Attribute-based selling (ABS)

Understanding basic hotel management concepts and terms

You may have heard of attribute-based selling – it’s a term currently circulating throughout the hotel industry, although not a new concept by any means. In the context of hotels, attribute-based selling, or ABS, refers to breaking down a hotel’s offering, i.e. a standard room, into various characteristics and/or experiences to be sold as separate entities. Already a popular approach in the travel industry at large, you might recognise this concept from airlines that allow you to choose add-ons like seat selection, extra meals or priority boarding.

Instead of selling a room by category for a total rate, a hotel using the ABS approach can unbundle their inventory, allowing their customers to search for and combine the attributes and features that will make a difference to their stay.

This pick and mix approach allows guests full control over their booking and spending. An advantage like this for hotel guests is poised to have a ground-breaking effect on how we plan our holidays and trips. Room types will become less important and hotels can reduce the risk of overbooking a room category and missing revenue opportunities.

ABS can provide valuable insight into guests’ preferred amenities, in general and on a case-by-case basis, well before they arrive. The latter makes it possible for hotels to better prepare their resources and align themselves with guest needs. The former empowers hotels to capture detailed information on what modern travelers are truly willing to part with hard-earned cash for.

Attribute-based Selling (ABS) versus Standard Selling

Example 1 below illustrates how a guest might book a room with the regular options available to them - straightforward and as expected. The guest doesn’t currently take issue with the fact that they might be paying for amenities they won’t use, since this is the status quo.

For instance, our guest might prefer to stay on a higher floor, with a better view. In order for the guest to request this, they’ll need to send an email to the reservations department after booking and explain their request. The room that is consequently arranged for them might also contain an in-room jacuzzi bath – something that isn’t of interest to our guest. Nonetheless this attribute is included in the room’s rate as standard.

Example 1 - Standard booking process hotel room reservation

If the hotel were selling based on room attributes, our guest’s booking experience would be very different. After selecting a room at a base rate, they can browse for attributes that are both necessary, and/or luxuries, tailoring their experience according to personal preference or an occasion.

Example 2 - Attribute based selling hotel room reservation

The core idea behind ABS is that by giving a guest agency over the amenities they pay for during their stay, the guest will feel they’ve received better value for their money and will have access to the specific aspects that will make their trip a happy one.

This guest-first approach is also at the centre of hotel upselling programmes, many of which are built on the same concept of modularity.

Along with an attribute-based selling approach for your room rates, a second wave of guest empowerment is achievable with the inclusion of well-timed and personalised upsell offers.

Learn how you can apply the same principles from ABS to your upsell offering to generate more revenue per guest while delighting them even further!
Find these tips and more on Oaky’s blog, in ‘Using an Attribute Based Selling approach in your upsell strategy


About the Author: Erik Tengen, Co-Founder at Oaky

Meet Erik: Co-founder at Oaky, a passionate public speaker, who is crazy about music and hotel technology. Erik’s speciality is to make other people enthusiastic and to dare. What makes him genuinely happy is inspiring others to break free of old habits and give their own visions a try. Talk to Erik about Hotel technology, Entrepreneurship, Presentations/Pitching, Golf, Skiing, and DJing. 

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Editorial l Demand Generation for Hotels

Also, find this techtalk.travel editorial on Demand Generation, discussing the concept of ABS and its implications as well.

To all techtalk.travel editorials.

More Perspectives on the Concept of Attribute-based Selling

Here you can watch the video interviews with the Panelist discussing Attribute Based Selling at the HEDNA Global Distribution Conference 2020 in Los Angeles.