*This is THE FINAL STEP of the GUEST BOOKING PROCESS!**
On this blog, we have been talking about the five steps of a guest’s booking process. In the last four posts, I covered PLAN, RESEARCH, DECIDE, and BOOKING. If you haven’t read these posts yet, I recommend that you go back now and do so.
Step Five: BUYER’S REMORSE
You’ve made it to the final step of the booking process! This is the step that most hospitality owners forget, and because of that, they fail to complete the guest booking process. Why? Because they think that the job is finished.
The after-sale of any product is the most important part. This is where buyer’s remorse kicks in.
What is buyer’s remorse?
Buyer’s remorse is simple: it’s when you regret having bought something. Have you ever made a purchase and wished you hadn’t? Have you ever bought something only to take it back? This can also happen when someone books a room or cottage, then regrets their decision and cancels.
Thanks to the online travel agents, cancellations are becoming a common occurrence. In my opinion, that is the most annoying part of working with OTAs. When a booking comes in, there is a lot of admin that needs to get done and a cancellation feels like a massive waste of time.
Cancellations cannot be eradicated altogether, but I am going to show you how to cut down your cancellation rate.
Tip 1: Email the guest within 24 hours of booking.
When I worked in sales and marketing, I learnt a lot about good customer service as a method of avoiding customers cancelling their purchase. I realised that a big reason customers were asking for their money back was that they thought they weren’t getting any “post-sale support.” In hospitality terms, a guest may cancel a booking because you don’t communicate with them in that time-window after the booking is made.
From past experiences, I’ve learnt that a lot of buyer’s remorse kicks in within 24 hours of making a purchase. Email your guest with contact details, helpful advice, and other bits of info within that first 24 hours to mitigate their buyer’s remorse. Your cancellations will decrease, promise!
1. You’ll generate an impression of your property as a friendly, supportive business. This is thanks to you sharing your contact information and putting a name and ideally a face to your business.
2. Any questions that someone might have after booking are instantly answered within an email. It eliminates any grey areas and any potential confusion down the line.
I know what you are thinking while reading this: “I have not got the time to do this for every booking!” The good news is that you actually don’t need to do any extra work. There’s a fantastic automated email service that I use for my clients.
Tip 2: Add a Non-Refundable Rate
One of the benefits of booking with the Online Travel Agents (like Booking.com and Expedia) is that a customer gets to reserve a property with no money down. When you offer someone that, they feel as if they don’t have a proper commitment to that booking. They are free to change their mind if need be. This is very annoying to hospitality owners because we like to know who is going to be staying with us and when. The old-school way of running a guesthouse meant that when you wrote a name down in the guest book, more often than not, that guest would arrive.
When a guest would call in the past, you would ask for a “deposit” or “money to hold the room.” This would usually be a small fee of between £20 and £60, or the cost of the first night’s stay. Now, with more and more people booking via OTAs, this has changed. Customers can book a place within minutes and not have to pay any money to do so. This is why cancellation and no-shows are increasing.
Over the past few years, hospitality owners have made their annoyance known and the OTAs have listened. They have set up a system called the “Non-Refundable Rate.” I have written more about it here: https://www.boostly.co.uk/how-to-cut-down-on-cancellation-rates-for-your-hotel/
If you want to cut down on buyer’s remorse, then use a non-refundable rate on your OTA listings today!
Tip 3: Send your guest a text message
Who uses a landline anymore? It’s a great question. Today, it’s quite obvious that most everyone operates from their mobile phone. In fact, the majority of hospitality bookings in 2016 were made with a mobile phone. Guests are increasingly leaving their mobile phone number in the contact forms. Mobile, Mobile, Mobile.
You carry your mobile phone everywhere. It’s on you at all times, so why not take advantage of this? Reach out to a guest via a text or WhatsApp to let them know about their stay. This adds another personal touch to a booking. I wrote more about it here: https://www.boostly.co.uk/text-messaging/.
Once again, you may be thinking, “I don’t have the time!” The good news is that there’s a company called Zingle that can automate this whole process for you. Check them out at https://www.zingle.me/.
Tip 4: Send them something.
I’m not talking about sending them a bottle of wine in the post, but do send your customers something that shows that you value them and their business. I’ve found money-off vouchers for local restaurants or attractions to be a good option. Reach out to your local hospitality association to get these, or even go directly to the attractions themselves. Get your discounts, put them in an email, and send them to your guest before they arrive.
Even if the guest cancels due to work commitments or illness, they will remember this kind gesture and the chances of them booking with you in the future will increase. We all hate cancellations, but sometimes they just can’t be avoided. However, if you follow these four tips, you will cut down your cancellation rate.
You now know the five steps of the guest booking process. I’ve outlined what goes through a guest’s head, what puts people off, what the OTAs are doing so well, and why a guest cancels after a booking is made. What you need to do now take this information and use it! Follow my tips!
If you haven’t got the time, get in touch with me. I will do all of this for you. To find out what we can do at Boostly, go to www.boostly.co.uk/win.
If you have any questions, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I would love to hear from you!