Amid pandemic, Miami hotel grows bookings with flexible policies

In the heart of Miami’s South Beach neighborhood, Dream South Beach uses flexible cancellation policies to capture bookings as travelers cautiously return.

 107 rooms

 Small chain hotel

 VIP Access partner

The Problem

Steps from the Miami Beach shoreline, with an art deco vibe and world-class service, Dream South Beach watched as the COVID-19 pandemic swiftly turned the vibrant sun-drenched South Beach neighborhood into a ghost town. Cancellations began to spike and on March 20, the city of Miami Beach closed all local hotels entirely.

When Dream South Beach was allowed to reopen in June, occupancy remained lower than usual and the hotel had to reduce its staff. For Olivia Yeran Nam, Dream South Beach’s Area Director of Revenue Management, it was time to look for creative approaches to capture more share of the available demand in the market.

A longtime Expedia Group partner, Olivia turned to Partner Central’s analytics tools to help her see how the local competition was performing. This data helped shape the conversation between Olivia and her Market Manager on strategies to increase future bookings.

“It’s clear that having a flexible cancellation policy is a must for us. Working with Expedia Group to offer a more flexible approach helps us to capture our fair market share.”

Olivia Yeran Nam

Area Director of Revenue Management

Dream South Beach Hotel

The Solution

Olivia concluded that to increase reservation activity, she needed to reduce barriers to booking. Hotels with more flexible cancellation policies were grabbing more market share. Travelers wanted the confidence of 24-hour cancellation and fully refundable rates as travel restrictions kept evolving.

Olivia added new cancellation policies in Partner Central. This automated the process so travelers could update reservations on their own and saved valuable time that the hotel could redirect to guest services and day-to-day property management tasks. 

With the new policies in place, Olivia quickly saw an impact on bookings. As she aligned with travelers’ desire for shorter cancellation windows, her numbers grew.

In August, Dream South Beach’s increase in room nights ranked them in the top three hotels on Miami’s South Beach and number one in their star-rating category. Dream South Beach’s cancellation rate has stayed at more than 7% lower than comparable properties. 

The Future

Olivia believes having flexible cancellation policies in place has helped increase consideration and share because her property now shows as having refundable rates, a common search filter. 

As booking volume slowly returns to normal — in fact, weekend bookings are almost back to last year’s rate — Olivia plans to extend these cancellation and refundable rate strategies into the middle of next year. 

Giving guests the confidence to book ahead, whether traveling domestically or internationally, will help keep Dream South Beach at the forefront of the South Beach scene when travel returns.