How To Turn Cancelled Bookings Into Business

How To Turn Cancelled Bookings Into Business

How To Turn Cancelled Bookings Into Business

Why is it that 89% of Hoteliers don’t follow up with guests who have cancelled their booking?

This is something I’ve been looking into the past week. First, let's think about why guests cancel. A guest could cancel for a variety of reasons:

– Health problems
– Car complications
– Other plans/Desire a different travel destination
– Babysitter problems
– Dog sitter issues

You name it! I’ve heard all the excuses imaginable throughout the years. However, keep in mind that the majority of these people booked with you for a reason. Just because they couldn’t visit you this time, doesn’t mean they won’t want to in the future. But if you don’t follow up and invite them back, you may never hear from them again. I covered a post that talks about ways to bring down cancellation rate.

Read on to discover a quick way that has proved to turn a cancelled booking into a new booking.



It all starts with a Mailchimp account. Any email marketing software will work, but personally, I prefer Mailchimp because it is free for up to 2,000 subscribers.

You also need access to your booking manager, such as Freetobook, Eviivo, Inn style, etc. From your booking manager, you have the ability to not only export all your confirmed guests and booking details but also your cancelled bookings information too. MAKE SURE YOU GET THE GUESTS’ NAMES ALONGSIDE THEIR EMAILS.

From there, I take all of the emails and import them into MailChimp.

IMPORTANT: Your bookings from provide you with valid emails too! It is a common misconception that will block your emails from reaching the guest, but that is not the case! The email will go directly to the guest (i.e., Gmail, Hotmail, or another email provider). You have access to the guests’ contact information through for TWO MONTHS after the check-out date. That's why I like to do this every TWO months.

TIP: Set the alarm on your calendar to remind you.



Okay, you have your data. Now let’s discuss how to title your follow-up email.

Your email’s title a key part of this process. Everyone’s inbox is full of junk and spam, so your email title has to catch the interest of your potential guest. With the information, you pulled from your booking manager, personalise your email and greet them by name. Your email is more likely to be opened if the guest thinks the email is for them alone.

A few examples of what I have sent in the past:

“Hey, {INSERT FIRST NAME}, was it something we said?…”
“Did we do something to upset you?…”
“{INSERT FIRST NAME}, why did you cancel on us?”

Evidently, these email titles are personalised by including the guest’s name and they aim to appeal to their emotions.

To compare, here is an example of the usual email from a hotel:

“Reservation number XXXXXXXX, Your Cancelled Booking at {Insert Hotel Name}, would like to ask a question.”


I wouldn’t open and answer that. Would you?



I’m repeating myself, but our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter. The amount of time someone will pay attention to your email is a matter of seconds. So you have to produce a unique offer in order to get them to take action.

NOTE: At this stage, we know they cancelled the booking, and you can assume that 75% would have cancelled via an O.T.A.

How To Turn Cancelled Bookings Into Business

When writing an email to a guest or potential guest, remember these acronyms:

G.A.S. = “Give A Shit!”

K.I.S.S. = “Keep It Short and Simple.”

Needless to say, in the hospitality business, these are key when dealing with guests. The way I “G. A. S.” is by offering a 10% to 15% discount if they rebook and give us another try. My goal is to get them to rebook directly through me.

I’ve learned that it helps to include an image of your UNIQUE SELLING POINT, whether that’s the view, the rooms, the amenities, or something else. Remind them as to why they booked with you in the first place.



The most important point in your email is a CTA.

I prefer to provide the link to our booking manager so that they can book directly, but you can also put in a phone number or your email address.

 If you fail to do this, the guest will not act. 

If you just sign off the email with, “Looking forward to hearing from you soon,” guess what? The reader will not follow up. You need to make it easy for them and coax them into acting. Setting a time limit on the special offer has worked for me in the past. This will hopefully create a sense of urgency and cause the guest to take action.

When you’re happy with the email, hit that send button.



How To Turn Cancelled Bookings Into Business

Another reason I am a fan of Mailchimp is that you can track who has opened your email and who hasn’t. This tool is crucial for the follow-up.

I have done all of what I explained above, and it has worked.

What I would like for you to remember is that when the guest rebooks, get a deposit, ideally a non-refundable one. This deposit will prevent another cancellation.

Following up over email is like any other marketing strategy. If there’s nothing to lose, you may as well go ahead and do it. Requesting a deposit from the guest when they rebook will quickly separate your “quality bookers” from your “time wasters.”

Let me know how you get on! Email me at [email protected] or get in touch via our Contact Us Page. If you want to check out my training videos, click here.

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