Thursday, February 29, 2024

How secret are ‘secret hotels’?

Bottom line, your guests are smart.

When they see a ‘secret hotel’ offer on an OTA website (for example Last Minute’s Top Secret Hotels) many aren’t content with booking on trust that a ‘secret hotel’ will live up to its description. Despite the marketing premise behind offers such as this; that you can know everything about the hotel except the name, smart consumers have found ways to circumnavigate the mystery of where they’ll end up staying.

Read on to see how they’re finding this out and what the implications are for hoteliers.

The internet’s worst kept secret?

How to find secret hotelsA quick Google search reveals that it’s relatively easy to find out the identity of a ‘secret hotel’, and has been for some time. Various blogs, social profiles and even entire websites exist to assist consumers to identify a ‘secret hotel’ prior to booking.

Whilst it appears that simply searching for the description of the hotel is no longer as effective as it once was (an argument against having content parity in this particular instance!) consumers are becoming more technically advanced in how they decipher the secret hotel on offer.

For example, a HotUKDeals user recently posted about a javascript ‘hack’ that allows users to reveal the amount of TripAdvisor reviews a ‘secret hotel’ has, allowing you to compare this against TripAdvisor’s website and easily identify which hotel is on offer.

Meanwhile, other sites such as and crowd source the identification of hotels by cross referencing a description against previous experiences of other guests.

Various forums also exist on popular money saving sites such as  and even TripAdvisor where users post the identity of the hotel they were allocated or challenge other forum members to identify the ‘secret hotel’ they’re looking to book.

Implications for hotels

What does this mean for supposedly ‘secret hotels’? It depends on their motivations for participating in such an offer.

For those that participate because they have concerns over perceptions of their brand – it’s possible that for some consumers, their opinions will be unaffected and perhaps they’ll even have heightened suspicions that the hotel has something to hide.

Hotels looking to protect rate degradation (they can’t be seen to reduce their rates given the luxury status of their hotel) may find that the perceived value of their product is affected. Worse, guests who discover a hotel participating in a secret hotel programme could be less inclined to book at full price if they believe it will release rooms at a discount at the last minute.

Hotel Speak Community
Hotel Speak Community
Posted by the Hotel Speak Community, made up from a wide range of talented hospitality professionals.

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