Wouldn’t it be nice if you were always fully booked? Filling all of your rooms at a moments notice has never been easier. Continue reading below for our 5 Strategies to Increase Last-Minute Bookings. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to hotel marketing, check out our free and easy-to-use Marketing grader. Request your exclusive report, and 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 have 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
Why do people want to book? A lot of times, when it comes to incentivizing potential guests, the mind of a property owner immediately jumps to discounts. But discounts shouldn’t be your primary strategy. In fact, they should serve more as a last resort.
Think about strategies that drive up value with little to no added cost. For instance:
- Best Available Upgrades: If you have premium rooms that go for 400 dollars 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 used boosted posts. For anywhere from five to 100 dollars, you can increase the reach of your post. Obviously, the more you spend the more reach you will get, but we recommend anywhere from five to 30 dollars for a one time post. Promoting things like area events, last-minute deals, or weekend availability to followers that are within your drive market is a great idea. Just make sure your posts have solid, attention-grabbing headlines and quality images!
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 GET YOUR MESSAGE OUT
Targeted email marketing campaigns are great for reaching specific groups of consumers. For instance, you can set your list to be sent out to only those who have previously stayed with you. You can also use suppression lists to block select recipients. For example, you wouldn’t want to send a last-minute-deal email to someone who already has a room booked at a higher price, so this is a useful way to narrow your campaign and reach only those who might be interested.
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, you’re getting too predictable. This makes people less likely to book in advance because they know you will have available rooms at the last minute. 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
Analytics and strategy can only take you so far. It’s up to you to put the right tools into practice at the right time. Think about what brings people to your area at the last minute, and don’t be afraid to get creative. For example, if it’s particularly hot for this time of year or the weather is cool in the middle of summer, it’s a perfect time to drive last-minute bookings. Is there a heatwave in a city within driving distance? Let people know that they can escape the heat! The point is, 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.