels and the local market demand data.

The core pillars of rate shoppers

Before you sign up for your rate shopping service, let’s take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The first step is to think about your revenue strategy.

Revenue management

A person working out a revenue management strategy on a laptop

This part helps fit the rate shopping tool into your overall business goals. The important questions to answer:

What are your goals? How can a rate shopping tool help you achieve those goals? Some hotels use rate shopping to follow a value-first strategy. Others use it to target the high-end traveller by offering a luxury travel experience. Identify what are the important metrics in your hotel benchmark report and see how a rate shopper can help improve them.

Which OTAs and booking platforms do you want to focus on? The major OTAs, mentioned above, are Booking and Expedia. There are also smaller and up-and-coming platforms. When starting out with your revenue management strategy, it’s better to pick a few platforms that you think your target customers are using.

To help you create a great revenue management strategy, see our revenue management pages.

Rate comparison

A picture of a market stall with produce selling at different prices

Rate comparison is the most popular element of a rate shopping tool. You can use it to see, in detail, how the prices of your hotel compare with the ones of your competitors. Hotel Price Reporter lets you pivot the rate shopping data based on common criteria, such as:

  • length of stay
  • number of adults
  • meals provided
  • booking flexibility
  • room features

..to name a few.

A hotel rate shopper can present this data in a variety of ways. Hotel Price Reporter provides charts, tables and calendars at the presentational layer when comparing hotel room rates. The rate comparison module will help you stay on top of the latest prices in your market and help you maintain the position in your hotel’s rate value matrix.

Price evolution

A rate shopper chart showing the evolution of a price

Price evolution tracking is an important part of a hotel rate shopper. It shows you the evolution of the room rates for a given stay over time. This intelligence helps you to see what pricing strategy your competitor hotels are following. This in turn can help you stay on top of your own strategy. It can also provide a useful indication of the occupancy levels at the competing hotels. For example, hotels that sell out quickly tend to increase the prices of the remaining rooms.

Price evolution can provide an overall picture of how your competitors are performing, and see where your hotel business stands in the local market.

Local market demand

A good hotel rate shopper not only tracks the room rates across the web, but also the availability of those room rates.

Local market intelligence can help you look ahead at the overall occupancy levels in your area. This can help you adjust your room rates accordingly. For example, you can increase the room rates in busy periods in order to maximize your earnings. Alternatively, in less busy periods you can reduce your room rates to help fill up your hotel faster and cover any continuing expenses.

On-line reputation

A neon review sign

As your hotel business grows, conversations about your hotel will also increase. People will comment on their experience with your hotel, and assign star rankings based on their stay.

People might even talk about your hotel without letting you know. So you will want to monitor reviews and rankings about your hotel business. If it’s a positive comment, you get a chance to surprise and delight them. Perhaps even feature them on your own hotel website. Otherwise, you can offer support and correct a situation before it gets worse.

A hotel rate shopper can tracks the rankings of your hotel and your competitors across all OTA platforms. It can help you see first hand how the rankings can affect your room rates.

OTAs are evolving, and rate shopping is changing with them too. We want to help you stay up-to-date with all the latest changes and strategies to succeed with your hotel business. Check out our rate shopping blog for more guides and tutorials on using rate shopping in your hotel business.

When you’re ready, you can also sign up for a trial account with Hotel Price Reporter.

Rate parity checker

Being listed in major OTAs has become the cost of doing business for most hotels today and many cannot afford to fall into rate disparity. Because of this and other reasons rate parity is an important aspect of running a successful hotel business.

A good rate shopper lets you track your hotel’s rate parity compliance across different channels.

It can alert you when inconsistencies occur giving you plenty of time to take early action before disparity becomes an issue and helps you preserve your rate integrity.

What is the best hotel rate shopper?

There are many rate shoppers available to small and medium-sized hotels on the market today. We believe that the best rate shopper is Hotel Price Reporter. The service is offered on a no long-term contract basis, no setup fees and comes with instant activation.

Sign up for a 15-day trial account for $15 today.

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