How to help your guests when postponing bookings to later in the year

In Blog by Janin

Make sure your hotel is ready for when travel resumes after the COVID-19 crisis.

Though the current world situation has left many travelers unable to fulfil their current bookings, there is likely to be a rise in interest for later in 2020. Hoteliers worldwide are expecting a backlog of reservations later in the year as guests look to catch up on their missed travel time.

Rather than losing out on business now, it is a good time to plan and help guests to postpone bookings for a time that suits them better.

It’s advisable to prepare for a rush of requests to change bookings as the lockdown situation fluctuates in various parts of the world. Effective planning will help you to maximize profits while reducing the need to turn eager guests away, should lockdown progress change.

Here are a few tips we recommend for preparing for late 2020 bookings.

Confirm a reopening date as soon as possible

The sooner you can set a fairly firm provisional reopening date, the sooner your guests will start to feel confident about making a reservation.

Communicate with your local authority to determine when hotels in your area will be allowed to reopen and what will be expected of them when they do so.

As soon as you have a firm date in mind, communicate this to guests and encourage them to book as early as possible to avoid disappointment. If a firm date is not possible, taking reservations with flexible booking arrangements is another good option. Guests will feel more secure about making bookings for later in the year if they feel that they can move their stay if it is no longer feasible.

Reassure and keep in touch with guests

While the coronavirus crisis has led to understandable revisions to bookings, you shouldn’t write off guests who have had to cancel their reservations.

Instead, continue to nurture their connection to your business and keep their interests high, as there is a strong chance they will book again later in the year.

Communicate regularly via email, direct mail and social media to keep guests engaged. Use incentives such as free upgrades and flexible booking options to encourage them to re-book when the time comes.

Be sure to inform guests about your new hygiene initiatives, to help them feel reassured and confident about their booking. Our latest data insights have found that travelers and travel managers are keen to book with partners that can demonstrate high hygiene standards.

As part of making your role easier, HRS have developed the Clean & Safe Protocol with leading inspection company SGS to certify hotels for their safety and hygiene procedures in response to COVID-19. The certification assures travel managers that hotels have excellent hygiene services in common areas, extended infection prevention measures, guaranteed minimum distancing, revised training programs and regular monitoring. This can help hoteliers to demonstrate their adherence to safety as dictated by the new industry standard.

Keep rates competitive

Many of your guests will have suffered financial setbacks as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while others are likely to be on the fence about whether or not to travel this year.

Guests are more likely than ever to choose their hotel based on which establishment offers the complete package, with appealing flexibility, cleanliness, safety and reasonable rates. By providing expansive options and pricing competitively, you can stay ahead of this expected shift in customer mentality.

Remember that your competitors will also strive to showcase their flexibility and range of extras along with their pricing, so make sure you’re keeping an eye on their offers and amenities and try to match or beat them.

Checklist: how to prepare for bookings later in the year

Make sure you’re thinking ahead and preparing your hotel(s) for when normal service resumes.

It is advisable to:

  • Establish a re-opening date as soon as possible and be clear about your commitment to new obligations, such as new rules around hygiene and social distancing
  • Communicate with guests who have had their reservations canceled, and reassure them they will have another chance to stay later this year
  • Incentivize guests to book again later in the year by offering competitive rates, flexible bookings and other perks

Manage your entire booking process with HRS

Working with a dedicated lodging platform such as HRS makes it easy for corporate travel managers and guests to find, book and manage their reservations with your hotel. By using lodging-as-a-service software end-to-end, we provide you with everything you need for a smooth and flexible booking experience, with services developed through years of experience in the travel industry.

Learn more about our procure to pay platform and find out how to develop future bookings with trusted corporate partners by speaking to our team.