Every single empty room in a hotel is revenue lost for the business. While most hotels factor in the possibility of some vacancies into their pricing structure, having all your rooms occupied is undoubtedly more profitable.
In order to keep their reservations to the max and encourage early bookings, hotels can take various steps and strategize a marketing plan to use throughout the year.
However, before discussing these options, let us look at the advantages of early hotel bookings for the hospitality industry.
Prior knowledge of bookings lets you plan every aspect of your hotel’s functioning. From staff requirements to stocking perishables for meals, you have a reasonably good idea of organizing the business’s backend activities beforehand.
As you are better prepared, you can also provide excellent service to your guests. Moreover, preliminary planning significantly reduces operation times, such as guest check-in and room turnover, positively impacting the customer experience.
Early bookings mean you are aware of your revenue stream in advance and can take measures that will lead to fewer errors. You’re less likely to overbook. Since you know about the incoming guests, you can assign them rooms before their arrival. Moreover, it’s also possible to take specific guest requests, like providing adjoining guest rooms.
Advance bookings are a marketing opportunity not to be missed. More time allows you to easily upsell and collect Big Data, especially through e-mail marketing.
Mediums through which you can increase early room bookings
An excellent digital branding and marketing strategy for a hotel should include diverse platforms through which you can promote the property. Three of these are particularly helpful when looking to increase early bookings.
An online presence lets prospective customers know about your brand, guest rooms, hotel facilities, amenities, and the latest rates.
You can then use the website to rank higher on search engines, showcase discounts, and increase traffic and revenue, primarily through direct bookings.
A well-structured e-mail database gives access to all previous customers whom you can continue to stay in touch with even after they have left the hotel.
When the time comes, e-mail marketing is the ideal choice to sell rooms with personalized discounts leading to possible early bookings.
Remember, these are customers who already know about your hotel. So, it is typically easier to entice them for advance reservations than someone who has not been to your property.
Social media is another popular medium to reach the wider public instantly. A solid social media campaign should include regular updates across different outlets, such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and Twitter.
Hiring a hotel marketing agency is typically the easiest way to conquer the ever-changing world of trends and hashtags.
Tips to increase early hotel room bookings
The average global lead time for room bookings is around 24 days. That means people tend to make room reservations roughly a month or less before travel. Moreover, seasoned tourists often wait till the last minute to make their bookings in the hope of catching a deal.
For the hotel industry, such trends are not favorable. Instead, early room reservations benefit the hotel and, eventually, the guests.
Ways through which hotels can approach early bookings
Providing discounts is the most common and easiest way to increase early hotel bookings. By offering limited-time deals substantially better than what a guest will get later on, you can encourage them to book in advance.
Having a relaxed cancellation policy works hand-in-hand with such discounts. If the guest knows they won’t be penalized, they will likely make the booking earlier.
However, for this strategy to be successful, you must promote such discounts through all possible avenues. From sending out e-mails to banners on your website and social media posts, the more people know about it, the higher the sales.
A great way to increase early bookings is by sharing your Big Data analysis with customers in the form of an advert. For instance, you know from examining previous years’ data that the hotel tends to be fully booked for the Christmas holidays latest by October end.
So, in your advertisements around September, you can create a sense of urgency, telling people they need to make early reservations to visit your property during Christmas.
Not only does this lead to bookings, but it also saves customers who might wait till later from disappointment in not finding a room.
An essential part of a successful strategy to increase early bookings is promoting your hotel and its location. Inform customers of your city and its many attractions via blogs, e-mails, and social media. Encourage them to plan a visit, especially during special events.
Most tourists already know that hotel bookings are hard to find during popular local festivals. So, by promoting the event, you indirectly tell your customers that if they want to participate, they should make a room reservation well in advance.
The same also holds for annual holidays. From couples looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day and college students during Spring Break to families planning a summer vacation, schedule advertisements that inform them that early bookings mean guaranteed rooms and possibly cheaper rates.
Highlighting advantages of early booking
Lastly, a more direct approach can also help increase early bookings. This includes informing guests via your website and other platforms about the advantages of booking a room early.
Some of the main reasons why a guest would want to book a room early are;
• Better room selection
• Chances for upgrades
• More time to cancel should the need arise
• Better personalization, as guests can inform the hotel of their preferences
• Early discounts that can range from lower rates to benefits like a third night free, spa coupons, complimentary meals, and more.
As mentioned above, a solid digital marketing plan is vital in increasing early bookings. Adigital, a leading hotel marketing firm, can assist you with getting more advance reservations by offering professional services such as social media management, website optimization, and e-mail marketing.