Hotelier Raj discovers that 20% of the inventory is still unsold even after trying his best. He wonders, “How can I bump by room occupancy to 100%?” After much thinking, he realises where the answers lie - last-minute bookings. However, another question pops into his mind - “how to get them?”
Here are a few things you need to do to increase last-minute bookings for your hotel.
9 Ways To Increase Last Minute Bookings
To increase last-minute bookings, you need to make use of several sources to optimise your hotel room inventory performance. Some of the things you can do are as follows:
1. Make Last Minute Offers On OTAs And Hotel Website
OTAs are paramount if you want to make your hotel’s online presence felt. Most online customers prefer to book from OTAs since they don’t have time to go to every hotel website and OTAs provides them with a curated list of hotels based on location and other preferences. OTAs are a great way for hotels to connect with hotel guests.
To increase last-minute bookings, you need to activate last minute deals on the OTA platforms. You need to connect with the OTA’s account manager to activate last minute deals on credit cards, debit cards and net banking. Customers have various reasons for last-minute bookings and giving them a good deal can encourage them to choose your hotel from the rest.
Same, you can do this on your hotel website too. You should give better deals on your hotel website for last-minute bookings to increase direct bookings.
2. Mobile Booking Offers Are Your Friends
Smartphones have become the predominant medium to use the internet. Hotel bookings are no exception to this. Most OTAs and even hotel websites have developed mobile and tablet versions of their apps to make the user experience more seamless.
You can target this segment by activating last minute booking deals on mobile and tablet apps.
3. Promote Last-Minute Offers To The Target Audience
Before one deploys last-minute bookings, one should understand the target audience. Those who book last-minute are youngsters - who prefer to book on the go, and corporates - those who have meetings and business trips on the go. You should use Data Analytics to filter out those who book last minute and try to target them.
You can also contact corporates directly and offer last-minute booking deals and build close relationships with them.
4. Don’t Hesitate To Offer Short Stays
Many guests are looking for a hotel to relax for half a day or a few hours. Many business customers visit a city for a day and then go back. There are many options such as airport lounges, transit hotels, and budget lodges. However, a hotelier can fill this space by offering short stays.
The customers will now have a more comfortable and sophisticated option. The hoteliers can charge day tariff and can also introduce special discounts for those who check in late.
5. Utilize Dynamic Pricing To Adjust Rates
If you want to increase last-minute bookings, then dynamic pricing can give the necessary boost. The strategy is taken from the airline industry, wherein the rate increases during the last hour. In the hotel industry, you can change the strategy by decreasing the rates during last-minute offers to gain more customers. However, you need to ensure that you don't overuse it, otherwise, it will affect revenue.
6. Register The Hotel On Last Minute Booking Websites
Many websites deal with last-minute bookings. Customers come to these websites since they can get what they want - a last-minute booking with a good deal. You need to register the property with them to target the segment. Some of the websites are:
7. Don’t Ignore Long Weekends
Many families and friends are looking for weekend getaways, especially during long weekends. This is a great opportunity to increase last-minute bookings for your hotel. Reduce the cut off period and introduce weekend combos. Once the deal is created, the hotelier needs to start promoting them 2 weeks in advance.
8. Travel Agents Are Still In The Game
With the growth of the internet, travel agents may have lost prominence. However, they are still in the game. Travel agents get numerous calls for group bookings and events when there is a sudden rush. In case you have rooms available on any day, you can contact travel agents to get last-minute bookings.
9. Revenue Management Services: The Special Ingredient
Many hotels ignore revenue management services or don’t understand this concept. Revenue Managers will make a thorough analysis of the property traits, booking patterns, and other factors. Based on the report, they will guide you to make the best offer to increase last-minute bookings. The job of the revenue managers is to sell the right room, to the right price to the right person.
Last-Minute Bookings: You Need To Be Careful
You need to keep several things in mind before work to increase last-minute bookings for hotels.
Last-Minute bookings can increase the revenue of the hotels and sell room inventory. However, you need to be careful because:
Many guests will prefer last-minute bookings over advanced ones. The guests will wait for last-minute discounts, which will lead to a loss in revenue long turn.
Customers will cancel their advanced booking on your hotel and then choose the last-minute deal on the other day. They have changed hotels too. One day to mitigate it is to make the slightly costly to cancel bookings last minute.
Hence last-minute bookings are like a double-edged sword - can help in revenue but overdo it and you will make losses. So call up your revenue manager and make a pragmatic decision.
Promoting last-minute bookings is a great strategy to fill up your hotel room inventory and gain additional revenue. However, like all strategies, they need to be used judiciously and in a balanced manner to gain maximum revenue out of the room inventory.
Bigfoot Hospitality is a Hotel Management, Revenue Management and Marketing Company that offers several services for hotels, homestays and resorts. If you want to manage your revenue and room inventory, look no further! To know more about the hospitality industry, read some of our blogs.