Reduce last-minute cancellations with these five easy strategies

Last-minute cancellations are an everyday occurrence for independent hoteliers, but managing them never gets any easier. They cause operators to re-forecast revenue and occupancy expectations, shift staffing schedules and adjust nightly rates. There isn’t a foolproof way to eliminate cancellations, but there are strategies that can be implemented to help deter guests from changing their travel plans at the last minute and reduce last-minute cancellations.

Stricter cancellation policy
Updating your cancellation policy so guests are required to notify you least 24 hours prior to their scheduled arrival is a great way to avoid being left with no time to resell the room. Clearly state your cancellation policy on your website, confirmation emails and other highly visible areas so guests understand how they must cancel, the required timeframe and any related penalties. During all cancellation phone calls, always offer to rebook the guest for a future visit. Even though the guest will not be staying with you now, the customer service they receive while cancelling will help set the tone for a future visit.

Offer discounted pricing for guaranteed bookings
Travelers, especially those on leisure trips, are always looking for ways to save on hotels, airfare, etc. Offering lower, non-refundable rates or discounted, pay-in-advance rates guarantees that hotels are compensated for booked rooms and guests receive great savings in return.

Strategically overbook
This can be tricky, but using historical booking trends, demand forecasts and knowledge of local events, hotels can strategically overbook knowing that some of their guests will likely cancel as their arrival data approaches. The risk associated with overbooking is having to walk guests to other hotels if you don’t receive enough cancellations. However, if you guess correctly and guests cancel as expected, you now have an opportunity to resell rooms at higher rates.

Reservation package deals
Providing guests with additional incentives to keep their travel plans will help hoteliers avoid cancellations. Packaging gift certificates for restaurants or tickets to events and attractions with room reservations gives travelers more reasons to visit. Knowing they’ll have additional options for entertainment may be all that’s needed to keep them excited about visiting your city.

Email and calendar reminders
Travelers’ daily lives are full from morning through night, so they are constantly shifting and reorganizing to stay on track. To keep their travel plans top of mind and intact, utilize email and calendar reminders to alert them of their upcoming reservation. Send periodic reminders that include their booking dates, your cancellation policy and other important details. Keeping travelers informed will help them keep their intended plans.

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