It’s every boutique hotel manager’s dream to be fully booked every day of the year, but that’s not always the case. Promoting last-minute booking deals can help fill the remaining open rooms at a moment’s notice. And, right now, last-minute bookings are hotter than ever. More people are planning their vacations in the short-term rather than planning trips well in advance because of the changes taking place in travel due to COVID-19.
Our strategies to increase last-minute bookings provide a foolproof way to boost your hotel marketing and bring in new customers. For even more tips on hotel marketing, check out our free Marketing Grader and request your exclusive report. We’ll get back to you shortly with everything you need to take your marketing strategy to the next level!
5 Strategies to Increase Last-Minute Bookings
Understanding your customer comes first. Before you decide what your last-minute marketing strategy is, you have to know who you’re marketing to. When it comes to last-minute bookings, your target audience likely consists of the following:
- Past guests who are likely to book again. They have been to the area and won’t need to spend a lot of time planning a trip.
- Those with flexible schedules. Depending on the time of year, you might target couples without kids or family summer getaways.
- Groups of friends are likely to plan last-minute getaways.
- Customers within drive markets. No one wants to pay a premium to fly last-minute.
1. Create a Compelling Incentive
Before determining your unique strategy, consider why people want to book last-minute. Currently, with COVID-19 restrictions on traveling, most people are booking last-minute trips to areas within driving distance. This helps eliminate the need to frequent crowded places like the airport while still providing people with a way to get away and relax.
To help draw those guests to your property, you’ll want to provide incentives that drive up value with little to no added cost, so save discounts as a last resort type strategy. For example:
Best Available Upgrades: If you have premium rooms that go for $400 a night, present guests with a chance to upgrade if a better room is open upon check-in. This way, the guest will get a nicer room for a discounted price, and you won’t have to spend a dime because the room was going to be empty anyway.
Value-Added Items: A bottle of wine at check-in. Tickets to local events. Meal vouchers.
Discounts: Discounts work, but don’t overdo it. Don’t train guests to expect discounts, and set discounts off of your peak-season rate to make them seem more attractive!
2. Use Boosted Posts to Reach Your Drive Markets
If you’ve been following our blog or webinars, you already know how effective social media can be when it comes to reaching potential customers. A quick way to get the word out about specific promotions or events is to take advantage of boosted posts.
By paying a fee (typically between $5 to $10), you can increase the reach of your post, exposing your marketing strategies to a wider audience. We recommend starting out with just $5 to $30 for a one time post. You can use their ads to promote local events, last-minute deals, or weekend availability to followers within your market.
With so many changes happening due to COVID-19, it’s also a good idea to use your promotions to show off new features on your property or provide peace of mind protocols that are in place, for example, breakfast may now be served to each guest’s door rather than served in a common area.
3. Use Google Adwords to Target Mobile Users the Day-of
This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s impossible to create effective last-minute campaigns at the last minute. Google Adwords lets you set up your strategy in advance so that you can turn on promotions at the drop of a hat. Create a stay tonight page or walk-in special that can easily and quickly be updated to meet specific needs. Using Adwords is one of the most effective and simple ideas for driving customers that are searching for hotels in your area to your website. You can even target mobile users that are currently in the city to really hone in on your target audience.
4. Use Email Marketing to Spread the Word
Targeted email marketing provides a superior advantage over traditional marketing as it can display your ads to specific groups of consumers. Set your list to be sent out to those who have stayed with you in the past or use it to block recipients that may have already booked at a higher price.
There are near endless possibilities when it comes to email marketing strategies, but during a time when so many people are still working or going to school virtually, try promoting a “staycation.” Locals in the area can still work or study but from the comfort of a vacation rental or boutique hotel to pamper themselves.
It’s important to use this tactic sparingly, as, again, more than a couple emails a month will train your customers to expect deals on a regular basis, and no one will book at your flat rate. It’s also a good idea to use click-through tracking to send follow up emails or phone calls to those who click on last-minute booking banners or buttons!
5. Use Revenue Management Well
Don’t be predictable in your availability. If you’re sending a special out every weekend, your potential guests will come to expect last-minute bookings offerings, making them less likely to book. This will, ultimately, hurt your revenue.
Understanding supply and demand is critical. In peak season, demand is higher but supply stays relatively consistent. Therefore, rates should be increased. If you have the last available room in your market during the busiest season of the year, that room is worth a fortune. Make sure you get the right value for it!
Last-Minute Booking Strategies for Hotels
Promoting your last-minute booking specials can be advantageous to your business, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic when more people are looking for last-minute vacation opportunities. Using the right tools like social media, email marketing, and demand prediction, you can boost your last-minute bookings for additional revenue. Don’t be afraid to get creative and use relevant references in your marketing strategies.
There are no hard rules when it comes to getting last-minute bookings. However, the strategies presented here can serve as your guide and point you in the right direction! Don’t forget to test out your current strategy by taking a look at your free marketing grader.
Questions? Contact our team today. We’d love to help you increase your room occupancy rate and your overall revenue.